© 2019 LAHS STEAM Week

Dr. Natalie Batalha

NASA Ames Research Center / Astronomer

A Planet for Goldilocks -- NASA and the Search for Life Beyond Earth

This month, NASA celebrates its 60th anniversary.  That's 60 years of space exploration that includes sending humans to the Moon, launching a shuttle program, building an orbiting outpost for humans, landing robots on Mars, and sending probes to furthest reaches of the Solar System.  NASA also extends our vision out into the cosmos using sophisticated space telescopes that allow us to see further than we could before.  One such space telescope named Kepler recently taught us that the galaxy contains billions of worlds like Earth that could harbor life. Dr. Batalha will talk about some of these exciting discoveries and share her experiences as a professional Astronomer and what it means to be a NASA scientist.

​Meet Dr. Natalie Batalha

An astrophysicist at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Natalie Batalha was the project scientist for the NASA’s Kepler Mission – an ambitious undertaking focused on searching for planets orbiting other stars in the galaxy. In this endeavor, Natalie and colleagues are exploring the structure and diversity of planetary systems in our region of the Milky Way galaxy to determine the fraction of stars that harbor potentially habitable, terrestrial-size planets.

For her work, she is the recipient of key honors in her field, including the prestigious Lecar Prize from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics this year; and the NASA Public Service Medal for her vision in communicating Kepler science to the public and for outstanding leadership in coordinating the Kepler Science Team. In 2017, she was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by TIME Magazine and was awarded the Smithsonian Ingenuity Award for the Physical Sciences.

Natalie holds a Bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of California (UC), Berkeley, and a Doctoral degree in astrophysics from UC Santa Cruz.