Exoplanets: Under a Microscope, and Through a Wide-field Lens

Abstract: The Solar System furnishes the most familiar planetary architecture: many planets, orbiting nearly coplanar to one another. We can examine the composition and atmospheres of the Solar System planets in detail, even occasionally in situ. Studies of planets orbiting other stars (exoplanets), in contrast, only begin to approach the precision of humanity's knowledge of Earth five hundred years ago. I will describe a two-pronged approach to the study of exoplanets.

QUEST! The Search for Life Beyond Earth and Science of the SETI Institute

The SETI Institute is a 32 year-old non-profit research institute whose mission is to explore, understand and explain the nature of life in the universe. Most famous for its use of radio astronomy for the search for extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) the Institute is actually a multidisciplinary research organization where more than 70 scientists cover the full spectrum of the physical and biological sciences to explore the origins of life beyond earth. In this presentation, CEO Bill Diamond, will share the history, science, mission and future direction of the SETI Institute.

Evolution of the Solar System Inferred from Sm-Nd Isotopic Studies

Dr. Borg has recently conducted high precision SmNd isotopic analyses of a suite of 11 Martian basaltic meteorites in order to better constrain the age of planetary core formation on Mars. Dr. Borg will show how these data can be used to evaluate the merits and disadvantages of various mathematical approaches that have been employed in previous isotopic work on Martian core formation.

Frontiers in Artifact SETI: Waste Heat, Alien Megastructures & Tabbys Star

In 1960 two seminal papers in SETI were published, providing two visions for SETI. Giuseppe Cocconi and Philip Morrison’s proposed detecting deliberate radio signals ("communication SETI"), while Freeman Dyson ("artifact SETI"), proposed detecting the inevitable effects of massive energy supplies and artifacts on their surroundings. While communication SETI has now had several career-long practitioners, artifact SETI has, until recently, not been a vibrant field of study.

Bringing Nuclear Power to Mars

Establishing a lunar base is probably a wise first first step to colonizing Mars, and colonizing Mars will be a giant leap forward for humankind to travel to the stars.  We begin our discussion by noting that the bare minimum for sustaining life on the Moon exists in the water brought by comets to the bottoms of some lunar craters.  Electrolysis of this dirty water can produce clean oxygen (and hydrogen) for the lunar base, A reliable source of primary energy is needed for such tasks, but anywhere on the surface of the Moon, there is no sunlight two weeks out of four, and no wind whatsoev

The Evolution and Explosion of Massive Stars

Massive stars (at least ~8 solar masses) play an essential role to the evolution of the universe. They lose energy in radiation and neutrinos as they evolve, to create elements necessary to life and to stir the interstellar medium.

Sniffing Alien Atmospheres: Exoplanet spectrophotometry

Dr. Angerhausen will give a short introduction to the science of extrasolar planets, in particular the technique of transit, eclipse and phasecurve spectro-photometry.  He will describe his various projects in this emerging field using state of the art spectroscopic and photometric instruments on the largest ground based telescopes, the 'flying telescope' SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) and the Kepler and Hubble space telescopes.


Charon: Pluto's Fascinating moon from New Horizons

Charon is Pluto's large companion, and last summer it went from a distant point of light to a full-fledged world in human understanding. Join us as we discuss the interesting fractured geology of Charon. Dr. Ross Beyer, member of the New Horizons team and a Research Scientist at the SETI Institute will take you on a tour of the canyons, faults, craters, smooth plains, enigmatic mountains, and all manner of terrains that New Horizons observed as it flew through the Pluto system.


When Will We Find Life Beyond Earth?

Panel: Nathalie Cabrol, Seth Shostak, Mark Showalter, Fergal Mullaly – SETI Institute

Is this the generation that will discover extraterrestrial life?  Some scientists have opined that we’ll find other living beings – whether they be microbes on other planets or intelligent beings in another star system – within two decades.  An energetic panel of SETI Institute astrobiologists will discuss why both science and technology give support to the idea that we may soon prove that Earth is not the only world where life has arisen. Audience Q&A follows panelists.

Orbital Dynamics Suggests A Recent Formation of Saturn's Moons

The age of Saturn's rings and the source of Enceladus's hydrothermal energy have been hotly debated topics for years. Recently the age of Saturn's moons interior to Titan, previously thought to be as old as Saturn, also became actively debated. I will show how computer simulations of the past orbital dynamics of Saturn's moons Tethys, Dione and Rhea can tell us how long they have been around. It appears that the inner moons and rings of Saturn are only about 100 million years, equivalent to the Cretaceous period on Earth.


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