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Exoplanet Exploration Program
News & Announcements
Click here to read: NASA's Kepler mission announces largest batch of planet discoveries ever
May 10, 2016

NASA's Kepler mission has verified 1,284 new planets – the single largest finding of planets to date.


Click here to read: NASA selects instrument team to build next-gen planet hunter

NASA has selected a team to build a new, cutting-edge instrument that will detect exoplanets by measuring the miniscule “wobbling” of stars.


Click here to read: NASA announces Astronomy and Astrophysics Fellows for 2016

NASA has selected 36 fellows for its prestigious Einstein, Hubble and Sagan fellowships.


Click here to read: Decadal Survey Mission Concept Studies: STDT Membership Announced

Decadal Survey Mission Concept Studies: STDT Membership Announced


Click here to read: NASA Exoplanet Science Institute redesigns their website

NExScI has rolled out a new look for their website.


Click here to read: Life or illusion? Avoiding ‘false positives’ in the search for living worlds

Research from the University of Washington-based Virtual Planetary Laboratory published Feb. 26 in Astrophysical Journal Letters will help astronomers better identify — and thus rule out — “false positives” in the search for life beyond Earth.


Click here to read: NASA introduces new, wider set of eyes on the universe

After years of preparatory studies, NASA is formally starting an astrophysics mission designed to help unlock the secrets of the universe -- the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST).


Click here to read: Veteran astronomer joins JPL exoplanet team

After a four-year stint at the Goddard Spaceflight Center, veteran astronomer Karl Stapelfeldt returns to JPL, where he will become chief scientist for NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program.


Click here to read: WFIRST science definition team announcement

NASA announced the selection of the following Formulation Science Investigation Teams for the WFIRST mission


Click here to read: Preproposal TDEM Telecon on Jan 19, 2016- Click for details

Preproposal TDEM Telecon on Jan 19, 2016- Click for details


Click here to read: Fantastic alien civilizations and where to find them

New research from AAS shows that globular star clusters might be excellent places to search for interstellar civilizations. Their crowded nature means intelligent life at our stage of technological advancement could send probes to the nearest stars.


Click here to read: Exoplanets are renamed after heroes and legends

In the first vote of its kind, over half a million people voted on new names for exoplanets and their stars. The results add names like 'Poltergeist' and 'Chalawan' to the planets' scientific designations.


Click here to read: The nearest potentially habitable planet to Earth

UNSW Australia astronomers have discovered the closest potentially habitable planet found outside our solar system so far, orbiting a star just 14 light-years away around Wolf 1061.


Click here to read: NASA space telescopes solve missing water mystery on exoplanets

A survey of 10 hot, Jupiter-sized exoplanets conducted with NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes has led a team to solve a long-standing mystery— why some of these worlds seem to have less water than expected.


Click here to read: Needle in a stack of needles: The elemental composition of stars with small planets.

New work surveying Kepler data finds that rocky planets do not preferentially form around stars rich in metallic elements such as iron and silicon.


Click here to read: Half of Kepler's giant exoplanet candidates are false positives

A new study revealed that just over half of the Kepler telescope's giant exoplanet candidates are actually transiting binary stars or brown dwarfs.


Click here to read: The first millimeter detection of a non-accreting ultracool dwarf

A research team targeted a well-known red dwarf star located about 35 light-years from Earth in the constellation Boîtes, revealing a magnetic field several hundred times stronger than the sun.


Click here to read: The first direct images of planets being born

Researchers capture the first view of several planets in the process of being created 450 light-years away in young star system LkCa15.


Click here to read: The most Earth-like planet could have been made uninhabitable by vast quantities of radiation

The planet Kepler-438b is shown here in front of its violent parent star, a red dwarf. It is regularly irradiated by huge flares of radiation, which could render the planet uninhabitable.


Click here to read: 5400mph winds discovered hurtling around planet outside solar system

The first-ever weather map of an exoplanet reveals wind gales at seven times the speed of sound.


Click here to read: UCLA professor creates simple rules to redefine planets

The new approach would categorize 99 percent of all known exoplanets.


Click here to read: Documentary: The Search for Another Earth

The story of the pioneers in planet-hunting and how those who have followed are now poised to answer one of humanity’s most ancient questions: is there life elsewhere in the universe?


Click here to read: UW researchers make first 3-D cloud model

When something in exoplanet GJ1214b's upper atmosphere blocked light, researchers from UW made a 3-D cloudmap to unravel the mystery.


Click here to read: Call for 2016 ExoPAG Executive Committee Nominations

The Astrophysics Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate is pleased to issue this open call for nominations to serve on the Executive Committee (EC) of NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program Analysis Group (ExoPAG).


Click here to read: Shy giants: Spiral patterns may be evidence for planets

A team of astronomers believes the spiral arms of dust and gas that encircle newborn stars hide giant, unseen planets.


Click here to read: New model for planetary formation in the solar system

A new model for planetary formation explains how Mars is smaller in size and mass than Earth. Previous planetary models predicted the two rocky planets should be of similar size. The work reveals the means by which the solar system may have come from a single, unified process.


Click here to read: K2 discovery shows hot Jupiter has two planet friends

The very first exoplanets discovered, hot Jupiters were assumed to be alone in orbit. But scientists analyzing data from Kepler's K2 mission have discovered one with two close companions, leading to new ideas about planet formation.


Click here to read: Kepler catches white dwarf cannibalizing tiny 'planet'

Astronomers have detected the first planetary object transiting a white dwarf using data from the K2 mission. Slowly the object will disintegrate, leaving a dusting of metals on the surface of the star.


Click here to read: Spitzer confirms closest rocky exoplanet

Using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, astronomers have confirmed the discovery of the nearest rocky planet outside our solar system, larger than Earth and a potential gold mine of science data.


Click here to read: Kepler discovers bigger, older cousin to Earth

NASA's Kepler mission has confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet in the “habitable zone” around a sun-like star. This discovery and the introduction of 11 other new small habitable zone candidate planets mark another milestone in the journey to finding another “Earth.”


Click here to read: Jupiter twin orbits a twin of our sun

An international group of astronomers has used the ESO 3.6-meter telescope to identify a planet just like Jupiter orbiting at the same distance from a sun-like star, HIP 11915.


Click here to read: NASA invites industry to share development ideas for WFIRST

NASA invites industry to share development ideas for Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope


Click here to read: NASA picks two teams to advance concept for precision planet hunter

On a rugged Arizona mountaintop, astronomers will soon switch on a new, state-of-the-art instrument to hunt for planets circling distant stars: the Extreme Precision Doppler Spectrometer (EPDS).


Click here to read: Mars-size planet orbits distant star

Scientists measured both the size and mass of a small planet orbiting a star some 200 light years away--a first for an exoplanet smaller than Earth.


Click here to read: Final Reports from the Probe-Scale Exoplanet Mission STDTs (Exo-S and Exo-C) released

The Final Reports from the Probe-Scale Exoplanet Mission STDTs (Exo-S and Exo-C) have been released and are available online.


Click here to read: WFIRST-AFTA 2015 Study Report Released

The 2015 Report by the Science Definition Team and the WFIRST Study Office for the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope-Astrophysics Focused Telescope Assets has been released to the pubic.


Click here to read: WIYN 3.5-m Exoplanet-targeted Observing Opportunities

NOAO has released their call for semester 2015B exoplanet-targeted GO proposals, due 31 March 2015. More info: http://ast.noao.edu/observing/proposal-info.


Click here to read: Call for ExoPAG Executive Committee Nominations

The Astrophysics Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate is pleased to issue this open call for nominations to serve on the Executive Committee (EC) of NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program Analysis Group (the ExoPAG EC).


Click here to read: New Solicitation - Extreme Precision Doppler Spectrometer

This notice is to announce the release by NASA of an amendment to the ROSES-2014 NASA Research Announcement (NRA) soliciting proposals for development of an Extreme Precision Doppler Spectrometer for the Wisconsin, Indiana, Yale and NOAO (WIYN) 3.5-m telescope at Kitt Peak.


Click here to read: TDEM 2014 Pre-proposal Briefing Announcement

An informational workshop will be held January 20, 2015, 1:00 - 2:40 pm EDT to assist TDEM-14 proposers.


Click here to read: Update to the 2012 Astrophysics Implementation Plan

The NASA Astrophysics Division has released a 2014 Update to its 2012 Astrophysics Implementation Plan.

In December 2012, the Astrophysics Division issued an Astrophysics Implementation Plan describing how the recommendations of the 2010 Decadal Survey were to be realized by NASA within the constrained fiscal landscape.


Click here to read: ExoPAG Study Analysis Group 11 Report: Preparing for the WFIRST Microlensing Survey

The SAG-11 Report is now available. SAG-11 (Chair: Jennifer Yee, CfA) was convened to explore scientific programs that can be undertaken now, and in the years leading up to WFIRST's launch, in order to maximize the mission's scientific return and to reduce technical and scientific risk.


Click here to read: Imaging Planets and Disks
Imaging Planets and Disks - August 26, 2014

Presentations, posters and videos from the 2014 Sagan Exoplanet Summer Workshop Imaging Planets and Disks are now available at the NExSci website.


Click here to read: On the Shoulders of Giants: Planets Beyond the Reach of Kepler

Presentations from the conference held at the AAS Meeting in Boston, June 2014 are now available.


Click here to read: K2 Guest Observer – Cycle 1 announced

Proposals are invited for observations with the K2 high-precision photometry mission. Step-1 proposals are due August 8, 2014 and proposals are due September 23, 2014 .


Click here to read: K2 Mission Approved by NASA Senior Review

The Kepler spacecraft will conduct science observations in the ecliptic, for two years, in a two-wheel operation mode.


Click here to read: WFIRST-AFTA Interim Report Released

The WFIRST Science Definition Team (SDT), led by Neil Gehrels and David Spergel, has released its Interim Report on the WFIRST-AFTA mission concept http://wfirst.gsfc.nasa.gov/add/.


Click here to read: Exo-S (External Coronagraph, or Starshade) Interim Report Released

Exo-S (External Coronagraph, or Starshade) Interim Report Released


Click here to read: Exo-C (Internal Coronagraph) Interim Report Released

Exo-C (Internal Coronagraph) Interim Report Released


Click here to read: NRC releases report on WFIRST-AFTA

A prepublication report Evaluation of the Implementation of WFIRST/AFTA in the Context of New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics has been released by the NRC.


Click here to read: Kepler nearly doubles the exoplanet count

NASA's Kepler mission announced Wednesday the discovery of 715 new planets. These newly-verified worlds orbit 305 stars, revealing multiple-planet systems much like our own solar system.


Click here to read: Nearby star list available
Nearby star list available - February 18, 2014

Future efforts to image exoplanets directly will concentrate on the nearest and brightest stars. A catalog listing the properties of such stars is now available for use in planning such missions (e.g. WFIRST-AFTA).


Click here to read: Call for ExoPAG Executive Committee Nominations

Exoplanet scientists are encouraged to consider applying for Executive Committee of the ExoPAG. Application letters are due on Feb 28.


Click here to read: Message from Paul Hertz
Message from Paul Hertz - January 21, 2014

Astrophysics Division Director Paul Hertz discusses the state of the division and looks forward to 2014.


Click here to read: TDEM 2013 Pre-Proposal Briefing Announcement

A pre-proposal briefing for the NASA ROSES solicitation on exoplanet Strategic Astrophysics Technology (SAT/TDEM) will be held 1:00 pm (Eastern) on Tuesday, 21 January 2014.


Click here to read: NASA selects coronagraph technologies for AFTA

A primary and a backup architecture for the AFTA coronagraph have been selected for directed technology development, following the results of a study by the AFTA Coronagraph Working Group.


Click here to read: Alternate Science Investigations for Kepler

An open solicitation for alternate science investigations for the Kepler spacecraft has been released. White Papers are due on September 3, 2013. This covers operation of Kepler in a 2-wheel mode.


Click here to read: Kepler enters safe mode once again

The Kepler spacecraft has entered safe mode due to a problem with one of its reaction wheels.


Click here to read: Probe-scale STDTs selected

The Program Scientist for NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program has announced the memberships of the Science and Technology Definition Teams (STDTs) for probe-scale direct detection exoplanet missions using an internal coronagraph or an external occulter.


Click here to read: 2013 Sagan Fellows announced

NASA has selected five planet hunters to receive the 2013 Carl Sagan Exoplanet Postdoctoral Fellowships. The fellowship, named for the late astronomer, was created to inspire the next generation of explorers seeking to learn more about planets, and possibly life, around other stars.


Click here to read: NASA Astronomer Interviewed
NASA Astronomer Interviewed - January 4, 2013

NExScI Executive Director Charles Beichman talks about exoplanets with KPCC's David Lazarus.


Click here to read: NASA Astrophysics Strategic Implementation Plan

The Astrophysics Division at NASA Headquarters has prepared a Strategic Implementation Plan to describe the activities currently being undertaken in response to the decadal survey recommendations within the current budgetary constraints.


Click here to read: Guyon the genius
Guyon the genius - October 11, 2012

Olivier Guyon has been named one of the 2012 MacArthur Fellows, a prestigious award popularly known as the “genius grant.”


Click here to read: AFTA Science Definition Team announced

NASA has announced the membership of a Science Definition Team for the Astrophysics Focused Telescope Assets. This team will study the suitability of the 2.4m telescope for WFIRST as well as a coronagraph instrument for exoplanet science.


Click here to read: Project 1640 now operating at Palomar

An advanced telescope imaging system that started taking data last month is the first of its kind capable of spotting planets orbiting suns outside of our solar system.


Click here to read: NASA's Kepler mission awarded mission extension

NASA's Kepler mission has been approved for extension through fiscal year 2016 based on a recommendation from the Agency’s Senior Review of its operating missions.


Click here to read: NASA announces 2012 Carl Sagan Fellows

NASA has selected six planet hunters as the recipients of the 2012 Carl Sagan Exoplanet Postdoctoral Fellowships, named after the late astronomer. The fellowship was created to inspire the next generation of explorers seeking to learn more about planets, and possibly life, around other stars.


Click here to read: Kepler mission wins 2012 Aviation Week Laureate Award

NASA's Kepler mission has been named the winner of the 2012 Aviation Week Laureate Award in the Space category, announced March 7 at the 55th annual black-tie awards dinner in Washington.


Click here to read: Kepler gets top props
Kepler gets top props - February 3, 2012

Kepler discoveries have been recognized as some of the biggest astrophysics news stories of the year.


Click here to read: NASA's Kepler mission finds three smallest exoplanets

Astronomers using data from NASA's Kepler mission have discovered the three smallest planets yet detected orbiting a star beyond our sun.The smallest is about the size of Mars.


Click here to read: Study shows our galaxy has at least 100 billion planets

Our Milky Way galaxy contains a minimum of 100 billion planets, according to a detailed statistical study based on the detection of three planets located outside our solar system, called exoplanets.


Click here to read: <i>Nature</i> honors Sara Seager
Nature honors Sara Seager - January 6, 2012

Seager featured as one of Nature's "10 people who mattered this year."


Click here to read: Kepler 16b named one of Time.com's Top 10 for 2011

"Star Wars gets real" - Time features Kepler 16b as #3 on list of "Top 10 Space Moments of 2011"


Click here to read: Roger Hunter is

Kepler project manager Roger Hunter is profiled in the latest edition of the Washington Post's "Federal Insider"


Click here to read: Kepler discovers planet in habitable zone

NASA's Kepler mission has confirmed its first planet in the "habitable zone," the region around a star where liquid water could exist on a planet's surface. Kepler also has discovered more than 1,000 new planet candidates.


Click here to read: Exoplanet Events at the 219th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society

Numerous exoplanet-related sessions and events will be happening at the 219th AAS meeting in Austin, TX. Click to see more.


Click here to read: NASA selects science investigations for concept studies

NASA has selected 11 science proposals, including three related to exoplanets, for evaluation as potential future science missions.


Click here to read: NExScI habitable zone tool now live

NExScI scientists Drs. Stephen Kane and Dawn Gelino have launched a web site called The Habitable Zone Gallery. This site is a new service to the exoplanet community which provides Habitable Zone (HZ) information for each of the exoplanetary systems with known planetary orbital parameters.


Click here to read: Snow White: the rosy, icy, dwarf

Astronomers have discovered that the dwarf planet 2007 OR10—nicknamed Snow White—is an icy world, with about half its surface covered in water ice that once flowed from ancient, slush-spewing volcanoes.


Click here to read: MIT students develop planet-finding CubeSat

A group of MIT students led by Sara Seager have developed a CubeSat designed to search for planets orbiting sunlike stars.


Click here to read: Kepler-10c and a new method to validate planets

Today Kepler team is announcing another member of the Kepler-10 family, called Kepler-10c - validated using a combination of a computer simulation technique called "Blender," and NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.


Click here to read: Free-Floating Planets May be More Common Than Stars

Astronomers, including a NASA-funded team member, have discovered a new class of Jupiter-sized planets floating alone in the dark of space, away from the light of a star. The team believes these lone worlds were probably ejected from developing planetary systems.


Click here to read: Picture potential
Picture potential - April 7, 2011

Astronomers have come up with a new way of identifying close, faint stars with NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer satellite. The technique should help in the hunt for planets that lie beyond our solar system, because nearby, hard-to-see stars could very well be home to the easiest-to-see alien planets.


Click here to read: NASA announces 2011 Carl Sagan Fellows

NASA has selected five potential discoverers as the recipients of the 2011 Carl Sagan Postdoctoral Fellowships, named after the late astronomer. The Carl Sagan Fellowship takes a theme-based approach, in which fellows will focus on compelling scientific questions, such as "Are there Earth-like planets orbiting other stars?"


Click here to read: Another Earth in Outer Space?
Another Earth in Outer Space? - February 14, 2011

Wall Street Journal's Michael Kofsky reports on Kepler's potential for finding a habitable exoplanet (video).


Click here to read: Kepler announces discovery of six-planet solar system and five Earthlike candidates

NASA's Kepler mission has discovered its first Earth-size planet candidates and its first candidates in the habitable zone, a region where liquid water could exist on a planet's surface. Five of the potential planets are near Earth-size and orbit in the habitable zone of smaller, cooler stars than our sun.


Click here to read: Kepler discovers first rocky planet

The Kepler mission has announced the discovery of Kepler 10b, the smallest exoplanet yet discovered and the first rocky world discovered by the Kepler mission.


Click here to read: WFIRST Science Definition Team (SDT) members selected

The WFIRST mission has selected its Science Definition Team (SDT) members, co-chaired by J. Green, Univ. of Colorado/CASA and P. Schechter, MIT (Co-Chair). For a full list of names, click here.


Click here to read: Keck Observatory pictures show fourth planet in giant solar system

Astronomers have discovered a fourth giant planet joining three others that, in 2008, were the subject of the first-ever pictures of a planetary system orbiting another star other than our sun.


Click here to read: Double vision: LBTI casts its eyes to the sky

The Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer has taken its first images of the star Beta Peg in the constellation Pegasus -- an encouraging start for an instrument designed to probe the cosmic neighborhoods where Earth-like planets could exist.


Click here to read: Kepler leaders to receive first Lancelot Berkeley Prize

The American Astronomical Society (AAS) is pleased to announce that the first Lancelot M. Berkeley - New York Community Trust Prize for Meritorious Work in Astronomy is being awarded to William J. Borucki and David G. Koch of the Kepler mission.


Click here to read: NStED access to periodogram service, public Kepler data and HATNet survey data

The NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (NExScI) is pleased to announce a significant update to the NASA Star and Exoplanet Database (NStED). Each of the 210,000+ public Kepler light curves are integrated with the newly-released NStED periodogram service.


Click here to read: Kepler discovers two planets transiting same star

NASA's Kepler spacecraft has discovered the first confirmed planetary system with more than one planet crossing in front of, or transiting, the same star.


Click here to read: Shao honored for interferometry contributions

Michael Shao, an expert in the field of optical systems engineering and manager of JPL’s Interferometry Center of Excellence, has received the 2010 Michelson Prize from the International Astronomical Union and the Mount Wilson Institute.


Click here to read: Kepler announces exoplanet candidates

NASA's Kepler Mission has released 43 days of science data on more than 156,000 stars. These stars are being monitored for subtle brightness changes as part of an ongoing search for Earth-like planets outside of our solar system.


Click here to read: Exploring Strange New Worlds: From Giant Planets to Super Earths

Astronomers are planning the 6th in a series of major international exoplanet conferences, to be held in Flagstaff, Arizona. Mark your calendar for May 1-6, 2011, and sign up on the conference website for more information.


Click here to read: Exoplanets Featured on

Robert Krulwitch discusses "The Fruitless Search For Solar Systems Like Ours."