NASA Astrobiologist to Discuss Exotic Earths at Library of Congress Spring Lecture

The public is invited to a free lecture called "Exotic Earths: Exploring Planets Around Other Stars" by NASA astrobiologist Avi Mandell at the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. The free lecture will be held on Wednesday, June 19, at 11:30 a.m. EDT in the Pickford Theater of the Library of Congress.

During the past 15 years, hundreds of planets have been discovered orbiting nearby stars. Mandell will describe the exciting journey from the discovery of the first planet orbiting a sun-like star up through current efforts to tease out the atmospheric structure and composition of the exotic menagerie of planets discovered to date. He will conclude by looking forward to what might be discovered in the coming decade about the origins of our own planet and the presence of other exotic Earths.

"We're in a golden age of precision measurements of the size and orbital motion of giant planets around other stars, and every new discovery has the potential to upend our understanding of the types of planets that we may find," Mandell said. "Even more exciting is the next generation of extremely sensitive observatories, which will allow detection and remote exploration of planets as small as Earth. Hopefully we'll eventually be able to examine one of the most fundamental questions for our existence: are we alone in the universe?"

Mandell is a research scientist in the Planetary Systems Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. His research focuses on the formation and evolution of planetary systems, with the specific goal of understanding the factors that determine whether a system can form habitable planets and what the characteristics of these planets will be.

The Library of Congress maintains one of the largest and most diverse collections of scientific and technical information in the world. The Science, Technology and Business Division provides reference and bibliographic services and develops the general collections of the library in all areas of science, technology, business and economics. For more information, visit www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/.

The Library of Congress is the nation's oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world and holds nearly 151.8 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The library serves Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at www.loc.gov.

For inquiries about this or upcoming talks at the Library of Congress, the public can contact the LOC Science, Technology and Business Division at 202-707-5664. ADA accommodations should be requested five business days in advance at 202-707-6382 (voice/tty)or ada@loc.gov.

For more information about Avi Mandell and his research, visit:
http://astrobiology.gsfc.nasa.gov/mandell/

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