From AbSciCon 2019 in Bellevue, Washington
Is any scientific quest today more exciting than the search for life beyond Earth?
Here in Bellevue, Washington the answer is an emphatic “no”.
The Seattle suburb is hosting 950 attendees who have travelled from 27 countries to attend AbSciCon 2019 – which celebrates the burgeoning science of astrobiology. The five-day conference began on Monday and features presentations and seminars about the search for life on other bodies in our solar system and on the thousands of exoplanets that have, so far, been discovered in our galaxy.
I drove up here Sunday from Oregon and attended a media workshop that day and three different conference sessions on Monday. It is early still, but already three things have impressed me.
One thing is that scientists are thinking very hard about what “life” is and how it might present itself to us — whether to a rover on Mars’ surface; robotic missions that might someday land on and drill into icy water moons like Enceladus and Triton; or by capturing optical spectra from the atmospheres of exoplanets orbiting distant stars. Researchers are trying their best to understand their Earthly biases of what life is and remaining ...