Issue 15 - May 2015

Photo of Kevin Stevenson
By Kevin Stevenson

Planet-finding surveys have revealed thousands of confirmed exoplanets and candidates awaiting verification. Many of these objects were discovered indirectly using the transit technique, which is a powerful tool that has transformed our understanding of planetary system architecture. Furthermore, this technique has provided extraordinary insights into some of these planets’ atmospheres, thus revealing unexpected discoveries and altering our perspective of these worlds.

As a Sagan Fellow, it is my goal to better understand the nature and diversity of exoplanets through atmospheric characterization. Using ground- and space-based telescopes to spectroscopically determine their atmospheric compositions, thermal structures, and chemical properties, I am pursuing answers to some of the most fundamental questions that are influencing the current trajectory of our field.

My latest research includes measuring the first spectroscopic phase curve of an exoplanet (, and disproving the existence of a strong thermal inversion in the atmosphere of the exoplanet archetype HD 209458b ( To learn more about my research, please visit