1st Circular: Astrobiology Workshop: “Strategies for Life
April 24-28, 2006, ISSI, Bern Switzerland
Jeffrey L. Bada, Scripps Institution
of Oceanography, UC San Diego, USA
Roger M. Bonnet, Executive Director, ISSI
Oliver Botta, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, USA
Javier Gomez-Elvira, Centro de Astrobiologìa, Madrid, Spain
Emmanuelle Javaux, University of Liege, Belgium
Minik Rosing, Geological Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark
Franck Selsis, Ecole Normal Superieur, Lyon, France
Roger Summons, MIT, Cambridge, USA
Questions regarding the
scientific program: Dr. Oliver Botta, NASA GSFC, botta @ issi.unibe.ch,
+1 (301) 614 6380.
Questions regarding hotel, travel, directions to ISSI, etc.: Ms.
Brigitte Fasler, Secretary,
fasler @ issi.unibe.ch, +41 31 631 48 96.
Questions regarding computer & A/V issues: Mr. Saliba Saliba,
saliba @ issi.unibe.ch, +41 31 631 32 51.
When in doubt: Oliver Botta.
Please note that all information in this circular will also be put on
the workshop webpage located under “Workshop Schedule” on the ISSI home
or directly at http://www.issi.unibe.ch/workshops/Life_Detect/.
- Brief description of the workshop objectives
- Information for Speakers: Abstract submittal
- Information for Conveners/Session Chairs: Session Preparation
- Information for All Participants: Facilities, Travel and hotel
WHAT IS ISSI?
ISSI is an Institute of Advanced Studies. Its main function is to
achieve a deeper understanding of the results from different
space-research missions, ground-based observations and laboratory
experiments, adding value to those results through multi-disciplinary
research in an atmosphere of international cooperation.
To improve and adapt our current
strategies of how to find life beyond Earth by increasing our
understanding of biosignatures in an interdisciplinary approach. The
contributions and output of the Workshop will constitute the contents
of a Volume of the ISSI Space Science Series, published by Springer
(www.issi.unibe.ch/sss_of_issi.html) to be issued within approximately
one year after the meeting.
Over the last decade, there has been an increasing interest in the
scientific community in life detection. However, the goals and
strategies used in different fields are distinct, and overlaps are
found only occasionally. Paleontologists and geochemists searching for
the earliest forms of life on Earth have applied morphological,
chemical and isotopic biosignatures or biomarkers as pieces of evidence
for traces of life. Despite state-of-the-art analytical instruments and
techniques have been used in these analyses, the controversies over the
validity of some of these results emphasize the difficulties associated
with finding traces of past life even on the Earth.
The search for past or present life on another planet, where only
limited resources are available, creates even bigger technological
challenges. For instance, the results of the Automated Life-Detection
Experiments on board the Viking Landers have not provided unambiguous
results about their search for life on Mars. Future missions, including
Mars Science Laboratory and ExoMars, are planned to carry instruments
to search for traces of extinct or extant life on the surface or in the
subsurface of Mars.
The third scientific field where life detection strategies are applied
involves the search for Earth-like planets around other stars.
Spectroscopic signatures in the atmospheres of such planets are the
only technique that can be used to determine if such a planets harbors
life. These spectroscopic biosignatures, for example gases in
disequilibrium in a planetary atmosphere, are obviously different to
in-situ biosignatures, although there are fundamentally linked through
the metabolic process of life.
The major goal of the workshop is to bring together a group of
world-renowned scientists from these fields to discuss the fundamental
commonalities and overlaps, but also the differences, between the
different life detection strategies at full depth. For example, what
are the processes associated with life that lead to the formation of
biomarkers and biosignatures, and how are they linked with each other?
How can life detection strategies on Earth be applied to other planets?
Apart of the scientific questions, we will also discuss the
technological challenges in the construction of life detection
instruments, including planetary protection requirements for in-situ
instruments. At the end of the workshop, we would hope to have ideas
for answers for the following three questions: What should we be
looking for? Why should we be looking for it? How should we detect it?
As can be seen in the program, there will be only a few relatively
short talks every day, and the focus will be on discussions among the
participants. We imagine that the book resulting from this workshop
should be used as a guide and reference for anybody interested in
search strategies for life.
Abstract Submittal: As
indicated to you in our invitation letter, we have asked each speaker
to give a talk on a particular topic. It is of course up to the speaker
how he/she wishes to address the provided topic, but we kindly ask you
to prepare a presentation that fits into the “big picture” of the
workshop theme. Also, please keep in mind that your audience will be
scientifically diverse, so you should try to avoid using specialized
language and expressions during your talk. The workshop program has
been divided such that a) the goals
of the workshop will be fulfilled, b) there will be plenty of time for discussion
during the session, and c) that the resultant
book sufficiently covers the workshop topic. So that the
abstracts can serve as useful references, please submit a maximum of 2
pages (minimum of about 1) in 2 column, 10pt. font format. An abstract
template can be found in the paragraph below. Talk titles and
abstracts are due by February 13, 2006. Please send them in PDF format to Oliver Botta at
botta @ issi.unibe.ch. Concerning the presentations, ISSI will provide
a digital projector, a PC laptop, a Mac desktop, and an overhead
projector (or 2) for talks. You are also welcome to bring your own Mac
laptop to hook up to the projector. Please let our System
Administrator, Mr. Saliba, know if you have any other needs for your
talk (contact info provided above).
So that the abstracts can serve as useful references themselves, please
submit a maximum of 2 pages (minimum of about 1) in 2 column, 10pt.
font format. Click here
for a Word format template into which you can type directly.
Click here for a PDF template
which you can use as an example.
FOR CONVENERS/SESSION CHAIRS
Session Preparation: As agreed
at the conveners meeting, the conveners will act as session chairs. For
a few sessions, one of the speakers will also act as a session chair.
In addition, the conveners will write the introduction to each chapter
in the book that corresponds to their session. Since it is essential to
the goals of this workshop that the book is truly multidisciplinary, we
will organize a working lunch during the workshop where the outline of
the book will be discussed. We will provide more information later on
the technicalities of the chapter submittal, book organization, and
make-up of the editors of the book itself.
FOR ALL PARTICPANTS
Facilities: ISSI has a reliable
wireless network to which you will be able to connect during the
meeting; the meeting room size will not allow for everyone to connect
to an Ethernet cable. Since the ISSI
wireless network can only be accessed by username & password,
please contact the ISSI System
Administrator, Mr. Saliba, by March 27, 2006, so that he can set up an
account for you.
During the workshop, there will be no other groups meeting at ISSI, so
there will also be rooms available for meetings of small groups during
free time. You will also be able to connect your own laptop to the
Ethernet in these rooms. Five PCs, three of which are dual boot
(Windows and Linux) and three Mac computers, two of which have the
latest Mac OSX, are available for all participants to use during free
Travel and hotel arrangements:
While more details will be forthcoming, for those who wish to plan
early: our secretary at ISSI, Ms. Fasler, will be handling travel and
lodging logistics. She has booked a block of rooms, paid by ISSI, at a
nearby hotel within walking distance of ISSI and the main train
station. These rooms will have private shower/toilet, phone, and TV. If
you wish to make your own hotel arrangements, ISSI will reimburse you
up to 130 CHF per night during the workshop, but only by wire transfer, not by check.
ISSI will not cover any transportation costs, but for your information:
the closest airport is the Bern/Belp airport (BRN), but unless there is
a sale, it is quite expensive to fly into Bern from overseas. The
Geneva (GVA) and Zürich (ZRH) airports are only 1.5 and about 1
hour, respectively, by train from Bern, and cost much less to fly into.
For more details regarding travel, in particular about how to get to
ISSI from the airports, please refer to the TRAVEL
LOGISTICS section of the workshop website.
Please send your travel plans to Ms.
Fasler by March 27, 2006, so that she can book a room for you for the
appropriate nights. Once you have sent your travel plans and Ms.
Fasler has made your hotel reservations, she will send to you more
details on hotel location, etc. If you have any questions concerning
travel, hotel arrangements, or visa issues please contact Ms. Fasler.
As indicated in your invitation letter, ISSI will reimburse you for
food through a per diem of 70 CHF per day. Again, you will be
reimbursed only by wire transfer,
not by check. You will receive a reimbursement form during the
|13. February 2006:
|27. March 2006:
|- Send travel plans to Ms.
- Apply for ISSI wireless network account to Mr. Saliba.
Future circulars will include more detailed information about travel
and hotel arrangements, the Wednesday tourist excursion and dinner, and
other logistics items. All this information will also be posted on the
workshop webpage, which will be updated regularly.