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STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series Webcasts

Friday Oct 28, 2016
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Kevin Heng (University of Bern, Center for Space and Habitability, Exoplanets and Exoclimes Group)
The study of exoplanetary atmospheres is one of the frontiers of exoplanet science. It enables us to remotely sense the surface (or photospheric) environment of an exoplanet and ask questions related to chemistry and formation history. In the first p ...
Friday Oct 7, 2016
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Nigel Goldenfeld  (University of Illinois, Department of Physics)
In this talk, I discuss what aspects of life are likely to be universal, focusing primarily on the universal genetic code, but also the phenomenon of homochirality. I begin by relating life processes to the laws of physics. Then I show that relics of ...
Friday Apr 1, 2016
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Britney Schmidt  (Georgia Institute of Technology, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences)
Europa is one of the most enticing targets in the search for life beyond Earth. With an icy outer shell hiding a global ocean, Europa exists in a dynamic environment where immense tides from Jupiter potentially power an active deeper interior and int ...
Friday Mar 4, 2016
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Laurie Barge  (Planetary Science Division, Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
Planetary water-rock interfaces generate energy in the form of redox, pH, and thermal gradients, and these disequilibria are particularly focused in hydrothermal vent systems where the reducing, heated hydrothermal fluid feeds back into the more oxid ...
Friday Feb 5, 2016
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Ilse Cleeves (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)
Tracing the chemical history of water during the formation of solar-type stars sheds light on both the origins of water in our own solar system and, more generally, the availability of water to all nascent planetary systems. One important clue comes ...
Friday Dec 4, 2015
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Shawn Domagal-Goldman  (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Sciences and Exploration Directorate)
The last 20 years has seen an explosion in the number of known planets beyond our Solar System. Recently, this has included the discovery of a handful of potentially habitable worlds. However, to test their habitability, and search these planets for ...
Friday Oct 2, 2015
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Dr. Steven Benner  (Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution)
Despite its apparent diversity, all of life on planet Earth is descended from a common ancestor, has essentially identical core molecular biology, and almost certainly has sampled selectively from the possible chemical solutions to the problems that ...
Friday May 1, 2015
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
William Bains (Massachusetts Institute of Technology - (Program in Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate))
Super-Earths are a class of planet not known in our Solar System but common among exoplanets. Can life survive there, and how would we detect it? I will present work exploring life on such worlds, especially Super-Earths with atmospheres that retain ...
Friday Apr 3, 2015
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Dr. Geronimo Villanueva  ((Solar System Exploration Division, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center))
Friday Mar 6, 2015
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Jonathan Lunine  (Center for Radiophysics and Space Research, Cornell University)
The Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn has discovered two places in the Saturn system where life may occur, and they each have very different things to teach us. The small moon Enceladus has jets of material that shoot water, salts, and organics into ...
Friday Dec 5, 2014
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Gary H. Blackwood (Exoplanet Exploration Program, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology)
The NASA Exoplanet Exploration Program (ExEP) is chartered by the NASA Astrophysics Division to implement the NASA space science goals of detecting and characterizing exoplanets and of searching for signs of life. The Program is responsible for space ...
Friday Nov 7, 2014
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Zachory K. Berta-Thompson  (Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Friday Oct 3, 2014
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Niki Parenteau  (NASA Ames Research Center/SETI)
The evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis and the resulting oxygenation of the atmosphere and oceans was arguably one of the most important events on the early Earth. In addition to setting the stage for the evolution of higher eukaryotic life forms, ...
Friday Apr 4, 2014
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Jill Mikucki  ((Dept. of Microbiology, University of Tennessee))
Blood Falls is an iron-rich, saline feature at the terminus of Taylor Glacier in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. Geophysical and geochemical data indicate that the source of this surface outflow originates below the glacier, however the extent o ...
Friday Mar 7, 2014
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Catherine Neish  ((Florida Institute of Technology))
NASA's Cassini mission has revealed Saturn's larger moon Titan to be a world rich in the "stuff of life." Reactions occurring in its dense nitrogen-methane atmosphere produce a wide variety of organic molecules, which subsequently rain down onto its ...
Friday Feb 7, 2014
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Avi Mandell  (NASA GSFC)
Abstract: The Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) on HST provides the opportunity for spectroscopic characterization of molecular features in transiting exoplanet atmospheres, a capability that has not existed in space since the demise of NICMOS on HST and t ...
Friday Nov 1, 2013
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Karin I. Öberg ((Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics))
In the cold and dense stages of star and planet formation, volatile molecules condense out on interstellar grains forming icy mantles. This condensation process results in a series of snowlines, or condensation fronts, whose exact locations are set b ...
Friday Oct 4, 2013
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Nikku (Madhu) Madhusudhan  (Yale University)
Recent advances in exoplanet observations and theoretical methods are leading to unprecedented constraints on the physicochemical properties of exoplanetary atmospheres, interiors, and their formation conditions. In this talk, I will present some of ...
Friday May 3, 2013
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Ravi Kumar Kopparapu (Department of Geosciences, Penn State University)
Identifying terrestrial planets in the habitable zones (HZs) of other stars is one of the primary goals of ongoing exoplanet surveys and proposed space-based flagship missions. In this talk, I will discuss about our recent results on new estimates of ...
Friday Apr 5, 2013
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Jan Amend (Department of Earth Sciences and Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California)
On Earth, microorganisms appear to inhabit all physical space that provides the minimum requirements for life. These include the availability of water, carbon, nutrients, and light or chemical energy. While these are generally abundant in surface or ...
Friday Mar 1, 2013
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Daniel Glavin  (Planetary Environments Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)
In this talk, Glavin will describe the concept of a “habitable environment” and the requirements for life as we know it. Understanding the basic requirements for life and the prebiotic chemistry that led to the emergence of life on Earth will help gu ...
Friday Feb 1, 2013
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Lindy Elkins-Tanton (Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institution of Washington)
The final stages of the growth of a planet consist of violently energetic impacts, but new observations of the Moon and Mercury indicate that the energy of accretion does not remove all the water and carbon from the growing planet. Models demonstrate ...
Friday Nov 2, 2012
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Suvrath Mahadevan  ((Dept. of Astronomy & Astrophysics, Penn State University))
A promising path to the discovery and study of individual rocky planets in the Habitable Zone around a star is to search for planets around nearby M dwarfs, as their mass and smaller HZ planet orbits leads to a significantly larger Doppler radial vel ...
Friday Oct 5, 2012
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Aaron Goldman  (Princeton University)
Proteins play the primary functional role in nearly all of life's physiological processes. They are, themselves, the final products of the translation system, life's oldest and most highly conserved of these processes. The early expansion of protein ...
Friday May 4, 2012
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Greg Fournier (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
he first two billion years of life on Earth left scant, inconclusive material evidence of its existence, despite its undoubtedly complex and profound impact on our planetary system. As a consequence, many hypotheses about the origin of life and its e ...
Friday Apr 6, 2012
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Katrina Edwards ( University of Southern California)
Over the past two decades, there has been an increasing awareness within the geological, microbiological, and oceanographic communities of the potentially vast microbial biosphere that is harbored beneath the surface of the Earth. With this awarenes ...
Friday Mar 2, 2012
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Eric Agol (University of Washington)
If planets could re-form or migrate inwards to just outside the Roche limit of white dwarfs stars, they would be warmed to Earth-like temperature for billions of years. These planets would be easy to detect in edge-on orbit via a large depth transit ...
Friday Feb 3, 2012
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Travis Barman  (Lowell Observatory)
Several young gas giants in wide orbits (> 10 AU) have now been directly imaged. These exciting discoveries provide new insights into the formation and early atmospheric properties of giant planets. This talk will focus on recent attempts to measure ...
Friday Dec 2, 2011
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Karen Meech  (University of Hawaii)
Water is abundant on Earth, covering 75% of Earth's surface, and accounting for up to 0.1% of Earth's mass, yet Earth may in fact be a very dry world. Liquid water is not only key for life, but understanding the origin of Earth's water has important ...
Friday Nov 4, 2011
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Daniel Apai  (University of Arizona)
Astronomy is entering an exciting new era where ground- and space-based observatories open windows on planetary systems increasingly similar to our own. In this talk I will give a brief overview of the search for exoplanets and discuss techniques tha ...
Friday Oct 7, 2011
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Andrew Steele (Carnegie Institution for Science)
In the next decade Mars will be visited by the most capable Rovers and instruments built to date. How will these missions find evidence of life on Mars and what does mean for us if there is no life detected. The robotic exploration of Mars and subseq ...
Friday May 6, 2011
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
George Cody (Carnegie Institution for Science)
Comets and carbonaceous chondrites are the remnants of molecular cloud material from which our Solar System formed. These bodies are considered to be primitive in the sense that they have been subjected to the least modification following accretion. ...
Friday Apr 8, 2011
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Andrew Knoll  (Harvard University)
As told by Maynard Smith and Szathmáry (The Major Transitions in Evolution, 1998) life's major transitions involve information and individuality. With equal justification, however, we can mark evolutionary milestones in terms of physiological innova ...
Friday Mar 18, 2011
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Robert Hazen (Carnegie Institution for Science)
The origin of life occurred in a complex geochemical environment, characterized by significant chemical and thermal gradients, fluid fluxes, cycles, and interfaces. These aspects of the prebiotic world are critical to understanding life’s origins. Cr ...
Friday Feb 4, 2011
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Vikki Meadows (University of Washington)
In the coming decades, the search for life outside our Solar System will be undertaken using astronomical observations of extrasolar terrestrial planets. To better inform our search, the NASA Astrobiology Institute's Virtual Planetary Laboratory team ...
Friday Dec 10, 2010
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
James Kasting (Penn State University)
Over 400 planets have been found around nearby stars, but none of them is thought to be at all like Earth. The goal now is to identify rocky planets within the habitable zones of their stars and to search their atmospheres spectroscopically for signs ...
Friday Nov 12, 2010
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Adam Maloof (Princeton University)
A low-latitude distribution of continents may be a prerequisite for the global glaciations that appear to have affected Earth at least twice during the emergence of animals. However, a preponderance of low-latitude continents may also make Earth more ...
Friday Oct 8, 2010
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Ariel Anbar  (Arizona State University)
The oxygenation of the Earth's surface, which occurred ca. 2.3 billion years ago, is the earliest unambiguous imprint of biology on a planetary scale. Therefore, the search for molecular oxygen features prominently in the prospective search for life ...
Friday Sep 3, 2010
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Stephen Freeland (Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii)
A fundamental challenge for astrobiology is to establish the relative contributions of chance versus predictability in the origin and evolution of life on our own planet. Thus, for example, all Earth-life creates metabolism from an interacting networ ...
Friday Jun 18, 2010
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Wes Traub (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech)
What is the best strategy for finding signs of life beyond the Solar System? Until recent years this was a purely philosophical question, but today we have the technical ability to search for signs of life on exoplanets around nearby stars, so the q ...
Friday May 7, 2010
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Drake Deming (NASA Goddard Space Center)
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Friday Apr 9, 2010
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Chris McKay (NASA Ames Research Center)
For the past decade missions to Mars have "followed the water". In this talk I will argue that future missions should begin directly searching for signs of life. The most important result from the recent Mars missions in this regard was the discovery ...
Friday Mar 5, 2010
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Olivier Mousis  (Observatoire de Besançon, France)
Formation scenarios of the solar nebula invoke two main reservoirs of water ice that may have taken part concurrently into the production of solids. In the first reservoir, which is located within the heliocentric distance of 30 AU, water ice infalli ...
Friday Feb 5, 2010
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Jill Banfield ((University of California, Berkeley))
Iron and sulfur redox chemistry support chemoautotrophic subsurface microbial communities on Earth, and could potentially sustain a biosphere on Mars. In this talk, I will describe a highly productive ecosystem in an extreme natural environment that ...
Friday Jan 8, 2010
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Stephen Mojzsis  (University of Colorado)
The terrestrial geologic record from actual rocks extends back to about 4.02 billion years ago (4.02 Ga). Before that time, what we know of the environment of the earliest Earth’s surface from the time of formation to the start of the continuous rock ...
Friday Dec 4, 2009
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Jamie Elsila Cook (GSFC/Goddard Center for Astrobiology)
NASA's Stardust spacecraft returned samples from comet 81P/Wild 2 to Earth in January 2006. Examinations of the organic compounds in cometary samples can reveal information about the prebiotic organic inventory present on the early Earth and within ...
Friday Nov 6, 2009
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Matthew Pasek (University of South Florida)
Phosphorus is a key element in biological systems, acting in cell replication as RNA and DNA, in cell structure as phospholipids, and in metabolism as ATP. Given its ubiquity in biochemistry, phosphorus was likely present in the origin or early evolu ...
Thursday Jan 20, 2005
STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Holland Ford  (Johns Hopkins University)
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STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Mike Mumma  (n/a)
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STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Kevin Sowers  (n/a)
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STScI Astrobiology Lecture Series
Neill Reid  (Space Telescope Science Institute)
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