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Understanding the Atmospheres of Hot Earths and the Impact on Solar System Formation Missouri University of Science & Technology/NASA Glenn Research Center, Science Mission Directorate Are we alone in the universe? Where did we come from? Are there others like us? Fundamental questions like these may someday be answered with data provided by NASA EPSCoR researcher, Dr. Michael Reed, Professor of Astronomy at Missouri State University. Reed and his MoSU team are studying the atmospheres of some very hot, rocky exoplanets discovered by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft to help determine whether our solar system formed uniquely to others. So hot are their surface temperatures (some can top 1,000 degrees Kelvin) that these exoplanets could not have formed close-in to their host stars; they had to have drifted into their extremely short orbits (less than a few days long!) only after their formation farther away. Theorizing that some of these exoplanets may have formed at distances similar to Earth’s from our sun, Reed’s team is studying gases released from these exoplanets’ molten bedrock. Should they detect similarities to the chemical properties of our planet, or Mars, or Venus, their research could shed light on whether our genesis is one-of-a-kind – or mirrored elsewhere in the universe. Reed’s NASA EPSCoR grant also helped stimulate major improvements to MoSu’s research infrastructure, including the construction of a new, high-temperature materials laboratory. Its upgraded infrared spectroscopy capabilities help Reed’s team better detect and identify the exoplanets’ different atmospheric gases. This collaboration between MoSU, Washington University in Saint Louis, and Missouri University of Science and Technology helped nurture future members of our next generation STEM workforce. Stipends, equipment, travel money and release time were provided by the collaborative institutions to enable student participation in various capacities. MoSu’s Baker Observatory was made available for student observations and analyses, and important mentoring opportunities, including an internship at NASA’s Glenn Research Center, were established. These critical commitments would not have been made without this NASA EPSCoR project.

Results of experiments performed at NASA-Glenn by Drs. Jacobson and Costas showing vapor pressures versus inverse temperature (van’t Hoff plot) for vapor species of Fe-rich olivine. To help identify the chemical properties/makeup of substances found on exoplanets discovered by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft.

Dr. Mike Reed, Science PI, Missouri State University

Dr. Pamela Marcum, PhD, NASA Technical Monitor, Ames Research Center

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NASA EPSCoR Stimuli 2014 -15

EPSCoR Stimuli 2014-15  

NASA Office of Education’s Aerospace Research & Career Development (ARCD) is pleased to release NASA EPSCoR Stimuli, a collection of univers...

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