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2010 Annual Science Report

Pennsylvania State University Reporting  |  SEP 2009 – AUG 2010

Biosignatures in Extraterrestrial Settings

Project Summary

The team will investigate the abundance of sulfur gases and elucidate how these gases can be expected to evolve with time on young terrestrial planets. They will continue studies of planet formation in the presence of migration and model radial transport of volatiles in young planetary systems, and will be involved with searches for M star planetary companions and planets around K-giant stars.

4 Institutions
3 Teams
21 Publications
0 Field Sites
Field Sites

Project Progress

4.1.1 Research by Kasting and collaborators shows SO2 is likely to be inadequate to explain early warm Mars. Collaboration with VPL and graduate student Haqq-Misra.

4.1.2 Continued research by Ohmoto and collaborators of early CH4 in the atmosphere of terrestrial planets and role of volcanoes in CO2 outgassing.

4.2 Progress by Lyons and collaborators continued of 17O/18O fractionation due to CO2 self-shielding during photolysis. Work underway on N2 and role of H2.

4.3 Sigurdsson and collaborators in the Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds continued research on extrasolar planets: graduate student Yan Wang completed MSc project on habitability of planets during the course of stellar evolution; graduate student Rachel Worth commenced project on radial transport in the solar system in collaboration with Sigurdsson and House. Pathfinder near infrared spectrograph operated at HET telescope, U-Ne calibration for near IR and implementation of NIST supplied lasercomb operated and cross-calibrated. Three new graduate students supported in the summer of 2010, starting research on instrumentation, data reduction pipelines for radial velocity searches for planets, and modeling of formation and dynamics of planets.

Fiber fed near infrared spectra of a science target star, shown with the infrared laser comb calibrator on the two calibration fibers. Data taken with the Pathfinder spectrograph at the Hobby-Eberly telescope (Mahadevan et al, August 2010, private communication). Lasercomb from NIST/Colorado.

    James Kasting James Kasting
    Project Investigator
    James Lyons
    Project Investigator
    Hiroshi Ohmoto Hiroshi Ohmoto
    Project Investigator
    Steinn Sigurdsson
    Project Investigator
    Mark Claire

    Edwin Bergin

    Fred Ciesla

    David Crisp

    John Debes

    Steven Desch

    Avi Mandell

    Jacob Haqq-Misra
    Doctoral Student

    Yan Wang
    Graduate Student

    Rachel Worth
    Graduate Student

    Megan Smith
    Undergraduate Student

    Objective 1.1
    Formation and evolution of habitable planets.

    Objective 1.2
    Indirect and direct astronomical observations of extrasolar habitable planets.

    Objective 2.1
    Mars exploration.

    Objective 2.2
    Outer Solar System exploration

    Objective 4.1
    Earth's early biosphere.

    Objective 4.3
    Effects of extraterrestrial events upon the biosphere

    Objective 6.2
    Adaptation and evolution of life beyond Earth

    Objective 7.1
    Biosignatures to be sought in Solar System materials