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Worlds Premiere: Will JWST reveal Earth 2.0?
In just a few short weeks NASA's next flagship telescope, JWST, will launch and usher in a new era of discovery. In this webinar sponsored by Eos: Science News by AGU, astrophysicist and host of “Ask a Spaceman!” Paul M. Sutter talks with exoplanet scientists Néstor Espinoza, Elisabeth Matthews, and Caprice Phillips. These astronomers will be among the first to use the new telescope to revolutionize the study of distant worlds. Just as the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes have uncovered fascinating details about the plethora of worlds beyond our solar system, so too will JWST seek to answer some of astronomy’s most pressing questions: are there other solar systems that look like ours, and is Earth the only planet capable of supporting life?

Oct 27, 2021 12:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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Speakers

Paul M. Sutter
Moderator
Paul M.Sutter is a research professor in astrophysics at the Institute for Advanced Computational Science at Stony Brook University and the Flatiron Institute in New York City. He is also known around the world as the host of several shows, such as How the Universe Works on Science Channel, Space Out on Discovery, and his hit Ask a Spaceman podcast. He is the author of two books, Your Place in the Universe and How to Die in Space, as well as a regular contributor to Space.com, LiveScience, and more. Journalists frequently seek his expert advice, especially in his role as the Weather Channel's Official Space Specialist. In addition to his traditional science outreach, Paul also explores innovative science and art collaborations, such as his work with Syren Modern Dance in Ticktock, a performance exploring the nature of time through movement and narration.
Caprice Phillips
Panelist
Caprice Phillips is a third year PhD student at The Ohio State University where she works with Dr. Ji Wang on determining whether potential biosignatures, like ammonia, are detectable in the atmospheres of gas dwarf planets with the upcoming JWST mission. She received her Master’s in Astronomy from UT Austin and her B.S. in Physics from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 2015. She was a part of the LSSTC Data Science Fellowship Program as well as part of the inaugural cohort of The Exoplanet Explorers (ExoExplorers) Science Series Program. Along with her efforts in astronomy, Caprice is passionate about social justice along with equity & inclusion work in astronomy and STEM in general. As part of these efforts she is the lead organizer of the Black In Astro initiatives.
Néstor Espinoza
Panelist
Dr. Néstor Espinoza is an Assistant Astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). Dr. Espinoza is involved in several projects related to the detection of new exoplanets, the characterization of their atmospheres and to the understanding of how these worlds came to be through theoretical models & new characterization techniques. At the Institute, he leads teams that focus on optimizing the scientific output from the JWST mission, in particular related to exoplanet atmospheric characterization. Before joining STScI, he was a Bernoulli Postdoctoral Fellow and an IAU-Gruber Fellow at the Max-Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany.
Elisabeth Matthews
Panelist
Dr. Elisabeth Matthews is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Geneva, where she uses observations with some of the biggest telescopes in the world to study the planetary systems of nearby stars. She completed her PhD at the University of Exeter in the UK, and also spent two years at MIT searching for new planets. The main focus of her research is the direct detection of planets: this requires collecting images at extremely high resolutions, and using advanced instrumentation to suppress light from the star. Detecting planets this way lends itself to studying the atmospheres of those planets, and in some cases also allows for direct observation of dusty debris disks, a little like the asteroid or Kuiper belts in our own solar system.