Understanding Planetary Habitability Pop-Up Institute Events

Week 1 – Origin of Life
Origin of Life

Despite enormous advances in our understanding in many areas of biology, the origin of life remains an unsolved problem. Some questions to be addressed in week 1 include:

  • Where did life originate? Undersea vents, hot springs, impact craters, or elsewhere?
  • How are the precursors for life produced?
  • How does abiotic chemistry make the transition to a system that can replicate and evolve?
  • What does current life tell us about the habitat and metabolism of the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA)?

Organizers

Speakers

  • Laurie Barge, Research Scientist, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology
  • David Kring, Senior Staff Scientist, USRA Lunar and Planetary Institute
  • Loren Williams, Professor, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Georgia Institute of Technology

Resources and Event Photos

Background Reading

Presentation

Photos



Return to top.

Week 2 – Planetary Dynamics
Planetary Dynamics

After the first workshop On the Origin of Lifediscussed the conditions that are required for the emergence of life, the second workshop will investigate where these conditions are likely to exist. Therefore, the workshop Planetary Dynamicswill bring together astronomers, geoscientists and astrobiologists to investigate: What types of planetary systems and what bodies within them are likely to provide conditions conducive to the development of life?

The charge of this workshop is very broad and ranges from questions about the stability and interactions of planetary orbits, to questions about the internal structure of the bodies, their tectonic activity, and the persistence of liquid water. This workshop will bring together local and international experts to identify the most relevant and urgent questions that are critical to understand where life can develop.

Organizers

Speakers

  • Konstantin Batygin, Assistant Professor, Caltech
  • Ed Kite, Assistant Professor, University of Chicago
  • Adrian Lenardic, Professor, Rice University
  • Renu Malhotra, Louise Foucar Marshall Science Research Professor, Regents’ Professor of Planetary Sciences, University of Arizona

Resources and Event Photos

Return to top.

Week 3 – Planet Habitability
Planet Habitability

Current evidence indicates that life initiated on Earth just as soon as the physical conditions permitted. Is there life on other planets, or is life on Earth a unique phenomenon? We now know that Earth-like planets are common in our Milky Way galaxy. Recent research indicates that Mars may once have been habitable, and that oceans of liquid water exist below the icy surfaces of Europa and Enceladus. Are any of these locations suitable habitats for life? What physical conditions does life require to start and to flourish, and where are the settings to find such conditions? Week 3 will focus on these and other questions relevant to Planetary Habitability.

Organizers

Topics and Speakers

Atmospheric conditions needed to sustain liquid water

Speaker: Dr. Ravi Kopparapu, Assistant Research Scientist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, University of Maryland

Ocean composition, dynamics, and implications for habitability

Speaker: Dr. Steve Vance, Staff Scientist and Group Supervisor for Planetary Chemistry & Astrobiology, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

Galactic Habitability

Speaker: Dr. Mike Gowanlock, Assistant Professor, Northern Arizona University

Resources and Event Photos

Background Reading

Icy Worlds

Habitable Zone Planet Occurrence Rates

Habitable Zones

Presentation

Photos



Additional Resources

Return to top.

Week 4 – How to Find and Recognize Life
week 4

The theme of Week 4 is “How to Find and Recognize Life”. We will focus on the search for life in our Solar System through robotic space missions searching for life or its building blocksin situ, as well as life beyond our Solar System using telescopes to search for biosignatures on planets around nearby stars and possibly technosignatures from more distant civilizations. We will review the methods proposed to search for life, outline the path forward, and discuss how to avoid pitfalls like false positive detections.

Organizers

Speakers

Resources and Event Photos

Return to top.