Dr. Natalie Batalha leads the science investigation effort for Kepler – NASA’s first mission to find Earth-size planets beyond our solar system. Kepler is seeking to find how common planets are in other stars’ “habitable zones,” the range of distances from each individual star where temperatures could allow liquid water to pool on the surface of the planet without freezing or evaporating. Working at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, Batalha has been a leading figure of the mission since she joined the team in 1999.
Launched in 2009 with the objective of finding “Goldilocks planets” orbiting other stars like our Sun. The space telescope Kepler opened our eyes to the many terrestrial-sized planets that populate the galaxy, as well as to exotic worlds, unlike anything that exists in the solar system.
In this talk at the Silicon Valley Astronomy Lectures, Batalha gives an overview of the legacy of the Kepler Mission and other key planet discoveries. She also gives a preview of planet-finding missions to come.