Online media roundtable Q&A sessions explore how the molecular basis of alien life could differ from Earth life, and how researchers can recognize it on distant worlds
16 May 2022
15 – 20 May 2022
AGU press contact:
Liza Lester, +1 (202) 777-7494, [email protected] (UTC-4 hours)
ATLANTA—The 2022 Astrobiology Science Conference (#AbSciCon22) convenes this week in Atlanta, Georgia, and online, with more than 900 talks and posters presented in online-only, in-person and hybrid sessions on the study of life in the universe. Media registration will remain open throughout the conference week for online and in person participation.
The conference, which has met typically in alternate years since 2000, gathers researchers, students and educators from diverse scientific disciplines to discuss scientific frontiers in exoplanet exploration and habitability, early life on Earth, looking for life on Mars, and oceanography—in space.
Two online media roundtable Q&A panels will explore intertwined questions of how we can recognize life beyond our home planet.
- Imagining aliens: what might life be like beyond Earth (and how will we recognize it)?
Wednesday, 18 May, 10:30 – 11:15 EDT
- Life signs: searching for signatures of life and technology on exoplanets
Wednesday, 18 May, 1:00 -1:45 pm EDT
Roundtable media events provide background on newsworthy topics, ongoing projects and missions and are designed to foster conversation. Panelists will introduce themselves and their work briefly and the table will be opened to questions for the bulk of the session time.
The roundtable Q&As will be held on Zoom to accommodate remote participation and last 45 minutes.
Media roundtables are open to media only; reporters, please contact [email protected] to obtain the access code. Recordings will be available from AGU’s YouTube channel after the event.
Media roundtable Q&A #1
Imagining aliens: what might life be like beyond Earth (and how will we recognize it)?
How do we look for life as we don’t know it? AbSciCon22’s schedule is packed with exciting explorations of habitability and the search for unique chemical signatures of life on other worlds. With only a single case study of life’s evolution (Earth), how can we know what else is possible? In this session, panelists will answer questions about how Earth- and space-based research is both expanding and constraining concepts of what life is and where we will find it.
- Betül Kaçar, University of Wisconsin Madison
Studies the emergence and evolution of life on early Earth, tracing life and environment’s co-evolution over billions of years. Her methods reveal the story of life’s earliest innovations to predict how life could evolve on worlds other than our own.
- Adrienne Kish, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle
Works to identify the molecular mechanisms that let extremophilic organisms survive in diverse, high-stress conditions.
- Aaron Goldman, Oberlin College
Studies the origin and very early evolution of cellular life and ancient metabolic systems. His work takes advantage of the fact that many features of ancient life forms are still buried within the genomes of modern organisms.
- Heather Graham, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Develops tools and methods to aid in the identification of “agnostic biosignatures,” or evidence of life systems that may not share a biochemical background with life on Earth. Such approaches are critical to potentially detect diverse extraterrestrial life.
Plenary Session: Dr. Betül Kaçar – Exploring Life’s Early Evolution with Molecular Paleobiology
Wednesday, May 18, 2022, 8:30 AM – 9:30 AM
324 – Salty Goodness II: Return of the Brines II Online Session: In Memoriam of Ronald Oremland
Wednesday, May 18, 2022, 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM
420 – What Life Wants: The Natural Selection of the Elements of Life II Online Session
Thursday, May 19, 2022, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
423 – The Solar System in Your Laboratory II Online Session
Thursday, May 19, 2022, 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM
240 – Thinking Beyond LUCA: Stem Life and Primordial Diversity II Online Session
Tuesday, May 17, 2022, 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM
343 – Detecting Life as We Don’t Know It III Online Session
Wednesday, May 18, 2022, 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Media roundtable Q&A #2
Life signs: searching for signatures of life and technology on exoplanets
It’s an exciting time for exploration of life on planets far, far away. Exoplanet discovery has exploded in the decade since the launch of the Kepler space telescope; we’re at more than 5,000 exoplanets discovered and counting. This session will explore how researchers are looking for signs of life, including plant photosynthesis and pollution from industrial civilization, in exoplanet atmospheres.
- Natalie Batalha, University of California, Santa Cruz
Detects and characterizes planets orbiting other stars with the goal of understanding where the most likely cradles of life exist. She also studies exoplanets as a population to understand their diversity.
- Ravi Kopparapu, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Studies the habitability of exoplanets with a focus on the presence of liquids, especially water, and the conditions required for liquid water. He also studies technosignatures.
- Owen Lehmer, NASA Ames Research Center
Models the formation, evolution and detection of habitable planets in an effort to find and characterize the next Earth-like planet.
105 – Priorities and Strategies for Technosignature Detection I Hybrid Oral
Monday, May 16, 2022, 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
244 – Exoplanet Biosignatures the 2020s and Beyond IV Online Session
Tuesday, May 17, 2022, 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM
339 – Priorities and Strategies for Technosignature Detection IV Online Session
Wednesday, May 18, 2022, 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM
504 – Life and Its Biosignatures: Shortfalls, Pitfalls and State-Of-The-Art I Online Session
Friday, May 20, 2022, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM
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