Our Mission

An artistic representation of the TESS telescope. (Credit: NASA)
An artistic representation of the TESS telescope. (Credit: NASA)

The Trottier Institute for Research on Exoplanets (iREx) aims to search for new worlds beyond the Solar System and answer one of the great questions that drives humanity: are we alone in the Universe?

An artistic representation of a rocky super-Earth-like exoplanet. (Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser)

This question alone justifies billions of dollars of investment in robotic exploration of our Solar System and the construction of powerful astronomical observatories, both on the ground and in space. We can also mention the numerous technological spin-offs that improve our daily life (WiFi, medical imaging, high performance cameras, etc.) that are made possible by the innovative development required in astronomical instrumentation.

Since the discovery of the first planet orbiting a star other than the Sun in 1995, astronomers have confirmed the existence of several thousands of exoplanets. Thousands of other exoplanet candidates have also been identified and include rocky Earth-like planets as well as planet types that have defied our theories of planetary formation. In the next decade, the new generation of telescopes and instruments will make it possible to probe the atmosphere of extrasolar Earth-like planets for water vapour for the first time and, possibly, signatures of biological activity such as oxygen, ozone, or methane.

A spectral signature observed by the Canadian NIRISS instrument on the Webb Telescope indicating the presence of water vapor in the atmosphere of the exoplanet WASP-96 b. (Credit: NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI)

Thanks to the work of our world-leading exoplanet researchers and their rising-star students, the iREx is the largest exoplanetary institute in Canada and a leader on the global scene. We are certainly among the most important players in the world in the search for life elsewhere in the Universe.