UNK faculty Adam Jensen picked for NASA exoplanet project

Adam_Jensen-WebKEARNEY – UNK faculty member Adam Jensen is among a group of earth science, planetary science, heliophysics and astrophysics experts selected by NASA for an unprecedented initiative dedicated to the search for life on planets outside our solar system.

The Nexus for Exoplanet System Science, or NExSS, hopes to better understand the various components of an exoplanet, as well as how the planet stars and neighbor planets interact to support life.

An assistant professor in the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s Department of Physics and Physical Science, Jensen is leading a group that will explore the existence and evolution of exospheres around exoplanets, the outer ‘unbound’ portion of a planet’s atmosphere.

“This interdisciplinary endeavor connects top research teams and provides a synthesized approach in the search for planets with the greatest potential for signs of life,” says Jim Green, NASA’s Director of Planetary Science. “The hunt for exoplanets is not only a priority for astronomers, it’s of keen interest to planetary and climate scientists as well.”

Jensen came to UNK in 2014. He received his Ph.D. in astrophysical and planetary sciences at the University of Colorado-Boulder in 2007, held postdoctoral positions at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and Wesleyan University in Connecticut, and was a lecturer at University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

The NExSS project includes team members from 10 different universities and two research institutes. These teams were selected from proposals submitted across NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

NExSS will bring together these prominent research communities in an unprecedented collaboration, to share their perspectives, research results, and approaches in the pursuit of one of humanity’s deepest questions: Are we alone?

The team will help classify the diversity of worlds being discovered, understand the potential habitability of these worlds, and develop tools and technologies needed in the search for life beyond Earth.


Writer: Todd Gottula, Director of Communications, 308.865.8454, gottulatm@unk.edu
Contact: Adam Jensen, Assistant Professor, Department of Physics & Physical Science, 308-865-8878
Source: Laurie Cantillo, Office of Communications NASA, 202.358.1077, laura.l.cantillo@nasa.gov

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