This Mexican will work with NASA to find out if we are alone in the Universe
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Are we alone in the universe? This is a question that has accompanied humanity for millennia and now a young Mexican will work with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (better known as NASA , for its acronym in English) to try to decipher the answer.
After competing with more than 400 applicants from different parts of the world, Luis Welbanks , a graduate of PrepaTec, Campus Estado de México , was selected by NASA as one of the 24 new fellows for its prestigious NASA Hubble Fellowship Program (NHFP). ).
This US agency program allows postdoctoral scientists to conduct independent research in any area of NASA astrophysics, using theory, observation, experimentation, or instrument development.
“This scholarship is the most important for research in astrophysics, very few people receive it after a three-year doctorate. Receiving this scholarship was an incredible surprise; it is a sign that the research objectives that I am proposing are related to the objectives of NASA, "said Luis Welbanks in a statement from Tec de Monterrey.
As part of the research subcategory that he will be a part of at NASA, Luis will help solve one of the three key scientific questions the agency seeks to answer: Are we alone in the universe? Welbanks is dedicated to investigating new chemical species on other planets, which has allowed the research groups he works with to find lithium, for the first time, on an exoplanet, and water on most of them, although in smaller quantities. than believed.
“In the scientific aspect, what interests me is to know what the atmospheres of other planets are made of, what chemicals are present and in what quantities. The way we do it is by observing the eclipses of other planets around their stars. When the planets pass in front of their stars there is an eclipse, and when the light from the stars passes through the atmospheres of these planets we can see the fingerprint of the chemicals that are present, clouds, aerosols, their temperature, etc. ”, Luis indicated.
Welbanks immigrated to Canada to study at the University of Calgary, where he was awarded a scholarship and obtained two majors at the same time: physics and astrophysics, both with honors. In addition, he was awarded a scholarship by the National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt) to carry out his master's degree in physics and astronomy at the University of Calgary, where he collaborated with the QuarkNova group, which does research on supernovae and quarknovae, the explosion of a star of neutrons that give rise to a quark star.
Subsequently, for his doctoral studies, Luis became the first Mexican astrophysicist to be awarded the Gates-Cambridge scholarship, which this year celebrates its twentieth anniversary, and is the main international graduate scholarship program of the University of Cambridge.