Astrobiologists to Convene at AbSciCon 2008

Astrobiologyis the study of the origins, evolution, distribution and future of life in theuniverse. In April 2008, the global community of scholars engaged inastrobiology will meet at "AbSciCon2008" in Silicon Valley at the Santa Clara Convention Center. Themeeting will combine plenary events with focused topical sessions that broadlyrelate 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 andBeyond

This willbe the fifth AbSciCon conference over the past decade. More than 600scientists, engineers, students and educators have contributed abstracts fororal talks and posters. Their research ranges from issues of planetaryprotection, space exploration, instrument development, to the realm of extremelife on Earth, what we might find on Mars, and whether SETI will succeed. It'san exciting time to be search for life in the universe, and this meeting will bringtogether prominent scientists who lead this quest.

Astrobiologistsare interested in fundamental questions: How does life begin and evolve? Isthere life beyond Earth and how can we detect it? What is the future of life onEarth and in the universe? Astrobiology attracts scientists and engineers fromastronomy, astrophysics, planetary geology, physics, chemistry, ecology,microbiology, evolutionary biology, etc. Many disciplines are required to probefor answers, and astrobiology has evolved as a new discipline in science overthe past decade.

NASA'sAstrobiology Institute is comprised of 16 different universities and researchorganizations 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 ofastrobiology programs and publications is available on NASA's website.

The SETIInstitute is hosting the upcoming AbSciCon 2008, and we look forward to anexciting meeting this spring. Registration is nowopen for AbSciCon 2008. For further information, please visit the AbSciCon2008 website: http://abscicon.seti.org/.

Have a news tip, correction or comment? Let us know at community@space.com.