Deanna Csomo McCool | September 8, 2018
Are we alone?
That’s the big question the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Committee on Exoplanet Science Strategy would like to answer. Its priorities and recommendations for the next decade’s search for habitable worlds outside the solar system include launching a direct-imaging mission into space and building more powerful telescopes.
Justin R. Crepp, associate professor of physics in the College of Science at the University of Notre Dame and director of the Engineering and Design Core Facility, was one of 14 members who served on the committee that is part of the upcoming 2020-2030 NAS decadal survey in astronomy, astrophysics and planetary science. In a nearly 260-page report released Wednesday (Sept. 5), the committee, which met from February through August, outlined seven recommendations in order to advance exoplanet science.
Thousands of planets have already been discovered since 1995, but researchers expect billions more exist — and need to be investigated.
“Our ultimate goals are to image a planet, study its atmosphere and search for biomarkers that could point to life,” Crepp said. “The biggest question is, are we alone? Ultimately that’s what we are attempting to answer and what motivates people to come to work every day.”
To achieve that goal, the committee’s first two recommendations tackle building telescopes on the ground and launching one into space.
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