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NASA Ames Research Center

Kepler Team
Dave Koch photo
David Koch
Deputy Principal Investigator
NASA Ames Research Center
Moffett Field, CA 94035-1000

Why I joined the Kepler Team
“What could be more exciting than detecting other Earth-size planets?  Seeing the fantastic data coming from Kepler is like a Rocky Mountain high.” Dave has been working on the Kepler Mission since 1992, before it was known as “Kepler.”

Kepler Job Description
As the deputy principal investigator for Kepler, Dave provides broad overview of the entire mission from the scientific viewpoint, being the primary interface between the science team and the engineering team. This included writing the Scientific Requirements Document, reviewing designs as they were developed and insuring the instrument would receive the appropriate performance testing to insure that it would perform on-orbit. He developed the Kepler Technology Demonstration used to demonstrate that the transit method would work under simulated operating and noise conditions, and in particular, he devised the method to demonstrate that Earth-size transits could be detected with a commercial off the shelf CCD detector.

Dave has worked on scientific space instrumentation since the Apollo program in the mid-1960s. At the Univ of Wisc-Madison he worked on some balloon, sounding rocket and Saturn booster scientific instruments in x-ray and gamma-ray astronomy. At Cornell Univ. he built a balloon-borne gamma-ray telescope that detected the first pulsed high-energy gamma rays from the Crab pulsar. At American Science and Engineering he was the project scientist for UHURU, the first spacecraft dedicated to doing x-ray astronomy and which produced the first all-sky survey. He also was the project scientist for HEAO-B, later named The Einstein Observatory. Next, at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Dave was the project scientist for the infrared telescope on Spacelab-2. He came to NASA Ames in 1988 as mission operations manager for the Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF), now the Spitzer Space Telescope, and the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). He created and managed Flight Opportunities for Science Teacher EnRichment (FOSTER), the Education and Public Outreach program for the Kuiper Airborne Observatory (a C-141 with a 1 m telescope). In parallel he was a co-investigator on the small explorer mission Sub-millimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite (SWAS), the highest frequency radio receiver ever launched into space. In 1992 Dave began working with Bill Borucki on what eventually became known as Kepler.

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