|Gary Blackwood (NASA (NASA ))|
Gary Blackwood is the program manager of NASA's ExEp program which is chartered to "Discover how the universe works, explore how it began and evolved and search for Earth-like planets." An exo planet is defined as a planet that does not orbit Earth's Sun and instead orbits a different star, stellar remnant or brown dwarf. The purpose of the ExEp projects are to explore these planets not in our solar system, to see if they have the capabilities for oxygen and water, to see what we can learn from them and how they may guide future space exploration. The project is based out of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
|Kepler 64 Moon (http://kepler.nasa.gov/ (Terrell, Boulder, CO))|
its wing are several projects including the Kepler Project, managed by
NASA's Ames Research. Kepler is a space observatory launched to discover
earth-like planets orbiting other stars. It was designed to survey a
portion of the Milky Way to discover Earth size extrasolar planets
situated in or near the habitable zone, or the Goldilocks zone, which is
the region around a star where a planet can support liquid water at its
surface. Just as water was the precursor to life on earth, one of the
main purposes of the Kepler, as with many of the ExEp programs, is to
seek out the possibilities and probabilities of life on these extrasolar
planets. Gary Blackwood is one of the thinkers who believes the
probability is good that water, air and life beyond our solar system
exists. They have found many planets within the habitable zones in their
own planetary systems and are tracking these planets and studying them
carefully with a wide range of telescopes and technology. Based on
Kelpler mission data it has been reported that there could be as many as
40 billion Earth-sized planets orbiting the habitable zones of sun-like
stars within the Milky Way galaxy.
other projects within the program include the Large Binocular Telescope
Interferometer, which is a project being developed to explore the
nature of nearby exoplanetary systems. K2, a new project for the
program, will link up with spacecraft from the Keplar mission to observe
numerous target fields, each year over 40,000. The WFIRST mission will
be a telescope able to address many unanswered questions about the
universe. WIth 300 megapixels per image and 100 times Webb's field of
view it will be an unparalleled suit of planet discovering tools. Exo-S
Starshade Probe-Class is a mission concept currently under development
that would probe and image exoplanets orbiting stars other than the sun.
The mission is expected to launch 2024 with the ability to reach down
to Earth-size planets in the habitable zones of nearly two dozen stars,
laying the groundwork for a larger flagship mission to come.
work for NASA and the ExEp program is leading the world closer and
closer to discovering a planet similar to our own that perhaps we could
one day visit.