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Leading Scientists Meet To Map Out Astrobiology Strategy

Donald Savage
Headquarters, Washington, DC                        July 16, 1998
(Phone:  202/358-1727)

Kathy Burton 
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA
(Phone:  650/604-1731)



     Leading scientists from around the world will meet next week 
in a critical first step in planning NASA's emerging astrobiology 
program.  In a three-day "roadmapping" session, participants will 
discuss development of a five-year strategic plan for astrobiology 
research, next-generation missions and technology requirements.  

     The goal of the workshop is to provide direction and set the 
tone for astrobiology research and its impact on NASA's missions, 
both in the near term and looking ahead to the year 2020.  
Astrobiology is the search for the origin, evolution and destiny 
of life in the universe.  It involves research to gain 
understanding of the origins of life in the universe, the 
formation and evolution of habitable worlds, life's evolution and 
the biogeochemical cycles in the Earth's oceans and atmosphere, 
and the potential for biological evolution beyond an organism's 
planet of origin.

     The roadmap team will define top-level mission and technology 
requirements to achieve astrobiology science goals and map these 
requirements onto NASA's future missions and technology 
development programs.  Topics for discussion include life's 
molecular roots, the cosmic context for life, the origin of 
terrestrial life and the prospects for life beyond the planet of 

     The three-day planning workshop will be held July 20-22, 
1998, at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA.  Media 
representatives are invited to attend the workshop's opening 
sessions, which run from 8:30 a.m. until approximately 1:00 p.m. 
PDT on July 20 in the Moffett Training and Conference Center 
(Building 3).  Contact the Ames Public Affairs Office at 650/604-
1731 for media access information.

     "Future Shock" author Alvin Toffler will lead a dialogue 
about the "fourth wave" and astrobiology.  Other speakers will 
include Michael Meyer, astrobiology discipline scientist; Henry 
McDonald, Ames center director; David Morrison, Ames director of 
space; and Scott Hubbard, interim manager of the NASA Astrobiology 
Institute based at Ames.

     Workshop attendees will include top multidisciplinary 
researchers from around the nation, including Nobel laureates Dr. 
Walter Gilbert of Harvard University and Dr. Stanley N. Cohen of 
the Stanford University School of Medicine.  Other attendees will 
include National Academy of Science members and representatives 
from leading research institutions and universities.  Represented 
disciplines will range from astronomy and astrophysics, to 
biology, chemistry and planetary geology.  Scientists in all 
fields are working toward the common goal of discovering the role 
of life in the universe.

      Members of NASA's recently formed virtual Astrobiology 
Institute will participate in this exercise.  This highly 
interdisciplinary group comes from 11 selected institutions which 
include:  Arizona State University; Carnegie Institution; Harvard 
University; Pennsylvania State University; Scripps Research 
Institute; the University of Colorado; the University of 
California, Los Angeles; Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory; 
Ames; and NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, and Jet 
Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA.

     Information about astrobiology at Ames can be found on the 
world wide web at:



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