Scientific Colloquium
December 8, 2006

"The Virtual Planetary Laboratory and the Search for Life Beyond Our Solar System"

In the coming decades, the search for life beyond our Solar System will use astronomical telescopes that are designed to obtain disk-averaged spectra of terrestrial planets around other stars.   The Virtual Planetary Laboratory (VPL) is a suite of interdisciplinary computer models developed to explore the environments and spectral appearance of plausible terrestrial planets beyond our Solar System.  This presentation will focus on highlights of spectroscopic results to date for terrestrial planet models from the VPL team. This includes studies of disk-averaged modern-day Earth, the effect of different stellar energy distributions on Earth-like planets, high-CO2 early atmospheres, and the change in the spectroscopic appearance of the Earth over its 4.6Gy history.  Using the model spectra, we will explore what could be learned about extrasolar terrestrial planet habitability, or the presence of life, using remote-sensing techniques. This presentation will also describe how the synergistic combination of information from several wavelength regions could be used to provide a more robust determination of habitability and the presence of life.

Return to Schedule