SJAA Ephemeris March 2005 | SJAA Home | Contents | Previous | Next

Alien Earths Lectures at LHS

Alan Gould

Emma Bakes - Photo Courtesy of SETI Institute

Schedule of talks for March 20, 2005

12:30 - Dr. Margaret Race - "Looking for ET- Bring 'em Back Alive... and Carefully" - perspectives from an expert in the field of planetary protection, analyzing issues of cross-contamination both in space and on Earth.

1:30 Dr. William Borucki - "The Search for Habitable Planets Around Other Stars" - Over 100 giant planets orbiting other stars have already been found by ground-based telescopes. Dr. Borucki will describe future space-based missions necessary to find habitable Earth-sized planets, including the upcoming Kepler mission based at NASA Ames Research Center.

2:30 Dr. Emma Bakes - "How does life evolve? An exploration of Titan and Europa as possible alien habitats" - Water has always been nominated as one of the essential ingredients for life and our own planet Earth yields conclusive proof. However, the main requirements for sources of extraterrestrial life might be thought of as a substance as the triple point (i.e. existing as a solid, a liquid and a gas at the same time) and a source of energy to fuel its organization into single celled organisms. We discuss the types of potential life which may inhabit Europa and Titan and how this may predict the nature of extraterrestrial life in other star systems.

About The Speakers

Dr. Margaret Race, a biologist at the SETI Institute, works closely with NASA in studying scientific, policy and public issues associated with solar system exploration. She has served on three major studies with the National Research Council (NRC) Space Studies Board involving planetary protection, and recently completed work on two major NASA projects related to Mars exploration- one that developed scientific protocols for the quarantine and testing of returned Martian samples, and another that analyzed the technical and scientific issues associated with human missions to Mars. Her studies also focus on legal and regulatory aspects of Mars sample return proposals; public involvement in the review and approval process for sample return; ethical implications of solar system exploration, and educational outreach about Astrobiology both through schools and the mass media.

Dr. William Borucki is the Principal Investigator of the NASA Kepler mission designed to detect Earth size planets in the habitable zones of stars. He has been immersed in photometry work for over 20 years and is a recognized leader in the field.

Dr. Emma Bakes has all the time in the world - not Earth, however, but an exotic moon orbiting a distant planet in our solar system. Bakes, a SETI Institute scientist and NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) lead team member, studies the chemical evolution in the atmosphere of Titan, Saturn's giant satellite and the only known planetary companion in our solar system swaddled in a thick atmosphere. Rich in large, complex carbon- and nitrogen-bearing chemicals, Titan's dense smog-like haze is thought to be similar to the primitive atmosphere of early Earth. Inside Bakes' powerful Sun Microsystems processor, the smoggy shroud evolves at breakneck speed. Millions of years of complex chemical reactions condense into hours. And what results may help us learn more about how life emerged and survived on Earth. Emma Bakes got her Ph.D. 14 years ago and in the interim has done research at Princeton University, worked as a professor at Vassar College and a Principal Investigator at the SETI Institute and NASA Ames Research Center. She has written two books on Astrophysics and Astrobiology and has chaired a NASA space mission concept to sample the outer solar system. She is currently involved in research concerning the origins of life, planetary atmospheres, star formation and space medicine. Her passions are exploration, discovery and pioneering new ground in the sciences, medicine and in everyday life. However, by far the greatest source of wonder has been her fellow human beings. See also: .


Previous | Contents | Next