Extrasolar Planets: January 2010

The Guest Observer target policy has been amended. Guest Observers may propose science using any target within the Kepler field of view, subject to the caveats and restrictions provided in Section 2.2 of this appendix.

No change has been made in the due date for this program element. Proposals are due January 15, 2010.

Two nearby stars have been found to harbor "super-Earths" rocky planets larger than the Earth but smaller than ice giants such as Uranus and Neptune. Unlike previously discovered stars with super-Earths, both of the stars are similar to the Sun, suggesting to scientists that low-mass planets may be common around nearby stars. "Over the last 12 years or so nearly 400 planets have been found, and the vast majority of them have been very largeJupiter mass or even larger," says researcher Paul Butler of NAI's team at the Carnegie Institution of Washington. "These latest planets are part of a new trend of finding much smaller planets - planets that are more comparable to Earth." For more information: [Source NAI Newsletter]