Ohio State Professor Leading NASA Project To Discover Earth-Like Planets

Dec 16, 2019
Originally published on December 16, 2019 9:55 am

An Ohio State University professor is helping lead a project NASA says will play an important role in space science over the next decade.

Astronomers want to start a new mission to search for Earth-like planets outside our solar system.

Ohio State professor Scott Gaudi co-chairs The Habitable Exoplanet Observatory, or HabEx.

The HabEx telescope uses a "starshade" to block light from a parent star, allowing its powerful scope to search for dim planets orbiting that star.

The mirror inside this telescope would be 4 meters wide, as compared to Hubble’s, which is 2.4 meters. Its origami-like shade would be 52 meters wide and unfold to a flower-shaped disk once in space.

The mission would collect data on exoplanets for about a decade. It is estimated to cost $7 billion over 10 years.

The project is expected to receive funding by 2021 but would not likely launch until the 2030s.

The HabEx mission was designed by astronomors, engineers and physicists from around the U.S., including the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

HabEx is one of four mission concepts presented as finalists for the next Decadal Survey. That program identifies flagship space missions scientists propose.

Copyright 2019 WOSU 89.7 NPR News. To see more, visit WOSU 89.7 NPR News.