“Planets can be habitable and not have life with any impact,” Arizona State astrophysicist Steve Desch told researchers at a recent workshop in Laramie, Wyoming on “Habitable Worlds” run by The Nexus for Exoplanet System Science, a NASA research network dedicated to the study of planetary habitability.
The search for exoplanets is at a watershed moment in finding life on other worlds, propelled by the discoveries of habitable zone terrestrial planets in both ground and space-based surveys, and the potential for future telescopes such as the James Webb Space Telescope to characterize the atmospheres of some of these rocky planets.Preparing for such an epic historic moment needs a diverse community of Earth scientists, heliophysicists, planetary scientists, and astrophysicists asking what does it mean to be habitable? What conditions are needed for habitability and how do those conditions arise? What are the indicators of these conditions and their histories? How can we observe these indicators.