In the last thirty years, astronomers have looked to the stars trying to find habitable worlds like Earth.
Mr Clark’s Fulbright project will use data collected by both Australia’s largest optical telescope, the Australian Anglo Telescope, and USQ’s very own Mount Kent Observatory.
He will also use information from NASA’s new planet ﬁnding mission, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), as well as leveraging experience from world expert Dr Natalie Hinkel, a Planetary Astrophysics and Senior Research Scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.
“This project could potentially revolutionise the future of exoplanet-ﬁnding missions through the incredible wealth of Australian and Queensland resources,” Mr Clark said.
“Instead of looking through huge all-sky telescope surveys, we can ﬁnd planets by analysing the composition of their host stars beforehand.
“This project will potentially ﬁnd large rocky worlds known as super-Earths, directly aiding in TESS’s primary scientiﬁc mission requirements.”
As part of the Fulbright Future Scholarship, Mr Clark will spend six months at the Southwest Research Institute’s headquarters in San Antonio, Texas next year.
Mr Clark’s passion for what is beyond the universe started as a seven-year-old when he would set an alarm clock so he could wave to Australian astronaut Dr Andy Thomas up on the International Space Station as it passed by.
“It is without a doubt, one of my fondest childhood memories,” he said.
“I was born and raised in a blue-collar family, in the low socioeconomic suburbs of northern Adelaide. I had no mentors or role models around me who had even passed high school.
“For as long as I can remember, my career goal has always been to work at America’s national space agency, NASA.
“Through my research and this prestigious scholarship, I hope to show that no matter your background you can chase your dreams.
“Maybe I can be someone’s role model like Dr Andy Thomas was for me.”
The Fulbright program is the largest educational scholarship of its kind and was created by US Senator J William Fulbright and the US government in 1946 aimed at increasing research collaboration, cultural understanding and the exchange of ideas. Since its inception in Australia in 1949, the Fulbright Commission has awarded over 5,000 scholarships, creating a vibrant, dynamic, and interconnected network of Alumni.