July 14 - SETI Institute and NASA experts to map out pathway to detect potentially habitable planets

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA—A panel of NASA experts will convene on Monday, July 14, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. EDT to map out the technological and scientific pathway that will lead to the detection of potentially habitable exoplanets. The public can view the event on NASA Television or in the Webb Auditorium at NASA Headquarters, 300 E Street SW, Washington, D.C.

Kepler Worlds

The SETI Institute has been a major contributor to the search for exoplanets and investigation into the conditions that make them habitable since its inception almost 30 years ago. Many of our scientists are members of the Kepler team, working with observations from NASA's world-hunting telescope to find Earth-like worlds. Other Institute scientists research the conditions that led to habitability on Earth, looking at our own planet to learn about those many light-years away.

Studying the atmospheres of exoplanets, however, requires sensitive instruments and detailed data analysis. NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (the Webb telescope) is the next large-scale space-based observatory that will take on this task. Planned for launch in 2018, this instrument will be capable of deep investigations into the details of exoplanets and what may lie beneath their cloud covers.

As NASA moves forward with the Webb telescope and other planet-detection and characterization projects, the SETI Institute will continue to research exoplanets and their habitability with NASA scientists and the astronomical community at large. The attempt to uncover and understand Earth-like worlds, toward which astronomy moves ever closer, and large telescope projects like the Webb move science forward into the future. 

“NASA is to be lauded for pushing the search for habitable planets and biosignatures” said David C. Black, President and CEO of the SETI Institute. “Exoplanets and biosignatures feature prominently in the SETI Institute roadmap; we are working toward creation of a catalog of these key indicators of life on other planets both in this planetary system and in others” he said. “In the end, we study the past and the present in part to inform and inspire future generations.”

David C. Black
President & CEO
SETI Institute

The SETI Institute is a private, non-profit, multi-disciplinary organization with a mission to explore, understand, and explain the origin, nature and prevalence of life in the universe. It comprises three centers: the Center for SETI Research, the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe, and the Center for Education and Public Outreach. Our researchers have expertise in fields ranging from astrophysics and planetary science to biology and social science, as well as computer science and signal processing. Institute scientists study the past and present and thereby gain insight into the future, and we are committed to sharing this knowledge as scientific ambassadors to the public, the press, and the government.