Logo of the Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NExSS) on a white background.

The Nexus for Exoplanet System Science


The study of exoplanets – planets around other stars – is a relatively new field. The discovery of the first exoplanet around a star like our sun was made in 1995. Since the launch of NASA’s Kepler space telescope six years ago, more than 1,000 exoplanets have been found, with thousands of additional candidates waiting to be confirmed. Scientists are developing ways to confirm the habitability of these worlds and search for biosignatures, or signs of life.

The Exoplanets Research program conducts research to advance our knowledge and understanding of exoplanetary systems. Its objectives are the detection and characterization of exoplanets (including their surfaces, interiors, and atmospheres) and exoplanetary systems, including the determination of their compositions, dynamics, energetics, and chemical behaviors. This program element is shared between NASA’s Planetary Science Division (PSD) and the Astrophysics Division.

The Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NExSS)

In 2015, NASA’s Astrobiology Program within the PSD formed NExSS, a NASA research coordination network dedicated to the study of planetary habitability. The goals of NExSS are to investigate the diversity of exoplanets and to learn how their history, geology, and climate interact to create the conditions for life. NExSS investigators also strive to put planets into an architectural context – as solar systems built over the eons through dynamical processes and sculpted by stars. Based on our understanding of our own solar system and habitable planet Earth, researchers in the network aim to identify where habitable niches are most likely to occur and which planets are most likely to be habitable. Leveraging current NASA investments in research and missions, NExSS will accelerate the discovery and characterization of other potentially life-bearing worlds in the galaxy, using a systems science approach.

Assessment of NASA’s NExSS Research Coordination Network

In 2023, NASA released the findings of an assessment of the Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NExSS) that examines the first six years of operation of the first NASA Research Coordination Network (RCN). Results of the assessment help guide activities to enhance the productivity of existing and future NASA RCNs.

The Assessment of NASA’s NExSS RCN, as well as the NASA response to the findings, are available at:

This report can be found alongside other NASA Planetary Science Division Strategic Guidance at:

An image of a research nugget from NExSS
Click on the image to check out research nuggets from NExSS. These slides present research from the network in an easy to consume form and highlight exciting discoveries.Image credit: NEXSS.

Many Worlds Blog

The Many Worlds Blog chronicled the search for evidence of life beyond Earth written by author/journalist Marc Kaufman. Many Worlds is supported by NASA’s Astrobiology Program and NExSS. Many Worlds completed publication in 2023.

Click here to view peer reviewed scientific publications from members of NExSS

Back to NASA RCNs page