Because it seemed like such a difficult goal, and because the search for planets sounded childish—it was mixed up with the search for aliens—the number of groups that were willing to say “I’m searching for planets” before the 1990s was really very small.
Joshua Winn has played a major role in the detection of exoplanets—the planets that orbit distant suns outside the Earth’s solar system. He is a co-investigator in the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, NASA’s mission to discover thousands of exoplanets orbiting the galaxy.
Winn’s research goals are to explore the properties of planets around other stars, understand how planets form and evolve, and make progress on the age-old question of whether there are other planets capable of supporting life.
He was a Participating Scientist in the NASA Kepler team and is a Co-Investigator in the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, a NASA mission scheduled for launch in late 2017.
He and his group have also pursued topics in stellar astronomy, tidal evolution, planetary dynamics, radio interferometry, gravitational lensing, and photonic bandgap materials.