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The Search for Life beyond the Solar System

One of the most exciting and interdisciplinary frontiers in exoplanet science is the search for life beyond the solar system.  Recently discovered planets, especially Earth-sized planets orbiting nearby M dwarfs, will provide intriguing near-term targets for large ground-based telescopes and the James Webb Space Telescope, while even larger telescopes are planned to directly image and explore the environments of worlds around stars like our Sun.  These telescopes may detect biosignatures, planetary features that suggest a biological origin, but our ability to accurately interpret whether these features are due to life will depend on our understanding of planetary evolution and processes, and environmental context.  This talk will provide an overview of the current state of exoplanet biosignature science, and describe interdisciplinary research by NASA's Virtual Planetary Laboratory team to understand how to identify habitable planets, and discriminate true biosignatures from planetary processes.  This talk will also describe the prospects for terrestrial exoplanet characterization and life detection with JWST and other future telescopes.

Speaker: Victoria Meadows, Univ. of Washington

Thursday, 03/21/19


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LeConte Hall, Rm 1

UC Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720