Moonshots and Earthshots in the Search for Life Beyond Earth

July 20-23, 2019 at the Green Bank Observatory (GBO) in Green Bank, WV

Supported by a grant from Unither Bioelectronique, in honor of Dr Barry Blumberg, the late Chairman of its corporate parent’s Scientific Advisory Board.

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Nobel Laureate Baruch S. “Barry” Blumberg (1925-2011)
Founding Director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute

This workshop will bring together thinkers from diverse fields to discuss progress and challenges in Astrobiology that we expect over the next decade (the Earthshots) and future plans that might require several decades work and possibly major technical or intellectual advances (the Moonshots).

I understood that my mandate was to establish a basic science organization that could discover and understand natural phenomena that related to early life and to life elsewhere.

Barry Blumberg, on his appointment as founding director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI).

The workshop will begin on the afternoon of Saturday 20 July and end with lunch on Tuesday 23 July. For logistical reasons it will be limited to about 50 participants.

The detailed workshop program is built around the interests of the participants, but we expect to cover topics including:

  • History and status of the search for technosignatures
  • Radio emission from planets
  • Chemical complexity in the interstellar medium
  • Habitable planets in the Milky Way
  • The structure and chemistry of planet-forming disks
  • Precursors for biotic chemistry in the Solar System
  • Searches for life in the Solar System
  • Ethics and philosophy of the search for extraterrestrial life
  • Exoplanet biosignatures
  • Technical developments: telescopes & spacecraft & …

There will also be a presentation about Barry Blumberg and his contributions to the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI). The isolation and great natural beauty of the Green Bank Observatory leads to workshops of particular intimacy and focus. The many dozens of past Green Bank workshops have included Frank Drake’s 1961 meeting on the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, a followup “SETI at 50” held fifty years later, and workshops on astrochemistry, cometary radio astronomy, and radio astronomy from space, among many others.

Astrobiology raises the difficult question of how to define life. What is it exactly that we are looking for beyond Earth?

David C. Catling, Astrobiology – A Very Short Introduction, Oxford Press

Program of events

The workshop offers a wide variety of talks and presentations, plus plenty of time to discuss and network with fellow astronomers, physicists, scientists, as well as subject matter experts in the field of Astrobiology. See the full program of events now.

Presentations will be webcast live as they happen.

Archived videos will be shared after the conference is completed.

Scientific Organizing Committee

  • Alan Boss (Carnegie Institution for Science)
  • Steven Dick (former Library of Congress Blumberg Astrobiology Chair)
  • Dawn Gelino (NASA Exoplanet Science Institute)
  • Joe Lazio (JPL)
  • Jay Lockman (GBO)
  • Karen O’Neil (GBO)
  • Martine Rothblatt (United Therapeutics)
  • Jason Wright (Penn State University)

Local Organizing Committee

  • W. Armentrout
  • A. Bonsall
  • N. Butterfield
  • F.J. Lockman
  • L. Morgan
  • S. Shears
  • M. Vosteen

View a List of Confirmed Participants

Batalha, Natasha University of California, Santa Cruz
Belikov, RuslanNASA Ames Research Center
Berea, AnamariaBlue Marble Space Institute of Science
Bergin, TedUniversity of Michigan
Boss, AlanDTM – Carnegie Institution
Boston, PennyNASA Astrobiology Institute, NASA Ames Research Center
Carlson, RickDTM – Carnegie Institution
Chambers, John Carnegie Institution for Science
Charbonneau, RebeccaUniversity of Cambridge
Christiansen, JessieCaltech / IPAC-NExScI
Cohen, AdamAssociated Universities, Inc.
Conley, Cassie NASA Ames Research Center
Cordiner, MartinNASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Crovetto, George Clairmont Nichols Opticians
Denning, KathrynYork University
De Paulis, DanielaDaniela De Paulis Studio
Dick, StevenFormer NASA Chief Historian
Drake, FrankSETI Institute
Drake, NadiaNational Geographic
Grinspoon, DavidPlanetary Science Institute
Gupta, HarshalNSF
Impey, Chris University of Arizona
Jihaemusician, actress
Kasting, JimPenn State University
Kellermann, KenNRAO
Kuhn, JeffInstitute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii
Kwok, SunUniversity of British Columbia
Langston, GlenNSF
Lazio, JosephJet Propulsion Laboratory / California Institute of Technology
Lineweaver, CharlesAustralian National University
Lockman, Felix J.Green Bank Observatory
Macalady, JennPenn State University
MacGregor, MeredithDTM-Carnegie Institution
Mancinelli, Rocco NASA
Mehta, RajanDNA
Milam, StefanieNASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Oman-Reagan, MichaelMemorial University
O’Neil, KarenGreen Bank Observatory
Peters, TedGraduate Theological Union
Pilcher, CarlBlue Marble Space Institute of Science
Ransom, ScottNRAO
Rothblatt, MartineUnited Therapeutics
Rothschild, Lynn NASA Ames Research Center
Schwartz, JimWichita State University
Siemion, AndrewBerkeley SETI Research Center
Sizemore, HannaPlanetary Science Institute / Green Bank Observatory
Smith, KellyPhilosophy, Clemson University
Tatel, David S.United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit
Weinberger, AlyciaCarnegie Institution for Science
Welsh, BarrySpace Science Laboratory, UC Berkeley
Werthimer, DanUniversity of California, Berkeley
Wright, JasonPenn State University