EGU Galileo Conference

Excited to be at the EGU conference to present the prefinal version of a joint white paper on societal implications of astrobiology research in Europe at the EGU Galileo conference, during Friday’s session 9: Planetary research: Ethical, philosophical and societal issues. The conference entitled ‘Geoscience for understanding habitability in the solar system and beyond’ is held in Furnas, São Miguel, Azores, Portugal, September 25-29, 2017.

Abstract

In this paper, presented by the White Paper lead authors on behalf of the WG5 History and Philosophy of Astrobiology, the prefinal version of the joint Astrobiology and Society in Europe Today will be introduced. The talk gives a brief overview of the structure and contents of the latest version of the white paper, that is Version 5.2. During the talk, we will discuss the societal implications of astrobiology research in the European context and the timely role of an organised initiative in astrobiology policy as well as astrobiology communication.
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About the EGU Galileo Conference

The conference “Geoscience for understanding habitability in the solar system and beyond” will be held from 25 to 29 September 2017 at the Terra Nostra Garden Hotel, Furnas, Azores, Portugal. The meeting will start on 25 September in the morning and finish on 29 September at lunchtime. The conference functions as an EGU Galileo meeting and is co-organized by the COST action “Origins and Evolution of Life on Earth and in the Universe”, the Nordic Network of Astrobiology, and the Belgian Planet Topers project. It is co-chaired by Prof. Veronique Dehant (Royal Observatory of Belgium) and by Prof. Wolf Geppert (Stockholm University Astrobiology Centre).

Scope of the meeting

This conference will deal with fundamental issues of planetary habitability, i.e. the environmental conditions capable of sustaining life, and how interactions between the interior of a planet or a moon and its atmosphere and surface (including hydrosphere and biosphere) affect the habitability of the celestial body. It will address some hotly debated questions in the field including the following:

  • What effects do core and mantle have on evolution and habitability of planets
  • What is the relation between (plate) tectonics and atmospheric evolution?
  • What role does the mantle overturn play in the evolution of the interior and atmosphere?
  • What is the role of the global carbon and water cycles herein?
  • What influence do comet and asteroid impacts exert on the evolution of the planet?
  • How does life interact with the evolution of Earth’s geosphere and atmosphere?
  • How can we use our knowledge of the solar system geophysics and habitability for exoplanets?

The proposed interdisciplinary will encompass research on all the planets from the upper atmosphere to the deep interior relevant to their habitability. It aims to bring together scientists from all disciplines related to the field in order to discuss the above-mentioned issues.

Visit EGU Galileo Conference website or download the scientific programme in pdf.

Emerging Scholar Workshops on Society and Astrobiology, CTI Princeton

Super excited about being in Princeton and taking part in the Questing for Life: Emerging Scholar Workshops on the Societal Implications of Astrobiology at the Center of Theological Inquiry, CTI.

Supported by a grant from the NASA Astrobiology Program and the Templeton Foundation, the 2016/2017 Center’s Inquiry on the Societal Implications of Astrobiology aims to engage the humanities, social sciences, philosophy, and theology with current science exploring the origins and extent of life in the universe.

The workshop Questing for Life: Emerging Scholar Workshops on the Societal Implications of Astrobiology (June 13-16, 2017) focuses on the joint contributions of the sciences and humanities.

More information about the event was published in the Fresh Thinking Magazine: Issue 1 (2018)

About the workshop

Astrobiology is the quest to understand the potential of the universe to harbor life beyond Earth. Societal understanding of life on Earth has always developed in dialogue with scientific investigations of its origin and evolution. Today, the science of astrobiology extends these investigations to include the possibility of life in the universe. As astrobiology develops and its discoveries become more widely known, scholars in the humanities and social sciences will have new opportunities to interpret the significance of these discoveries and deepen our understanding of life itself. These research workshops offer one such opportunity. Questing for Life is for emerging scholars who are open to this new angle of vision on perennial questions. Sample topics include the use of narratives in understanding life in space; historical studies of first encounters with other cultures and natural life on Earth; how literature and the arts shape expectations of life; ethical, philosophical, and theological implications of the quest; conceptual questions in defining life; theoretical problems in identifying life; the legal, environmental, political, and commercial issues in planetary protection; and the impact of astrobiology on views of nature for indigenous and world religions. CTI aims to foster a community of discussion that crosses traditional boundaries.

Astrobiology White Paper poster presented at NASA AbSciCon 2017

… and the second AbSciCon 2017 poster ‘Astrobiology and Society. A White Paper on Societal Implications of Astrobiology Research in Europe Today’ by Klara Anna Capova, David Dunér, and Erik Persson is also available online: www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/abscicon2017/eposter/3159.pdf

Abstract

ASTROBIOLOGY AND SOCIETY IN EUROPE TODAY. THE WHITE PAPER ON SOCIETAL IMPLICATIONS OF ASTROBIOLOGY RESEARCH IN EUROPEAN CONTEXT
Klara Anna Capova*1, David Duner2, Erik Persson3,4

1 Department of Anthropology, Durham University, UK, Email: k.a.capova@durham.ac.uk
2 Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences, Lund University, Sweden
3 Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton, USA Email: erik.persson@fil.lu.se
4 The Pufendorf Institute for Advanced Studies, Lund University, Sweden

The poster presents recent work of Working Group 5 Philosophy and History of Science, is a Trans Domain European COST Action Life-ORIGINS TD1308 and introduces the latest draft of the White Paper on societal implications of astrobiology research in European context, ‘Astrobiology and Society in Europe Today.’ The poster provides overview of sections related to contributions of astrobiology to society, advancement of science in Europe, environmental protection and the quest for sustainability, as well as societal challenges from astrobiology, and potential conflicts of interest between astrobiology and commercial use of space. Furthermore, it will illustrate the contemporary perceptions of astrobiology by general public and the timely role of an organised initiative in astrobiology education and popularisation of science.

Students’ Attitudes to Astrobiology poster presented at NASA AbSciCon 2017

The first poster entitled ‘Students’ Attitudes to Astrobiology. Attitudes towards scientific search for extraterrestrial life among Swedish high school and university students’ by Erik Persson, Klara Anna Capova, and Yuan will be presented later today at the AbSciCon 2017.

E-poster is available online: www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/abscicon2017/eposter/3156.pdf

Abstract

STUDENTS ATTITUDES TO ASTROBIOLOGY. ATTITUDES TOWARDS SCIENTIFIC SEARCH FOR EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL LIFE AMONG SWEDISH HIGH SCHOOLS AND UNIVERSITY STUDENTS
Erik Persson1,2, Klara Anna Capova*3, and Yuan Li4,

1 Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton, USA Email: erik.persson@fil.lu.se
2 The Pufendorf Institute for Advanced Studies, Lund University, Sweden
3 Department of Anthropology, Durham University, UK, Email: k.a.capova@durham.ac.uk
4 Department of Biology, Lund University, Sweden

The paper presents results of a recent study looking into the attitudes towards the scientific search for extra-terrestrial life among high school and university students in Sweden. The analysis has revealed that (a) the great majority of students believe that extra-terrestrial life exists; (b) most students regard searching for extra-terrestrial life to be fairly important; (c) very few students think that searching for extra-terrestrial life is something we should actively avoid; (d) the most common motive for assigning a high priority to search for extra-terrestrial life, is that it is interesting; and the most common motive for assigning a low priority is the opinion that such knowledge would not be practically useful or that the money would be better spent elsewhere; (e) most students do not think they are very well informed regarding the search for extra-terrestrial life. At the same time, however, a higher percentage of the students who judge themselves to be well informed also believe that extra-terrestrial life exists. We have also found some differences between sub-groups (men/women, high school students/university students and different fields of study), but the differences are with few exceptions small in comparison to the overall trends, and typically matters of degree rather than direction.

Astrobiology Conference AbSciCon 2017 in Mesa, Arizona

Excited to be at the Astrobiology Conference AbSciCon 2017 in Mesa, Arizona and ready to present my recent work during the poster session. Many thanks to the Pufendorf Institute for Advanced Studies, Lund University for making this trip possible. A PDF of the AbSciCon Program is available online.

Conference Information
AbSciCon 2017 is the next in a series of conferences organized by the astrobiology community. The theme for AbSciCon 2017 is “Diverse Life and its Detection on Different Worlds.” Mars and icy worlds in our solar system are increasingly recognized as habitable, even as increasing numbers of exoplanets in their stars’ habitable zones have been discovered. The focus is shifting from identification of habitable worlds, to detection of life on them.

Klara joined the Working Group on Astrobioethics

I feel very privileged to have been given the opportunity to become one of the SOC members of the International WG on Astrobioethics.

One of the main tasks of the Working Group will be to analyse the potential societal and ethical implications related to astrobiology, taking into account the complexity of the connections between its main scientific issues and goals (see, for instance, the NASA Astrobiology Institute Astrobiology Roadmap), and considering the synergies between both bioethical and geoethical approaches (from microbes to humans and from the Earth to space environments). To find out more and keep up with the latest news please like the International Working Group on Astrobioethics Facebook page.

The International Association on Geoethics is the only organisation linking geosciences and ethics, which incorporates in its official definition the significance of astrobiology: “Studies on planetary geology (sensu lato) and astrobiology also require a geoethical approach”. For more please see the IAGETH definition of geoethics.

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Klara’s dissertation now available online

The abstract and full-text of my doctoral dissertation, ‘The Charming Science of the Other: The cultural analysis of science in search for life beyond earth‘ is now available to download from Durham e-Theses.

Abstract: This dissertation presents the cultural study of scientific search for extraterrestrial life conducted over the past sixty years by the scientific community. It introduces an original piece of research that conceptualises the extraterrestrial life hypothesis as a significant part of the general world-view, constantly shaped by the work and discoveries of science. It sheds light on the ways in which alien life is imagined and theorised and presents its concept in both the scientific community and in popular culture. Drawing from anthropology of science it offers elaboration of ‘culture of science’ and ‘scientific culture’ and describes the scientific search for other life as a specific culture of science, here referred to as ‘charming science’. The three scientific search methods: message sending, analysing of cosmic signals and the search for extrasolar planets are conceptualised as the three search modes: messaging, listening and exploring respectively.

This work introduces the extraterrestrial ‘Other’ as a profoundly cultural concept, firstly presented as the missing subject of ‘charming science’. Exploration of public understanding the extraterrestrial life and popular imagination of the ‘Other’ is intended to introduce the scientific search in broader social context and address the role of science in contemporary Western world. The dissertation draws on the multi-sited and multi-method ethnographic fieldwork conducted over two years in the UK. The research methods included interviewing (semi-structured face-to-face interviews and interviews conducted via email), participation (conferences and scientific meetings), and data collection from the global ‘online’ community including social networks.

Keywords: science, extraterrestrial life, three modes, messaging, listening, exploring, anthropology of science, cultural analysis, multi-method research, multi-sited fieldwork, visual anthropology, popular culture, cultural formations, scientific practices, SETI, astrobiology, Other, cosmology, Western world, culture of science, scientific culture

Grand Challenges Seminar, Oxford University

Oxford Talks, part of: Grand Challenges Seminar Series
University of Oxford, T. S. Eliot Lecture Theater
Are We Alone? Discourse on extraterrestrial research
26 January 2016, 17:00

‘Are We Alone?’ is a public seminar on the existence of extraterrestrial life, and the implications for our society. Questions posed during ‘Are We Alone?’ will include: is it worthwhile (economically, philosophically) to pursue extraterrestrial research? Are we are looking for life in the right forms? And how might the discovery of extraterrestrial life affect society?

The seminar will be ran as a panel discussion with three renowned guest speakers: Dr Klara Anna Capova, who is investigating attempts to detect life beyond Earth as well as scientific entrepreneurship at Durham University; Professor Ian Crawford, who is researching the future of space exploration at Birbeck University, University of London; and Dr Stuart Armstrong from the Future of Humanity Institute, University of Oxford; he is a SETI (UK) member and is interested in the long term potential for intelligent life.

Madame Mars: Women and the Quest for Worlds Beyond

Madame Mars, Women and the Quest for Worlds Beyond, is a transmedia documentary tracing the long and arduous path women have taken in their efforts to explore Mars and worlds beyond.

Madame Mars project vision is to inspire young women and girls to pursue careers and opportunities in the space sciences.

Madame Mars is creating an interactive experience with a living laboratory of women working in space exploration which will inspire participation and exploration of Mars and world beyond.

Thank you for inviting me to take part in Madame Mars, I feel privileged to have had the chance to participate in such a project. I really enjoyed working with Madame Mars team in San Francisco last November, many thanks to Jan Millsapps, Beth Rogozinski and Melissa Lamming.

It was a great day and I am looking forward to seeing the Madame Mars documentary!

klara anna capova mars space exploration