Life in Outer Space Topic of ex-NASA Director’s Presentation
The search for life in outer space was discussed by the former Director of NASA’s Ames Research, Dr S. Pete Worden, during a presentation at UKZN.
Worden, in South Africa to attend an astronomy conference, was hosted by the University’s Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit.
Worden is the current Chairman of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation and Executive Director of the foundation’s Breakthrough Initiatives.
The Foundation rewards vital new developments in the fields of physics, life sciences and mathematics and includes Mark Zuckerberg as one of its founders.
The Breakthrough Initiatives programme, launched by Physicist and entrepreneur Yuri Milner, and Stephen Hawking, with Worden as its head, searches for life and habitable frontiers in outer space.
Prior to joining the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, Worden was also Research Professor of Astronomy at the University of Arizona. He is a recognised expert on space and science issues and has been a leader in building partnerships between governments and the private sector internationally.
He has authored or co-authored more than 150 scientific papers in astrophysics and space sciences, and served as a scientific co-investigator for three NASA space science missions – most recently the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph launched in 2013 to study the sun.
Worden received the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal for the 1994 Clementine Mission to the moon, was named the 2009 Federal Laboratory Consortium Laboratory Director of the Year, and received the 2010 Arthur C. Clarke Innovator’s Award.