October 11, 2012
Physicist...coronagraphy expert...planet hunter. Now JPL astronomer Olivier Guyon can add a new title to his list: genius.
Guyon has been named one of the 2012 MacArthur Fellows, a prestigious award popularly known as the "genius grant." The $500,000 award is given annually to "talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction."
Guyon is considered one of the world's foremost experts in the field of coronagraphy, an optical technique that could help the next generation of exoplanet space missions image Earth-like planets orbiting other stars. Coronagraphy works by blocking out the light of distant stars, which are millions of times brighter than the planets that orbit them. With the starlight removed from an image, astronomers can get a better look at these exoplanets that would otherwise be lost in the glare -- even worlds as small as our own. Guyon's coronagraph technology could help astronomers take the first picture of an Earth-like planet beyond our solar system.
In addition to his role developing technology for NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program, Guyon is a principal investigator in NASA's Astronomy and Physics Research and Analysis program; an assistant professor at the University of Arizona, Tucson; and leads a coronagraphy project at the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii.
For more information, visit: http://planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov/news/72 .
Written by Joshua Rodriguez
Whitney Clavin 818-354-4673
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.