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Wesley Traub's Picture
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Wesley Traub
JPL Project Scientist, WFIRST mission

Wes Traub is the JPL Project Scientist for the WFIRST mission for observing dark energy and exoplanets, slated for launch in 2024.   From 2005 to 2015 he was the Chief Scientist for NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program.  Previously he was at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics for 37 years. His interests are exoplanets, coronagraphs and spectroscopy, all for the purpose of someday directly imaging terrestrial planets in the habitable zone of nearby stars.

  • Ph.D., Physics, University of Wisconsin - Madison (1968)
  • M.S., Physics, University of Wisconsin - Madison (1964)
  • B.S., Physics and Mathematics, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee (1962)

Research Interests
  • Extrasolar Planets: Detection and Characterization


WFIRST (Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope) Icon WFIRST (Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope)
The Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) is a NASA observatory designed to perform wide-field imaging and surveys of the near infrared (NIR) sky.

Professional Experience
  • JPL Project Scientist, WFIRST mission
  • Chief Scientist, Exoplanet Exploration Program, NASA JPL (2008-present)
  • Chief Scientist, Navigator Program, NASA JPL (2005-2008)
  • Senior Research Scientist, NASA JPL (2007-present)
  • Project Scientist, Terrestrial Planet Finder Coronagraph, NASA JPL (2005-2010)
  • Research Associate, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (2005-present)
  • Senior Physicist, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (1998-2005)
  • Consultant, Perkin-Elmer Corporation (1984-1987)
  • Lecturer on Astronomy, Harvard University (1976-1989)
  • Consultant, Laser Optics, Inc. (1975-1978)
  • Associate of the Harvard College Observatory (1975-1976)
  • Research Fellow in Applied Physics, Harvard University (1968-1974)
  • Physicist, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (1968-1998)

Selected Awards
  • NASA Group Achievement Award to SIM Planet Finding Capability Study (2010)
  • Distinguished Alumni Award, Dept. of Physics, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison (2008)
  • NASA Group Achievement Award to FIRST Team (2006)
  • NASA Group Achievement Award for Balloon Observations of the Stratosphere Team, (2004)
  • Smithsonian Institution Award for Special Achievement Reflecting a High Standard of Accomplishment (1989, 1994, 1996)

Selected Publications

For a complete list of publications, see Dr. Traub's CV.

  1. A Laboratory Demonstration of the Capability to Image an Earth-like Extrasolar Planet (J.T. Trauger and W.A. Traub), Nature, 446, pp. 771-773, 2007.
  2. First Images of R Aquarii and its Asymmetric H2O Shell (S. Ragland, H. LeCoroller, E. Pluzhnik, W.D. Cotton, W.C. Danchi, J.D. Monnier, W.A. Traub, L.A. Wilson, J.-P. Berger, and M.G. Lacasse), Astrophysical Journal, 679, pp. 746-761, 2008.
  3. Milliarcsecond N-Band Observations of the Nova RS Ophiuchi: First Science with the Keck Interferometer Nuller (R.K. Barry, W.C. Danchi, W.A. Traub, J.L Sokoloski, J.P. Wisneiwski, E. Serabyn, M.J. Kuchner, R. Akeson, E. Appleby, J. Bell, and 31 coauthors), Astrophysical Journal, 677, pp. 1253-1267, 2008.
  4. The limb darkened Arcturus; Imaging with the IOTA/IONIC interferometer (S. Lacour, S. Meimon, E. Thiébaut, G. Perrin, T. Verhoelst, E. Pedretti, P. A. Schuller, L. Mugnier, J. Monnier, J.P. Berger, X. Haubois, A. Poncelet, G. Le Besnerais, K. Eriksson, R. Millan-Gabet, S. Ragland, M. Lacasse, and W. Traub) Astronomy & Astrophysics, 485, pp. 561-570, 2008.
  5. Terrestrial-Planet Transits of M Stars (W.A. Traub and R. Cutri), Ast. Soc. Pacific, Conf. Series, 398, p. 475, 2008
  6. Super Earth Explorer: A Coronagraphic Off-Axis Space Telescope (J. Schneider, A. Boccaletti, C. Mawet, P. Baudoz, J.L. Beuzit, R. Doyon, M. Marley, D. Stam, G. Tinetti, W. Traub, J. Trauger, A. Aylward, J. Y-K. Cho, C.U. Keller, S. Udry, the SEE-COAST Team), Experimental Astronomy, 23, pp. 357-377, 2009.
  7. Transits of Earth-Like Planets (L. Kaltenegger and W.A. Traub), Astrophysical Journal, 698, pp. 519-527, 2009.
  8. Imaging the asymmetric dust shell around CI Cam with long-baseline optical interferometry (N. D. Thureau, J.D. Monnier, W.A. Traub, R. Millan-Gabet, E. Pedretti, J.-P. Berger, M.R. Garcia, F.P. Schloerb, and A.-K. Tannirkulam), MNRAS, 398, pp. 1309-1316, 2009.
  9. The Structure and Kinematics of the Envelope Around U Ori from IOTA Observations (E.A. Pluzhnik, S. Ragland, H. LeCoroller, W.D. Cotton, W.C. Danchi, W.A. Traub, and L.A. Willson), Astrophysical Journal, 700, pp. 114-122, 2009.
  10. 51 Ophiuchus: A Possible Beta Pictoris Analog Measured with the Keck Interferometer Nuller, (C.C. Stark, M.J. Kuchner, W.A. Traub, J.D. Monnier, E. Serabyn, M. Colavita, C. Koresko, B. Mennesson, L.D. Keller), Astrophysical Journal, 703, pp. 1188-1197, 2009.
  11. First L-Band Interferometric Observations of a Young Stellar Object: Probing the Circumstellar Environment of MWC 419 (S. Ragland, R.L. Akeson, T. Armandroff, M.M. Colavita, W.C. Danchi, L.A. Hillenbrand, R. Millan-Gabet, S.T. Ridgway, W.A. Traub, G. Vasisht, P.L. Wizinowich), Astrophysical Journal, 703, pp. 22-29, 2009.
  12. A Multi-wavelength Differential Imaging Experiment for the High Contrast Imaging Testbed, (B. Biller, J. Trauger, D. Moody, L. Close, A. Kuhnert, K. Stapelfeldt, W.A. Traub, B. Kern), Ast. Soc. Pacific, 121, pp. 716-727, 2009.
  13. SiO Masers in Asymmetric Miras I: R. Leonis (W.D. Cotton, S. Ragland, H. LeCoroller, E. Pluzhnik, W.C. Danchi, W.A. Traub, L.A. Willson, J.-P. Berger, and M.G. Lacasse), Ap.J., 704, pp. 170-182, 2009.
  14. SiO Masers in Asymmetric Miras II: R. Cancri (W.D. Cotton, S. Ragland, E. Pluzhnik, W.C. Danchi, W.A. Traub, L.A. Willson, J.-P. Berger, and M.G. Lacasse), Ap.J., 185, pp. 574-585, 2009.
  15. Spectral Imaging with Nulling Interferometer: Theory (Taro Matsuo, Makoto Hattori, Motohide Tamura, and Wesley A. Traub), submitted to Applied Optics, 2009.
  16. A Physical Orbit for the M-Dwarf Binary Gliese 268 (R.K., Barry, B.O. Demory, D. Segransan, T. Forveille, W.C. Danchi, E. DiFolco, D. Queloz, G. Torres, W. Traub, X. Delfosse, M. Mayor, C. Perrier, and S. Udry), submitted to ApJ, 2009.
  17. Imaging the Spotty Surface of Betelgeuse in the H Band (X. Haubois, G. Perrin, S. Lacour, T. Verhoelst, S. Meimon, L. Mugnier, E. Thiebaut, J.P. Berger, S.T. Ridgway, J.D. Monnier, r. Millan-Gabet, W.A. Traub), Astronomy and Astrophysics, 508, pp. 923-932, 2009.
  18. The Pulsation of chi Cygni Imaged by Optical Interferometry: A Novel Technique to Derive Distance and Mass of Mira Stars (S. Lacour, E. Thiebaut, G. Perrin, S. Meimon, X. Haubois, E. Pedretti, S.T. Ridgway, J.D. Monnier, J.P. Berger, P.A. Schuller, H. Woodruff, A. Poncelet, H. Le Coroller, R. Millan-Gabet, M. Lacasse, and W. Traub) , Astrophysical Journal, 707, pp. 632-643, 2009.
  19. SiO Masers in Asymmetric Miras III: IK Tauri (W.D. Cotton, S. Ragland, E. Pluzhnik, W.C. Danchi, W.A. Traub, L.A. Willson, and M.G. Lacasse), Astrophysical Journal Supplement, 187, pp. 107-118, 2010.
  20. Direct Imaging (W.A. Traub and B.R. Oppenheimer), in Exoplanets, S. Seager, editor, University of Arizona Press, pp. 111-156, 2010.
  21. A New Concept for Direct Imaging and Spectral Characterization of Exoplanets in Multi-Planet Systems (Taro Matsuo, Wesley Traub, Makoto Hattori, and Motohide Tamura), Astrophysical Journal, 729:50 (10 pp), 2011.
  22. First astronomical unit scale image of the GW Orionis triple system. Direct detection of a new stellar companion (Berger, J.-P.; Monnier, J. D.; Millan-Gabet, R.; Renard, S.; Pedretti, E.; Traub, W.; Bechet, C.; Benisty, M.; Carleton, N.; Haguenauer, P.; Kern, P.; Labeye, P.; Longa, F.; Lacasse, M.; Malbet, F.; Perraut, K.; Ragland, S.; Schloerb, P.; Schuller, P. A.; Thiébaut, E.), Astronomy & Astrophysics, 529, (4 pp.), 2011.
  23. ExoZodiacal Dust Levels for Nearby Main Sequence Stars (Millan-Gabet, R.; Serabyn, E.; Mennesson, B.; Traub, W. A.; Barry, R. K.; Danchi, W. C.; Kuchner, M.; Ragland, S.; Hrynevych, M.; Woillez, J.; Stapelfeldt, K.; Bryden, G.; Colavita, M. M.; Booth, A. J.), Astrophysical Journal, accepted, 2011.
  24. A Mass-Radius Relation for Exoplanets, W.A. Traub, submitted to Astrophysical Journal, April 2011.
  25. Terrestrial, Habitable-Zone Frequency Estimate from Kepler, W.A. Traub, submitted to Astrophysical Journal, April 2011.
  26. Searching for faint companions with VLTI/PIONIER, I. Method and first results, Absil O., Le Bouquin J.-B., Berger J.-P., Lagrange A.-M., Chauvin G., Lazareff B., Zins G., Haguenauer P., Jocou L., Kern P., Millan-Gabet R., Traub W., submitted to Astronomy and Astrophysics, 2011.
  27. First Keck Nulling Observations of a Young Stellar Object: Probing the Circumstellar Environment of the Herbig Ae star MWC 325, S. Ragland, K. Ohnaka, L. Hillenbrand, S. T. Ridgway, M. M. Colavita, R. L. Akeson, W. Cotton, W. C. Danchi, R. Millan-Gabet, W. A. Traub, submitted to Astrophysical Journal, 2011.
  28. A Precise Physical Orbit for the M-dwarf Binary Gliese 268, Barry, R. K.; Demory, B.-O.; Ségransan, D.; Forveille, T.; Danchi, W. C.; Di Folco, E.; Queloz, D.; Spooner, H. R.; Torres, G.; Traub, W. A.; Delfosse, X.; Mayor, M.; Perrier, C.; Udry, S., Astrophysical Journal, 760, 55B, 2012.
  29. Atmospheric characterization of cold exoplanets using a 1.5-m coronagraphic space telescope, Maire, A.-L.; Galicher, R.; Boccaletti, A.; Baudoz, P.; Schneider, J.; Cahoy, K. L.; Stam, D. M.; Traub, W. A., Astronomy and Astrophysics, 541A, 83M, 2012.
  30. Terrestrial, Habitable-Zone Frequency Estimate from Kepler, W.A. Traub, Astrophysical Journal, 745, 20T, 2012.
  31. Hot circumstellar material resolved around beta Pic with VLTI/PIONIER, Defrère, D.; Lebreton, J.; Le Bouquin, J.-B.; Lagrange, A.-M.; Absil, O.; Augereau, J.-C.; Berger, J.-P.; di Folco, E.; Ertel, S.; Kluska, J.; Montagnier, G.; Millan-Gabet, R.; Traub, W.; Zins, G., Astronomy and Astrophysics, 546, L9, 2012.
  32. Constraining the Exozodiacal Luminosity Function of Main-sequence Stars: Complete Results from the Keck Nuller Mid-infrared Surveys, Mennesson, B.; Millan-Gabet, R.; Serabyn, E.; Colavita, M. M.; Absil, O.; Bryden, G.; Wyatt, M.; Danchi, W.; Defrère, D.; Doré, O.; Hinz, P.; Kuchner, M.; Ragland, S.; Scott, N.; Stapelfeldt, K.; Traub, W.; Woillez, J., Astrophysical Journal, 797, 119M, 2014.
  33. The VLTI/PIONIER near-infrared interferometric survey of southern T Tauri stars. I. First results, Anthonioz, F.; Ménard, F.; Pinte, C.; Le Bouquin, J.-B.; Benisty, M.; Thi, W.-F.; Absil, O.; Duchêne, G.; Augereau, J.-C.; Berger, J.-P.; Casassus, S.; Duvert, G.; Lazareff, B.; Malbet, F.; Millan-Gabet, R.; Schreiber, M. R.; Traub, W.; Zins, G., Astronomy and Astrophysics, 574, A41, 2015
  34. Science Yield Estimate with the WFIRST Coronagraph, W.A. Traub, J. Breckinridge, T. P. Greene, O. Guyon, N.J. Kasdin, and B. Macintosh, J. Astron. Telesc. Instrum. Syst. 2(1),011020, 2016.
  35. Few puffed-up rims found in large interferometric survey of Herbig AeBe stars: A survey of Herbig AeBe stars using PIONIER-VLTI, B. Lazare, J.-P. Berger, J. Kluska, J.-B. Le Bouquin, M. Benisty, F. Malbet, C. Koen, C. Pinte, W.-F. Thi, O. Absil, F. Baron, A. Delboulbé, G. Duvert, A. Isella, L. Jocou, A. Juhasz, S. Kraus, R. Lachaume, F. Ménard, R. Millan-Gabet, J. Monnier, K. Perraut, F. Soulez, M. Tallon, E. Thiébaut, W. Traub, and G. Zins, submitted to Astronomy and Astrophysics, May 2016.
  36. Kepler Exoplanets: A New Method of Population Analysis, W.A. Traub, submitted to ApJ, May 2016.

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