Professor of Geosciences has been appointed Director of the Penn State Planetary Science Consortium

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pennsylvania – Christopher House, professor of geosciences, will be the director of the Penn State Consortium of Planetary and Exoplanetary Science and Technology (CPEST) from July 1.

Founded in 2020, the consortium brings together scientists and engineers from across Penn State to study how planets form, evolve and become habitable, and work to detect and explore these worlds.

“CPEST University was created to take advantage of the extraordinary strengths of exoplanets and astrobiology and to grow our emerging research leadership in the field of planetary system science,” said Lora Weiss, senior vice president of research. “Penn State scientists and engineers are already active in planetary science research, and CPEST’s role will be to enhance collaborations between our faculties, enabling them to seek additional opportunities.”

The house explores biogeochemistry, geobiology, the origin of life, and the science of the planet. He is the director of NASA’s Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium and former director of the Astrobiology Research Center.

He also serves as head of science at NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover mission, led by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. Several times a month, he leads the team that is responsible for planning the daily scientific tasks of the rover on the red planet.

“This consortium is a great opportunity for Penn State – with its rich history of astrobiology – as a basis for further spreading our involvement in science on our planet,” House said. “And this is happening at a time when many exciting space missions are being developed and executed.”

“I’m very excited that Chris will lead CPEST,” said Sven Bilén, a professor of engineering design, electrical engineering and aerospace engineering. “I’ve worked with Chris for many years and I’ve always found him to be a strong advocate of space research at Penn State. He is particularly passionate about training the next generation of space scientists and engineers. This promotion will make CPEST a success. ”

House represents James Kasting, Evan Pugh University Professor of Geosciences and the initial director of the consortium, who is retiring from Penn State after nearly 35 years.

“Jim is a big part of astrobiology,” House said. “His work in the search for life on the cosmos has played a key role in the study of how planets change over time and sometimes go from being inanimate to inanimate. And he was critical of bringing people together and launching this consortium at Penn State. “

Kasting holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and two master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Michigan. He came to Penn State in 1988 and began his career studying the habitability of the planet and evaluating habitable areas around the stars. In 2018 he was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

“It’s hard to say too much about the impact that the casting teacher has on understanding exoplanets and habitability,” said astronomy and astrophysics professor Jason Wright. “He defined ‘Habitable Zone’ as one of the basic concepts of astrobiology, and helped build the vital bridge between exoplanetary astrophysics and planetary science covered by CPEST. Penn State was fortunate to have his experience and expertise, and helped make CPEST a reality. his vision.

The consortium brings together researchers and students from Eberly College of Science, College of Engineering, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, Materials Research Institute and Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, and provides administrative headquarters for planetary science.

It has five centers: the Astrobiology Research Center, the Exoplanet and World Habitat Center, the Penn State Extraterrestrial Intelligence Center, the Space Research Programs Center, and the Planetary System Science Center.

The consortium is designed to enable interdisciplinary research and help fund scientists as a result of an increase in SpaceX and Blue Origin and NASA space exploration projects.

“I believe that Penn State has a greater role to play with our current scientific and engineering experience in matters that enable us to develop and execute exciting space missions,” House said. “It’s a very exciting time for space exploration and Penn State.”

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