Probing Alien Worlds from Down Under

Presented by Jake Clark, University of Southern Queensland

As a naturally curious and adventurous species, humans have scaled mountains, crossed deserts and oceans, trying to answer a very fundamental question: Are we alone? Now that we’ve explored the niches of our own planet, it’s now up to astronomers like myself to cross the vast cosmic ocean to find life elsewhere within our Milky Way galaxy. But how do we find planets dancing around other stars? What makes another world habitable for life as we know it? And how are doing all of this within our own backyard? Well, you'll just have to come to this talk to find out!

Bio: I'm Jake Clark, born and bred within Adelaide's northern suburbs and currently a PhD Candidate and Fulbright Future Scholar based at the University of Southern Queensland's Toowoomba campus. My definition of a 'day job' is discovering alien worlds that no human has laid eyes upon before – pretty rad, right!? My research involves looking at the physical and chemical characteristics of stars to try and forward predict what types of planets they'll likely host, in particular stars that are currently being observed by NASA's new planet-finding mission, TESS. Other research interests involve directly hunting for exoplanets using Queensland's very own planet-finding telescope array MinERVA-Australis, re-calibrating the orbital parameters of known planetary systems and determining the chemical and geological composition of large rocky and small gassy worlds known as super-Earths. During the spare time I do have, I'm a freelance science communicator informing and empowering everyday Australians about the importance (and fun!) of STEM. The usual suspect activities I'm involved with include: facilitating hands-on workshops in schools, running public observing nights in the Darling Downs, talking science on community radio and curating engaging media articles about the latest astronomical discoveries.

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Wednesday 07 Oct 2020

8:00 PM - 9:00 PM

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