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Looking Up: Astrophysicist Lucianne Walkowicz Searches the Stars
TED Fellows | September 25, 2012

Looking Up: Astrophysicist Lucianne Walkowicz Searches the Stars

Lavin's new exclusive speaker is Lucianne Walkowicz, a TED Fellow and Astrophysicist working on NASA's Kepler mission. She studies the inscrutable faces of the stars for clues to their inner workings, with a particular interest in how their high energy radiation influences the habitability of planets around alien suns. With the Kepler mission, Walkowicz learns how the planetary systems grow, change, and interact, "to form their own ecosystem and make habitats that are amenable to life."

In enlightening and clear talks, Walkowicz explains what the Kepler mission is all about: "In just over two years of operations, we've found over 1,200 potential new planetary systems around other stars," she says. "To give you some perspective, in the previous two decades of searching, we had only known about 400, prior to Kepler." Walkowicz also encourages her audience to get outside to enjoy the night sky--and learn how to protect it.  "Like any natural resource, if we don't protect it, if we don't preserve it and treasure it, it will slip away from us and be gone."
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