Caldwell is a Co-Investigator on the Kepler Mission, the Instrument Scientist for the Kepler Mission. He works at the Kepler Science Office on the whole instrument/detector system.
A decade ago, astronomers could only speculate about whether planets were a happy commonplace in the universe, or distressingly rare. The discovery of hundreds of worlds around other stars has shown that planets orbit at least 5 to 10 percent of all stars. But how many of these planets are Earth-size, and possibly Earth-like?
Caldwell is an expert on one of the most promising schemes for finding small worlds far beyond our solar system: looking for the slight dimming of a star caused when a planet crosses between it and us. Doug is involved in a trio of transit experiments, including one running at the South Pole. While admittedly a tough environment for an observatory, this antipodal location offers long nights and high altitude, perfect conditions for finding the small dip in stellar brightness that would betray a planet. In addition, Doug is also the Instrument Scientist for NASA’s Kepler Mission, an ambitious, space borne telescope that will examine one hundred thousand stars for evidence of orbiting worlds. If Earth-size planets are common, Doug Caldwell will be among the first to know.