1. Workshop on the Potential for Finding Life in a Europa Plume

    DATE: Wednesday, February 18, 2015

    TIME: 8:30am – 5:30pm PST

    LOCATION: NASA Ames Research Center, Building 152, Moffett Field, California

    On February 18, 2015, the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) and the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) will co-host the workshop at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California.

    Current Europa missions under study by NASA are focused on answering the question “Is Europa habitable?” However, the potential presence of water plumes on the satellite could present an opportunity to pursue the question “Is there life on Europa?” Answering this question is far more challenging because measurements currently possible may provide only ambiguous results from a mission that either orbits or flies by Europa at relatively high velocity. To that end, NASA’s Planetary Science Division is convening a workshop to consider strategies to investigate Europa’s putative plumes for evidence of life. Invitees will be asked to provide feedback to NASA on the following key questions:

    • What measurements are needed to detect and characterize the presence of life in an acquired sample?
    • What instrumentation is needed to perform these measurements, and what is the current flight readiness of such instruments?
    • What is the amount and nature of the sample needed by these instruments and what sample preparation is necessary?
    • What constraints does the required nature of the sample place on the sample acquisition process?
    • What challenges are present to acquiring the necessary sample and obtaining life-detection measurements from a cubesat(s) deployed by a Europa mission?

    The workshop will be followed by a meeting of the Outer Planets Assessment Group on Feb. 19-20, also held at the Ames Research Center.


    Click here to register

    Registration is free. All attendees, whether submitting an abstract or not, are requested to register. Because the workshop is being held at a US federal facility, special provisions must be made for foreign participation (non-US citizens or non-Green Card holders). Such attendees should register promptly and follow the instructions on the registration website.

    A live broadcast will not be provided for this workshop.


    8:30-8:45 Welcome to Ames, Pete Worden
    8:45-9:00 Opening Remarks, John Grunsfeld and Jim Green
    9:00-9:30 Europa Clipper Mission, Dave Senske
    9:30-10:00 Europa Plume Origins and Formation, Sascha Kempf
    10:00-10:30 Plume Forum Brief, Louise Prockter

    10:30-11:00 Break

    11:00-11:20 Icy World Plume Sample Return: the LIFE Mission Concept, Isik Kanik
    11:20-11:40 Europa Plume: Astrobiological Perspective, Kevin Hand
    11:40-12:00 Life Detection Workshop Findings, Cassie Conley (virtual)

    12:00-1:00 Lunch

    1:00-1:15 An Update on the HST Cycle 22 Campaign to Investigate Europa Water Vapor Plumes, Kurt Retherford
    1:15-1:30 Towards the Universal Life Detection System, Leroy Cronin (virtual)
    1:30-1:45 Amino Acids as Evidence for Life in the Plumes of the Outer Solar System, Chris McKay
    1:45-2:00 Specificity in Biomolecules: What is Enough and What is Too Much in a Search for Evidence of Life, Andrew Pohorille
    2:00-2:15 Europa Plume Chaser: A Small Satellite Approach for Finding Life in a Europa Plume, David Mauro
    2:15-2:45 General Discussion

    2:45-3:45 Poster Viewing

    3:45-4:00 Hypervelocity Dust Impacts: Biosignature Survivability and Preservation for Life Detection in Europa’s Plume, Morgan Cable (virtual)
    4:00-4:15 The Role of High-Sensitivity, High Resolution Mass Spectrometry in the Search for Habitability and Life, Jack Waite
    4:15-4:30 Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry for In Situ Analysis of Biosignatures at Europa, Stephanie Getty
    4:30-4:45 SUDA: A Dust Mass Spectrometer for Measuring the Composition of Solid Europa Plume Particles, Sascha Kempf
    4:45-5:00 Microfluidic Chemical Analysis for Signs of Life in a Europa Plume, Peter Willis
    5:00-5:15 Spectropolarimetry of Biosignatures in Europa’s Plumes and at the Surface, William Sparks
    5:15-5:30 General Discussion

    5:30 Adjourn

    The workshop will take place in Building 152 in the NASA Research Park (NRP). A map of the NRP can be viewed HERE

    To reach NASA’s Ames Research Center, take U.S Highway 101 to the Moffett Field, NASA Parkway exit and drive east on Moffett Boulevard towards the main gate. No visitor badges are required for entry on to the NASA Research Park, but visitors will be required to show valid government-issued photo identification or passport at main gate to enter.

    Box lunches will be available for purchase at the workshop for $8.50, cash only. Sandwich choices are, roast beef, ham, turkey and roasted veggie. Please place your order here by Friday, February 13th.


    San Jose Airport Garden Hotel
    1740 North First Street
    San Jose, CA 95112
    Phone: 1-408-793-3976 between 8:00 am – 5:00 pm Monday-Friday

    Room Block Name NASA Europa Workshop
    Reservation Links:
    Tuesday February 17th
    Wednesday February 18th
    Room rate: $162 per night plus tax
    Room block is set for Tuesday, February 17 – 20. These dates are extended to cover your stay if you are also attending the OPAG meeting.
    Room Cut-off date: January 26, 2015

    Information about other local hotels and the NASA Lodge located at NASA Ames Research Center can be found HERE