These are exciting times in exoplanet science with results pouring in from many sources. Below you will find updates from Kepler and other activities. The research of Sagan Fellows, and future opportunities to participate in that program are discussed. Progress on the Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer is ongoing, and we expect to start seeing results from that machine on the sky within the year. Planning has begun on the WFIRST mission, recommended in the Astro2010 Decadal Survey to accomplish microlensing observations of exoplanets, research into "dark energy" as the source of acceleration in the expansion of the universe and infrared investigations of how galaxies, stars and black holes form and evolve. Work is also underway through the Exoplanet Program Analysis Group (ExoPAG) on the analyses leading to choices for what kind of mission NASA should undertake in the future to explore and characterize planets that might harbor life.
Two coming events offer important participation opportunities. ExoPAG will meet on January 8 and 9 in Seattle just before the annual AAS meeting to begin charting the course to the next exoplanet mission. ExoPAG is open to all so please plan to come and be heard. ExEP and its NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (NExScI) are sponsoring a scientific meeting "Exploring Strange New Worlds" with an emphasis on what scientific opportunities will be available through near term facilities such as JWST. The meeting will be held in Flagstaff, AZ, May 1-6, 2011.
We take as a solemn duty (but hopefully fun) effective communication with our stakeholders and sponsors: the community of exoplanet scientists and the public that pays for our privilege of working in this field. Reports on our Education and Public Engagement activities will be found in this Newsletter. Access to all program information is available through our twin websites http://planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov/ and http://exep.jpl.nasa.gov/.
We welcome feedback on the effectiveness of this Newsletter, and we look forward to sharing with you the adventure of exploring new worlds beyond our solar system.
Manager, Exoplanet Exploration Program