2019 Astrobiology Science Conference: Onsite information; Press events and program highlights

19 June 2019


An artist’s conception of planet Kepler-452b, the first near-Earth-sized world to be found in the habitable zone of a star similar to our Sun.
Credit: NASA Astrobiology Institute.


WASHINGTON—AGU and NASA will host the 2019 Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon) in Seattle, Washington, June 24-28, 2019.

Included in this advisory:

  1. About the meeting and scientific program
  2. Press registration and onsite information
  3. Press events
  4. Potentially newsworthy presentations
  5. Mobile app

1. About the meeting and scientific program

AbSciCon 2019 is part of a series of conferences organized by the astrobiology community. The conference will span five days and will feature plenary lectures, oral and poster sessions, evening programs, and public and educational events.

The theme for AbSciCon 2019 is “Understanding and Enabling the Search for Life on Worlds Near and Far.” Among other topics, the conference will address planetary system interactions and habitability; alternative and agnostic biosignatures; understanding the environments of early Earth; evidence for early life on Earth; energy sources in the environment and metabolic pathways that use that energy; and ocean worlds near and far.

The full scientific program for AbSciCon 2019 is now available online. The program includes abstracts for more than 800 oral and poster presentations. To search, click on the search button at the top, right-hand corner of the online program. Use the left-hand side menu to browse the program by topic or day.

2. Press registration and onsite information

Press registration
Press registration for AbSciCon 2019 is now open and will remain open throughout the meeting. Press registrants receive, at no charge, a badge that provides access to all scientific sessions, the press room and the press conference room. Please visit AGU’s Press Registration Eligibility Requirements page to view the types of professionals who are eligible for press registration and the required credentials they must present.

To register, please email the AGU public information office at news@agu.org and include your name, media outlet, contact information, and required press credentials. Be sure to include your name and affiliation as you wish them to appear on your badge. Registrations are approved at the discretion of the AGU Public Information Office.

Eligible members of the press may also register for press credentials on-site at the meeting at the main registration area outside of the Grand Ballroom on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency Bellevue. Registration hours are below. All times are in Pacific Daily Time (PDT).

Sunday, June 23: 2:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Monday, June 24: 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Tuesday, June 25 through Thursday, June 27: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Friday, June 28: 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Badge pick up
Registered press can pick up their meeting badges on-site at the main registration area during the hours listed above.

Press room and press briefing room
A press room will be available at the meeting for press registrants to work and conduct interviews with attending scientists. The press room is located in the Balsam room on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency Bellevue.

The press room will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. PDT Monday, June 24 through Thursday, June 27, and 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. PDT Friday, June 28. View a floorplan of the hotel here. Light refreshments will be provided in the morning and afternoon.

Please review the photography guidelines for journalists covering AGU meetings posted in the AGU Newsroom. Information for members of the press is also available on the Press Information page on the AbSciCon 2019 website.

3. Press events

AGU and NASA will host several press events during AbSciCon to help reporters cover new developments in astrobiology research. During these events, experts will provide comprehensive information and answer reporters’ questions about upcoming projects, missions, and ongoing areas of research, rather than present breaking news.

All press events will take place in the press briefing room, Grand Ballroom K, on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency Bellevue. The June 25 workshop will be streamed live over the web at this link, the “satellite” feed.

NASA astrobiology media workshop (June 23)
NASA will host a three-hour workshop on Sunday, June 23 from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. PDT where experts will report on key focus areas surrounding the detection of life in in Earth’s own extreme environments, beyond Earth, and beyond the solar system.

Journalists and science writers will have an opportunity to learn about such developments as: Detecting evidence of life on early Earth; exploring life in deep-sea hydrothermal vents; detecting life on Mars and ocean worlds; and detecting evidence of habitability and life on exoplanets.

Plenty of time will be provided for questions and discussion. Registration for AbSciCon is not required to attend the workshop, but pre-registration for the workshop is encouraged. Read more about the workshop and how to register here.

Exo-oceanography and ocean world evolution workshop (June 25)
AGU will host a media workshop on Tuesday, June 25 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. PDT on exo-oceanography: the oceanography of exoplanets.

Speakers will discuss how oceans on other worlds might be different than oceans on Earth; how they may circulate heat and nutrients differently and how these different circulation patterns may be suitable for life; how oceans may circulate on planets tidally-locked to their host star; how ocean worlds evolve; and what kinds of biosignatures scientists can look for in otherworldly oceans.

Speakers include Stephanie Olson, University of Chicago; Yaoxuan Zeng, Peking University; and Britney Schmidt, Georgia Institute of Technology. Additional speakers TBD.

NASA’s BRAILLE project media availability (June 26)
Subterranean volcanic caves called lava tubes provide shelter from dangerous space radiation on other worlds. This makes them of great interest to scientists as a promising place to look for extraterrestrial life. NASA’s Biologic and Resource Analog Investigations in Low Light Environments project, or BRAILLE, ventures into North America’s largest network of lava tubes in Northern California with a rover operating much as it would off-world. The capabilities the project is building may one day detect life in lava tubes on Mars or other worlds. Protection afforded by lava tubes could also bring us one step closer to a permanent presence on the Moon.

BRAILLE principal investigator Jennifer Blank will be available for media interviews Wednesday, June 26 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. PDT. Her team will be presenting results from last year’s rover deployment on Wednesday evening and in Friday sessions.

For media interviews, contact Alison Hawkes, NASA’s Ames Research Center, 650-499-9892 or alison.hawkes@nasa.gov.

4. Potentially newsworthy presentations

AGU will issue press releases throughout the week about research being presented at the conference.

In addition, media tip sheets organized by scientific topic and by date highlight potentially newsworthy presentations selected by AGU’s public information office.

Plenary sessions
All plenary lectures will take place in Grand Ballroom A-H on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency Bellevue. View a floorplan of the hotel here. All plenary sessions will be streamed live over the web at this link. Additional sessions TBD may also be streamed live at this link; Please check back for additional details.

Other sessions of interest

  • Mary Voytek, Director of NASA’s Astrobiology Program, will present an update of activities within the program, with significant time for discussion, in a town hall session on Monday, June 24 from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. PDT in Grand Ballroom A-H. This session will be streamed live over the web at this link.
  • Researchers will give an update on NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program on Tuesday, June 25 from 12:20 to 2:20 p.m. PDT in Grand Ballroom I-J on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency.
  • A panel of speakers within and outside the field of astrobiology will discuss how to diversity and improve inclusivity of underrepresented groups within the field during the Allies and Advocates in Astrobiology: A Discussion on Diversity and Inclusivity session on Tuesday, June 25 from 5:15 to 6:30 p.m. PDT in Regency Ballroom EFG on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency.
  • Three scholars and thinkers – an astrobiologist, an astrophysicist, and an English professor – will offer their views on social and conceptual issues in astrobiology during a public lecture on Tuesday, June 25 at 7:00 p.m. PDT at the University of Washington in Kane Hall, room 130.

5. Mobile app

The AbSciCon 2019 mobile app is now available for download in the Apple App Store and Google Play. The app allows you to browse the scientific program, plan and sync your schedule between devices, receive event alerts and stay connected on social media. The app also has floor plans of the Hyatt Regency Bellevue to help you get around.

To get the app, search for “AGU Events” in the Apple App Store or Google Play and download the app called “AGU Events.” When you open the AGU Events app after downloading it, select “AbSciCon 2019” and download the meeting-specific information. If you already have the AGU Events app, open the app and click on “More” at the bottom of the screen. Then select “Load other meeting,” and  “AbSciCon 2019” to download the information.

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