January 10, 2011
NASA Chat: The Quest for Planets
A new planet discovery will be announced Monday Jan. 10 during the 'Exoplanets & Their Host Stars' presentation at the American Astronomical Society (AAS) conference in Seattle, Washington.
Kepler is NASA's first mission to look specifically for Earth-size planets in the habitable zones (areas where liquid water could exist) around stars like our sun. Kepler will spend 3-1/2 years surveying more than 100,000 stars in the Cygnus-Lyra region of our Milky Way galaxy. More than 300 exoplanets have been discovered previously, most of which are low-density gas giants such as Jupiter or Saturn in our own solar system.
Joining the chat is easy. Simply visit this page on Monday from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST / 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. PST. The chat window will open at the bottom of this page starting 15 minutes before the chat. You can log in and be ready to ask questions at 3:30 p.m.
About Dr. Natalie Batalha
Natalie Batalha is a professor of physics and astronomy at San Jose State University in the heart of Silicon Valley, California and deputy science team lead for NASA's Kepler Mission. She holds a bachelor's in physics from the University of California (UC), Berkeley and a doctorate in astrophysics from UC Santa Cruz. Batalha started her career as a stellar spectroscopist studying young, sun-like stars. After a post-doctoral fellowship in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Batalha returned to California. Inspired by the growing number of exoplanet discoveries she joined the team led by William Borucki at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., working on transit photometry -- an emerging technology for finding exoplanets. As a member of the Kepler team, Batalha is responsible for the selection of the more than 150,000 stars the spacecraft monitors and works closely with team members at Ames to identify viable planet candidates from Kepler photometry.