“Developing Community Best Practices for Biosignature Assessment and Reporting”

Dr. Victoria Meadows,
Professor, UW Astronomy Department
Director, UW Astrobiology Program
Principal Investigator, NASA Nexus for Exoplanet System Science
Virtual Planetary Laboratory Team

Zoom Link for Colloquium 10/29/2021 3:00pm PST.

Please email astrobio@uw.edu for zoom presentation password

The search for extraterrestrial life is one of the most exciting, and challenging, quests facing scientists today, and it is a key scientific rationale for both planetary and exoplanetary exploration.  However, extraterrestrial life detection is unlikely to be instantaneous or unambiguous, and will require multiple measurements and a considerable amount of ground-work to provide context and interpretation. Given the inherent complexity, as well as the recent increase in life detection claims, The NFoLD and NExSS Research Coordination Networks (RCNs) hosted a joint workshop in July 2021 to start a community discussion on the development of best practices for biosignature verification and reporting. Workshop attendees discussed methods for increasing the scientific confidence in biosignature detection, and developed a Biosignature Assessment Framework that could be applied to a very broad range of biosignature types and measurement techniques. Other applications of the Assessment Framework were also discussed, including helping to strengthen science goals and define measurement requirements for life detection missions, and conveying a level of confidence in a given biosignature claim to a broader audience.  In this talk I will provide an overview of the workshop, summarize its main outcomes, and outline future work.