William Borucki donated Shaw Award prize money for pioneering planet finding to the Union of Concerned Scientists for its climate change efforts

William Borucki has had an amazing scientific career. One of his first jobs was at NASA Ames Research Center, where he worked on the Apollo moon missions, including helping to develop the heat shield for the space shuttle. After the successful moon landings, Borucki shifted to NASA’s Theoretical Studies Branch in the 1970s, where he developed models of the Earth’s atmosphere to predict the effects of nitric oxides and chlorofluoromethanes on the ozone layer. Both were determined to contribute to the problem of ozone depletion and the hole in the ozone layer.

In the 1980s, Borucki began advocating the development of a space mission that could detect Earth-size planets. He published a paper in 1984 showing that a photometer 1,000 times more precise than any in existence could detect Earth-size planets. Undeterred by rejections of four proposals in the 1990s for a planet-finding mission, Borucki was ultimately appointed Principal Investigator in 2001 for NASA’s new Keppler Mission to discover these planets. During its four years of its operation, the Keppler Mission discovered over 4,600 planetary candidates, confirmed more than 1,000 as planets, and made numerous contributions to stellar astrophysics.

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Source: Guardian Environment