2007 Media/Journalist Workshop

Extrasolar Planets—LASP Center for Astrobiology
January 26—28, 2007—Boulder, Colorado

Extrasolar Planets Workshop

The 2007 workshop focused on the field of astrobiology and understanding the potential and actual distribution of life in our solar system and in the universe. (Courtesy NASA/JPL)


  • How common are terrestrial (habitable) planets in the universe?
    Almost all known extrasolar planets are large, Jovian planets. Many are “hot Jupiters” (or medium-hot Jupiters) because they are the easiest to find with the Doppler method. Under what circumstances might we expect terrestrial planets to occur?
  • What do the 200+ known extrasolar planet discoveries tell us about planet formation?
    Fifteen years ago, no one would have expected hot Jupiters in sub-AU orbits. What new ideas of solar system formation and development does that discovery point to?
  • The history of the discovery of extrasolar planets and the evolution of technology that enabled discoveries.
    There are several different techniques for finding extrasolar planets (see Searching for Other Worlds—The Methods)
  • Habitability: Life in the Universe.
    The discovery of potential habitable zones in the outer solar system (Titan, Enceladus, etc.) has changed our view of where life can exist.
  • How does a NASA mission develop from big science ideas to a science platform to an engineering program to launch?
    We use the Kepler mission as an example. It only takes about 2 decades…




  • http://kepler.nasa.gov/
    The Kepler Mission is designed to detect Earth-sized planets in our region of the Milky Way galaxy.
  • http://science.nasa.gov/missions/tpf/
    The Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) observatories will study all aspects of planets outside our solar system: from their formation and development in disks of dust and gas around newly forming stars to the presence and features of those planets orbiting the nearest stars, and will analyze their suitability as abodes for life.
  • http://exoplanets.org/
    The California and Carnegie Planet Search includes information and publications related to the search for planets outside of the Solar System.
  • http://www.psi.edu/
    The Planetary Science Institute (PSI) seeks to detect new planets as they transit their parent stars.
  • http://www.dtm.ciw.edu/boss/
    Research web page of Dr. Alan Boss containing information on hydrodynamics, downloadable files and movies, and associated articles and books.
  • http://www.seti.org
    The mission of the SETI Institute is to explore, understand and explain the origin, nature and prevalence of life in the universe.  This site contains a wealth of information about the project and current research pertaining to many topics, including planetary formation, and extrasolar planets.