Astrobiology is the study of the origins, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe. In April 2008, the global community of scholars engaged in astrobiology will meet at "AbSciCon 2008" in Silicon Valley at the Santa Clara Convention Center. The meeting will combine plenary events with focused topical sessions that broadly relate to three major scientific themes:
- The Astrophysical and Planetary Context for Life
- The Origin and Evolution of Life
- The Search for Life in our Solar System and Beyond
This will be the fifth AbSciCon conference over the past decade. More than 600 scientists, engineers, students and educators have contributed abstracts for oral talks and posters. Their research ranges from issues of planetary protection, space exploration, instrument development, to the realm of extreme life on Earth, what we might find on Mars, and whether SETI will succeed. It's an exciting time to be search for life in the universe, and this meeting will bring together prominent scientists who lead this quest.
Astrobiologists are interested in fundamental questions: How does life begin and evolve? Is there life beyond Earth and how can we detect it? What is the future of life on Earth and in the universe? Astrobiology attracts scientists and engineers from astronomy, astrophysics, planetary geology, physics, chemistry, ecology, microbiology, evolutionary biology, etc. Many disciplines are required to probe for answers, and astrobiology has evolved as a new discipline in science over the past decade.
NASA's Astrobiology Institute is comprised of 16 different universities and research organizations that collaborate to explore this field. Beyond the USA, astrobiology programs have developed in Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan and elsewhere. An excellent directory of astrobiology programs and publications is available on NASA's website.
The SETI Institute is hosting the upcoming AbSciCon 2008, and we look forward to an exciting meeting this spring. Registration is now open for AbSciCon 2008. For further information, please visit the AbSciCon 2008 website: http://abscicon.seti.org/.
- SPACE.com TV: Reflections on Fermi's Paradox
- SPACE.com Video Player: Listening for Life
- Astrobiology 101: Where Teachers are the Students