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Searching for Life Across Space and Time: A Workshop


Statement of Task

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will appoint an ad hoc planning committee to organize a workshop that will focus on facilitating an expert dialogue on the current status of extraterrestrial life detection and related issues. Based on our current understanding of the nature and physical and chemical limits of life on Earth, the characteristics of worlds in our solar system and planets orbiting other stars, and the state of the art of relevant technologies, the workshop will address the following questions:

  • What is our current understanding of the limits of life and life’s interactions with the environments of planets and moons?
  • Are we today positioned to design, build and conduct experiments or observations capable of life detection remotely or in situ in our own solar system and from afar on extrasolar worlds?
  • How could targeted research help advance the state of the art for life detection, including instrumentation and precursor research, to successfully address these challenges?

A workshop report will document the workshop, including summaries of individual presentations and ensuing discussions. This report will not present consensus conclusions or recommendations.


Planning Committee 
September 27-28, 2016
Washington, DC
Agenda I Presentations
This is a meeting of the workshop planning committee to organize the December workshop.


December 5-6, 2016
Irvine, CA

Agenda I Presentations I Watch the Webcast


Committee Members

View Committee Member Bios

James F. Kasting (Chair)
Pennsylvania State University

William Bains
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Cambridge

Tanja Bosak
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Irene A. Chen
University of California, Santa Barbara

Kevin P. Hand
Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Christopher H. House
Pennsylvania State University

Victoria Meadows
University of Washington

Philip M. Neches, NAE
Teradata Corporation

Nilton O. Renno
University of Michigan

Dimitar Sasselov
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Gary Ruvkun NAS, NAM
Harvard Medical School

Mark H. Thiemens, NAS
University of California, San Diego

Nita Sahai
The University of Akron

Margaret Turnball
SETI Institute


David Smith
Senior Program Officer

Dionna Wise
Program Coordinator

Mia Brown
Research Associate

Below is an archive list of names and a link to the slides presented at the committee meeting during open session. We have only included the slides for which the presenter has given consent to post.

Presenter names and slides are listed in the order of the agenda.


September 27-28, 2016
Available slides will be added post meeting.

December 5-6, 2016

Jim Kasting - Introduction
John Baross
Tori Hoehler
Eric Smith
John Grotzinger
Kevin Hand
Ellen Stofan
Victoria Meadows
William Bains
Nick Siegler
Matteo Brogi
Gary Blackwood
Ben Clark
Gary Ruvkun
Steven Benner
Morgan Cable
Shawn Domagal-Goldman
Jennifer Eigenbrode
Jim Kasting - Summary of key points



* No slides indicates that the presenter did not utilize slides during their presentation.

* Permission pending indicates that the presenter has not given us consent to publish the slides they presented at the meeting.  

*Written materials submitted to a study committee by external sources are listed in the project's public access file and can be made available to the public upon request via the Academies Public Access Records Office.