NASA scientist to speak on global hunt for alien worlds
A PROMINENT American-based astrophysicist will take to the stage at the University of Southern Queensland tonight to speak about the global hunt for alien worlds.
Associate Professor Stephen Kane from the University of California, Riverside, is a prominent part of NASA's TESS mission and has been in Toowoomba for the past week working with USQ.
Professor Kane said for scientists to understand new planetary systems that the TESS Mission was discovering, it was important to understand our own solar system first.
"If we don't understand our own solar system, we have no hope understanding a new planet we've discovered," he said.
Professor Kane said while a number of planets that had been discovered in recent years were of a similar size to the earth, that did not mean they were like the earth.
"I'll be talking about our nearest earth-sized planet, which is of course Venus," he said. "Venus is the opposite to the earth. We think of earth as the epitome of habitability. Well, Venus is the opposite of that.
"If you think of earth at one end of the scale, it's at the other. It's completely uninhabitable."
Professor Kane grew up in Tamworth, where the open night skies inspired his love of astronomy.
"For people who are from rural areas, there is a pathway into astronomy and that's important for them to know," he said. "When I was a teenager I was told several times as a kid from the country I couldn't do this, but there are pathways."
Professor Kane will speak at the USQ's Allison Dickson Lecture Theatre in Toowoomba from 6pm. The event is free, just turn up.