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2016 Annual Science Report

VPL at University of Washington Reporting  |  JAN 2016 – DEC 2016

Executive Summary

The Virtual Planetary Laboratory’s interdisciplinary research effort focuses on answering a single key question in astrobiology: If we were to find a terrestrial planet orbiting a distant star, how would we go about recognizing signs of habitability and life on that planet?  This question is relevant to the search for life beyond our Solar System, as outlined in NASA’s Astrobiology Roadmap Goals 1 and 7.  VPL research spans many of the Roadmap objectives, but is most relevant to Objectives 1.1 (Formation and Evolution of Habitable Planets), 1.2 (Indirect and Direct Observations of Extrasolar Habitable Planets) and 7.2 (Biosignatures to be Sought in Nearby Planetary Systems).

Recent observations have brought us much closer to identifying extrasolar environments that could support life.  The successful Kepler Mission has found over 4700 planetary candidates – many of them smaller than twice the diameter of the ... Continue reading.

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