Vatican co-hosts science conference on search for alien life

Thu, 20 Mar 2014 13:20:24 +0000

eowyn2

galaxies1Artist rendering of the different types of planets in our Milky Way galaxy detected by NASA’s Kepler spacecraft. A new analysis of Kepler data found there are at least 17 billion planets the size of Earth. (AP Photo/Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)

Bigots persist in portraying the Catholic Church as hostile to science.

None other than the Vatican Observatory is co-hosting a science conference on the search for life beyond Earth, at the University of Arizona this week.

The Vatican Observatory (Specola Vaticana) is an astronomical research and educational institution supported by the Holy See. Originally based in the Roman College of Rome, its headquarters are now in Castel Gandolfo, Italy. Vatican Observatory also has an observatory at the Mount Graham International Observatory (MGIO) in southeast Arizona’s Pinaleno Mountains. MGIO is a division of Steward Observatory, the research arm for the Department of Astronomy at The University of Arizona.

Megan Gannon reports for Fox News, March 17, 2014, that the Vatican Observatory is co-hosting, with the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory, a science conference called “The Search for Life Beyond the Solar System: Exoplanets, Biosignature & Instruments.”

Nearly 200 scientists are attending the conference, which runs from March 16 through 21 at the University of Arizona in Tucson. 

“Finding life beyond Earth is one of the great challenges of modern science and we are excited to have the world leaders in this field together in Tucson,” said event co-chair Daniel Apai, assistant professor of astronomy and planetary sciences at the UA Steward Observatory, in a statement. “But reaching such an ambitious goal takes planning and time. The goal of this meeting is to discuss how we can find life among the stars within the next two decades.”

Rev. Paul Gabor of the Vatican Observatory, the conference’s other co-chair, added that scientists will give more than 160 research presentations during this week’s conference.

According to the organizers, the conference will cover the technical challenges of finding and imaging exoplanets and identifying biosignatures in the atmospheres of far-flung worlds. Other presentations will discuss the study of life forms that live in extreme environments on Earth, which could be apt analogs for life on other planets.

The conference is not open to the public, but NASA’s Astrobiology Institute is broadcasting a live feed of the sessions. You can learn more about the conference via its website: http://www.ebi2014.org/

~Eowyn

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