Are we alone in the universe? This is a question that has been around mankind for millennia, and now a young Mexican is going to be working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (better known as NASA for its acronym in English) to try to decipher the answer.
After the competition with more than 400 applicants from different parts of the world Luis WelbanksThe graduate of PrepaTec, Campus Estado de México, was selected by NASA as one of the 24 new scholarship holders for the renowned NASA Hubble Fellowship Program (NHFP).
This US agency program enables postdocs to conduct independent research in any area of NASA astrophysics using theory, observation, experimentation, or instrument development.
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“This scholarship is the most important one for research in astrophysics, very few people receive it after a three-year doctorate. Receiving this scholarship was an incredible surprise; This is a sign that the research goals I propose are related to the goals of NASA, “said Luis Welbanks in a statement from Tec de Monterrey.
As part of the research sub-category he will belong to at NASA, Luis will help solve one of the three most important scientific questions the agency is trying to answer: Are we alone in the universe? Welbanks is dedicated to studying new chemical species on other planets, which has enabled the research groups he works with to find lithium on an exoplanet and water on most of them for the first time, albeit in smaller amounts than anticipated.
“From a scientific point of view, I am interested in knowing what the atmospheres of other planets are made of, which chemicals are present in what quantities. We observe this by observing the eclipses of other planets around their stars. When the planets pass in front of their stars there is a solar eclipse and when the light from the stars falls through the atmosphere of these planets we can see the fingerprint of the chemicals, clouds, aerosols present, their temperature, etc. “, Luis stated.
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Welbanks emigrated to Canada to study at the University of Calgary, where he received a scholarship while studying two majors: physics and astrophysics, both with honors. He was also awarded a National Council on Science and Technology (Conacyt) scholarship for his Masters in Physics and Astronomy at the University of Calgary, where he worked with the QuarkNova group, which researches supernovae and quarknovae, the explosion of a neutron star, from which a quark star is created.
For his doctorate, Luis was the first Mexican astrophysicist to receive the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, which this year celebrates its twentieth anniversary and is the University of Cambridge’s premier international graduate scholarship program.