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News release: 2011-099 March 29, 2011
The full version of this story with accompanying images is at:
NASA has selected five potential discoverers as the recipients of the 2011 Carl Sagan Postdoctoral Fellowships, named after the late astronomer. The Carl Sagan Fellowship takes a theme-based approach, in which fellows will focus on compelling scientific questions, such as "Are there Earth-like planets orbiting other stars?"
Sagan once said, "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known," which is in line with the Sagan Fellowship's primary goal: to discover and characterize planetary systems and Earth-like planets around other stars. Planets outside of our solar system are called exoplanets. The fellowship also aims to support outstanding recent postdoctoral scientists in conducting independent research broadly related to the science goals of NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program.
"The Sagan Fellowship program seeks to identify the most highly qualified young researchers in the field of exoplanets. Nowhere is the dynamism of this young branch of astronomy demonstrated more dramatically than by the intellectual quality and enthusiasm of these five new Sagan Fellows," said Charles Beichman, executive director of the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "These scientists are certain to be leaders of this exciting and rapidly growing field for many years to come."
-- David Kipping, who will work at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, to combine theory and observation to conduct a search for the moons of exoplanets.
-- Bryce Croll, who will work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass., to characterize the atmospheres of both large and small exoplanets using a variety of telescopes.
-- Wladimir Lyra, who will work at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., to study planet-forming disks and exoplanet formation.
-- Katie Morzinski, who will work at the University of Arizona, Tucson, to commission and employ high-contrast adaptive optics systems that will directly image Jupiter-like exoplanets.
-- Sloane Wiktorowicz, who will work at the University of California, Santa Cruz to use a technique called optical polarimetry to directly detect exoplanets.
A full description of the 2011 fellows and their projects, and other information about these programs is available at: http://nexsci.caltech.edu/sagan/2011postdocRecipients.shtml .
Priscilla Vega (818) 354-1357
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
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