What could the near future hold for detecting habitable, and eventually inhabited, extrasolar planets?

That’s the question we asked together with my colleagues Victoria Meadows, A. Mandell and Margaret Turnbull. To this purpose we organized a session for the Astrobiology Science Conference 2015 (#abscicon2015) held at Chicago on June 15-19 entitled “Finding Habitable Worlds and Life Beyond the Solar System”. The goal of our session was to provide a venue to discuss the prospective in the near future to detect habitable extrasolar planets.


This session focused on the science and technology requirements for the next generation of observatories that will undertake the search for life beyond the solar system. Topics to  covered in this session included signs of exoplanet habitability and global biosignatures that can be sought with upcoming instrumentation; instrument requirements and technologies to detect these markers; strategies for target selection and prioritization; and impacts of planetary system properties, telescope architecture, and instrument capabilities on the yield of potentially inhabited exoplanets. This session was also an opportunity to discuss longer term, visionary ideas for finding Earth 2.0 and even technological civilizations — potentially answering the question “Are we alone?” We had encouraged abstracts on space- and ground-based facilities and on concepts that can discover potentially habitable worlds around other stars (such as MEarth, Kepler, TESS, and PLATO), as well as characterize them spectrally and temporally (such as groundbased ELTs, JWST, WFIRST, Exo-C, Exo-S, and ATLAST) and search for signs of intelligent life (such as the SKA).

Several abstract reviewed current perspectives on these topics, consider some even bolder ideas, and imagine where we could be in one, two, or three decades.

from Belikov et al. (2015) How to Directly Image a Habitable Planet Around Alpha Centauri with a ~30-45cm Space Telescope
from Belikov et al. (2015) How to Directly Image a Habitable Planet Around Alpha Centauri with a ~30-45cm Space Telescope

Below a list of the talks and posters and a link to the abstracts.


Unfortunately, I could not attend the session since I was attending another conference at Toronto on the Future and Science of Gemini Observatory,

Clear skies,

Franck M.

Comments (2)

  1. Carl Sagan today were alive, he would feel an immense happiness for having been achieved one of his dreams.

    Explore the unknown is essentially important in order to give humanity a chance to meet other worlds within and outside of our Solar System

  2. Just wanted to share some thoughts on search for extra terrestrial life. As far as I know everybody is still talking about radio waves I’m questioning the logic of it since there is so much radio noise in cosmos. I think we should look at ourselves and our technologies from the side and as being on some step of the infinitely long ladder and there are also infinitely much higher developed civilizations then us. So radio communication problems are: the distance to potential receivers and cosmic noise. Lets look at distance problem, how much time it takes for radio signal to travel to potentially interesting planet then lets say reply is send and then how relevant it’ll be for us. I’d say that communication that waiting for reply is longer then few minutes doesn’t make sense. So also we can safely say that there has to be a BETTER WAY to communicate over cosmic distances then radio. What bothers me is the picture of amazon bushman using voice to communicate since he doesn’t know the better way.

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