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Planet-Hunting NASA Astrophysicist, Elisa Quintana, to Speak at the Library May 9

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This post was authored by Stephanie Marcus, Science Reference Librarian in the Science, Technology, and Business Division.

The next speaker in the NASA Goddard lecture series, Elisa Quintana, never dreamed of becoming an astrophysicist, but happened to take physics at the University of California, San Diego, and was fortunate to work with Professor Sally Ride. Quintana graduated with a degree in physics, and a meeting with one of Ride’s graduate students introduced her to the fascinating new world of exoplanets. She went on to the University of Michigan and earned Master’s Degrees in physics and aerospace science, and in 2004, a Ph.D. in physics.  After fellowship work at NASA Ames Research Center in California, Dr. Quintana joined the SETI Institute and was a programmer on the Kepler Telescope mission.   She returned to work at Ames, and in 2014 Quintana led the team that discovered the first Earth-sized exoplanet in the habitable zone, Kepler-186f.

Dr. Quintana is now NASA’s Deputy Project Scientist for the NASA/MIT Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite mission (TESS).  The satellite, which launched April 18, 2018, has four wide-field cameras and is tasked with a two-year all-sky survey for extra-solar planets in both celestial hemispheres.

For background information on TESS, the NASA Lecture Series featured “TESS Searches for Planets” with Stephen Rinehart on October 8, 2015.  The webcast can be viewed at

Date & Time:  Thursday, May 9, 11:30 a.m-12:30 p.m.

Place:  Mary Pickford Theater, James Madison Building, 3rd floor

For inquiries about this program, contact Stephanie Marcus in the Science, Technology & Business Division at [email protected] or the division office at: (202) 707-1212. Individuals requiring accommodations for this event are requested to submit a request at least five business days in advance by contacting (202) 707-6362 or [email protected]

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