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There’s No Place Like Home: Placing Earth in its Astronomical and Geological Contexts

It is our pleasure to welcome Dr Raphaëlle Haywood from the University of Exeter to the Centre for Exoplanets and Habitability seminar series. Dr Haywood will be giving a talk titled 'There’s No Place Like Home: Placing Earth in its Astronomical and Geological Contexts'.

Recent revolutionary discoveries in astronomy are showing that Earth is one of billions of planets, and that terrestrial, temperate planets are commonplace in our galaxy. Geological records indicate that Earth has been many different worlds over time, and life has shown extraordinary resilience through these planetary changes. If we could go to the stars and point our telescopes back at Earth, what would we see? How does life alter Earth's astronomical character? We will look at one of Earth's defining ecosystems: the Amazon rainforest, which is observable from cosmic distances. We will reflect on the impact of various human civilisations. Ultimately, we will draw on these astronomical and geological perspectives to demonstrate that humanity's flourishing is profoundly tied to maintaining this world, here, that we co-evolved with.

Phosphine detected in Venus' atmosphere

On 14 September 2020, a team of astronomers led by Dr Jane Greaves of Cardiff University announced the detection of phosphine, a potential biomarker, in the atmosphere of Venus. On Earth, phosphine can result from natural processes such as lightning and volcanic activity, but only in small amounts; by comparison, the amount of phosphine detected in Venus' atmosphere is relatively large. The only known processes that produce phosphine on Earth in similar quantities are biological in origin.

It must be stressed that this does not mean that there is life on Venus. What has been announced is a signal that is a possible sign of life, with a strength for which there are no plausible known abiotic explanations. There may, of course, be currently unknown methods of producing it in the amounts required. But this is still an exciting signal that warrants more investigation.

Thu 08 Oct 2020, 12:00 | Tags: news, Astrobiology, astronomy, Venus, phosphine, biomarkers

Five reasons future space travel should explore asteroids

While the world reflects on the first flight to the moon and our future on Mars, Dr Dimitri Veras and James Blake from Warwick's astrophysics department think asteroids – the so-called “minor planets” – deserve recognition. Here’s why.

Thu 31 Oct 2019, 10:00 | Tags: Habitability, CEH, asteroids, Astrobiology, KnowledgeCentre, article

Five reasons future space travel should explore asteroids

Dr Dimitri Veras and James Blake of the Centre for Exoplanets and Habitability make the case for space travel to asteroids in this article for The Conversation.

Fri 05 Jul 2019, 12:00 | Tags: CEH, asteroids, Astrobiology, KnowledgeCentre, article

Habitability Seminar - Anders Sandberg

Seminar title: Inhabiting the universe: what are the limits for habitats across the future of the universe?

It was our pleasure to welcome Anders Sandberg from the Future of Humanity Institute, University of Oxford. Anders gave an exhilarating overview of a number of potential futures for life, both as we know it and otherwise. After considering the likeliness of finding alien life given our current observational and theoretical understanding, Anders moved on to consider a variety of avenues for life to flourish in the upcoming eras of the universe.

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