The Kepler science team announced on Aug. 12 the next release of data to the public archive. Quarter three science data collected during the months of September to December 2009 will be available for download on Sept. 23, 2011 from the Multimission Archive at STScI (MAST) at: http://archive.stsci.edu/kepler
Kepler is the first NASA mission capable of finding Earth-size planets in or near the "habitable zone," the region in a planetary system where liquid water can exist on the surface of the orbiting planet. Although additional observations will be needed over time to reach that milestone, Kepler is detecting planets and planet candidates with a wide range of sizes and orbital distances to help us better understand our place in the galaxy.
The team recognizes a strong demand from the scientific community for more public data, said Nick Gautier, Kepler Mission project scientist. This is evident by the volume of papers on exoplanet science as well as stellar astrophysics that have been published using Kepler data.
In particular, independent researchers have used publicly available data to both confirm the existence of Kepler candidate planets and provide new details on planetary systems far beyond our own. For example, one team used the 1,235 planet candidate catalogue to confirm the planet KOI-428b, a hot Jupiter, and further characterize its planetary system.
For a perspective on the body of referred journal articles from the science community, as well as those led by the Kepler science team, see the following publication tables on exoplanet science and astrophysics:
Enthusiasm from the public about the search for alien planets has also generated profound results powered by the Kepler data. The popularity of sites like the Planet Hunters (www.planethunters.org), which enlists the help of citizen scientists to identify planet candidates in the Kepler data, demonstrates the groundswell of broad public interest in exoplanet research. Since its launch in December 2010 this website has been used by 40,000 "planet hunters" worldwide to analyze more than 3.5 million observations, netting 69 potential candidates, all from their web browsers.
Explore further: Quest for extraterrestrial life not over, experts say