About Courtney Dressing's Work
Currently, the Earth is the only planet known to harbor life. My group will advance the search for life on other planets and launch the new field of comprehensive planetary habitability by pursuing three key research goals. First, we will identify nearby planets by searching data from the recently launched Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. Second, we will use ground-based telescopes to measure planet masses and discover which of the nearest planets have rocky compositions like the Earth. By identifying worlds that are both rocky and temperate, we will determine which planets are most likely to be habitable. Third, we will conduct in-depth observations of planetary systems with potentially habitable planets to understand the surrounding environment and build the precursor data set required to robustly detect life. Support from the Packard Foundation would allow me to lead a diverse research group in pioneering a sophisticated, multidisciplinary approach to planetary habitability.