Join us for the Fall 2023 GT Astrobiology Distinguished Lecture and Social Event on Sep 22nd!
We’re excited to host Dr. José C. Aponte, Research Scientist from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) as our distinguished lecturer. Please see the below flyer for more info
In the afternoon, there will be a social event with lawn games, food and refreshments beginning at 4:00 PM, located at the Molecular Science and Engineering (MoSE) outdoor patio, ground floor. We will also be taking a group photo at this time, so bring your GTAstrobiology(grey)shirts! If you are a new member or didn’t receive a shirt last year, we have extra shirts to hand out.
Following the virtual seminar, there will be an in-person social with refreshments beginning at 4:00 PM, located at the Molecular Science and Engineering (MoSE) outdoor patio, ground floor. We will also be taking a group photo at 4:15pm, so bring your GT Astrobiology shirts!
We hope to see you there!
Organized by Astrobiology Fellows, 2021-2022:
Becca Guth-Metzler, Christina Buffo, Tyler Roche, Taylor Plattner, and Jordan McKaig
Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, is an Ocean World with a dense atmosphere, abundant complex organic material on its icy surface, and a liquid-water ocean in its interior. The joint NASA-ESA Cassini-Huygens mission revealed Titan to be surprisingly Earth-like, with active geological processes and opportunities for organic material to have mixed with liquid water on the surface in the past. These attributes make Titan a singular destination to seek answers to fundamental questions about what makes a planet or moon habitable and about the pre-biotic chemical processes that led to the development of life here on Earth.
NASA’s Dragonfly New Frontiers mission is a rotorcraft lander designed to perform wide-ranging in situ investigation of the chemistry and habitability of this fascinating extraterrestrial environment. Taking advantage of Titan’s dense atmosphere and low gravity, Dragonfly can fly from place to place, exploring diverse geological settings to measure the compositions of surface materials and observe Titan’s geology and meteorology. Dragonfly will make multidisciplinary science measurements at dozens of sites, traveling ~150 km during a 3-year mission to characterize Titan’s habitability and determine how far organic chemistry has progressed in environments that provide key ingredients for life.
Speaker bio: Dr. Elizabeth (Zibi) Turtle is a planetary scientist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. Her research combines remote-sensing observations and numerical geophysical models to study geological structures and their implications for planetary surfaces, interiors, and evolution, including tectonics and impact cratering on terrestrial planets and outer planet satellites, the thickness of Europa’s ice shell, Ionian mountain formation, and Titan’s lakes and weather. She is the Principal Investigator for the Dragonfly New Frontiers mission to Titan and the Europa Imaging System (EIS) cameras on the Europa Clipper mission, and has participated in the Galileo, Cassini, and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter missions. She earned her Ph.D. in Planetary Sciences from Univ. Arizona and B.S. in Physics from MIT.
– This event is a production of the Atlanta Science Tavern. – It is free and open to the public. – Seating is on a first-come basis. – RSVPs are not required to attend nor do they reserve seats. – Doors open at 6:00 pm for early arrival. – Gather for dinner by 7:00. – The evening’s presentation gets under way around 7:45. – Parking at Manuel’s has changed; refer to the note below for details. __________
Loren Williams, Professor School of Chemistry and Biochemistry Georgia Institute of Technology
The origin of life (OOL) took place around 4 billion years ago, soon after the Earth cooled in the Hadean Eon. Water-based chemistry converted small building blocks to large polymeric molecules. Polymers have incredible properties, including ability to form assemblies. Polymers can assemble into compartments, fibers, enzymes and motors and can store and transduce information.
We have models, that are testable by experiment, to explain how increasing complexity of polymers led to simple microbial cells. For nearly 3 billion years microbes ruled the planet. Complex plants and animals are relatively recent branches on the tree of life.
The OOL can be studied from the bottom up (using chemical principles) or from the top down (mining information from biological systems). In this presentation I will discuss progress from long-running efforts at Georgia Tech that use both top-down and bottom-up approaches to unravel the OOL.
Consideration of OOL forces us to frame and confront the most profound and vexing questions in science and philosophy. The OOL tests our understanding of geological, chemical and biological principles and unsettles our sense of place in the universe.