SETI Talks - JWST: A Cosmic Time Machine for Astrobiology

SETI Talks

Tags: JWST, SETI Talks, Astrobiology, Astronomy, Solar System

Time: Wednesday, May 31, 2023 -

Location: Online

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We are thrilled to announce an upcoming panel discussion that will take you on a journey to discover the secrets of our solar system and the search for life beyond our planet. Two scientists from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland – Dr. Stefanie Milam, astrophysicist and astrochemist, and Dr. Geronimo Villanueva, planetary scientist and astrobiologist – will participate in this mind-blowing exploration into the unknown. Communications specialist Beth Johnson will moderate the discussion.

What makes this topic exciting is the recent launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the most powerful space telescope ever built. Dr. Milam and Dr. Villanueva will share their expertise on how this groundbreaking observatory will pave the way in the search for prebiotic chemistry, signatures of biology, and potential habitable worlds.

But it doesn't stop there. Our panelists will also explore some of the most promising targets for the search for life in our solar system: from the geysers of Enceladus, a small icy moon of Saturn, to Europa, Jupiter's moon believed to have a subsurface ocean of liquid water, and even to the potential for finding life on Titan, Saturn's moon with liquid methane and ethane lakes on its surface.

This event is a rare opportunity to learn from two of the most brilliant minds in space exploration and astrobiology. They will share their insights, perspectives, and the implications of such a discovery for our understanding of the universe and our place in it.

This panel discussion will take place on May 31 at 4pm PDT and will be accessible via Zoom. Join us for an unforgettable experience that will leave you inspired and in awe of the vast possibilities that the universe holds. Take advantage of this unique opportunity to expand your knowledge and engage with the latest advancements in the search for life beyond Earth!

Stefanie Milam

Stefanie Milam is a planetary scientist and astrochemist who has made significant contributions to the study of comets and the early Solar System. She received her Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Arizona, moved to SETI as a research scientist/postdoc at NASA Ames and went on to work at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Milam uses space and ground-based telescopes to observe and analyze comets, providing insights into their chemical composition and origins. Milam has received numerous awards for her work, including the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal. Milam is the JWST deputy project scientist for planetary science, where she has helped enable observations within our own solar system from Near-Earth Asteroids to the farthest reaches of the Kuiper belt and even the brightest objects in the infrared sky (e.g. Mars).

Geronimo Villanueva

Geronimo Villanueva is a planetary scientist and astrobiologist at NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center who specializes in the search for organic molecules on Mars and on icy bodies. He is the Principal Investigator (PI) of the Planetary Spectrum Generator (PSG), Co-PI of the Comet Interceptor Mission, Co-Investigator of the ExoMars/TGO mission, and leader for Mars and Ocean Worlds studies (GTO) for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). He also serves as Science and Management advisor to several observatories, including JWST, Keck, NASA-IRTF and ALMA. In recognition to his work on small bodies, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) named minor planet '9724' after Dr. Villanueva, while the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in 2015 honored him with the Urey Prize (young planetary scientist of the year). Since completing his Ph.D. studies at the Max-Planck-Institute for Solar-System Research in Germany in 2004, Dr. Villanueva has participated in many projects at three space agencies, NASA, ESA (European Space Agency) and DLR (German Aerospace Agency), with a broad range of research experience in planetary, exploration and Space sciences. He is a strong advocate for Space Exploration and Astronomy, participating in numerous public outreach activities and in the promotion of science in developing regions.


This SETI Talks will be online only and will not be live streamed on social media, please make sure to register for access to this event.