Conferences and Meetings: May 2008

Presenter: Giovanna Tinetti, University College, London

Date/Time: June 2, 2008 11:00 AM Pacific

Abstract: In the past decade, over 280 planets orbiting other stars (extrasolar planets) have been discovered. For a growing sample of giant extrasolar planets orbiting very close to their parent star (hot-Jupiters), we can already probe their atmospheric constituents using transit techniques. With this method, we can indirectly observe the thin atmospheric ring surrounding the optically thick disc of the planet -the limb- while the planet is transiting in front of its parent star. This method was traditionally used to probe the atmospheres of planets in our Solar System and most recently, thanks to the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes, was successfully applied to exoplanets.

Co-chairs: Dr. Barbara Cohen ( Dr. Stephen Mojzsis (

Even as we approach the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11, one of the more remarkable results to come out of lunar sample analyses is the hypothesis that a large number of impact events occurred on the Moon during a narrow window in time approximately 3.8 to 4.1 billion years ago (the lunar "cataclysm"). Subsequent work on the lunar and martian meteorite suites; remote sensing of the Moon, Mars, asteroids, and icy satellites; improved dynamical modeling; and investigation of terrestrial zircons extend the cataclysm hypothesis to the Earth, other terrestrial planets, and possibly the entire solar system. Renewed US and international interest in exploring the Moon offers new potential to constrain the Earth-Moon bombardment history. In light of these opportunities, this session invites the latest views on the evidence, timing and mechanism for cataclysmic bombardment of the solar system and its effects on the nascent Earth, including evidence in terrestrial rocks, effects on terrestrial systems (biosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere), and questions that may be answered in a new age of exploration.