Until 1995, there was no conclusive proof that any planet existed outside of our Solar System. Since then, scientists have discovered over 4000 exoplanets, with a wide range of orbits, sizes, atmospheres, and other traits. And astrophysicist Chelsea Huang of the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research has been at the heart of these planet hunting endeavors. She started her planet spotting career by contributing to the analysis of data collected from ground-based telescopes and from the Kepler satellite, a solar satellite that helped discover over 2600 exoplanets. Later, she joined the team for the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which took over Kepler’s search for other worlds in 2018. Physics spoke to Huang to find out how she locates distant planets in satellite data, what planetary discoveries she hopes to make, and why she doesn’t expect to find Earth 2.0 anytime soon.
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