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Public Talk

The Revolution in Exoplanets: Understanding Our Place in the Universe

February 21, 2024

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Dr. David Ciardi

Chief Scientist at the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute

It has been nearly 30 years since the first discovery of a planet outside our solar system orbiting a star like our Sun. Since that time, the rate of discovery of planets orbiting other stars has doubled each year and has reached over 5600 known exoplanets. Driven by discoveries from the ground and with NASA missions like Kepler and TESS, our view of the ourselves within the context of the Universe has changed dramatically. We are now moving from just planetary discovery to a search for life in our own solar system and on planets orbiting other stars in the Galaxy. David Ciardi, the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute Chief Scientist, will give an overview of how we have discovered exoplanets, how we are trying to characterize the planets we have discovered, and how we have learned about our place in the Galaxy.

Las Cumbres Observatory is pleased to present a series of free public talks featuring leading scientists speaking about exciting new discoveries in astronomy.

Everyone is welcome to these events.

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Dr. David Ciardi

Dr. David Ciardi is the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (NExScI) Chief Scientist at Caltech/JPL and has been a leader in infrared astronomy and exoplanet research for over 20 years. He earned his B.A. in astronomy and physics at Boston University and his Ph.D. at the University of Wyoming. At the University of Florida, he built infrared cameras for some of the world's largest telescopes before moving to NExScI at Caltech. He has been and is a member of the science teams for the exoplanet-finding space missions CoRoT, Kepler, K2, TESS, and ARIEL where he has contributed to the discovery of more than a 1000 exoplanets. He has published and contributed to nearly 400 refereed papers. In 2016, he was awarded the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal for his work on Kepler, the 2018 Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition as part of the Kepler Mission Project, and in 2020, he was awarded the NASA Silver Achievement Medal as part of the TESS Mission Project. He has been an author on nearly 400 scientific papers and the co-discoverer of more than 1000 exoplanets.On a personal note, David has been an aspiring athlete his entire life - his original plan was to be a shortstop for the New York Yankees. Once reality set in, he decided to pursue a career in science and eventually fell in love with astrophysics - and a special love for observational work. Over his career, he has observed at more than 2 dozen telescopes scattered around the world. He still pretends to be an athlete and he earned a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and continues to play softball, soccer, and racquetball. His most recent athletic passion is cycling where he just has to keep his balance and move his legs.

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