YANKTON, S.D. (KCAU) — A professor at Dordt University is part of a team that has been awarded a substantial grant by NASA’s Exoplanets Research Program (XRP).

According to a release from Dordt University, Professor of Chemistry and Planetary Sciences Dr. Channon Visscher’s team has been awarded $687,182 called “A Theoretical and Laboratory Study of Refractory Cloud Formation in Exoplanet and Brown Dwarf Atmospheres.”

The release states that it is led by NASA scientists at the Goddard Spaceflight Center with researchers at Dordt through the Space Science Institute and at the University of Texas at Austin.

The program is intended to help improve understanding of how clouds form on planets outside our Solar System. The release specified that while Earth’s clouds consist of water, other planets have clouds made of various materials, including rocky or metallic clouds.

“It’s an exciting project to be part of because it combines experimental, theoretical, and observational work into a single project,” Visscher said, “This research will help us better understand the formation and behavior of these types of clouds and also how they shape the appearance of exoplanet atmospheres.”

Scientists like Visscher will explore the planetary formation and the processes that shape their atmospheres over time. The release states that the information can be applied to planets similar to Earth.