Photo of Gary Blackwood
Issue 16 - April 2016
Message from the NASA Exoplanet Exploration Program Manager
By Gary Blackwood

The last several months have seen exciting changes and milestones of success across the Program and the community.

  • Here in the Program Office, we have added two new outstanding members – Dr. Karl Stapelfeldt as the new Program Chief Scientist, and Keith Warfield as the new Program Chief Engineer. We are truly excited to introduce these valued team members.
  • In February, WFIRST passed KDP-A making it an official NASA flight project. The WFIRST mission will continue the tradition of collaboration across a variety of centers and institutions, with responsibilities shared among Goddard Space Flight Center, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech’s Infrared Processing and Analysis Center, and the Space Telescope Science Institute. In December the WFIRST Formulation Science Investigation Teams were announced; you can find them here: (
  • In January, the StarShade Readiness Working Group (SSWG) charter was signed. The group will deliver by July 2016 a recommendation for a plan to validate starshade technology prior to building and flying a starshade science mission. You can learn more about the SSWG here:
  • The Exoplanet Exploration Program Technology Plan 2016 Appendix has been released. It covers specific technologies that are needed to enable the next NASA telescope that will search for life in the atmospheres of exoplanets. You can find the Plan Appendix and stay up to date with ExEP Technology here:

Gary Blackwood
Program Manager, Exoplanet Exploration, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
NASA Astrophysics Division