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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

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Natalie Batalha

2,321 Earth-Like Planets and Counting

The 2012 John D. Schopp Memorial Lecture will explore the Kepler Mission milestone discoveries.
By Ashley Vaughn

Fifty-one years after sending the first man into space, NASA continues to turn fantasy into reality.

NASA’s Kepler Mission, a search for habitable, earth-like planets, is no exception.

A blockbuster is discovered

In 2011, three SDSU professors working on the Kepler project discovered a planet that orbits two sun-like stars, much like the infamous planet Tattooine featured in the Star Wars series.

Once thought to exist only in the imaginations of George Lucas and Star Wars aficionados, the planet – called Kepler 16 – made headlines around the world

Kepler-16 and other milestone discoveries will be at the center of discussion for the 2012 John D. Schopp Memorial Lecture. Natalie Batalha, Kepler team leader and professor at San Jose State University will give the lecture.

Batalha will discuss the potential for habitable planets in our galaxy.

The lecture, sponsored by the SDSU Department of Astronomy and the Mount Laguna Observatory Associates, will take place at 7:30 p.m., April 27, in Geology, Math and Computer Sciences room 333.

Seeing stars

For more than 12 years, Batalha has worked vigorously in the discovery of planets outside of the solar system and has worked with NASA since 2000.

Batalha teaches physics and astronomy at San Jose State University. She holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of California, Berkeley, and a doctorate in astrophysics from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Her NASA team includes SDSU scientists Bill Welsh, Jerome Orosz, Allen Shafter and Donald Short.

Kepler discoveries to date