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The Kepler-K2 Team Wins the National Space Society’s 2017 Space Pioneer Award for Science and Engineering

The NASA Kepler and K2 Team is the winner of the National Space Society’s 2017 Space Pioneer Award in the Science and Engineering category. This prestigious award will be presented to team representatives Charles K.Sobeck, Project Manager, and Dr. Natalie Batalha, Project Scientist, on Sunday, May 28, 2017 at the National Space Society’s 2017 International Space Development Conference.

NSS proudly presents this award in recognition of the massive amount of work carried out by the whole team to propose, design, launch and operate the Kepler and K2 missions and to analyze the resulting data over many years. It also recognizes all of the many volunteers who have been poring over the Kepler data to assist in finding planets around other stars.

Read more: http://buff.ly/2jfZcES

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A Four Planet System in Orbit, Directly Imaged and Remarkable

The era of directly imaging exoplanets has only just begun, but the science and viewing pleasures to come are appealingly apparent.

[An] evocative movie of four planets more massive than Jupiter orbiting the young star HR 8799 is a composite of sorts, including images taken over seven years at the W.M. Keck observatory in Hawaii.

The movie clearly doesn’t show full orbits, which will take many more years to collect. The closest-in planet circles the star in around 40 years; the furthest takes more than 400 years.

Watch video and read more here: http://buff.ly/2j1XjjQ

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Congratulations to Rebekah Dawson, 2017 Annie Jump Cannon Award recipient and former Institute REU student!

The 2017 Annie Jump Cannon Award for outstanding research and promise for the future by a postdoctoral woman scientist goes to Rebekah Dawson (Pennsylvania State University) for her work modeling the dynamical interactions of exoplanets in multiplanet systems. Her studies help explain exoplanets’ mutual orbital inclinations and eccentricities as well as their migration toward and away from each other and their host star. She has also written influential papers on the global properties of exoplanet systems, which inform us about their formation histories.

Full list of award winners: http://buff.ly/2j7W2XV
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In a new video by Speculative Films, scientists talk about the challenges of visiting Earth's neighboring star system, Alpha Centauri, and the way antimatter could power such a journey.

The video also puts in a plug for Project Blue, a new effort to launch a telescope to search for potentially habitable planets orbiting Alpha Centauri, just over 4 light-years away. (Project Blue is running a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter.) Such a discovery would be a strong motivation for efforts like that of Positron Dynamics, researchers said.

"That a habitable planet might exist so close by would be an extraordinary and really transformative discovery," Bill Diamond, the president and CEO of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in California, said in the video.

Watch here: http://buff.ly/2hpLEY0

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Fall #AGU16 meeting: Detection and Direct Imaging of Habitable Exoplanets

AGU Fall meeting is starting today. Institute scientist Franck Marchis co-organized a session entitled “Detection and Direct Imaging of Habitable Exoplanets: Progress and Future” to discuss the potential of new and future facilities and modeling efforts designed to detect, image and characterize habitable exoplanets, studying their formation, evolution and also the existence of possible biospheres. Topics that are covered in this session include signs of exoplanet habitability and global biosignatures that can be sought with upcoming instrumentation; instrument requirements and technologies to detect these markers; strategies for target selection and prioritization; and impacts of planetary system properties, ground-based and space telescope architectures.

For full list of talks and posters: http://buff.ly/2hq0Q7n

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Exploring Exoplanets, with Seth Shostak – StarTalk All-Stars

Seth Shostak, SETI Institute Senior Astronomer and StarTalk veteran, is back to host StarTalk All-Stars as he and his co-host Chuck Nice welcome Jason Wright, Associate Professor of Astronomy at Penn State, to explore the exoplanets. Jason, who is a member at the Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds, offers his insights on the important discovery of Proxima b, the neighboring exoplanet to Earth, roughly 4 light years away. We get details on what makes Proxima b special, space transportation by light sails and laser beams, and information on star KIC8462852, or as Seth calls it “Bob”. You’ll learn how the Kepler Space Telescope uses the dimming of stars to find planets, which bio-signatures we look for on exoplanets, and how coronagraphic telescopes work. Discover what signals SETI scans for, how long it would take to confirm a possible alien transmission, and the protocol SETI takes if a possible transmission is received. You’ll also find out about alien astro-architecture, “super Earths”, and whether it’s possible for non carbon-based life to exist. Plus, get the answers to Cosmic Queries like how do we detect life on an exoplanet? How many exoplanets have we visually seen? Are there planet types that are theorized but haven’t been discovered? A fan even asks, “Once you go alien, can you ever go back?”

Listen here: http://buff.ly/2hcQbwF

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Are we nearing finding the first moon outside our solar system?

Using the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI), a team of astronomers lead by Jason Wang, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, refined the orbit of Beta Pic b. While the planet comes tantalizingly close to passing between its star and the Earth, they found it doesn’t quite transit.

But while the planet won’t yield up its secrets through transiting, Wang and his colleagues found that any material gravitationally bound in a region known as the Hill sphere could be visible.

“Interestingly, the planet is not by itself. Generally planets have a cocoon of material around it if it’s very young, like this one,” says team member Franck Marchis, a researcher at the SETI Institute in California. Marchis presented the research last month at the Division of Planetary Sciences meeting in Pasadena, California. “Maybe in this cocoon, we have rings, information of natural satellites, the equivalent of the moons of the Jovian system.” If the moons are as large enough as Io or Ganymede, the largest of Jupiter’s satellites, they could be visible.

“This may be the first time we have the detection of an exomoon,” Marchis says.

Read more: http://buff.ly/2g9fmhO

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ICYMI: The SETI Institute in partnership with the Boldly Go Institute, is a proud partner of “Project Blue” who’s aim is to launch a space telescope to take mankind’s first photograph of an Earth-like Exoplanet around our nearest neighbor star – Alpha Centauri. This project will also give access to citizen scientists, to a space-born telescope to explore other wonders of our universe during half of the telescope’s orbit, when it’s mirror and sensors cannot be pointed at Alpha Centauri.

Click the link to learn more: http://buff.ly/2g3HXIz

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The SETI Institute in partnership with the Boldly Go Institute, is a proud partner of “Project Blue” who’s aim is to launch a space telescope to take mankind’s first photograph of an Earth-like Exoplanet around our nearest neighbor star – Alpha Centauri. This project will also give access to citizen scientists, to a space-born telescope to explore other wonders of our universe during half of the telescope’s orbit, when it’s mirror and sensors cannot be pointed at Alpha Centauri.

Click the link to learn more:

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NASA Kepler Visionary Honored By American Association for the Advancement of Science

William J. Borucki, principal investigator for NASA's Kepler mission at the agency's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California, has been named a Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Borucki is recognized for distinguished contributions to the field of astrophysics, with his leadership of the Kepler Mission leading to the discovery of thousands of exoplanets.

"This is a worthy acknowledgment of Bill Borucki's vision and the commitment of the Kepler mission team," said Michael Bicay, director for science at Ames. “Kepler has re-written the narrative in contemporary astronomy by proving what scientists long suspected—that planets are common in our Milky Way galaxy. This essential leap in knowledge allows us to take the next important steps in ascertaining whether life could exist elsewhere."

Read more: http://buff.ly/2gl1r9X
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