Fireside Chat with Fergal Mullally (NASA)

With so many successful Irish professionals excelling in truly unique roles in the Bay Area, this series of events will give members a fascinating insight into their worlds, in fields as diverse as space exploration and college sports.

The first in this series will feature Dublin astronomer Fergal Mullally, who works for the Kepler Space Mission at NASA Ames in Mountain View, working to find Earth-like planets in outer space.

Come along for a fascinating chat and some "out of this world" networking! Membership will also be available on the night and will include free admission to the event.

Finding planets like our own elsewhere in the Galaxy is the first step to answering the age-old question of whether we are alone in the Universe. Unfortunately, it's very hard to see planets around other stars because the glare from the starshine overpowers the faint planets. Kepler is NASA's first mission capable of finding Earth sized planets in orbit around stars other than our own. Instead of trying to see the planets directly, it measures the change in brightness when a planet passes in front a star and blocks a tiny fraction of the starlight. It is very rare for a planet to line up just right to pass in front of the star as seen from the spacecraft, so Kepler will stare at over 150,000 stars almost continuously for 5-6 years to capture these rare events.​

Fergal Mullally is from Knocklyon on the south side of Dublin. He got his undergraduate degree in Physics from UCD in 2001, and a PhD in Astronomy from the University of Texas where he searched unsuccessfully for planets around white dwarf stars. He currently works for the Kepler Space Mission based at NASA's Ames Research Centre in California, where he works on improving data analysis techniques for Kepler data. When not playing peek-a-boo with his son, he enjoys reading history and playing sport.​