Pathways to Habitable Worlds
Beyond classical habitability
For many decades we have considered a definition of "habitability" for a planet to mean that it's surface temperature is somewhere between the freezing and boiling point of water. Water is a critical ingredient for all life on Earth, and so it is a reasonable starting assumption to consider it universally important for life.
As we have learnt about the diversity of life on Earth it has become apparent that what would be considered extreme environments (volocanoes, black smokers, arctic ice, acidic pools, radioactive sites) are in fact home to a vast array of organisms.
Within our own solar system this has led to enormous interest in the suitability of planets like Mars, and moons like Europa, or Titan, and Enceladus, for existing - or once existing - life.
We are engaged in a program of interconnected research with the common goal of seeking to expand both our theoretical understanding of habitable environments as well as our observation and exploration of new environments. This effort includes the study of moons of giant planets, as well as "exo-moons" around giant planets in other systems, and the study of volcanism and tectonic activity as pointers towards oases of life on other worlds, such as Mars or Europa.
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