Kay Ferrari: Good afternoon everybody. This is Kay Ferrari filling in for Jeff Nee who has been called away this afternoon. Welcome to today's Universe of Learning Telecon entitled NASA's Exoplanet Detection, the Missions and Women Involved. And I'm going to turn the program over to Dr. Emma Marcucci from the Space Telescope Science Institute. Emma.
Dr. Emma Marcucci: All right thank you. So thank you everyone for being here with us today and for anyone in the future recordings who are listening. So, the briefing today is in recognition of women's history month as well as some of the NASA exoplanet missions that are having milestones this year. Since today's briefing is in part to hear about these women's personal stories and how they got to where they are I'm going to keep my introductions brief. But they will talk more about themselves and their full bios are also available on the Web sites.
Before I pass it off to our first speaker I'd like to go over our resource slide. This is on Slide 2. All of these resources are listed on the NASA Wavelength list. We have a set of resources related to women in STEM. And in the note pane of this slide. there is the link to the resource list that was created for that February briefing that Carolyn mentioned before we got started. We have a number of Exo planet to related resources. They NASA Exoplanet Exploration is a nice overview page about exoplanets. Eyes on Exoplanet is a nice interactive tool to explore the exoplanets.
If you're familiar with the exoplanet posters or may be have seen some of the 3D videos of exoplanet surfaces those can be found at the Exoplanet Travel Bureau. There's also a Five Ways to Find a Planet Interactive there. There's additional information I'm not going to go through all of them because it will take a long time about the TRAPPIST system, some specific animations of orbits as well as activities and models that you can do. I do want to highlight which we'll hear more about later in the presentation our featured resource is the Exoplanet Explorers which Jessie is going to talk to us about. For anyone who was on the January call, the live from AAS call we actually featured science results from the Citizen CATE Citizen Science Project. So now we'll hear a bit more about the project side itself.
So, if we go to Slide 3 next slide our first speaker today is Dr. Jessie Christiansen. She is a Staff Scientist at the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute and the Science Curator at the NASA Exoplanet Archive. Jessie please take it away.
Dr. Jessie Christiansen: Okay fantastic. Thank you so much for having me on. I hadn't actually appreciated this was for Women's History Month so that's amazing. I'm very honored. All right let's go to Slide 4.
So, I was asked to share my story of how I got to be involved in NASA's Exoplanet Missions so I'm just going to step you through. We'll go in the way back machine to when I was a teenager. I grew up out in the country in Australia in a little town of 300 people with no streetlights. So the sky was incredible. I grew up in Australia so we had the whole southern sky. It was very beautiful and I basically just fell in love with the sky.
But I never knew that you could get paid to do anything to do with studying the sky. I came from a very blue-collar family. I was the first in my family to go to college let alone get a PhD so, I just loved the sky. If we go to Slide 5 what I really wanted to do was to be a fighter pilot. I grew up near the RAAF Amberley Base in Australia which is the home of the F111s. And they flew over my house one time and I was super obsessed but my eyesight was too bad so I couldn't be in the Armed Forces.
So, if we go to Slide 6, I knew at that point this was the end of high school and I had just been rejected from the Australian Defense Force Academy, I knew that I wanted to do science. I loved science. I loved science for what turns out to be the wrong reason. I loved science because there was always a right answer. And now that I'm a scientist I understand that that is not the reason to love science.
Luckily, I still love science because of the exploration and the finding out all the possible answers. But I knew I wanted to do science. And this is the late 90s. And Dolly the sheep had just been cloned so everybody was all about genetics so I started degree in biotechnology. I got about six months into the degree and I realized that I had basically just panicked and flailed around when I couldn't become a fighter pilot and chosen the very first thing that came to my mind which was not the right thing to do.
In high school I had never, ever sat through a single biology dissection lab without bolting from the rom in sheer terror so biotechnology was not a good idea. But by this time I was at a university and I knew that I had seen people get paid to do astronomy. I had seen that there were careers available that you could use to study the sky. So if we go to Slide 7, I realized there was actually a possibility that if I studied physics and math I could become an astronomer. So that's what I did. I got my undergrad degree in physics and physical mathematics. And then if we go on to Slide 8, I did my PhD in astronomy and I was in love from the start and it worked out thankfully.
So, my PhD I did at the University of New South Wales. My PhD project was a transit survey from the South Pole. So transits as a way to find exoplanets. And that relies on planets going between you and the star that the planet's orbiting and blocking some of the light. So, we surveyed many, many tens or hundreds of thousands of stars looking for these little dips as the planets go in front. And the South Pole it turns out is an excellent place to do this because it's nighttime for six months. So you can just stare at stars for months at a time waiting for these little dips whereas when you do it from say Australia or America the sun comes up every day and kind of gets in the way.
So, the South Pole is an excellent place to do a transit survey. Unfortunately, my project suffered a series of hardware failures so I never actually got any data. But I did get to go to the South Pole as is seen in the picture. And if we go to Slide 9 at the end of the day I did get my PhD so they let me have it even if I didn't find any planets.
At the end of my PhD one of my colleagues asked me, "What's your dream job, like what do you want to do next?" And I said, "I want to do a postdoc at Harvard with David Charbonneau." And this was in 2007 when transiting planets had been found, we were starting to study their atmosphere and David Charbonneau was a huge name. He had done all these first transiting planets, first atmosphere detection of a transiting planes. And he was at Harvard coming from Australia this was like this incredible thing, this incredible unnamable goal that I would go to Harvard and work with David Charbonneau.
And a month later he advertised for a postdoc to come and work with him on and exoplanet survey. And I was like this is my job. I had never concentrated on so hard on anything in my entire life. But I got the job. So, if we go to Slide 10, I moved to Boston and started my postdoc at Harvard.
What I was doing there besides soaking in the fact that I was in America working at my dream job was working on the NASA Epoxi Mission. So, Slide 11 just shows the other reason why I was really excited to move to America because I got to go to Disneyland for the first time. It was not all science. Sometimes it's fun.
So, Slide 12 shows the badge of the mission that I worked on. So, Deep Impact was a mission that NASA launched to have a comet encounter and the mission had two parts. It had one part which was the observation instrument and the other part which was the impactor which crashed into the comet.
So after the comet encounter happened NASA put out this opportunity call like what should we do with this observation instrument? And Dave Charbonneau and Drake Deming had put in a proposal that we should use it to look at known transiting planets and see if there were any other planets in the system. So, I came and I worked on that project for two years at Harvard and I got very good at calibrating space-based photometry but we did not find any planets. So, I was starting to get a little disillusioned about the whole finding planets thing. So, I had worked on at that point three separate projects looking for planets and hadn't found any. So, but I got pretty good at space-based photometry and then I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do next. So, if we go to Slide 13 I got an email totally out of the blue from Doug Caldwell who was the Kepler Instrument Scientist. The NASA Kepler Mission have launched in 2009 and this was towards the end of 2009. So, the mission and launched and it was already blowing everybody away that it was going to be incredible. And I got this email out of the blue from Doug Caldwell saying, "Hey we're advertising for a staff scientist." So, he and I had actually worked together at the South Pole. That was where I met him at the South Pole and so this was years later. And he came back to me and he was like, "Hey we had this job. Would you be interested?"
Of course the way I spun that if you go to Slide 14 was I turned to my mom and I was like, "Oh my God I'm being headhunted by NASA," which was now the most incredible thing that had ever happened to me after getting my dream job at Harvard. So that was very exciting.
So, at the start of 2010 I moved out to California and started working on the Kepler Mission. So, if we go to Slide 15 I'll talk -- actually, let's just go straight to Slide 16 because that's where all the bubbles appear. I'll talk a little bit about the Kepler mission.
So, the NASA Kepler Mission is an optical telescope, a 1 meter telescope that was launched in 2009 just before I got the email saying, "Hey come and work on this project. We need someone to calibrate our photometry." And the whole point of the mission was to measure how common planets like the Earth are, so planets the size of Earth at the same temperature as Earth orbiting stars like our sun.
To do that the mission monitored 200,000 stars for four years in a field of view near the constellation Cygnus. So, it's about a 12 x 12 degree field of view in the constellation Cygnus. And I did it using the transit method which I just described where we just monitored the brightness of these stars over and over and over again. Every 30 minutes you measure the brightness of 200,000 stars and you just look and see when that brightness goes down. And if it happens you look at it again and see if it happens again. If it happens three times then you know you have a planet which is super exciting or at least something periodic which you then find out later is or isn't a planet. Periodic signals are the best.
Kepler now has been wildly successful which is great, has found 2300 confirmed planets so far. They're really happy to say if we go to Slide 17 the final Kepler Planet Candidate catalog in the bottom corner of this slide. it says Thompson et al submitted. As of this morning that is accepted. So the final catalog has been accepted. Susan Thompson is another incredible woman who's working on the NASA Kepler Mission and she's the lead author on this final paper. So, this final paper had something like 4000 candidates in it. Not all of them will turn out to be planets. But what they are important for is working out how common planets are.
So, what I'm plotting here on Slide 17 is the radius of the planets or the size of the planet on the Y axis in Earth radii so ten to the zero is one Earth radius. And then on the X axis I'm plotting the orbital period so that's how long that planet takes to go around the star. So, the Earth for instance takes 365 days. So, there's a little symbol in the bottom right which is Earth so that's at one Earth radius of 365 days. That's where Earth would be on this plot.
Now what you can see is thousands of points. But you might notice that there's not a lot of points right near Earth. So, if we go to Slide 18 what I'm showing here are two bars that basically bracket between the size of Earth and the size of Neptune. So most of the planet candidates that Kepler has found has been in this sub Neptune super Earth population. And the reason that's really interesting is because we don't have anything like that in our solar system. We have a gap there between Earth and Neptune so this is really tantalizing like what are these? Are these big rocks like super, super Earth? Are they mini Neptune's like little ice balls, what are they made of? So, this is a really exciting thing that's come out of Kepler.
So, if you go to Slide 19 you'll see why at the end of the day we haven't quite reached the sensitivity we need to get to Earth-sized planets. And that mostly turns out to be because the stars are noisier than we thought. We thought our sun was an ordinary star and that it was an average amount of noise coming out of the star as normal stars but turns out that our sun is actually quiet. And most stars are noisier than our sun which meant that when we did our calculations for how many transits we'd need to see we were off by a little bit.
So, this yellow circle is basically trying to highlight like we don't think that there's no planets here. What it turns out is that the instrument wasn't sensitive to planets there. So, we have found thousands of planets and including all of these exciting new classes of planets but just not quite Earth's twin yet. So, Slide 20 shows just a catalog of variety of different types of systems that we found. And the point is that there are thousands of things across all different sizes of stars, all different sizes of planets, all different configurations of planets, single planets, multiple planets.
So, this is where I want to point you to in the resources there's a Kepler Orrery link [https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap151205.html]. This is an animation made by Ethan Kruse out of the University of Washington which I had originally had on this slide but it's a PDF so we replaced it with a still image. If you go to the Kepler Orrery you'll be able to see an animated version of the basically the equivalent of just the entire population of Kepler systems in relative size to each other. So that's just a really stunning animation and a great thing to show like students or museum goers or something to get a feel for just how many different types of systems we found.
Okay so if we go to Slide 21, one way that we could have overcome this difficulty that stars are noisier than we thought was just to observe for longer, just to look for just watch those stars for longer than we thought and add up more transits until we get the signals noise the detection significance that we wanted to overcome that sensitivity barrier. So, we calculated that what we needed was three more years on top of the original four years.
But unfortunately if you go to Slide 22, we did not get that because just after four years of operation Kepler had a hardware failure where it's the second of its four reaction wheels -- the reaction wheels are what used to keep it pointed in space failed -- which meant that Kepler was no longer able to point at its original field of 200,000 stars.
But if you go to Slide 23 the very, very clever engineers at Ball Aerospace realized that there was somewhere that you could point the spacecraft and still get good data and that was in the ecliptic. So, they turned the spacecraft around and started observing fields in the ecliptic. And that was the K2 mission which is the sequel to Kepler.
So, if you go to Slide 24 I'm showing here a map of the fields in the ecliptic. So, the ecliptic is basically the plane of the solar system. So it's the plane what the sun goes through during the day where you see the zodiac at night where you see the moons and the planets -- all of our solar system planets they're all in the ecliptic. So that's this band of sky that is the plane of our solar system. So, K2 is basically tiling the ecliptic one field at a time and finding more planets.
And just in my last minute or two I wanted to talk about the Citizens Science Project that we have using K2 data. So, if you go to Slide 25 we were having a problem which is that the K2 data were coming in faster than we could handle. So inspired by Planet Hunters which is a Citizens Science Project that started using the original Kepler data we created Exoplanet Explorers. So, what we do is we let our software find all of the potential periodic signals in the data.
Now there's lots of crappy reasons why you could have periodic signals in the data that aren't related to planets. But they're easy for humans to tell apart for planets. They look quite different. It's hard to explain to a computer why they're different which is why the computer's hard at weeding them out but to a human you can just say like this is a planet, this is not a planet. It's very straightforward. So, this is the perfect sort of thing for crowdsourcing. And also, there's the thrill of discovering a planet.
So we make all of the signals available and we asked people to vote is it a planet or not? So if you go to Slide 26 we were very excited in January and this is what you guys talked about on your previous universe of learning to announce the discovery of K2 138 which is a five planet at least, possibly six planet system discovered entirely by citizen scientists using the Exoplanet Explorer program.
Since then in the month between January and February they found 94 more planets in the new years' worth of data we uploaded so now we have even more candidates to go through. So it's been very exciting and a really nice interactive way for people to like see the data, touch the data and learn what planets look like and maybe find their own planets. So that's all I have. Thank you.
Dr. Emma Marcucci: Thank you very much. That was really interesting and great to hear you got into your work.
So, if we go to Slide 27 our second speaker is Dr. Elisa Quintana. She is on Astrophysicist as NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, a Test Support Scientist and Deputy Project Scientist for Communication for the Wide Field infrared survey telescope or WFIRST. Elisa please take it away.
Dr. Elisa Quintana: Thank you. So, I am going to carry on from where Jessie left off and basically tell you about NASA's next Exoplanet Mission that is launching next month. It's called TESS, so Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and a little bit about what we can expect from ground and space based surveys on exoplanets. So on my first Slide 27 I added this nice illustration by this artist that wrote it for some article in Science News. But I really love it because it shows many of NASA's space missions that are really focused on all types of astrophysics that all have an exoplanet component.
And this sort of illustrates not just all of the missions that have this goal to search for exoplanets and planets like our own but also if you look at the globe all of the ground based surveys there are thousands from amateur astronomers who like large surveys like LSST. So, it's really just a worldwide effort trying to find how many planets are out there and how many are out there like our own.
So, if you go to Slide 28 I'll just give a little bit of my background also. I guess I have similar a similar background to Jessie that I grew up in this sort of remote place. I grew up in the small town in New Mexico. And basically, I didn't have any role models that did anything in science. I was sort of always interested in it but I grew up in this tiny town. I was also the first person to go to college and get a PhD. But it's also so remote that we also had this wonderful beautiful sky. And, I loved it. And it never crossed my mind not once that I could actively participate in study anything like that.
So people always ask me about role models. And I always say well I really got into space because I love the Jetsons so I always say it's Judy Jetson was my first role model. And it's sadly kind of true.
If you move to Slide 29 so I ended up going to community college and I was pretty much lost until I was in my early 20s and I started taking some math and physics classes and I really got interested in it. And so, I eventually transferred to UC San Diego and it was at a time where Sally Ride was a Physicist Professor. So she's known famously as America's first woman in space and arguably the probably the best role model for women that's existed just that she's really paved the way for a lot of women in science.
And so, she had a pet project at UCSD where she built a little mini mission control center. And you can see in this figure at the top I was with a group where we basically helped develop this program where there was a CCD camera on this space shuttle looking down at Earth. And so, we organized a way for middle school students across the country to develop some remote-sensing curriculum and decide if they wanted to look at certain regions of Earth.
We would have people in the space shuttle snap pictures from CCD. And it was a really fun. It was my first basically sort of NASA related job. And so that was a lot of fun. And, clearly this got me interested in space and I've have been affiliated with some NASA type of project since this which was in the mid-1990s.
And if you move to Slide 30 so about a decade later after graduate school I joined the Kepler Mission. And so, I did a lot of my PhD research at NASA Ames. And being at NASA Ames I happened to be there at the right time when they were developing Kepler and Kepler was just getting ready for launch. So, I joined the team in 2006. Kepler launched in 2009. And so, I was really fortunate to be part of this group and see this mission develop from just these concepts and trying to imagine what this spacecraft data might look like into actually working with the data working with teams and eventually helping many of the teams to discover a lot of these planets.
This is the project where I met Jessie who just gave the first talk so we worked a lot together on the data analysis and finding planets. And Maura who's talking after me is going to talk more about behind the scenes at this really great successful mission.
And so, moving to Slide 31 I'll just move on to exoplanets. So, Jessie mentioned I talked a lot about the Kepler Mission. It was a prime mission that went from 2009 to 2013. And really its primary goal was to answer this question-- what is the fraction of stars in our galaxy that harbor Earth -sized planets? And so, if you see this box in the upper left this basically shows the portion of sky that Kepler observed for four years in its prime mission. The way some people try to imagine it is if you were to out-stretch your arm and look at your palm that would be about the size of the patch of sky that Kepler observed.
And so, if you move to Slide 32 it's really amazing that Kepler looked at just this one patch of sky and found all of these planets. And so, this is what we call a Skittles diagram. And it shows the location on the Kepler field of view where we found planets of all types and sizes. And so, this was the first look of only the first few years of data. And Jesse showed that Kepler went on to discover thousands of planets and has an additional several thousands of planets that await confirmation that are called planet candidates. So, it's been this very, very successful mission.
Slide 33 so NASA's next mission is TESS. It's the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. So, this is using a detection method that's very similar to Kepler but it has different goals and different observing strategies. So, TESS was developed to move on from Kepler. So, Kepler taught us the planets are everywhere. So now that we know planets are everywhere we want to look for planets that are nearby close to us where observers from Earth can actually use their telescopes from the ground and learn a lot more about them.
So, Kepler was a detection mission. TESS is going to bring us from detection to the regime of really characterizing exoplanets and to find all these planets that we're going to be really studying for decades to come. And so here on the left you see these boxes that you can see the size relative to the Kepler's field of view. The little insight box shows this globe.
TESS has a field of view that's composed of four cameras. And it's a 96 x 24-degree swatch at every pointing. And the way it's going to work is it's going to tile the sky and it's going to observe one hemisphere at a time per year. And it's going to tile the sky every month. And ultimately in the two-year mission is going to observe over 85% of the sky. And so, if you move to Slide 34 you can see in yellow or orange this shows Kepler search space.
So, Kepler looked at a patch of sky that was a fraction of a percent of the sky. And it looked for planets around stars that were thousands of light-years away. So TESS instead is going to look at you'll see this globe in blue, it's going to look for planets around stars that are much closer within hundreds of light years away and covering most of the sky. And so, hundreds of light-years away is still very far but it's close enough that it's feasible to start really looking for more information other than just what size it is and where it's located. And so, it's really going to help us understand what our nearest stellar neighbors are.
So moving on to Slide 35 if you look at all of the stars that are close to the Sun the majority are what we call M dwarfs. And so, this graphic shows the locations of all of the stars within 80 light years of the Sun. They're colored by spectral type and so stars that are shown in red are these small M-dwarfs so they're basically stars that are between 10% and 50% the size of our sun. So, they're very different exoplanet host stars and they're very important to study for several reasons, one just because of the sheer abundance of them. M-dwarfs dominate the summer consolation accounting for about 75% of all stars in our galaxy. So not only are they abundant close to us, they're abundant throughout our galaxy.
The other reason is that we learned from Kepler that M-dwarfs typically host more exoplanets than sun-like stars. And so, it's really going to be interesting to see what TESS finds. We're going to explore our stellar neighborhood. We're going to see where all of the nearest exoplanets are. And this will enable us to develop a catalog and determine what are the best planets to take the next steps to really try to understand further.
Slide 36 so NASA's next flagship mission is the James Webb Space Telescope. So, this is the next big mission after Hubble. And so, James Webb will be launching in sometime mid-2019. And Web promises just larger and more sensitive equipment that can really boost atmospheric characterization of exoplanets. So we've had a lot of examples where we have Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes that are already in orbit and have been able to focus on some of the planets that Kepler has found and really start to kind of pick at what type of features can we see in these planets atmospheres. So, we really tested the limits to Hubble and Spitzer and so NASA's building James Webb for a lot of purposes. It's actually going to really explore a lot of questions and astrophysics. But a portion of it is going to probe exoplanet atmospheres.
And so, TESS is essentially a finder scope for Web. TESS is going to find lots of planets smaller than Neptune. Its goal is to find at least 50 that will have masses measured from ground-based follow-up programs. And the reason it's important to have masses is that both Kepler and TESS are transit photometry missions that give you planet sizes. If you can combine that with masses then that will give you planet density. Then you can start to understand if planets are rocky or if they're made of ice or if they can have gas envelopes and then you can start to really characterize these planets and do some comparative planetology. And so really the legacy of TESS is a catalog of exoplanets that are close to us. They're going to be the test and target for atmospheric characterization by not just Web but future missions and surveys for decades to come.
Slide 37 here is a picture of Web while it was in the clean room at Goddard. And everyone's really excited. It's launching soon. It's expected to be able to probe at least several hundred planets and characterize their atmospheres. And so, plans for early release science with Web have already been announced. Transiting exoplanets is one of the largest programs that TESS has committed to doing. And so really the whole community is really excited about the combination of TESS and Web and what we're going to learn from all of this.
And so, I think what really amazes me is that if you think about these questions it's trying to answer are there other Earths and these big questions like are we alone? And if you think that about how for thousands of years this has been a question that pretty much anyone have asked. So, people like Jesse and myself looked out at the sky when they were little like everyone wonders are there other Earths? And so I just really think it's fortunate we live in this tiny slice of time where we're actually building telescopes that are going to be able to answer these questions and so that's just amazing to me. I think that's one of the coolest areas of astrophysics and I'm biased because this is what I love.
But moving on to Slide 38 so after James Webb NASA has another big flagship mission in the works. It's called the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope. It's called WFIRST. This is set to launch in 2025. And so WFIRST is another flagship mission that has basically a three-pronged goal. And so, there is a dark energy aspect where it's going to answer a lot of questions in cosmology. It's going to do a lot of astrophysics and the third prong is exoplanets.
So if you look at this image in the middle you can see that the WFIRST footprint. And underneath you can see a little box that represents Hubble's field of view. And so, if you can remember seeing all of the beautiful images from Hubble like the deep field images when we first saw that the universe is populated with all of these amazing galaxies those images were from a field of view shown by this tiny box at the bottom. And so WFIRST is going to have the clarity of Hubble but it's going to have a field of view that's 100 times greater. And so that's represented by this much larger box shaped which I think Jessie at one time mention it looks like a space invader and I can't get that out of my head now. I don't think it was designed to be but I think that's a pretty cool aspect of it.
And so, it's going to be able to answer all of these questions Hubble's been doing including probing atmospheres and it has a large microlensing component. So, microlensing is another technique that's quite different from transit photometry. We can provide resources for it as it's probably out of the scope of today's talk but essentially, it's going to help complete the census of planetary systems. So, Kepler and TESS were really focused on planets that orbited within sort of Earth's orbit. So typically short period orbits. But we don't have a really good feel for planets like our own Jupiter that's on an 11-year orbit and also Neptune and Saturn and all these what we call cold exoplanets.
And so, the microlensing technique is going to find a lot of these long period planets and it's going to help us understand if those are just a common and is our solar system unique? If we look at all of the statistics like how does our solar system fit in this big picture? And so that's really exciting.
It's also going to be able to do transit photometry. With everything pulled out from the microlensing you can also do transit photometry. And early studies have suggested that we can potentially find hundreds of thousands of transiting planets from the data that's going to come out of WFIRST. So, it's going to be very powerful.
The last part of the exoplanet component as I mentioned is coronagraphs. WFIRST is doing a technology demonstration where it will have a coronagraph that will be able to if you look at the lower right it's a method that helps obscure the starlight so you can see the regions around the star and try to detect planets because the fraction of light from a star is much, much greater than that of the planet. Obviously and so it's a technique to help you really directly image these types of planets.
And so that's going to be a very powerful demonstration because it could be what we develop for future missions. And so WFIRST has a lot of really ambitious and amazing goals that's going to really push our field even further.
If you go to Slide 39, I just want to say the future is bright. Scientists already thinking about what the next steps will be after we detect them then what do we do next? Do we want to find a true Earth analog and what else can we do -- what else should we be preparing for? And so it's really exciting. It's this worldwide endeavor with ground-based and space based efforts. Exoplanets have been a really hot topic for the last two decades and I don't expect it to die down anytime soon.
Before I leave I just wanted to mention that the TESS team has put together a Science Writer's Guide that has a lot of information. You can download it at nasa.gov/tess. I should have put it in the slides but it's tailored to give information to people that are going to write science stories but I think it can help educators as well. So, if you want to know anything about the TESS mission you can find it there. I'll leave it at that thank you.
Dr. Emma Marcucci: Thank you very much. That was very interesting to hear your story and about TESS. All right we have one more speaker and then we'll get into our question phase. Our final speaker is Maura Fujieh the project manager for NASA's Kepler and K2 mission at the NASA Ames Research Center. Maura please take it away.
Maura Fujieh: Super, thank you Emma. And I've really enjoyed listening to more about Elisa and Jessie's background. So, as the project manager my goal actually for most of my job is to be behind the scenes. So, my goal in talking with you today is you've heard some great stories about the scientists and being out in front of a mission. And what I'd really like to do is -- I'm on Slide 40 -- is to provide everybody who's listening with the picture that I have of what the full team is.
In a lot of ways people who come into their careers or come into their fields really depend on having an image of somebody who looks like them being a part of a team. And so what my goal in talking with you today is to give you a snapshot of just how broad and diverse my team is so that you feel comfortable talking with people and letting them know if you want to be part of an exoplanet mission they require a really broad diverse group of people not only to cooperate but my job to keep everybody moving in the same way. So, I'm going to talk a little bit about that again just to give you a snapshot.
You've already heard both Alisa and Jesse talk about a number of missions so we're handing things off from one mission to another. And with that there is a snapshot of a portion of my team that's here at Ames. And I hope that folks will take a look or get an appreciation there should be somebody who hopefully who looks like you.
I'm going to move on to Slide 41. And I'm sorry for so many arrows but I was just going to talk briefly. I grew up in a small town in east central Illinois. It wasn't a very big academic place. I moved from there and ended up going to a small liberal arts college out on the East Coast.
I wanted to study everything which is maybe good for being a project manager. I started out in biochem because thought I wanted to go to med school and kind of at the last minute changed my mind a little bit. When I graduated, I knew that I wanted to live abroad so I picked up and moved to Japan for six years. I was very lucky. And while I was there I got to work in the public-school system so I have a great appreciation for what a hard job educators have.
But it was also really good, there were a lot of things that I learned during the time that I was there that I still use today, things from my colleagues actually. What I found was for example the cultural norm was that you don't surprise anybody. And gosh I find that I use that lesson all the time. Not quite what I imagined but it's just something that I've picked up and taken with me. And also, a real appreciation for looking what everybody who's on your team or in your group can bring to the table. When I think about the job that I do now and things that I learned along the way man those are two things that I definitely I like to imagine that I've always known them but really I learned a lot during my six years living in Japan.
I came back to the US and spent six years working in industry. And I worked in finance. I worked in consumer goods. And during the time that I was in those jobs I really developed an appreciation for having a really good balance of analysis and results. You're not overly pulled into analysis because there's always a goal or a method and often it's to deliver something. So, the time that I spent there was really helpful and I got a great experience going again from the education system into just the world of business.
From there I picked up and I moved to the West Coast. I did some consulting for aerospace companies which is again a little bit more about how I ended up coming to NASA. And one of those things that will come up a little bit later that I really, really enjoyed during the time that I was consulting was you get picked up and you constantly move into a new assignment and you have to learn something really, really quickly. In many ways, I found it was a constantly changing environment. And you have to go in, you have a problem to solve, you've got to talk with a lot of people and get really smart about something and make a very concerted effort to provide a solution that seems like it will move people toward what the initial problem was.
And again, I think back to things that I brought to my current position and that experience. And more importantly that enjoyment in doing that are all things about opportunities or experiences that I've had in the past that have been important steppingstones into how I got to where I am now. I'm going to talk a little bit -- I know you guys have already heard this. So the Kepler K2 mission -- I've moved on to Slide 42 -- is largely as folks have described it, very simply we launched in 2009 to look for exoplanets. We were repurposed in 2014 to continue observations along the ecliptic. And, I think both Jessie and Elisa may have mentioned the numbers. It's just been a spectacular success with regard to being able to add to the number of confirmed planets even across both missions.
And the field continues to be really exciting. I think I was looking at the numbers just for the K2 mission. I think at the beginning of February we were up at 195. And then five or six days later people announced 16 more and gosh a week after that there's 95 of them, coming more online. It's a really exciting field. And we certainly have been on the shoulders of other missions and we are really excited to pass the baton onto missions that are coming behind us, some of the ones that Elisa mentioned.
On Slide 43 what I really want to do as well is give you a picture of science results. One of the things that's exciting I think the Citizen Science, Jessie that may be a picture of your results with the Citizen Science contributions but it's really exciting. There's a lot in the news and when people get in the news rightly they should be talking with the scientists.
So are scientists are the face to the public of our science results. It's exciting and it's important. I love this snapshot of our row of female scientists and representatives who are out talking with folks because I grew up and I remember when Title IX came in and having a place at the table, that for me was a really big deal. I remember hearing lots of commentary around me and it's heartwarming to see women, not only women scientists having exciting results that are in the public but being the face, being recognized for their work and being the face of missions is tremendously exciting.
I'm going to move on to Slide 44 and in this particular chart I'm sorry to put a flowchart in front of you but what I want to do in this particular chart is to walk through at a very high level some of the activities that are involved behind the scenes. And my secret plan, my goal in this is to provide everyone who's listening with if it's new information for you I'd love for you to walk away from today and confidently tell somebody who you were talking with who's a young person. If they have an interest in exoplanets I just want to give you a flavor of the large, large number of people that I depend on to come together and support the exciting results for example that Jessie and Elisa are telling you about.
So, I've got a picture up on the left-hand side of Slide 44. The spacecraft is out. The information goes back and forth to the spacecraft from the Deep Space Network. Right now that comes in and out of JPL. Those of the folks operating the ground antennas. We are communicating with the satellites, sending updates, what targets are we going to look at? They do course corrections, software updates.
And then again, we pull information down from the spacecraft. The science data that we've observed engineering data just to make sure that we're doing a good job staying on top of the spacecraft health.
If I go over on the right to one of the orange boxes the Mission Operations Center our spacecraft is operated by the University of Colorado out of Boulder. I call them LASP there stands for the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. And one of the things that's really exciting for me is that LASP trains and certifies undergrads to perform mission ops. It's one of only a few university-based mission operations center. And I am delighted that the people that are in charge of sending those commands back and forth are students overseen by folks. And so, I've got a new crowd of people who are learning and training to do mission ops to move on to other missions.
We have a flight planning center. That's another one of the orange boxes. That's the Ball Aerospace. I think Jessie may have mentioned them in her talk. They do a fantastic job. They're responsible for the operations and maintenance of the spacecraft.
When we did lose some of the reaction wheels gosh those guys took the lead in troubleshooting and making some technical recommendations on recovery. They proposed a modified operational concept that really allowed us to continue for four more years. It's been really, really exciting.
So once we've got the folks at mission ops data is coming down from the spacecraft it -- the MOC or the Missions Operation Center pulls it down and shoots it over to the Data Management Center over at space telescope. Those folks get the raw data from the spacecraft. They sort the data, they package it into the correct format and then send it out to us at Ames.
So all the green boxes on that particular chart these are all folks that are local and on-site with me. If you interact with people and they are really big into computers or programming I'm just going to point at that Science Operations Center and point out that our science data processing pipeline has more than a million lines of code. It is tremendously complex. There were a lot of people who worked for a number of years to allow us to do this job processing all of the raw data that comes down from the spacecraft to make it available to the community.
Also, if you have people who are really computer nerds the last runs that we did for Kepler we actually moved those over and we ran those on supercomputers. So, for the data that's still being collected now it's a smaller data set. We run those on local clusters. We still depend on a team of people here to not only to run the data but also to maintain those local clusters.
But I live out at Silicon Valley and the supercomputer work that we do here on a government salary is not quite as well-paid as things that people could get if they're working out in industry. But as one of my buddies over in that area says, he kind of shrugs his shoulders and says, "My buddies have salaries that are multiples of mine." He said, "But they're not finding galaxies and new worlds." So, I tell that story from time to time about all sorts of folks who are helping to contribute to the mission.
From the Science Operations Center the data comes in I've got a science office. And those are a bunch of scientists, their job is really to take the data comes out of the pipeline to review it, to analyze it. They're doing initial work. They're creating their own tools. So again there's the pipeline which is a very big convoluted piece of code but then I've also got scientists who are creating their own tools to go and pull that data, analyze it, look at results and produce other products that are helpful for the community to do even more assessments and observations and analysis and research based on the data that we're going to make public.
So the science office at the point that they send data once it's ready to be released to the public down out of the bottom of the science office we send some of the data back to our friends at space telescope for that to be housed for the public. There are also data products and results that we push to a second public archive which is the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute. So that's one of the red boxes at the bottom called NExScI.
So, I've got people that are doing data analysis and review. We're populating it. Both of the archives need scientists to not only take the data but when the public has questions- sometimes they call the project but for the long-term questions folks are going to be contacted the archive. So we work very closely with folks in the archives but we're also aware that the archives dependent scientists who are there to be able to interact with folks for the long term.
Over on the far right-hand side there's a little box called the Guest Observer Office. And this is a group of folks in their full-time job. They're all scientists but their full-time job is to interact with the science community and to help them to do everything that they possibly can to help them get even more results out of the data that we have. If there are communities of folks that maybe could use our data but aren't quite sure that's their job is to reach out and support other people who could come in and use our data to do their own research. So, my goal in this particular slide is not to make you suffer through a flowchart but to give you a high-level picture of the wide variety of people who are required to pull that through.
On Slide 45 I'm going to just go through this very quickly. Of course, there are other people behind the scenes. I need a finance person. I have graphic artists that work with our scientists. We have educators that are taking material and making it available in the classrooms. We have attorneys who help us out with patents and licensing when we release software. And I talked about some of the specialized IP assets.
From Slide 46 if somebody wants to know what I do as a project manager I think that it's really helping all of the folks on my team cooperate and move to get us over the finish line. Things change over the course of a mission. I mentioned that they're often long. And my job is to take care of the people on my team, take care of the results and then help us transition over to the follow-on missions.
On Slide 47 you already got a preview. There are missions in the pipeline. It's exciting. The work that's going to be done is by kids who are still to my eyes teeny tiny yet. And I would love your help in making sure that if this is what they want to do there are lots of ways for people to participate.
Dr. Emma Marcucci: All right well thank you very much for that information and to all of the speakers. That was really interesting to hear your stories and the science. I know we're getting close to the bottom of the hour so if anyone does have to step off I just want to let you know that if you have a question that you don't get a chance to ask you can email Jeff Nee or Kay Ferrari and they will give the questions to us. We will then coordinate with the speakers.
So, if anyone does have to leave thank you very much. If you're able to stay we will do a bit of questions here. So if anyone has a question now is the time to unmute and ask.
Adrienne Provenzano: Yes hi. This is Adrienne Provenzano. I'm a Solar System Ambassador. And I just first of all I want to thank you all for your comments in telling your stories in how you've gotten to where you are. My question has to do with Janice Moss. And because I'm in Indiana she is known as someone who was born in Indiana and was part of the Kepler Mission and I wondered if any of you had worked with her and could talk about her role?
Dr. Elisa Quintana: Hi. This is Elisa. So, I was a member of the team while she was director. Oh, I don't remember her official title but she was wonderful. I spoke earlier about how I used to work with Sally Ride and I could see a lot of very similar ways but both of them I guess worked with others. They were she was a really strong woman and had her opinions but she's obviously very sharp and did like an excellent job.
And she used to organize meetings about once a month and she introduced the snack of the month and so everyone would take terms bringing in their snacks and telling stories. And so she always made things personal and engaged everyone to participate. And so, it wasn't a long time that she was there at least but I have a lot of great memories and everybody respects her and when you have an astronaut working with you, it's really amazing yes. So yes, yes, she does a lot of great work for the team and everybody really loved her.
Adrienne Provenzano: Thank you. And I had a related question about history because I'm in the process of listening to the book Glass Universe as an audiobook. It's a book that came out a few years ago by Dava Sobel about the women that worked at the Harvard Observatory doing spectral analysis and photometry so it's just amazing to see how their work, 100 or so years ago carries on with the classifications and you're working on new classifications. So, are any of you really interested in that historical aspect? Do you read those books yourselves to try to get that connection across time or you're just busy with what you're doing?
Dr. Jessie Christiansen: Well this is Jessie. I really enjoyed watching Hidden Figures but I haven't read Glass Universe or the Hidden Figures book but yes, it's always lovely to see the connections.
Adrienne Provenzano: Great thank you.
Dr. Emma Marcucci: All right does anyone have another question? We have time for a few more before I want to be respectful of time?
Bill Harris: Bill Harris in Los Angeles.
Maura Fujieh: Yes?
Bill Harris: So I actually have a question for the project management approach. I do project management in the video entertainment industry and utilize a couple of different PM management styles or techniques. What are you using on these projects? I'm used to using Agile and PMBOK, a PMI process waterfall process depending upon the project.
Maura Fujieh: Thank you. So, there are different styles that folks do. And one of the things that I notice on our mission is that there are different approaches for different portions of my project. So I guess my answer would be that the responsibility that I have for the entire mission, for example I'm aware that my folks who are developing the pipeline, I have a lead and the way that he or she is going to do the software development will work for that section but it may not work for the rest of my project.
The PMI approach which is what you were talking about with the PMBOK is really flexible with regard to having a set of principles and making sure that you adhere to them. And of course, that's tremendously useful. And I find that when I think about missions, what my scientists need is slightly different from what my folks who are doing software development might need. So, I guess the summary answer is that it's often a hybrid depending on the needs of the underlying team. But my job is to make sure I have good principles and good practices. And I do depend on things like NASA requirements and regulations and then also with industry standards like PMI. Is that helpful?
Bill Harris: It is. Thank you. A follow-up for Dr. Quintana. And I'm curious looking at the picture of TESS to understand what rocket system is being planned to lift that into outer space?
Dr. Elisa Quintana: So TESS is scheduled to be in the SpaceX Falcon 9. And it will launch out of Kennedy Space Center. And I believe it's the first science payload on a SpaceX rockets so that's exciting. So right now, the launch slipped a little bit from March I think it was March 20 to April 16 is the next date. And that's sort of depending on some deliveries needed by SpaceX. But I think it's going to be a great time. I'm excited about that. I don't have any more details. I don't know much more about that.
Bill Harris: Okay it's not going to need something like the Falcon 9 heavy that they just tested recently?
Dr. Emma Marcucci: No. All right are there any other questions?
(Marni): Hello. Hi.
Dr. Emma Marcucci: Yes?
Malmi: Yes. Hi. My name is Malmi from Long Island, New York. I'm one of the Solar System Ambassadors Volunteer. I actually have a question for Dr. Jessie. Thank you for a wonderful lecture. I really enjoyed it.
I thinking of studying astrobiology. I'm going for astrobiology one day and currently I'm taking the call about exoplanet. I would like to get advice from you about how should I start? Like I've been doing some internship researchers like last two summers but I want to get some good idea about the steps that I can take in my future.
Right now I'm still undergrad and I'm graduating in about a year and a half but I'd really like to get advice from you about how should I follow-up and what should I do for my next step? Thank you.
Dr. Jessie Christiansen: Sure. Well so I would say the first step is to start looking at grad schools that have programs that have projects that you're interested in. I myself I don't have a good feel for where the strong astrobiology programs are. I know that there's the Origins Life Initiative at Harvard which is a astrobiology program. So, I would look for astrobiology grad programs that have projects you're interested in and start investigating how to get involved there.
Malmi: Okay thank you so much. The thing is I even have applied to the SETI institute for an internship this year. And I have the qualifications like with everything with my academic side and all the experience I've got over the course of the year. The only problem I have is like I'm not a citizen. I'm actually an immigrant this problem is like that solution problem coming up so it's really hard for me to find the opportunities on that astrobiology field if I don't have citizenship.
Dr. Jessie Christiansen: I see, I see. Just so I did my studies in Australia and then moved here and I got Harvard sponsored me for a visa so that's how I was able to move here on a H1B.
Dr. Emma Marcucci: Thank you so much for sharing all of that information. I do need to end things here. I apologize if anyone did not have a chance to ask their question. As I said please reach out to Kay and Jeff if you have a question that you think of later or you didn't have a chance to ask today and we will work with our speakers to get that answer to you.
Just to wrap things up on Slide 48 this presentation was largely about exoplanet detection missions. There is another kind of category of exoplanet missions which is characterization. The slideshows use some of the missions that are related to characterization generally through spectroscopic observations of the atmosphere. And in the notes panel of this slide there are some links to recent news releases related to that.
Going on to Slide 49 this is our standard ASTC Partnership slide. Those of you who have been on these calls before are familiar with this. There is some opportunity here for additional professional development and learning. I will let you read this in the interest of time.
And on our last slide, Slide 50 this is our standard to slide. We try to have these briefings be as useful and as informative as possible for you. With that in mind we do have an evaluation process. But if you would prefer to opt out of that please do that by contacting Kay.
Thank you to all of our speakers and to our audience for joining us today. We will have another NASA's Universe of Learning Science briefing in April. Stay tuned for a topic. And I will pass it back to Kay for any final comments.
Kay Ferrari: Thank you very much Emma. This was an absolutely marvelous hour. Thank you again everyone for joining us. And check your email boxes or the list of telecons that will be upcoming on either the Museum Alliance Web site or on NASA Nationwide [SSA telecon website] to see what we're planning for the future. We're now deep in our planning cycles so there will be more things pop up every once in a while. Again thanks for joining us and have a wonderful weekend everyone.END