Ismaili Centre: A Planet for Goldilocks: The Search for Evidence of Life Beyond Earth

A Planet for Goldilocks
Tuesday, December 4, 2018 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm

One of the primary goals of NASA’s landmark Kepler Space Telescope Mission, which launched in 2009, is to identify “Goldilocks” planets beyond our solar system — that is, planets orbiting other stars in our Galaxy that are just right, “neither too hot nor too cold," for hosting life as we know it. And the results have exceeded our wildest expectations! Scanning hundreds of thousands of stars, Kepler has, to date, discovered over 2,500 alien worlds, many of which are Earth-like “Goldilocks” planets, with another some 3,000 candidate explanets awaiting confirmation and further study. The space telescope has also opened our eyes to exotic worlds unlike any in our solar system and has even spotted stars with six to eight orbiting planets — distant solar systems, like our own. These astounding discoveries have given fresh impetus to search for life beyond earth, with astronomers now turning to remote sensing to look for the presence of atmospheric biosignature gases — gases produced by life that can accumulate in an exoplanet atmosphere. Kepler fired up our collective imagination with dreams of turning abstractions into destinations.
In this engaging, illustrated, nontechnical presentation, astrophysicist and planet hunter, Dr. Natalie Batalha, the former project scientist for NASA's Kepler mission, offers an overview of Kepler’s remarkable scientific legacy. She will highlight some of the key discoveries and share a preview of exciting follow-up missions in progress and on the drawing board.

Natalie Batalha is a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at University of California, Santa Cruz and former astrophysicist at NASA Ames Research Center and the project scientist for NASA's Kepler Mission. She holds a Bachelor's degree in physics from the University of California (UC), Berkeley, and a Doctoral degree in astrophysics from UC Santa Cruz. Batalha started her career as a stellar spectroscopist studying young, sun-like stars. In 1999, Natalie joined the Kepler Mission and has contributed to many different aspects of the science, from studying the stars themselves to detecting and understanding the planets they harbor. Batalha led the analysis that yielded the discovery in 2011 of Kepler-10b—the mission's first confirmation of a rocky planet outside our solar system. And she led the effort to understand planet populations in the galaxy based on Kepler discoveries. In 2015, she joined the leadership team of a new NASA initiative dedicated to the search for evidence of life beyond the Solar System.

Who can attend: Everyone
Fee: Free
Registration: Online
Organized by: The Ismaili Centre, Toronto
Location: Ismaili Centre Social Hall, 49 Wynford Dr, Toronto, ON M3C 1K1