University of North Dakota Faculty/Staff Newsletter

Space Studies graduate students host talk on exoplanets Saturday

Annie Wargetz and Katrina Jackson, graduate students in the Space Studies master’s program and volunteer NASA Solar System Ambassadors, will give a lecture at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, in 210 Clifford Hall. The hour-long presentation will provide information on planets found outside our solar system and NASA’s Kepler mission. The talk is free and open to the public; free parking is available in the lot just south of Clifford Hall.

The search for extraterrestrial life begins with finding habitable planets elsewhere in space. It's a subject that fascinates space researchers such as Annie Wargetz and Katrina Jackson, both master's degree students in this endlessly compelling field.

The field of discovering and studying exoplanets has grown exponentially over the past two decades, with almost 900 already confirmed, most within the past few years. Exoplanets challenge our understanding of solar system formation and Earth’s place in the universe.

Both Wargetz, from Houston, and Jackson, from the Washington D.C. area, have organized a series titled “Outer Space in the Great Plains," which includes a presentation Saturday about distant planets, as volunteer NASA Solar System Ambassadors.

Their talk Saturday will focus on exoplanets – planets found outside our solar system – and NASA’s Kepler mission. Kepler is NASA's first mission capable of finding Earth-size planets around other stars.

Space Studies is part of the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences.

About the NASA Solar System Ambassadors Program

The Solar System Ambassadors Program is an activity of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). It offers information and excitement about real missions that explore our solar system. Volunteer ambassadors in communities throughout the country are selected by JPL based on their backgrounds and on their plans for public outreach activities. JPL provides ambassadors with educational materials and training. However, the opinions of Ambassadors are not necessarily those of NASA or JPL. Further information about the Solar System Ambassadors Program is available at www.jpl.nasa.gov/ambassador/. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif.

Contacts:
Katrina Jackson, Space Studies graduate student, katrina.jackson@my.und.edu.
Annie Wargetz, Space Studies graduate student, ann.santos@my.und.edu.

-- Juan Miguel Pedraza, writer/editor, University Relations, 777.6571, juan.pedraza@UND.edu.


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