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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 Program, the Space Telescope Science Institute, the Department of Biology, the Department of Chemistry, the Department of Biophysics, the Department of Physics and Astronomy of Johns Hopkins University, and the Ernst Cloos Memorial Fund from the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences of Johns Hopkins University.

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, Stephen Fried, Maya Gomes, Amaya Moro-Martin, and Ben Pearce.


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(79 total)

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Results: 79
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  1. The Origin of Biomolecules and Information Polymers on Terrestrial Planets

    April 5, 2024 Lectures

    The origin of life on Earth is one of the fundamental questions of science.  A critical issue is how and when biomolecules, such as building blocks of RNA and proteins, appeared after Earth formed....

  2. Habitability and Biosignature Preservation in Magnesium Sulfate Brines: Lessons from the “Spotted” Lakes

    February 23, 2024 Lectures

    Observations of Mars have revealed the widespread presence of paleo-evaporitic deposits, in the form of magnesium sulfate salts. MgSO4 salts have been known to preserve evidence of life on geological...

  3. How Earth’s Early Oceans and Atmosphere Help Guide the Search for Life Beyond Our Solar System

    February 2, 2024 Lectures

    Life and life-sustaining environments, including oceans, have existed on a dynamic Earth for more than four billion years despite the multitude of challenges that come with stellar, solar system, and planetary...

  4. How Do New Protein Structures Emerge?

    December 1, 2023 Lectures

    The advent of the Artificial Intelligence era has granted us unprecedented access to protein structural data. How did nature discover folded proteins more than 3 billion years ago? How do new protein structures...

  5. Rise of the Glass Animals (and Protozoans): Tracking the Paleozoic Transformation of the Silica Cycle by Biomineralizers

    November 3, 2023 Lectures

    Phanerozoic oceans have witnessed the transformation of the marine silica cycle from a system primarily controlled by abiotic precipitation reactions to one in which silica biomineralization (by diatoms)...

  6. Exoplanet Characterization from JWST

    October 6, 2023 Lectures

    We are now one full year into the era of JWST, NASA’s flagship observatory and the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. Exoplanet characterization has historically been dominated by space-based...

  7. Exploring Early Earth and Habitability Using Ancient DNA

    April 7, 2023 Lectures

    Life is a planetary phenomenon and it is tuned to the conditions found on our planet that enable its existence. What is tuned, specifically, is the chemistry that occurs within cells, and enzymes are what...

  8. Life in the Light: Photochemical Insights Towards Life as a Planetary Phenomenon

    March 3, 2023 Lectures

    Advances in origins-of-life chemistry are transforming our understanding of how life emerged on Earth, while upcoming space missions offer the prospect of detecting life on other worlds. Fundamental to...

  9. Multiscale Planetary Habitability: Analyzing the Role of Large Volcanic Eruptions and Seafloor Bathymetry

    February 3, 2023 Lectures

    The history of life on Earth illustrates that perturbations on a scale of 10s-100s of kyr – e.g., a single large extraterrestrial impact or large-scale volcanic event – greatly affect the viability...

  10. Dragonfly: In Situ Exploration of Prebiotic Chemistry and Habitability on Saturn's Moon Titan

    December 2, 2022 Lectures

    Titan is an unusual icy satellite and ocean world, with a dense atmosphere, abundant complex organic material on its surface, and a liquid-water ocean in its interior.  The Cassini-Huygens mission...

  11. Ironing out Life’s First Breaths

    November 4, 2022 Lectures

    Every cell contains a biochemical record of four billion years of Earth-life coevolution. Our mitochondria were once free-living bacteria. Each unit of the electron transport chain that we use to breathe...

  12. Prebiotic Organics in Extraterrestrial Samples: An Inventory for the Origin of Life

    October 7, 2022 Lectures

    Meteorites provide a record of the chemical processes that occurred in the early solar system before life began on Earth. The delivery of complex organic compounds by carbonaceous chondrites to the early...

  13. TESS and the Search for Rocky Planets

    March 6, 2020 Lectures

    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...

  14. RNA and Protein - A Match Made in the Hadean

    February 7, 2020 Lectures

    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,...

  15. Reconstructing Life History Before LUCA

    December 6, 2019 Lectures

    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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