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Mission Overview

Map of Observations

mission wavelength


Wavelength Coverage

mission coverage

NOTE: The K2 mission is a follow-on to the Kepler mission, operated when the telescope was reduced to two reaction wheels.

The Kepler spacecraft was launched into an earth trailing orbit and stared at a 100 sq. degree patch of sky near Cygnus in order to measure the brightness variations of about 200,000 stars.  Its primary mission was to find exoplanets transiting these stars and to determine the prevalence of exoplanets in the Galaxy.  The Kepler spacecraft rotated by 90 degrees every 90 days in order to keep the solar panels pointing at the sun and thus the Kepler data is divided into 90-day quarters. Kepler only downloaded the pixels surrounding selected stars of interest at either a 30-minute or 1-minute cadence. The mission produced a flux time series for each star and searched these light curves for the presence of a transiting exoplanet.  In addition to discovering exoplanets, Kepler data has been used to study the variability of stars and eclipsing binaries.

Active From

Launch: March 6, 2009

Observing: May 2, 2009 - May 11, 2013


4 arcseconds / pixel


  • Time Series
  • Photometry
  • Imaging


All Documents
Kepler Logo

July 16,  2020

MAST Kepler Archive Manual

The archive manual describes the file formats and their contents for the light curve files, target pixel files, full frame images, and other engineering files.

1 MB

December 1,  2016

7 MB

January 20,  2017

60 MB

April 22,  2016

25 MB

August 8,  2016

1 MB

September 8,  2011

September 23,  2020

Search Tools

All Search Options
MAST Portal

Download light curves and target pixel files for a few targets. Download full frame images. Find data from other missions for your target.


Find MAST data (including Kepler) for known planets or KOI's, matched to orbital phase. Plot quarter-stitched DV light curves. Access exoplanet parameters with references.

MAST Astroquery

Search for, and retrieve, Kepler data products programmatically based on a list of coordinates or target names. Interact with observational data in programs you write.

Kepler Data Search & Retrieval

Kepler-specific target pixel and light curve search. Query on target or observational metadata.

Bulk Downloads

Download scripts to retrieve complete sets of Kepler data, such as light curves, target pixel files, full frame images, or engineering files.

Mission Related Software

This table is a curated list of software commonly used by the science community during the Kepler and K2 missions.

Amazon Web Services

The Kepler mission observed the brightness of more than 180,000 stars near the Cygnus constellation at a 30 minute cadence for 4 years in order to find transiting exoplanets, study variable stars, and find eclipsing binaries.

Featured Data Products

Extracted Light Curves Kepler LC Logo
Extracted Light Curves
long cadence : _llc.fits short cadence : _slc.fits
Target Pixel Files Kepler TP Icon
Target Pixel Files
long cadence : _lpd-targ.fits short cadence : _spd-targ.fits
Full Frame Images Full Frame Images
Full Frame Images
Data Validation Time Series Files Data Validation Time Series Files
Data Validation Time Series Files

Supplemental Links

Kepler Images

Kepler with orbital swish going around
Kepler Logo

The Kepler Mission Logo

Image of Kepler spacecraft.
Kepler Spacecraft

Artistic rendering of the Kepler spacecraft.

Kepler Field of View

The field of view for Kepler during the priary 4-year mission. Each CCD is outlined in white on an image of the night sky.