A postgraduate student researching the habitability of distant planets has landed a dream job with NASA.
Andrew Rushby’s research hit the headlines when he worked out that Earth will be habitable for another 1.74 billion years - as part of a wider project on the habitability of planets and their potential to evolve life.
Now he will be moving to California to investigate whether any of the thousands of exoplanets discovered by NASA’s Kepler space telescope could be home to alien life.
The two-year post will see Andrew work for NASA’s Ames Research Centre (ARC) in the Silicon Valley area of Northern California. His research will focus on how the surface environments of newly discovered ‘Earth-like’ planets evolve over geological or astronomical timescales.
Andrew (pictured below), from UEA’s Centre for Ocean and Atmospheric Science in the School of Environmental Sciences, said: “This is absolutely my dream job!
“I’m incredibly excited and grateful to have been awarded this prestigious fellowship to continue to carry out the work I love. This is a rapidly developing field which promises to provide wonderful and potentially game-changing discoveries regarding other planets in our galaxy over the coming years.
“I’ll be working for the newly-formed Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NExSS) - a consortium of US universities and research institutes that carries out research on exoplanet science.
“NASA Ames is the home of the very successful Kepler space telescope team and many of their scientists are the driving force behind new space observatories that are currently in the development stage. Having access to these people and the wider NExSS network will be incredibly beneficial to my research, and I only hope that I can make some small contribution to this burgeoning field.”
As well as carrying out his own research on the habitability of other planets, Andrew will be tasked with helping to manage the NExSS network and communicating new findings to the public.
“I’ve always been as passionate about the outreach side of research as the research itself, so the post is a great fit for me,” he added.