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2005 Annual Science Report

University of Hawaii, Manoa Reporting  |  JUL 2004 – JUN 2005

Astrobiology Winter School

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3 Teams
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Field Sites

Project Progress

We have at UHNAI decided to prepare a series of winter schools in astrobiology every other year in collaboration with the University of Arizona NAI team. One of the principal obstacles of astrobiology is the specialization of disciplines. Who would be better than young people to break down the barriers separating the various disciplines? So we set ourselves three goals: First, to provide the coming generation of researchers the opportunity to learn from the best of the current senior researchers in the field. Secondly, our schools should give the young people an opportunity to meet and get to know each other. The personal ties and friendships developed at a young age tend to be strong and long-lasting, and so the schools will with time generate ties within the field of astrobiology across national and cultural boundaries. Third, by a judicious choice of topics the schools should help break down artificial boundaries between narrowly viewed disciplines, foster cross fertilization, and instill a deep rooted understanding of how the many sub-disciplines of astrobiology are all part of one larger question.

The first UHNAI Winter School was organized by Bo Reipurth and Karen Meech. From January 10 to 21, the Institute for Astronomy hosted 39 students or young researchers from across the United States and from several other countries from a large range of disciplines. The first week was spent at IfA in Manoa. Lectures were given every morning, and after lunch the students broke up into smaller groups, which then discussed some of the issues that were brought up in the morning lectures. The lecturers walked from group to group and discussed questions that arose from the discussions. The lectures during the first week dealt with “Water Ice and Chemistry in Circumstellar Disks and the Interstellar Medium” and “Geochemical Processes and Microbiospheres in Hydrothermal Systems”. The second week was hosted by IfA in Hilo, where the lecture topics were “Ice on Earth, Mars, and Europa” and “Icy Bodies in the Solar System and the Origin of the Earth’s Oceans”. All lectures were given by specialists both from UH and from abroad. During the weekend in between lectures, the students could relax by swimming in the ocean, touring the Volcano National Park on the Big Island, and visit a snow-clad Mauna Kea. After two intense weeks, the students once more scattered across the globe, but now bonded by a unique Hawaiian experience.