Are we alone in the Universe? A new international space mission involving one U of T astronomer may help us get closer to finding out.
University of Toronto CLTA Assistant Professor Hilding Neilson has joined the Exoplanet Survey Science Team of the Twinkle Space Mission – a privately funded, seven-year mission that uses a satellite-based telescope to study the makeup of exoplanet atmospheres and solar systems bodies.
Twinkle analyzes exoplanets — the planets beyond our solar system — by observing starlight filtered through their atmospheres, using visible and infrared spectroscopy. It will be the first mission to do a comprehensive study of over 100 exoplanet atmospheres.
The data collected by the mission could help detect certain substances on exoplanets – things like the presence of methane and water vapour – that could provide clues about the viability of alien life.
Neilson says he’s thrilled to be a part of this important team.
“Twinkle is a tremendous opportunity to study exoplanets and their host stars,” he says. “We hope to learn about the possibilities for life to exist in other Solar Systems, and to better understand ourselves and our place in the Universe.”
Operations are scheduled to begin in 2024.
The mission is being funded by several academic institutions, including the University of Toronto.
To learn more about the Twinkle Space Mission, visit twinkle-spacemission.co.uk.
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