NOVAC Public Meeting, 4/9/23, 7:30 PM EDT

Join NOVAC as we welcome Dr. Michael Summers and embark on a speculative journey in the search for life elsewhere in the universe.  Dr. Summers will discuss recent discoveries that have important implications for life across the universe and how we might carry out searches for that life.

This NOVAC meeting will be held both in-person at George Mason University as well as live-streamed via Google Meet.  Dr. Summers will be in-person at GMU for the talk.  Here is information for both ways to connect.

In Person Option:

Meet at George Mason University, Exploratory Hall, Room 3301.  Check GMU web site for nearby parking options.  Some lots or garages do charge for parking.  Room will be open as early as 6:45pm.

Virtual Option: Join using Google Meet

Video call link:
Or dial: ‪(US) +1 484-430-1468‬ PIN: ‪486 839 001‬#
More phone numbers:

Presentation Details:

Title: Astrobiology and the Search for Life Elsewhere in the Universe

Abstract: Over the past two decades we have discovered that water, carbon compounds, and useable energy that are all required to support life (as we know it on Earth) are commonplace in the universe. In fact, in our own solar system there are at least 5 other worlds that have subsurface oceans of liquid water where simply bacteria could thrive.  These include three of the moons of Jupiter and at least two of the moons of Saturn. Furthermore, we have discovered over 60 Earth-like planets around distant stars that exist in their star’s “habitable zone” where liquid water is stable on the surfaces of the rocky planets. Extrapolation of these discoveries suggests that there are far more habitable planets & moons in our galaxy than there are stars. And we have discovered that the universe is more complex, and filled with more unexpected objects, places, and events than we could ever have predicted – many of which have a bearing on the question of life elsewhere. In this presentation I will discuss recent discoveries that have important implications for life elsewhere and how we might carry out searches for that life.


Michael Summers is Professor of Planetary Science and Astronomy at George Mason University. His research concerns the evolution of planets and their atmospheres and the processes that make planets habitable. Michael has carried out research regarding many of the planets and moons in our solar system as well as planets that orbit distant stars (exoplanets). He has participated in several NASA rocket, space shuttle, satellite, and deep space robotic missions to other planets, and is a Mission Co-Investigator on the NASA/New Horizons Spacecraft Mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt.  He is co-author with Prof. James Trefil of Exoplanets: Diamond Worlds, Super Earths, Pulsar Planets, and the New Search for Life beyond Our Solar System (2017) and Imagined Life: A Speculative Journey among the Exoplanets in Search of Ice Creatures, Supergravity Animals, and Intelligent Aliens (2018), both published by The Smithsonian Press. 

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