Planets, Life, and the Universe Lectures and Events

The Planets, Life, and the Universe lecture series brings high-profile speakers to the JHU/STScI campus to discuss current topics of interest in astrobiology and draws a large and steadily increasing audience. It is supported by the NASA Astrobiology Institute, the Space Telescope Science Institute, the Department of Biology and the Department of Physics and Astronomy of Johns Hopkins University, and the Ernst Cloos Memorial Fund.

Planets, Life, and the Universe Lecture Series presentations are also webcast live. Webcasts can be viewed at the STScI webcast site during the scheduled presentation, and can be found afterward in the STScI webcast archive.

Organizing committee: Jocelyne DiRuggiero (chair), Maya Gomes, Sarah Horst, Peter McCullough, David Sing, Sabine Stanley, and Kevin Stevenson



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Results: 63
1 Nov 2019
Lectures The Preservation, Distribution, & Detectability of Lipid Biomarkers in the Atacama Desert and Implications for Mars
Mary Beth Wilhelm (NASA Ames Research Center) Desert environments on Earth are colonized by organisms adapted to desiccation. However, the limits of adaptation are not well understood.  We surveyed...
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3 May 2019
Lectures Tracking Life’s Fingerprints with Molecules and Isotopes
Katherine H. Freeman (Dept. of Geosciences, Penn State University) Biomarkers are organic molecular remnants of past life preserved in ancient soils and sediments. We use both the distributions of biomarkers...
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5 Apr 2019
Lectures Untangling the Role of Environmental and Ecological Influences on the Proterozoic Rise of Complex Life
Phoebe Cohen (Dept. of Geosciences, Williams College) The origins of complex life lie in the Neoproterozoic Era, which began 1,000 million years ago. How, why, and when complex life, including multicellularity,...
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1 Mar 2019
Lectures Lessons from the Deep Earth for the Search of Life in the Solar System and Beyond
Barbara Sherwood Lollar (Department of Earth Sciences, University of Toronto) The recent National Academies Report - the 2018 Astrobiology Science Strategy for the Search for Life in the Universe emphasized,...
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7 Dec 2018
Lectures Unlocking the Secrets of Nearby Exoplanets with NASA’s TESS Mission
George Ricker (MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research) Successfully launched in April 2018, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will discover thousands of exoplanets...
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2 Nov 2018
Lectures Photosynthesis: A Planetary Revolution
Woodward Fischer (Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, Caltech) Photosynthesis is the most important bioenergetic innovation in the history of the biosphere and it engendered Earth’s...
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4 May 2018
Lectures Planets in a Bottle: Exploring Planetary Atmospheres in a Lab
Sarah Horst (Johns Hopkins University, Dept of Earth and Planetary Sciences) From exoplanets, with their surprising lack of spectral features, to Titan and its characteristic haze layer, numerous planetary...
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6 Apr 2018
Lectures Know Thy Star, Know Thy Planet
Johanna Teske (Carnegie Origins Postdoctoral Fellow, Carnegie Observatories) To most thoroughly understand exoplanetary systems, in both individual and statistical senses, requires a thorough characterization...
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2 Mar 2018
Lectures How Microbes Promote Fossilization and Become Fossilized
Tanja Bosak (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) How to recognize signs of life in past sediments from Earth or other planets? Sedimentary record from the first 80% of Earth’s history preserves...
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2 Feb 2018
Lectures The Search for Evidence of Life in the Subsurface Ocean of Enceladus
Alfonso F. Davila (NASA Ames Research Center, Exobiology Branch) Are we alone in the Universe? The search for life beyond Earth is the most compelling scientific question of our time; a positive detection...
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1 Dec 2017
Lectures The Search for Life in Oceans Beyond Earth
Kevin Peter Hand (Deputy Chief Scientist for Solar System Exploration, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology) Where is the best place to find living life beyond Earth? It may...
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3 Nov 2017
Lectures Contemporary Water and Habitability of Mars
Lujendra Ojha (Johns Hopkins University, Dept. of Earth and Planetary Sciences) Mars is the only other planet besides Earth with multiple lines of geomorphic and spectral evidence for the past existence...
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6 Oct 2017
Lectures Astrobiology and the Anthropocene Epoch
David Grinspoon (Planetary Science Institute) Informed by comparative planetology and a survey of the major episodes in Earth history, this lecture will offer taxonomy of planetary catastrophes meant...
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7 Apr 2017
Lectures The Habitable Zone: Extensions in Time and Space
Dr. Ramses Ramirez​ (Carl Sagan Institute, Dept. of Astronomy, Cornell University) The habitable zone is the circular region around a star in which liquid water could exist on the surface of a rocky planet....
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3 Mar 2017
Lectures Astrobiology and Planetary Protection
Catharine A. Conley (Planetary Protection Officer, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters) The fundamental goals of Astrobiology are focused on understanding the origin, distribution, and future...
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