Since the early 1990s, astronomers have identified thousands of planets orbiting other stars. Most of those identifications have come thanks to one observatory: NASA’s Kepler space telescope. Until it lost its ability to point, Kepler observed a region of the sky containing about 150,000 stars with potential planets, monitoring them for the slight decrease in light caused by planets crossing in front of the star. After the spacecraft’s pointing control failed, the mission was renamed K2, and it continued to hunt for exoplanets as it tumbled slowly, with its field of view drifting slowly across the sky. The mission finally ended in 2018, though the data it produced continues to provide astronomers with valuable information about planets in our galactic neighborhood. Astronomers from the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian were responsible for the preparation of the catalog for potentially interesting stars, and have participated extensively in follow-up observations of Kepler planetary discoveries.
Visit the Kepler/K2 Website