Members of the media are invited to attend Bioastronomy 2007, a meeting convened by an international organizing committee of representatives from the scientific community. Scientists from all over the world will gather at this meeting in San Juan to report on latest findings in the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe.
The field of bioastronomy, also known as astrobiology, encompasses research on topics ranging from the origins of life on Earth to the identification and characterization of extrasolar planets to possible habitats for extraterrestrial life.
Sessions at Bioastronomy 2007 are organized around themes such as Mars as a setting for life, life in the outer solar system, habitable planets and their stars, and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). Among featured speakers will be:
* Jean-Pierre Bibring, European Space Agency (ESA), principal investigator for the OMEGA experiment on ESA's Mars Express mission;
* David DesMarais, NASA Ames Research Center, participating scientist with the Mars Exploration Rover, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Science Laboratory missions and a NASA Astrobiology Institute research team leader;
* Pascale Ehrenfreund, Leiden Observatory, an expert on interstellar organic chemistry;
* Guillermo Lemarchand, Instituto Argentino de Radioastronomia, director of "Southern SETI";
* Carolyn Porco, University of Colorado, imaging team leader for the Cassini mission to Saturn; and * Jan Sapp, York University, an authority on microbial evolution.
On July 17, a panel of space agency representatives will report on astrobiology activities around the world. On July 18, Mexico's leading astrobiologist, Antonio Lazcano of the National Autonomous University in Mexico City, will deliver a public lecture on the topic of "The emergence of life on Earth: old problems, new perspectives."
Planetary astronomer Karen Meech of the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy heads the Local Organizing Committee for Bioastronomy 2007. Astronomer William Irvine of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst chairs the Scientific Organizing Committee for the event. The meeting is sponsored in part by the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center and its Arecibo Observatory, which is operated by Cornell University for the National Science Foundation.
Media representatives attending Bioastronomy 2007 will be charged a registration fee to cover the cost of meals and refreshments. A press room will be available at the conference hotel. For a complete agenda and registration instructions, see: http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/UHNAI/bioast07.htm
BIOASTRONOMY 2007: MOLECULES, MICROBES, AND EXTRATERRESTRIAL LIFE JULY 16-20, 2007, HOTEL CONDADO PLAZA, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
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