Planets, Life, and the Universe Lecture Series

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: 67
6 Mar 2020
Lectures TESS and the Search for Rocky Planets
The study of planets orbiting other stars has become a mainstream branch of astronomy. Much of the focus is now on the discovery and characterization of exoplanets enough like the Earth that we can...
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7 Feb 2020
Lectures RNA and Protein - A Match Made in the Hadean
The ribosome, made from RNA and protein, is responsible for translation of mRNA to coded protein in all living systems. The significance of translation is indicated in ribosomal universality, antiquity,...
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6 Dec 2019
Lectures Reconstructing Life History Before LUCA
Origin of Life studies primarily consist of two sets of inferences:  bottom-up, which infer plausible scenarios of abiogenesis given our understanding of planetary, geological, and chemical processes,...
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1 Nov 2019
Lectures The Preservation, Distribution, and Detectability of Lipid Biomarkers in the Atacama Desert and Implications for Mars
Desert environments on Earth are colonized by organisms adapted to desiccation. However, the limits of adaptation are not well understood.  We surveyed biomolecular proxies for soil microorganism...
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4 Oct 2019
Lectures Prebiotic Chemistry and the Origins of Life: What We Know and What We Don’t
The field of astrobiology, the effort to understand the origin, distribution and future of life in the Universe, is moving very quickly on many front, especially with the rapid discovery of so many exoplanets....
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3 May 2019
Lectures Tracking Life’s Fingerprints with Molecules and Isotopes
Biomarkers are organic molecular remnants of past life preserved in ancient soils and sediments. We use both the distributions of biomarkers and the stable isotopes they carry to reconstruct past environments...
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5 Apr 2019
Lectures Untangling the Role of Environmental and Ecological Influences on the Proterozoic Rise of Complex Life
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, evolved on Earth is a critical question in astrobiology...
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1 Mar 2019
Lectures Lessons from the Deep Earth for the Search of Life in the Solar System and Beyond
The recent National Academies Report - the 2018 Astrobiology Science Strategy for the Search for Life in the Universe emphasized, among other major themes, the need for an expanded focus on investigation...
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7 Dec 2018
Lectures Unlocking the Secrets of Nearby Exoplanets with NASA’s TESS Mission
Successfully launched in April 2018, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will discover thousands of exoplanets in orbit around the brightest stars in the sky. In its two-year prime survey...
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2 Nov 2018
Lectures Photosynthesis: A Planetary Revolution
Photosynthesis is the most important bioenergetic innovation in the history of the biosphere and it engendered Earth’s most marked environmental change: the rise of oxygen. Photosynthesis dramatically...
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4 May 2018
Lectures Planets in a Bottle: Exploring Planetary Atmospheres in a Lab
From exoplanets, with their surprising lack of spectral features, to Titan and its characteristic haze layer, numerous planetary atmospheres may possess photochemically produced particles of "haze"....
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6 Apr 2018
Lectures Know Thy Star, Know Thy Planet
To most thoroughly understand exoplanetary systems, in both individual and statistical senses, requires a thorough characterization of their host stars. Whether or not a host star has companions, and the...
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2 Mar 2018
Lectures How Microbes Promote Fossilization and Become Fossilized
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 signatures of microbial life, but these biosignatures...
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2 Feb 2018
Lectures The Search for Evidence of Life in the Subsurface Ocean of Enceladus
Are we alone in the Universe? The search for life beyond Earth is the most compelling scientific question of our time; a positive detection would be one of the most profound discoveries ever made by humanity....
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1 Dec 2017
Lectures The Search for Life in Oceans Beyond Earth
Where is the best place to find living life beyond Earth? It may be that the small, ice-covered moons of Jupiter and Saturn harbor some of the most habitable real estate in our Solar System. Life loves...
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