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Scientists Receive NASA Grant to Study Exoplanet Composition

NExSS program

Scientists Receive NASA Grant to Study Exoplanet Composition

NASA’s Nexus for Exoplanet System Science program has awarded $5.7 million to a group of academic and public-sector scientists to study the composition of planets outside the solar system.

NExSS’ objective is to coordinate research on the habitability of exoplanets and potential signs of life.

The Tracing Rocky Exoplanet Compositions team, led by principal investigator and Arizona State University professor Steve Desch, is tasked with identifying whether carbon, nitrogen and other elements exist on such celestial bodies. The findings are meant to inform future studies.

According to Cayman Unterborn, deputy principal investigator and scientist at Southwest Research Institute, the TREC team will rely on experimental and theoretical approaches for the study. He explained that understanding an exoplanet’s chemistry is key to determining whether life exists there.

TREC researchers are also expected to guide the design and operation of telescopes used to find life on such celestial bodies. According to a press release, the best facilities for finding signs of life include the James Webb Space Telescope and the in-development Habitable Exoplanet ObservatoryASU said Monday.

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Category: Space

Tags: Arizona State University exoplanet NASA Nexus for Exoplanet System Science space Tracing Rocky Exoplanet Compositions