PASADENA, Calif. — NASA announced Wednesday the new Carl Sagan Postdoctoral Fellowships in Exoplanet Exploration, created to inspire the next generation of explorers seeking to learn more about planets, and possibly life, around other stars. Planets beyond our solar system, called exoplanets, are being discovered at a staggering pace, with more than 300 currently known. Decades ago, long before any exoplanets had been found, the late Carl Sagan imagined such worlds, and pioneered the scientific pursuit of life that might exist on them. Sagan was an astronomer and a highly successful science communicator. NASA’s new Sagan fellowships will allow talented young scientists to tread the path laid out by Sagan. The program will award stipends of approximately $60,000 per year, for a period of up to three years, to selected postdoctoral scientists. Topics can range from techniques for detecting the glow of a dim planet in the blinding glare of its host star, to searching for the crucial ingredients of life in other planetary systems. “We are investing in our nation’s best and brightest in an emerging field that is tremendously inspiring to the public,” said Jon Morse, Astrophysics Division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
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