SETI Institute Weekly Colloquium

NOTE: Cancelled - November 15, Latest Exoplanet Results from NASA's Kepler/K2 Mission

Microsoft mapAt the Microsoft Campus in Mountain view
1065 La Avenida St, Mountain View CA 
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FREE and open to the public. Tuesdays, noon to 1pm

Tuesday, December 06 2016 - 12:00 pm, PST

Crucible of Worlds: A System for Space Synthetic Biology Experiments

Aaron Berliner
Autodesk and UC Berkeley
Aaron Berliner is the Science PI on a recently funded NASA Ames SIF project to investigate Mars habitability. He will talk about the development of the "extreme conditions" Crucible environmental chamber. The project is a collaboration between NASA Ames Research Center, UC Berkeley, and Autodesk to build a system that will allow for biology experiments under extreme conditions as a step towards space synthetic biology.
Aaron will talk about how the chamber will be able to carry out repeatable and reliable biological experiments under conditions sufficiently analogous to the harsh environment. He will address the following perceived scientific needs:
(1) How to reliably replicate Martian conditions
(2) How to source and filter biology of interest
(3) How to characterize and engineer useful biological phenomena under Martian conditions
(4) How to scale experiments sufficient to characterize enough biology to form a basis for continued engineering. 
The Crucible chamber will meet these scientific needs by utilizing state-of-the-art additive manufacturing technology, cutting-edge software architecture, and internet-of-things capable devices to produce a smaller, cheaper, extensible, distributable, scalable system for experimental space biology.

Tuesday, December 13 2016 - 12:00 pm, PST

Unlocking the Secrets of Nearby Exoplanets with the TESS Mission

George Ricker

Dr. Ricker is the PI of the TESS Mission which will explore nearby stars for exoplanets.

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will discover thousands of exoplanets in orbit around the brightest stars in the sky. In its two-year prime survey mission, TESS will monitor more than 200,000 bright stars in the solar neighborhood for temporary drops in brightness caused by planetary transits. This first-ever spaceborne all-sky transit survey will identify planets ranging from Earth-sized to gas giants, around a wide range of stellar types and orbital distances.

TESS stars will typically be 30-100 times brighter than those surveyed by the Kepler satellite; thus, TESS planets will be far easier to characterize with follow-up observations. For the first time it will be possible to study the masses, sizes, densities, orbits, and atmospheres of a large cohort of small planets, including a sample of rocky worlds in the habitable zones of their host stars.

An additional data product from the TESS mission will be full frame images (FFI) with a cadence of 30 minutes. These FFI will provide precise photometric information for every object within the 2300 square degree instantaneous field of view of the TESS cameras. These objects will include more than 1 million stars and bright galaxies observed during sessions of several weeks. In total, more than 30 million objects brighter than magnitude I=16 will be precisely photometered during the two-year prime mission. In principle, the lunar-resonant TESS orbit could provide opportunities for an extended mission lasting more than a decade, with data rates in excess of 100 Mbits/s.
An extended survey by TESS of regions surrounding the North and South Ecliptic Poles will provide prime exoplanet targets for characterization with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), as well as other large ground-based and space-based telescopes of the future.
A NASA Guest Investigator program is planned for TESS. The TESS legacy will be a catalog of the nearest and brightest main-sequence stars hosting transiting exoplanets, which should endure as the most favorable targets for detailed future investigations.
TESS is currently targeted for launch in late 2017 as a NASA Astrophysics Explorer mission.

Tuesday, December 20 2016 - 12:00 pm, PST

Sustainable Energy Now and in a Livable Future

Dan Kammen
UC Berkeley

It has been scientifically clear for some time that the global community must decarbonize the energy and material system entirely by mid-century. In additional recent energy future scenarios have highlighted the pathways to reach this dramatic decarbonization objective on household to village to national and regional levels. The short -- few decade -- time needed for this transition demands a rapid scale- up on current and near-term technologies, while the long-term complete energy sector transition opens the door for an innovation and industrial transformation program. In this talk both the near- and long-term energy vision will be explored in the context of a clean energy economy, and the social and equity implications.

Tuesday, January 10 2017 - 12:00 pm, PST

The Late Veneer and Earth's habitability

Norm Sleep
Stanford University


Eventbrite - Geology After Pluto

Tuesday, January 31 2017 - 12:00 pm, PST

How Stars Form

Christopher McKee
UC Berkeley