Passionate about exploration and pushing the frontiers of planetary missions.

The Planetary Exploration group at TU Delft’s faculty of Aerospace Engineering is dedicated to the exploration of the solar system and the planets beyond.

Our science is focused on planetary atmospheres; planetary surface processes and materials; planet and moon interiors; and exoplanet detection and characterisation. We design and develop scientific instruments and trajectories for future space missions aimed at exploring the characteristics of other planets and moons in our solar system. We are also part of the Delft Space Institute.


Colloquium 24 January, 12:30 hr (via MS Teams)

Lonely Planets – direct imaging discoveries of gas giant exoplanets with the Young Suns Exoplanet Survey – Dr. Matthew Kenworthy (Leiden University and TU Delft)

We have indirectly detected thousands of planets beyond our Solar System through the effect they have on their parent stars, either by the reflex motion of their orbit or when the planet’s orbit causes the planet to transit the disk of the star. For young gas giant exoplanets, they glow in the near infrared from the latent heat of their formation, and we can  directly image these planets and understand their chemistry and cloud formation in their atmospheres. In Leiden we have been leading the Young Suns Exoplanet Survey (YSES) using the Very Large Telescope with the infra-red imaging camera SPHERE to look at 70 stars that are very similar in mass to the Sun, but are only about 17 million years old. We will describe how we take the observations and show the exoplanets that we have discovered over the past two years, explain what we can learn about planet formation, and discuss planned observations with the James Webb Space Telescope and the Extremely Large Telescopes.

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