U.S. Astrobiologists Convene Biannual Conference Amid Devastating NASA Budget Threats

The SETI Institute is proud to be a significant part of the upcoming Astrobiology Science Conference 2006 . AbSciCon offers sessions across the broad range of astrobiology discipline: out of the 34 sessions at the conference, 15 papers are being presented by SETI Institute researchers, with 6 sessions chaired by Institute scientists and educators.

One of the seven plenary addresses is to be given by Nathalie Cabrol, a tribute to her stature in the community. Jill Tarter will speak at a symposium for graduate students in astrobiology. Scott Hubbardexpounds on "Exploration Science at the Moon: Links to Understanding Life in the Universe". Kevin Hand presents on Europa and Mars. Robotic astrobiology, the origins of life, planetary science, prebiotic chemistry, radio astronomy -- all are investigated by SETI Institute scientists. Edna Devore , Pamela Harman , and Linda Billings present sessions on Education and Public Outreach programs.

Although astrobiology is clearly one of the most exciting and productive programs in the space science portfolio, the proposed FY 2007 NASA budget inexplicably aims to disembowel astrobiology research funding with a 50% cut.

An astrobiology community Town Hall meeting will be held on March 28, 2006 from 1-2 p.m., at the Ronald Reagan Building, Amphitheater. This meeting is designed to be a forum for community members to comment on the proposed cuts and the implications to the field.

Tom Pierson , CEO of the SETI Institute and Sean Solomon, Director of the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, will moderate the Town Hall session. An illustration of the impact of astrobiology in the United States will be presented. The floor will then be opened for community comment. It is expected that many, if not most, of the scientists at the conference will attend this meeting, including such well-known scientists as Wes Huntress, Jonathan Lunine, Peter Ward, Frank Drake, and Bruce Jakosky. Baruch Blumberg, Nobel Laureate, past director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, and member of the SETI Institute Board of Trustees will also be present.

The science community is already making its views known on these topics, as seen in press reports in both scientific and popular media, and the Town Hall Meeting is anticipated to be a lively forum with some of the most articulate speakers in science speaking their minds.


About SETI Institute

The SETI Institute is a multi-disciplinary, highly collaborative research organization committed to exploring, understanding, and explaining the origin, nature and prevalence of life in the universe.  It does so with expertise in fields ranging from astrophysics and planetary science to biology and social science, as well as computer science and signal detection.  We have a passion not only for discovery, but also for sharing knowledge as scientific ambassadors to the public, the press, and government.  The SETI Institute is a distinguished partner for government agencies, academic institutions, and corporations around the world.