The Astrobiology Science Conference, 2008


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Santa Clara, California
April 14–17, 2008

The 5th Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon08), hosted by the SETI Institute, brings together a community of scholars, students, and educators that is as vigorous and intellectually diverse as ever. These qualities are reflected in the content of this volume, which includes 647 abstracts involving 1,683 authors from 28 countries. These abstracts are organized into 38 topical sessions and 6 plenary sessions that were developed around the three major themes of the conference: the astrophysical and planetary context for life; the origin and evolution of life; and the search for life in our Solar System and beyond. An astounding range of subjects is covered--from prebiotic chemistry to cosmology, with stops at virology, Precambrian geochemistry, and Mars exploration, among other subjects, along the way. Presenta- tions on engaging students, teachers, and the public in astrobiology thread throughout the conference, reflecting its broad appeal. Clearly, the community is healthy and poised for a vibrant future!

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about AbSciCon08 is that the intellectual breadth of this conference no longer seems so unusual, particularly to an emerging generation of scientists who grew up as students, postdocs, and young faculty alongside the now-decade-old NASA Astrobiology Institute. To those of us in that cohort, it is amusing--and revealing--to look back at the 1st Astrobiology Science Conference, held at NASA Ames Research Center in 2000. That such an event would take place at all was seen as so novel and unusual that it was covered as a noteworthy news event by Science Magazine (v. 288, p. 603). "Every talk, it seemed, touched on a new discipline", wrote the reporter with a note of amazement, further marveling at how "disciplinary walls teetered" and deeming it noteworthy that a planetary geologist (Bruce Jakosky) would say, "I now talk to microbiologists on a regular basis. That's something new"!

Of course, in 2000, astrobiology was something new, or at least something extremely unusual. Not so today. True, such conversations still take place less frequently and with more cross-disciplinary awkwardness than they should. But there are few better measures of the maturation of this young field than the fact that such conversations are now unexceptional and, in some quarters, even expected. May the abstracts in this volume stimulate more such conversations, beyond the confines of the Santa Clara Convention Center and the month of April, 2008. Astrobiology is growing, and has an exciting and inspiring future.

The Astrobiology Science Conference, 2008
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 289-290.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1407

AbSciCon 2008 Plenary Events
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 291-295.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1225

Session 2. Advances in Astrobiological Instrumentation Development
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 296-301.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1226

Session 3. Approaches and Technologies to Detect Life on Mars
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 302-305.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1227

Session 4. Astrobiology and Lunar Exploration
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 306-309.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1228

Session 5. Astrobiology and the Human Exploration of Mars
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 310-312.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1229

Session 6. Astrobiology Missions on Small Satellites, Sounding Rockets, and Balloons
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 313-315.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1230

Session 7. Astrovirology
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 316-318.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1231

Session 8. Biological and Environmental Signatures in Archean Rocks
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 319-326.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1232

Session 9. Certified Organic: Astrobiology and the Latest Developments in Organic Geochemistry, Biochemistry, and Organic Assays
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 327-330.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1233

Session 10. Chemical and Biological Determinants of Habitability Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 331-334. http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1234

Session 11. Chemical Constraints on the Formation and Evolution of Habitable Worlds
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 335-338.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1235

Session 12. Comets and Primitive Asteroids: Their Role in Supplying Water and Prebiotic Organics to Early Earths
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 339-343.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1236

Session 13. The Deep Cold Biosphere? Interior Processes of Icy Satellites and Dwarf Planets
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 344-346.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1237

Session 14. Earth Analog Studies for Astobiology: ASTEP and Beyond
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 347-355.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1238

Session 15. The Evolution of the Biogeochemical Cycling of Phosphorus and Other Bioessential Elements
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 356-361.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1239

Session 16. Extraterrestrial Organic Chemistry—Biological, Pre-Biological, and Abiological
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 362-371.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1240

Session 17. Formation, Composition, and Detection of Habitable Extrasolar Planets
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 372-377.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1241

Session 18. Functional Complexity of Modern Stromatolites and Microbial Mats
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 378-383.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1242

Session 19. Future SETI: Technologies, Techniques, and Strategies
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 384-388.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1243

Session 20. Getting Smarter About Intelligence
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 389-391.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1244

Session 21. The Habitable Galaxy: Variation in Space and Time
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 392-393.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1245

Session 22. Habitability of Super-Earths
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 394-396.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1246

Session 23. Laboratory Analogue Environments for Studying Geochemical and Biological Processes on Planetary Surfaces
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 397-402.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1247

Session 24. Inorganic and Organic Biosignatures in Minerals
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 403-417.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1248

Session 25. Is the Universe Optimally Right for Life?
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 418-419.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1249

Session 26. Mars Sample Return Planning Issues
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 420-421.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1250

Session 27. Methane and Life?
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 422-426.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1251

Session 28. Microbial Life in Terrestrial Arid Environments
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 427-430.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1252

Session 29. The New Mars: Habitability of a Neighbor World
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 431-436.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1253

Session 30. Planetary Protection Constraints for Future Exobiology Missions
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 437-441.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1254

Session 31. Spectra of Asteroid Belts, Kuiper Belts, and Giant Planets
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 442-443.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1255

Session 32. Stardust: Organic Matter in Comet 81P/Wild 2
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 444-446
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1256

Session 33. Subsurface Microorganisms in Terrestrial and Extraterrestrial Environments
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 447-452.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1257

Session 34. Synthetic Cells and Life's Origins
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 453-455.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1258

Session 35. Teaching Astrobiology to Undergraduate and Graduate Students
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 456-460.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1259

Session 36. Water and Life: Redefining the Habitable Zone of Terrestrial Planets
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 461-463.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1260

Session 37. Origin of Life
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 464-467.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1261

Session 38. Evolution
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 468-471.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1262

Session 39. Life in Extreme Environments
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 472-475.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1263

Author—Abstract Number Index
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 476-485.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1264

AbSciCon08 Abstract Number Index
Astrobiology April 1, 2008, 8(2): 486-488.
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/ast.2008.1265

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