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Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy
Expertise: Astronomy, Exoplanets, Cosmology, Dark matter and energy, Gravitation, General physics
Jason Steffen works in the field of exoplanets — planets that orbit distant stars. He has been a member of the science team for NASA's Kepler mission. He continues to analyze data from that mission to understand the properties of planets and planetary systems. He also worked on projects related to dark matter, dark energy, and gravity.
Steffen is originally from Utah and attended graduate school in Seattle. Before coming to UNLV, he was the Lindheimer Fellow at Northwestern University and the Brinson Fellow at Fermilab outside of Chicago.
In addition to his work in astrophysics, he is known for the Steffen Method, a procedure to efficiently board passengers on an airplane.
- PhD in Physics, University of Washington, Seattle
- BS in Physics and Mathematic, Weber State University
Jason Steffen In The News
If you’re braving the “friendly,” crowded skies this holiday season, brace yourself for the inevitably glacial pace of the boarding process.
If you’re anything like us, you probably have solar eclipse fever: You've had August 21 marked on your calendar for days with dozens of sun and moon emojis; you’ve got your special viewing glasses, and you’re planning on taking your lunch break precisely at the eclipse’s peak moment (for all of you New Yorkers out there, that’s 2:44 p.m.). If you’re really committed to 2017’s total solar eclipse, you might even have travel plans to the path of totality to see the phenomenon in its truest form.
Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Jason Steffen, has been working with NASA as part of the research team for the Kepler Mission. This mission is in it’s final stages where release papers are ready to be submitted. The spacecraft is still functioning under there K2 Mission. NASA’s goal under the K2 Mission is to create a spacecraft and science program. Since the spacecraft is getting older, NASA has changed the direction of the spacecraft in they sky to make it easier to steer. The K2 gets reviewed every two years, where budget constraints are also analyzed at this time. Primarily, the K2 Mission is searching for different planets around different stars, determining whether or not these exoplanets could be habitable. So, is life on other planets really that common? One way to analyze this is by fractions of stars. For example, if 1 out of every billion stars has life around it, that’s still 300 in a galaxy. Regardless of this being in a rudimentary stage of research, Steffen says he would “not be surprised to find life out there.”
Over the course of two decades, several thousand planets have been discovered and recorded. Most of these exoplanets look nothing like the planets in our Solar System. Dr. Steffen, a member of the science team for NASA’s Kepler mission, joins us to talk about these discoveries and what we’ve learned from them.
Articles Featuring Jason Steffen
Super, blue, and eclipsed: Come Jan. 31, it's three moons in one.
Get ready for the sun to go dark during the day, but don't grab your shades. UNLV astrophysicist Jason Steffen on being humbled by the universe.