Conferences and Meetings

Space Telescope Science Institute Symposium Explores Habitable Worlds Across Time and Space

By Keith Cowing
February 18, 2013

Within a matter of years, humanity will know for the first time the frequency of terrestrial planets in orbit around other stars. This knowledge will pave the way for joining research from astronomy, Earth science, and biology to understand the past, present, and future of the Earth within its larger context as one of many potentially habitable worlds throughout the galaxy. Such work seeks to understand the formation and fate of the Earth as well as predict where and when different bodies will be suitable for both simple and complex forms of life.

During the four-day symposium on April 29 to May 2, 2013, at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Md., scientists from diverse fields will discuss the formation and long-term evolution of terrestrial bodies throughout the various phases of stellar and galactic evolution. A particular focus will be how the specific conditions and challenges for habitability on Earth extend to other bodies in the solar system and beyond. This symposium will include discussions about sites for galactic habitability that have not yet been given much attention. The existence of these overlooked environments may provide motivation for novel astronomical observations with existing and next generation ground and space-based observations.

Invited symposium speakers will cover the following topics:

* Terrestrial planet formation, volatile delivery, and the formation of moons;
* Early Earth geochemistry, atmosphere, and the origins of life;
* The frequency of terrestrial planets across stellar mass;
* The limits to Earth-like life;
* Habitability of planets and moons during all phases of stellar evolution; and
* Habitability in low-luminosity environments.

At the conclusion of the symposium on Thursday afternoon, May 2, STScI will hold a science writer’s workshop. A list of workshop speakers and topics will be provided soon.

Registration for the Habitable Worlds symposium and the science writer’s workshop is free to journalists. There is a $75 fee to attend the conference dinner. Journalists who wish to attend the symposium and/or the science writer’s workshop should contact Cheryl Gundy ( by April 1. For more information about STScI’s Habitable Worlds spring symposium, visit

Cheryl Gundy
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.
+1 410-338-4707

STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA) in Washington, D.C. STScI conducts science operations for the Hubble Space Telescope and is the science and mission operations center for the James Webb Space Telescope. STScI is located at 3700 San Martin Drive in Baltimore, Md.

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.