Extrasolar Planets: December 2008

The discovery of CO2 in the atmosphere of extrasolar planet HD 189733b was announced in the November 21, 2008 issue of Nature News. The exoplanet is a hot Jupiter orbiting a star 63 light years from Earth. While it's extremely unlikely that this particular planet supports life as we know it, the ability to measure the presence of CO2 in its atmosphere bolsters the search for life outside the Solar System. Giovanna Tinetti, former NAI Postdoctoral Fellow, is lead author in the study which used the NICMOS instrument onboard the Hubble Space Telescope to make the measurement. The results were announced in Paris this week at the Molecules in the Atmospheres of Extrasolar Planets workshop, and will be published in the Astrophysical Journal.

Source: NAI Newsletter

Dates: February 4-6, 2009
Location: NASA Ames Research Center

Reconciling observations of extrasolar planets with those of the solar system will engage the efforts of planetary formation observers and theorists for the foreseeable future. The aim of this meeting is to promote cross-fertilization between the extrasolar and the solar planetary communities. The topics will include both theoretical and observational characterization of protostars and planets. The emphasis of the meeting will be to compare and contrast planetary systems. Ideally, constraints derived from diverse planetary systems will be complementary; yet, the extent to which such systems can be viewed under a common prism remains to be clarified.

NAI - Nordic Summer School: "Water, Ice and the Origin of Life in the Universe"

Iceland, 29 June to 13 July 2009

The NASA Astrobiology Institute and the Nordic Astrobiology Network will conduct a summer school on the role of water in the evolution of life in the cosmos - in Iceland on the above dates. The school is intended for students and post-docs in astrobiology-related subjects (biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, geosciences etc.) The school will be organized in three sections:

* An introductory lecture course
* Excursions to several places in Iceland of astrobiological interest (hot springs, glaciers, geysers, Mars-like environments)
* A lab course on the geochemistry and extremophile community of hot springs (no previous experience in microbiological lab work and field research needed)