Shore Leave, A fan run Science Fiction Convention
Dr. Kenneth Carpenter is the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Operations Project Scientist and the Ground Systems Project Scientist for the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland and a member of Goddard's "Exoplanets and Stellar Astrophysics Laboratory". He has a PhD. in astronomy from Ohio State University and enjoys photography and is an enthusiastic fan of all things Joss Whedon, Star Trek and Disney. Carpenter credits both Star Trek and the 1964-65 New York World's Fair, which he attended as a child, with fueling his desire to work for NASA. Dr. Carpenter will give a science talk this year and will appear at the HST Table, along with other Hubble staff, to talk with attendees about Hubble and Space Astronomy in general.
Dr. Carpenter will talk about "Wolf 359 and Beyond: Exploring Federation Space for Planets around Nearby Stars."
We are in the midst of a golden age in the discovery and characterization of exoplanets. Dr. Carpenter will talk about the incredible successes we have had in finding planets, using the transit method, with NASA's Kepler/K2 and Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and our plans for using the microlensing technique on WFIRST when it launches in the mid-2020's. Of special interest to Shore Leave attendees, Dr. Carpenter will highlight results for Earth-sized planets around nearby stars, which will certainly become the best candidates for future members of the United Federation of Planets. Once exoplanets are found using these survey missions, we need to follow-up with observations from other observatories on the ground and in-space, to get additional data to characterize their properties. The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) has been used to confirm candidate exoplanets, find some on its own, and perhaps most importantly, obtain some of the first detections of specific elements in the atmospheres of select exoplanets. HST was the first to make direct measurements of sodium and helium in an exoplanet atmosphere, has seen an evaporating hydrogen-atmosphere, detected oxygen and carbon in an atmosphere, and made critical observations of the Trappist-1 planets that indicate at least 3 of its 6 planets have compact atmospheres like Earth, Venus, and Mars in our own solar system. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will be able to observe fainter and more distant solar systems in a broader range of infrared colors and greatly increase the number of planets studied in this fashion. Dr. Carpenter will summarize what has been done with HST to-date and plans for future observations with JWST.