Opportunities to participate

It is expected that several opportunities to participate in the Kepler mission will be available. Current concepts envision a Participating Scientist Program (PSP) with a Guest Observer (GO) option and a Data Analysis Program (DAP).

PSP investigators will be encouraged to propose research topics that complement those of the Mission Team. It is expected that the PSP will have two options: the Participating Scientist (PS) option, whereby the participating scientist proposes a research program directly concerned with detection, characterization, or understanding of extrasolar planets; and the GO option, whereby the proposer specifies targets in the Kepler FOV that are to be observed for astrophysical interest, but would not otherwise be included on the target list.

For the PS option, the proposed programs can be analytical, observational, or theoretical in nature. Examples of appropriate analytic programs include: modeling eclipsing binary systems to determine the characteristics of the stars and planets, and measuring and modeling timing variations in the epoch of transits to detect non-transiting planets. The PS option can involve use of the existing target data, or requesting observations of additional targets. Examples of ground-based observational programs include those designed to fully characterize stars found to have planets, high-precision radial velocity measurements to determine the mass of the planets detected from transits or from reflected light, confirmation of transits or efforts to detect atmospheric absorption, and observations that verify that the transit signal is coming from the target star rather than a background star.

The GO option should accommodate those investigators who wish to make astrophys-ical measurements of the many different types of objects in the Kepler FOV. Generally, these targets will be different than those chosen for the transit search. Examples include variable stars of all types, distribution and time variation of zodiacal light, and extra-galactic objects. It is expected that, at any one time, a total of about 3,000 additional targets will be available, and that these selections can be changed at intervals of three months. Most of the targets will be observed at a cadence of once per 15 minutes, but a small subset could be observed with a one-minute cadence. All targets must be within the active area of the Kepler FOV. The FOV will not be moved to accommodate a GO request. For stars already on the Kepler target list, the GO will be referred to the DAP.

The Kepler target list is expected to be available at launch to allow investigators to plan their requests.

Investigators desiring to analyze data from targets already on the Kepler target list will apply to the Data Analysis Program (DAP). DAP is an opportunity for the scientific community to perform data mining on the existing database. Examples of potential uses for the data are validation of planetary detections, exoplanet searches using alternative techniques, analysis of stellar activity cycles, white-light flaring, frequency of Maunder minimums, distribution of stellar rotation rates, etc.

A data release policy has been developed to release Mission data at the earliest time that allows for data calibration and validation and insures against false-positive planetary detections. The first three-month data set will be released approximately one year after commissioning, and then supplements will be released annually. Publicly released Kepler observations will be freely available to all interested parties for data mining. The data will be archived in the Multimission Archive at Space Telescope (MAST) and supported for at least five years after the end of the mission.


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