What can K2 tell us about the TRAPPIST1 planetary system?

The TRAPPIST1 planetary system was announced two weeks ago to the excitement of many. TRAPPIST1 is an ultracool dwarf star that hosts at least seven planets that are all roughly Earth-sized. There are so many remarkable things about this system, but arguably the most important feature is that the discovery team was able to measure masses. With both sizes and masses constrained, the TRAPPIST1 planetary system will enable a wide range of characterization studies and predictions that will be...

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Send an Exoplanet Valentine!

NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program office (ExEP) – creators of the super-popular Exoplanet Travel Bureau Posters, have released a Valentine’s Day special: a series of exoplanet-inspired Valentines. They include Kepler-11 (a multiple-planet system with closely packed planets), a rogue (free-floating) planet, a hot-Jupiter, a tidally-locked planet and more. The Valentines can be found here! ExEP is led by a great team at the Jet Propulsion Lab and Caltech in Pasadena, CA....

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Discovery of a planet around nearby Proxima Cen

Today’s big news in astronomy is the discovery of an Earth-mass planet orbiting in the ‘temperate zone’ of Proxima Centauri, aka Alpha Centauri C, by the Pale Red Dot project. What sets this discovery apart from other near-Earth-analogs found in recent years is that the planet is a mere 4.2 light years away and is our Sun’s nearest stellar neighbor. When the Kepler team announced the discovery of Kepler-186f in 2014, an Earth-sized planet found in the habitable zone of an M dwarf in the Kepler...

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LASP visit and seminar

The Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) in Boulder, CO, has been managing Mission Operations for Kepler and continues to do so for the K2 mission. I had a chance to visit LASP and tour the operations center which was even cooler than I had imagined. LASP is a very exciting place, they are known as “the world’s only research institute to have sent instruments to all eight planets and Pluto”. Here are some photos from my...

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