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  1. Exoplanet Biosignatures Workshop Without Walls

    Workshop Without Walls: Exoplanet Biosignatures

    The NASA Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NExSS) and Astrobiology Program are hosting an Exoplanet Biosignatures Workshop Without Walls to review, frame, and advance the science and technology of remotely detectable biosignatures for the search for life on planets around other stars.

    Exoplanet Biosignatures Workshop Without Walls

    A NExSS & NASA Astrobiology Program Joint Workshop
    Pre-workshop online activities to commence: June 13, 2016
    In-person workshop (and online broadcast): July 27 - 29, 2016, Seattle, WA

    Click here for the latest agenda.

    Click here to download the archived presentations.

    Click here for information on how to participate remotely.

    Manage your group membership.

    Science Organizing Committee:
    Daniel Apai (University of Arizona, USA)
    Shawn Domagal-Goldman (NASA GSFC, USA)
    Yuka Fujii (ELSI, Japan, and NASA GISS, USA)
    Lee Grenfell (DLR, ESA, Germany)
    Nancy Y. Kiang (NASA GISS, USA)
    Adrian Lenardic (Rice University, USA)
    Nikole Lewis (STSci, USA)
    Tim Lyons (University of California, Riverside, USA)
    Hilairy Hartnett (Arizona State Univ., USA)
    Bill Moore (Hampton University, USA)
    Enric Palle (Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Spain)
    Niki Parenteau (SETI / NASA ARC, USA)
    Heike Rauer (DLR, ESA, Germany)
    Karl Stapelfeldt (NASA GSFC/JPL, USA)
    Sara Walker (Arizona State University, USA)

    Future exoplanet observations will soon focus on the search for life beyond the Solar System. Biosignatures to be sought are those with global, potentially detectable, impacts on a planet. Biosignatures occur in an environmental context in which geological, atmospheric, and stellar processes and interactions may work to enhance, suppress or mimic these biosignatures. Thus biosignature science is inherently interdisciplinary. Its advance is necessary to inform the design of the next flagship missions that will obtain spectra of habitable extrasolar planets.

    This Exoplanet Biosignatures Workshop will bring together the astrobiology, exoplanet, and mission concept communities to review, discuss, debate, and advance the science of biosignatures. This process will engage a broad range of experts by merging the interdisciplinary reaches of NExSS, the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI), NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program (ExEP), and international partners, such as the European Astrobiology Network Association (EANA) and Japan’s Earth Life Science Institute (ELSI). Between these groups, we will have expertise in astronomy, planetary science, Earth sciences, heliophysics, biology, instrument/mission development, and engineering.

    The workshop will gather these communities in the pursuit of three goals:

    1. State of the Science Review:
    What are known remotely-observable biosignatures, the processes that produce them, and their known non-biological sources?

    2. Advancing the Science of Biosignatures:
    How can we develop a more comprehensive conceptual framework for identifying additional biosignatures and their possible abiotic mimics?

    3. Confidence Standards for Biosignature Observation and Interpretation:
    What paradigm informed by both scientists and technologists could establish confidence standards for biosignature detection?

    The 3-day in-person workshop will be coordinated with pre-workshop online activities to summarize the state of the science of exoplanet biosignatures. This review will provide background for the in-person workshop, which will focus on advancing the science of biosignatures, and understanding the technological needs and capabilities for their detection. This information will be exchanged with the Science Technology Definition Teams (STDTs) of upcoming planet-observing missions.

    The in-person workshop will include plenary talks to set the stage for small group discussions, which will focus addressing key science questions identified by the Science Organizing Committee. The intent is for the workshop to be highly interactive. The meeting agenda will be posted online approximately 1 month prior to the workshop.

    Outputs from this workshop will include summary reports, which will be circulated to the community for feedback. These reports will be filed with a dedicated Exoplanet Biosignatures Study Analysis Group (SAG 16) of the Exoplanet Exploration Program Analysis Group (ExoPAG).

    Participation is limited to 31-35 in-person attendees in Seattle, but online participants will be unlimited for all activities. To register for either the in-person workshop or as a remote participant, please fill out our survey.


    Pre-workshop online activities

    Start date: June 13, 2016
    Meeting time: Meetings will be held twice a week at different times to ensure maximum participation from international participants
    Meeting length: 75 minutes

    Theme 1: State of the science review

    Meeting 1: Topic: Review biosignatures described in Des Marais et al., (2002) Astrobiology 2(2):153-181
    Session A: June 13 at 13:00 EDT/17:00 UTC (timed to engage European time zones)
    Moderator: Shawn Domagal-Goldman
    Speaker: David Des Marais
    Session B: June 16/17 at 19:00 EDT/23:00 UTC/8:00 am JST (timed to engage Asian time zones)
    Moderator: Nikole Lewis
    Speaker: David Des Marais
    Goal/work session: After presentation, fill in rubric recording characteristics of biosignatures described in the review.

    Meeting 2: Discuss advances in biosignature research since 2002 review
    Session A: June 27 at 13:00 EDT/17:00 UTC
    Moderator: Hilairy Hartnett
    Speaker: Sarah Rugheimer (atmospheric biosignatures)
    Session B: June 30/July 1 at 18:00 EDT/22:00 UTC/7:00 am JST (NOTE: 1 hour earlier!)
    Moderator: Nancy Kiang
    Speaker: Charles Cockell (surface biosignatures)
    Goal/work session: Continue to fill in rubric with published atmospheric and surface biosignature research since 2002.

    Meeting 3: Overview of observation technologies
    Session A: July 11 at 13:00 EDT/17:00 UTC
    Moderator: Maggie Turnbull
    Speaker: Karl Stapelfeldt
    Session B: July 14/15 at 19:00 EDT/23:00 UTC/8:00 am JST
    Moderator: Daniel Apai
    Speaker: Drake Deming
    Goal/work session: TBD

    In-person workshop (and online broadcast)
    Dates: July 27 - 29, 2016
    Location: Seattle, WA

    Day 1: Wednesday, July 27
    7:30 - 8:30 Breakfast
    8:30 - 12:00 Morning session
        ⚫ 8:30 - 8:45 Introduction/welcome/agenda overview: Shawn Domagal Goldman and Mary Voytek
        ⚫ Advice on how to participate remotely: Shawn Domagal Goldman and Mike Toillion
        ⚫ 8:45 - 9:30 “Around the room” intros of everyone (90 slots)

            ⚪ 30 second voice introduction for in-person attendees, remaining slots for remote attendees
            ⚪ Submit 1 Powerpoint slide (use template) for online book and for video display at venue.
        ⚫ 9:30 - 9:45 Break
        ⚫ Theme 1: State of the Science Review of Pre-Workshop Online Activities
            ⚪ Moderator: Shawn Domagal Goldman
            ⚪ 9:45 - 10:45 Vikki Meadows
            ⚪ 10:45 - 11:30 Plenary discussion
        ⚫ Lunch 11:30 - 12:30
    12:30 - 3:30 Afternoon session
        ⚫ Theme 2: Advancing the Science of Biosignatures
            ⚪ 12:30 - 12:35: Moderator: Tim Lyons - Geochemical context for rise of O2
            ⚪ 12:35 - 1:05: O2 as a biosignature: How likely is it for photosynthesis to evolve? Bob Blankenship
            ⚪ 1:05 - 1:35: How can we think outside the box and develop alternative atmospheric biosignatures? William Bains

            ⚪ 1:35 - 2:30: Q&A/Discussion
            ⚪ 2:30 - 2:45: Instructions for Breakout Groups
            ⚪ 2:45 - 3:00: Break
            ⚪ 3:00 - 4:30: Breakout Groups
                ☐ Breakout Group 1
                ☐ Breakout Group 2
                ☐ Breakout Group 3
                ☐ Online Breakout Group
    6:00 - 8:00 Dinner

    Day 2: Thursday, July 28
    7:30 - 8:30 Breakfast
    8:30 - 11:30 Morning session
        ⚫ Theme 2: Advancing the Science of Biosignatures
            ⚪ 8:30 - 8:35: Moderator: Lee Grenfell
            ⚪ 8:35 - 9:05: Statistical search for life Sara Walker/Harrison Smith
            ⚪ 9:05 - 9:35: How is a biosignature responsive to its environment (chemistry, climate) and geography (distribution)? David Catling
            ⚪ 9:35 - 10:35: Q&A/Discussion

            ⚪ 10:35 - 10:45: Break
            ⚪ 10:45 - 12:30: Breakout Groups
                ☐ Breakout Group 1
                ☐ Breakout Group 2
                ☐ Breakout Group 3
                ☐ Online Breakout Group
    12:30 - 1:30 Lunch
            ⚪ 1:30 - 2:30 Report-back from Breakout Groups
            ⚪ 2:30 - 2:45 Instructions for Working Groups
            ⚪ 2:45 - 3:00 Break and find Working Group rooms
            ⚪ 3:00 - 4:30: Working Groups (for white paper)
                ☐ Working Group 1
                ☐ Working Group 2
                ☐ Working Group 3
                ☐ Online Working Group
    6:00 - 8:00 Dinner

    Day 3: Friday, July 29
    7:30 - 8:30 Breakfast
    8:30 - 11:30 Morning session
        ⚫ Theme 3: Confidence Standards for Biosignature Observation and Interpretation
            ⚪ 8:30 - 8:35: Moderator: Nick Siegler
            ⚪ 8:35 - 9:05: What can we measure now and in the future? Heike Rauer
            ⚪ 9:05 - 9:35: What can we model/ascertain now and in the future? Tony Del Genio
            ⚪ 9:35 - 10:30: Q&A/Discussion

    10:30 - 10:45: Break
            ⚪ 10:45 - 12:30: Plenary Activity: What can we measure and/or model?
    12:30 - 1:30 Lunch
            ⚪ 1:30 - 2:00 Final words, instructions for last-day work session, discussion of future work/meetings/goals
            ⚪ 2:00 - 4:30: Working groups (for white paper)
                ☐ Working Group 1
                ☐ Working Group 2
                ☐ Working Group 3
                ☐ Online Working Group

    Presentation File Archive

    Download presentation files from the above activities here.

    William Bains - "How can we think outside the box and develop alternative atmospheric biosignatures?"
    Robert Blankenship - "How likely is it for oxygenic photosynthesis to evolve?"
    David Catling - "Metrics to find life from remote sensing data & their limitations"
    Tony Del Genio - "Modeling 3-D Planetary Climates as Context for Interpreting Exoplanet Observations"
    David Des Marais - "Remote Sensing of Planetary Properties and Biosignatures on Extrasolar Terrestrial Planets"
    Victoria S. Meadows - "Biosignatures: State of the Science"
    Tim Lyons - "Some Lessons Learned From Early Earth: the importance of the environmental context"
    Heike Rauer - "Biosignatures: What can we measure now and in the future?"
    Sara Imari Walker - "Statistical Signatures of Life"

    Remote Participation

    All of our Workshops Without Walls strive to be all-inclusive and as interactive as possible for both in-person and remote attendees.

    For the in-person event, please join the following Adobe Connect meeting room:

    Click the icon to the left to launch the Adobe Connect meeting room.
    Choose the option to Login as a Guest, enter your name in the field, and then click Enter Room.
    You will now be able to see/hear the broadcast, and participate via the chat window, which will be displayed prominently in the main room.

    For the online breakout group, please join the following telecon line and google Doc:

    If you wish to participate via the telecon line, first mute Adobe Connect by clicking the green speaker icon. If muted, the icon will be white.
    Dial the following telecon line: 1-844-467-4685, passcode: 5947549553#.
    To keep background noise to a minimum, please mute your phone's mic when not speaking.

    Each pre-workshop event will have live notes via Google Docs.
    Click the icon to the left to launch the live notes for this event.

    What is NExSS?

    NExSS is a coordinating body formed in 2015 whose goal is to foster an interdisciplinary network of researchers spanning astrophysics, heliophysics, planetary science, and the biogeosciences, within the Solar System and beyond, who, through inclusive community activities and cross-discipline collaboration, seek to advance exoplanet science and discovery, and the search for life in the Universe.