2013 Annual Science Report
Pennsylvania State University Reporting | SEP 2012 – AUG 2013
Biosignatures in Extraterrestrial Settings
We are working on finding potentially habitable extrasolar planets, using a variety of search techniques, and developing some of the technology necessary to find and characterize low mass extrasolar planets. We also work on modeling and numerical techniques relevant to the problem of identifying extrasolar sites for life, and on some aspects of the prospects for life in the Solar System outside the Earth. The ultimate goal is to find signatures of life on nearby extrasolar planets.
4.1.1 Research by Kasting and collaborators shows SO2 is likely to be inadequate to explain early warm Mars. Collaboration with VPL, postdoctoral researcher Kopparapu and graduate student Ramirez. Details now reported in “Biosignatures in Ancient Rocks”
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. Details now reported in “Biosignatures in Ancient Rocks”
4.2 Progress by Lyons and collaborators continued on CO abundance in the Sun and the C/O isotope ratios in the Sun and Solar System.
4.3 Mahadevan and collaborators in the Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds continued work on spectrograph development, calibration and exoplanet spectroscopic surveys. Specifically work on the development of the APOGEE project, and the Habitable Planet Finder. Continued development of an infrared laser frequency comb for calibration of the HPF in collaboration with Dr. Diddams and Osterman and NIST Colorado.
Sigurdsson and collaborators in the Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds continued research on exoplanets and with graduate student Rachel Worth continued project on radial transport in the solar system in collaboration with Prof. House.
Graduate students Matthew Route and Sarah Gettel working with Prof. Wolszczan completed their PhD projects on sub-stellar companions and massive planets around giant stars, respectively.
Prof. Wright and collaborators in the Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds continued ongoing observations of exoplanets and looking for new exoplanets, using radial velocity monitoring, and started a new project on early Solar System formation. Prof. Wright continued work on the Exoplanets catalog http://exoplanets.org/
Prof. Eric Ford joined the Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds and PSARC in July 2013, bringing with him a research group of 3 graduate students from the University of Florida.
PROJECT INVESTIGATORS:Christopher House
Project InvestigatorJames Kasting
Project InvestigatorJames Lyons
Project InvestigatorHiroshi Ohmoto
Project InvestigatorSteinn Sigurdsson
PROJECT MEMBERS:Mark Claire
RELATED OBJECTIVES:Objective 1.1
Formation and evolution of habitable planets.
Indirect and direct astronomical observations of extrasolar habitable planets.
Outer Solar System exploration
Sources of prebiotic materials and catalysts
Earth's early biosphere.
Effects of extraterrestrial events upon the biosphere
Adaptation and evolution of life beyond Earth
Biosignatures to be sought in Solar System materials
Biosignatures to be sought in nearby planetary systems