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Oort Lecturer 2018: James Kasting about the search for life on planets around other stars

If there is life outside our galaxy, how could we find it? In his Oort Lecture, James Kasting talks about his search for simple life on other planets. Kasting was in the Netherlands for two weeks, because he was invited as the Oort Professor 2018.

Oort Lecture

Kasting gave his Oort Lecture on Thursday 26 April in the Academy building in Leiden. In this lecture 'The Search for Life on Planets Around Other Stars' Kasting talks about the ways in which he searches for 'simple life' outside our galaxy. Kasting describes 'The way I define "simple life" in my lecture was anything that is not intelligent. We can’t see the life itself, but we can hopefully see the effect of life on a planet’s atmosphere. So our own planet’s atmosphere is modified partly by bacteria, partly by plants and algae that produce oxygen. And oxygen is one of the bio signatures that we would look for on other planets as well.'

James Kasting on The Search for Life on Planets Around Other Stars


Kasting is one of the greatest thinkers in the field of planetary habitability. He is affiliated with the Penn State University in Pennsylvania and has been working with NASA for a long time. He has written a lot about planetary habitability, including the books The Earth System, How to Find a Habitable Planet and Atmospheric Evolution on Inhabited and Lifeless Worlds.

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