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LAUNCH OF A NEW SCIENTIFIC DISCIPLINE IN THE U.K

Last Updated on Sunday, 02 May 2010 12:11
Published on Friday, 25 February 2005 00:00

Members of the media are invited to attend a Press Briefing to mark the publication of the U.K. Astrobiology Report and the formal inauguration of the U.K. Astrobiology Network on:

MONDAY 13 DECEMBER 1999 at 11am in the Spencer Gallery of The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London. Enter via the Museum's Cromwell Road Entrance.

Is there anyone out there? This question has intrigued humanity for centuries, but until now, there has been no organised, concerted effort by the scientific community to answer this fundamental question.

This situation is about to change. At the request of the British National Space Centre (BNSC), scientists from many different disciplines - geology, atmospheric physics, biology, chemistry, and astronomy - have come together as the U.K. Astrobiology Forum (formerly the U.K. Exobiology Forum) to consider the way forward for the U.K. in this important, pioneering area of research.

The end product of this consultative process is a new Report on the status of Astrobiology-related studies in this country and the potential for groundbreaking research into the possibility of extraterrestrial life in the years ahead.

This U.K. Astrobiology Report has now been published and it will be presented for the first time to the media and the scientific community at a meeting organised by BNSC (for details see above).

A panel of experts will be available to discuss the contents of the Report. Each panelist will also briefly describe his or her different research interests and perspectives on the search for life beyond Earth.

Presenting the report to the U.K. government on the way forward for this new scientific discipline will be:

Dr Don Cowan, (Chairman, BNSC UK Astrobiology Panel), University College London.
Dr. Cowan is an expert on extremophiles - life forms which live in the most hostile environments found on Earth.

Dr Monica Grady, The Natural History Museum, London. Dr. Grady is an expert on meteorites and has taken part in studies of the Martian meteorite ALH 84001 which is considered by some scientists to contain evidence of primitive life on Mars.

Dr Alan Penny, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Didcot, Oxfordshire. Dr. Penny is an expert on the possibility of discovering Earth-like planets around other stars and a leading proponent of the Darwin space telescope.

Professor Colin Pillinger, Open University, Milton Keynes. Professor Pillinger is the leader of the team to design and build Beagle 2, a lander which will fly piggyback on the European Space Agency's Mars Express mission and touch down on the surface of Mars to search for signs of life.

There will also be a video presentation by Dr. David Wynn-Williams of the British Antarctic Survey. Dr. Wynn-Williams is a research group leader with 25 years' experience in studying Antarctic microbiology.

There will be opportunities for questions and interviews after the presentations. Copies of the printed report will also be available.

The briefing is expected to end by 12.30 pm.


Issued by:
Peter Bond, RAS Press Officer (Space Science)
Office & home phone: +44 (0)1483 268672
FAX: +44 (0)1483 274047
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

CONTACTS FOR THOSE WISHING TO ATTEND THE PRESS BRIEFING OR FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ON THIS RELEASE:

Jenny Moseley or Marie Tristram at the BNSC press office on +44 (0)171-215-0807 / 0806.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ON THE UK ASTROBIOLOGY REPORT OR THE UK ASTROBIOLOGY NETWORK, CONTACT:

Dr Don Cowan, Darwin Building,
UCL, Gower Street,
London WC1E 6BT.
Tel: +44 (0)171-504-2246.
Fax: +44 (0)171-380-7018.
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.