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2002 Annual Science Report

Virtual Planetary Laboratory (JPL/CalTech) Reporting  |  JUL 2001 – JUN 2002

Executive Summary

The discovery of more and more planets in orbits around extrasolar stars holds out the promise that life exists and can ultimately be identified elsewhere in the Universe. Data gleaned from terrestrial planets in our Solar System, (Mercury, Venus, Mars) are now being used to create computer
models that can simulate essential life-supporting characteristics
of extrasolar planets and to assess the probability that a given set of atmospheric, thermal, and other conditions constitutes a habitable environment.

The Virtual Planetary Laboratory: Towards Characterization of Extrasolar Terrestrial Planets

Motivated by the recent discoveries of over a hundred extrasolar Jovian-size planets, NASA has initiated a series of mission designs for space-based observatories that will detect, characterize, and search for life on extrasolar earthlike planets. These missions will address one of astrobiology’s fundamental questions, “Are we alone?” To optimize the designs and search strategies for these NASA missions ... Continue reading.

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