Public Lectures

Are We Alone? LASP Prepares for Future NASA Missions to Discover Life Beyond the Solar System

Published on September 18, 2017

Speaker:Kevin France
Date:Wednesday, Mar 07, 2018
Time:7:30 PM
Location:LSTB-299 (1234 Innovation Drive)

Seminar Abstract:

The success of exoplanet detection in recent years has demonstrated that, on average, every star in the Milky Way hosts a planetary system. With so many planets now discovered, the challenge of the next three decades is characterizing those planets to assess their potential habitability and search for the signs of active biology.

NASA is currently developing the concept for a “Super-Hubble Space Telescope,” the Large Ultraviolet/Optical/InfraRed Surveyor (LUVOIR), to discover ‘Pale Blue Dots’ around Sun-like stars beyond our solar system and probe their atmospheres for the signs of life. LASP is playing a leading role in the scientific and technical development of LUVOIR.

In this talk, Kevin will present an overview of recent exoplanet discoveries to provide a context for our place in the Milky Way. He’ll talk about the steps LUVOIR will take to discover and characterize biologically active worlds beyond the solar system, and focus on the role LASP is playing in this story. The presentation will conclude with a discussion about some of LASP’s present-day experiments—flying on rockets and small satellites—that are paving the way for LUVOIR’s instruments in the next decade.

Watch the public lecture: