©2019 BY ERIK PETIGURA

Artist's depiction of the K2-33 system. A newborn planet (<10 Myr) is caught in the act of formation. Credit: NASA/JPL.

K2: KEPLER'S SECOND MISSION

The prime Kepler mission ended in 2013 with the failure of a second reaction wheel. Thanks to some brilliant engineering at Ball Aerospace, the Kepler Space Telescope  was repurposed and is conducting a survey of the ecliptic plane. The K2 mission will survey 20x more sky than Kepler, casting a wide net for planets around bright stars that are more amenable to followup studies such as RV measurements of planet mass and bulk composition.

I am part of a multi-campus team that detects, confirms, and characterizes planets from K2. I led the development of our photometric pipeline (k2phot) and transit search algorithm (terra), both of which are publicly available. I am heavily involved in our spectroscopic reconnoissance and am Co-I on a 40-night NASA/Keck Key Project to measure the masses of small planets.

 

My team has discovered hundreds of planets (Crossfield et al. 2016; Petigura et al. 2018) including K2-3, K2's first multi-planet system (Crossfield, Petigura, et al. 2015) and K2-33b newborn planet that's less than 10 million years old (David, Hillenbrand, Petigura et al. 2016).*

I am interested in discovering planets around bright stars with K2  and characterizing their bulk compositions, atmospheres, and orbital architectures. Taken as a whole, these measurements point toward the processes that form and sculpt planets. This effort will soon be supercharged by the TESS mission (first light: 2018), which will survey nearly the entire sky (400x Kepler).

*See also the independent discovery by Mann et al. (2016).