Institute for Planets and Life

Space Telescope Science Institute and Johns Hopkins University

Areas of Research


  • Formation and early evolution of planetary systems, including star formation, the properties and astrophysics of protoplanetary disks, debris disks and planetesimal collisions.
  • Exoplanets and their atmospheres: programs to search for and characterize exoplanets with different techniques, including planetary transit and eclipse observations, radial velocity and interferometric planet searches, high-contrast imaging.


  • Planetary atmospheres, including that of Titan, as an analog for the atmosphere of early earth prebiotic conditions, and possible life.
  • Mineral surfaces and the origin of life, studies into the the roles of mineral surfaces in prebiotic molecular stabilization, molecular degradation, and polymerization reactions.
  • Isotopic records of life through Earth history, including that of the earliest life on earth.

Biological Science

  • Extremophile research, such as adaptive mechanisms of extremophilic archaea to their environment, stress responses to environmental changes, and DNA repair mechanisms
  • Environmental microbiology, including metagenomics of Mars analog environments such as the Atacama Desert and the Dry Valleys of Antarctica