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/.
- SPACE.com TV: Reflections on Fermi's Paradox
- SPACE.com Video Player: Listening for Life
- Astrobiology 101: Where Teachers are the Students
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Edna DeVore is a science and astronomy educator and the former Director of Education and Public Outreach for the SETI Institute. She earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Pacific followed by a master's degree in instructional technology from San Jose State and a master's in astronomy from the University of Arizona. In 1992, Edna joined the SETI Institute, where she wrote features on space exploration, astrobiology and more, some of which appeared on Space.com. She was among the first principal investigators to propose projects to NASA's Office of Space Science and receive funding for educational programs. Edna went on to work on education and public outreach for NASA's Kepler space telescope and SOFIA flying telescope missions. Edna received numerous awards during her tenure at SETI, including NASA Honor Awards for her work on Kepler and SOFIA, and Aerospace Awareness Award for Women in Aerospace in 2005. Edna retired in 2013.