The Virtual Planetary Laboratory & the Search for Life Beyond the Solar System

University of Washington/NASA Astrobiology institute
“The Virtual Planetary Laboratory and the Search for Life Beyond the Solar System”

In the coming decades, the search for life outside our Solar System will be undertaken using astronomical observations of extrasolar terrestrial planets. The NASA Astrobiology Institute’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory teamuses an interdisciplinary suite of computer models, coupled with input from observations, field data and laboratory work, to explore the factors that affect planetary habitability and to identify key signs of habitability and life to be sought in exoplanet observations. This talk will highlight VPL results to date, including methods to detect oceans on distant worlds, aspects of planetary habitability for stars orbiting M dwarfs, potential signs of life from alternative biospheres, the generation of false positives for life in planetary atmospheres, and future prospects for the characterization of potentially habitable exoplanets.