Leading the Search for other Earths
Pioneering Exoplanet Discoveries
- Over 3,600 planetary candidates
- Over 700 multi-planet systems
- The first small planet in the habitable zone (Kepler—22b)
- Three Earth-sized planets in the habitable zones around their stars
- The smallest exoplanets ever detected (KOI-961.01, KOO-961.02, KOI-961.03)
- Five worlds that orbit around two stars, establishing a new class of planetary system
The K2 Mission
Kepler's Second Light
K2 will perform a series of 80-day campaigns to conduct research into planet formation, young stars, stellar structure, evolution and extragalactic science. It will observe tens of thousands of stars per campaign and will transmit science data to the ground once every 80 days. K2 will search for new planets around bright stars and habitable worlds around M class stars to help pave the way for future missions like the James Webb Space Telescope.
In 2018, the Flight Planning Center at Ball Aerospace received a NASA Group Achievement Award for the execution of this innovative solution. The team's work enabled the Kepler spacecraft to return valuable scientific data long after its projected mission lifetime.
What We Did
Mission Prime Contractor, Spacecraft & Instrument Provider, Integration & Test Lead
In 2014, we were recognized for our role in confirming the age-old hope that planets and planetary systems are ubiquitous in the universe. The Kepler Mission Team was awarded the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Trophy for aerospace science and technology.
The team responsible for the Kepler spacecraft has revolutionized humanity’s view of Earth’s place in the universe by discovering that planets are common throughout the Milky Way galaxy. As a result of Kepler’s discoveries, scientists are confident that Earth’s galaxy hosts tens of billions of Earth-sized planets that could reside in the temperate “habitable zone” of their parent star. Since its launch in 2009, Kepler has continued to make important scientific discoveries that will forever change humanity’s perception of its place in the cosmos. It also is establishing a foundation for future studies of exoplanet atmospheres that could eventually answer the question of whether or not humans are alone in the universe.