Universiteit Leiden

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Lecture

Oort Lecture 2018: The Search for Life on Planets Around Other Stars

  • James Kasting
Date
26 April 2018
Time
Address
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden
Room
Large Auditorium

About the lecture

Several thousand planets have been discovered orbiting stars other than the Sun. A few of these appear to be rocky planets orbiting within the liquid water habitable zone of their star. But are any of these planets actually habitable, and are any of them inhabited? I will discuss the factors that make a planet habitable, along with the techniques that may be used over the next several decades to find and characterize such planets and to look for evidence of life.

James Kasting is Distinguished Professor in Geosciences at Penn State University since 1988 and has a long standing collaboration with NASA. 

He has published more than 140 articles in scientific journals, as well as 3 books: 
The Earth SystemHow to Find a Habitable Planet, and Atmospheric Evolution on Inhabited and Lifeless Worlds. 

Kasting constructs numerical models of early atmospheric composition and climate. He is particularly interested in the rise of atmospheric Oand long-term climate evolution. He is also involved in research on atmospheric evolution, planetary atmospheres and paleo climates. He writes books about the geophysical history and status of Earth, with a focus on atmospherics. According to Kasting's calculations, the Earth's oceans will evaporate in about a billion years, while the Sun is still a main sequence star. This date is much earlier than previously thought.

Another area of interest is the question of whether there might be habitable worlds around other stars and, if so, whether any of them might actually be inhabited. A 1993 paper on habitable zones was particularly decisive in shaping thinking on this field.
  
The Oort Lecture will address topics on the latter subject:

The Search for Life on Planets Around Other Stars
  
Several thousand planets have been discovered orbiting stars other than the Sun. A few of these appear to be rocky planets orbiting within the liquid water habitable zone of their star. But are any of these planets actually habitable, and are any of them inhabited? I will discuss the factors that make a planet habitable, along with the techniques that may be used over the next several decades to find and characterize such planets and to look for evidence of life.

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