Douglas Caldwell

Douglas Caldwell
Kepler Instrument Scientist
Curriculum Vitae: 
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 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.

Just 20 years ago, astronomers could only speculate about whether planets were a happy commonplace in the universe, or distressingly rare. The discovery of thousands of worlds around other stars has shown that planets orbit most of the stars in our Galaxy. But how many of these planets are Earth-size, and possibly Earth-like?

Caldwell is an expert on one of the most successful 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 has examined over one hundred thousand stars and found thousands of planets, many as small or smaller than Earth. Kepler's results have moved us from asking whether other Earth's are out there, to asking how can we search these Earths for atmospheres and life.

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Science Processing Support for the TESS Mission

In April 2013, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) was selected for flight in August 2017 by NASA’s Explorer Program to discover the 1,000 exoplanets best suited for follow-up and characterization with existing, impending, and future facilities and projects such as the James Webb Space Telescope.

Science Analysis Support for NASA Discovery Program's Kepler Extended Mission

The Kepler Mission seeks to determine the prevalence of Earth-size and larger planets orbiting solar-like stars in the solar neighborhood, and to characterize the stellar properties favoring the development of planetary systems.