Dr. Natalie Batalha, a Kepler Mission scientist, is using technology that is out of this world-and out of this solar system-to locate exoplanets, some of which could be Earth-like planets that may be hosts to extraterrestrial life.
Dr. Natalie Batalha is a research astronomer in the Space Sciences Division of NASA Ames Research Center and the Kepler Mission Scientist. Dr. Batalha started her career as a stellar spectroscopist studying young, sun-like stars. She holds a bachelor degree in physics from the University of California, Berkeley, a doctorate in astrophysics from UC Santa Cruz, and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Inspired by the growing number of exoplanet discoveries she joined the team led by William Borucki at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., working on transit photometry -- an emerging technology for finding exoplanets.
Dr. Batalha has been involved with the Kepler Mission since the proposal stage, and as one of the original Co-Investigators was responsible for the selection of the more than 150,000 stars the spacecraft monitors. She works closely with team members at Ames to identify viable planet candidates from Kepler photometry. She led the analysis that yielded the discovery in 2011 of Kepler-10b - the first confirmed rocky planet outside our solar system.
Her contributions to the Kepler team efforts are central to the Kepler discoveries that humans, prior, have left to the imagination and the realms of science fiction.