Lunar and Planetary Institute

Sponsored By Hosted by

Co-Chairs Science Organizing Committee


When:   April 26–29, 2010
Where:  League City, Texas

Meeting Location and Date

The Astrobiology Science Conference 2010 (AbSciCon 2010) will be held April 26–29, 2010, at the South Shore Harbour Resort and Conference Center in League City, Texas.

Purpose and Scope

The Astrobiology Science Conference 2010 (AbSciCon 2010) is the next in a biennial series of meetings organized by the astrobiology community. The conference will convene scientists from all over the world who are working in the multidisciplinary field of astrobiology — the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe — to report on research findings and plan future endeavors.

The theme for AbSciCon 2010 is "Evolution and Life:  Surviving Catastrophes and Extremes on Earth and Beyond." The conference will address, among other things, how environmental, chemical, biological, physical, and even social stresses, ranging in scale from the infinitesimal to the catastrophic, affect the pace and course of evolutionary change.

Astrobiology examines stress, stasis, and change from the cosmic to the molecular level. What is necessary for life, and where does it come from? How do habitable environments develop and change? How does life begin and evolve? How does life accommodate environmental change, and vice versa? Can change be engineered, and should it? These are some of the questions that may be addressed at this conference.The purpose of this conference is to provide a forum for reporting on new discoveries, sharing data and insights, advancing collaborative efforts and initiating new ones, planning new projects, and educating the next generation of astrobiologists. The conference will feature plenary sessions on current and controversial topics, topical sessions, evening programs, and public events.


The program and abstracts are now available. Please note that author notification letters will not be sent. Authors should check the program index to determine when and where their presentation has been scheduled. All participants will receive a printed program guide and CD-ROM.

Oral Presentation Format:  Oral sessions are scheduled to allow 10 minutes for speaker presentation and 5 minutes for discussion and speaker transition.

Audio/Visual Equipment:  Meeting rooms will be equipped with laptop PCs and Macs and an LCD projector with single-screen projection. Presentations must be submitted prior to your session in the SSH Lalique Room, which will serve as a speaker-ready room. Please read the instructions for electronic presentations for software specifications and deadlines for presentation submissions.

A dedicated poster session will be held on Monday evening from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Poster sessions are designed to convey as much (or more) scientific information as oral sessions, so it is important that authors be at their poster for either the first or last 90 minutes of the dedicated session to discuss their results. Authors will be able to post the time they will be available. Heavy appetizers and beverages will be served during the poster session.

For all poster authors — especially those who had hoped to give an oral presentation — there will be a special Lightning Talk "Poster Redux" session on Tuesday, April 27. This is a chance for poster authors to highlight their work in a short talk. Poster authors will receive an e-mail with an invitation and instructions on how to participate.

Poster Presentation Format:  Poster size is 44" × 44" (1.1 m × 1.1 m). Posters must be affixed to a 4' × 8' freestanding panel with pushpins, which will be provided. Two presenters will share one side of a 4' × 8' panel, so displays must be confined to the specified limit.

Poster Installation:  In order to provide maximum viewing opportunities, posters may be installed any time after 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 25. Posters will remain on display through the duration of the conference. All posters must be removed by 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 29. Any posters remaining on display after this time will be discarded.

Highlighted Events

Welcome Reception:  Sunday, April 25, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the Crystal Ballroom at South Shore Harbour Resort and Convention Center. Participants will be able to register, pick up conference materials, and meet and greet colleagues.

Opening Session:  "The Top Ten Catastrophes" panel discussion will follow the welcome reception at 7:00 p.m. in the Crystal Ballroom.

NASA Early Career Workshop:  Sunday, April 25, from 8:00  to noon in the Amphitheater.
NASA will host a Proposal Writing Workshop open to all interested planetary scientists at no cost. The session will focus on understanding NASA's research programs and will include information on how to write a research proposal, where to apply for funding, and pathways for participation on missions and proposing education and public outreach supplements.

NASA Primer Workshops:  Sunday, April 25, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. in the Amphitheater.
NASA invites you to join us for the following introductory talks:

Public Program:  Tuesday, April 27, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Open to the public.
"Progress in the Search for Extraterrestrial Life:  A Report from the Explorers"
Is there life elsewhere in our solar system? Where might we find it? Where should we look? And how should we be looking? What can humans can do that robots can't? What can robots do that humans can't? What can humans and robots can do best together in the search for life elsewhere?

In a wide-ranging dialogue, a panel of experts — astrobiologists, underwater explorers, and an experienced astronaut — will talk about when, where, and how robotic and human explorers can be deployed in the search for extraterrestrial life. At this free public program, hear about the latest in the science and technology of searching for extraterrestrial life first-hand, from the people who are planning and conducting the search:

Town Hall Meeting:  Tuesday, April 27, at 4:00 p.m. in the Amphitheater
An NSF-hosted Town Hall meeting for the Geobiology and Low-Temperature Geochemistry community will be held to discuss common research themes, the near- and longer-term future for this relatively new field, and a strategy for gaining more impact in Earth, space, and ecosystem science. Currently this NSF program supports research on (1) the interactions between biological and geological systems at all scales of space and time; (2) geomicrobiology and biomineralization processes; (3) the role of life in the transformation and evolution of Earth's geochemical cycles; (4) inorganic and organic geochemical processes occurring at or near Earth's surface now and in the past, and at the broad spectrum of interfaces ranging in scale from planetary and regional to mineral- surface and supramolecular; (5) mineralogy and chemistry of soils and sediments; (6) surficial chemical and biogeochemical systems and cycles and their modification through natural and anthropogenic change; and (7) development of tools, methods, and models for low-temperature geochemistry and geobiological research — such as those emerging from molecular biology — in the study of the terrestrial environment.

With such diversity, we think that our long-term directions and interests could be more strongly and effectively communicated to the Earth science community at large, particularly those scientists at NSF, NASA, and other funding agencies, who might not have the background to recognize the importance and relevance of our interdisciplinary science.

Join us for brief presentations on NSF and NASA's unique aspects along with their intersections; updates on activities within the European Geobiology community; Sloan Foundation's Deep Carbon Observatory. Ample time for open discussion with small breakout sessions is planned in order to come up with strategies for a stronger identity! If you are a leader in this community, we welcome your input.

Evening Social Event at Space Center Houston:  Wednesday, April 28, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. A private evening social event will be held in the Astronaut Gallery at Space Center Houston, the official visitor's center of NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. The event will include a brief presentation, buffet dinner, beer, wine, and exclusive access to all of Space Center Houston's attractions and exhibits. Admission to this event is not included in the registration fee. Tickets are $30.00 and will be available when you register online or at the registration desk during the meeting. Guests are welcome.

Lunch and Learn:

Monday, April 26, 12:30 p.m., in the Amphitheater
"Getting Your Data Into and Out of the Planetary Data System," presented by Dr. Anne Raugh, University of Maryland. Stop by Lunch Express after the morning session and bring your lunch to hear Dr. Raugh talk about the Small Bodies Node and answer your questions about the PDS.

Tuesday, April 27, 12:30 p.m. in the Amphitheater
"Women in Planetary Science/Women in Astrobiology," led by Dr. Susan Niebur, Niebur Consulting. Bring your lunch and meet with your colleagues to hear about the latest on the Women in Planetary Science group and how you can meet and stay connected with hundreds of other astrobiologists and planetary scientists from around the world.

Wednesday, April 28, 12:30 p.m. in the Amphitheater
"Science Ethics, A Personal View," presented by Dr. Stephen Mackwell, LPI. Bring your lunch to hear Dr. Mackwell speak about scientific ethics during this third lunch and learn session.

NASA Astrobiology Institute Focus Groups:  NAI will present daily focus group meetings during the lunch break. Details and schedule are now available.

Lightning Talks:  This year at AbSciCon we'll be trying something new called Lighting Talks:  informal five-minute presentations of a few slides (or no slides!), delivered in rapid succession. Lightning talks are meant to be spontaneous and fun × and offer a fresh opportunity for participants to speak at the conference. "Open Mic" Lightning Talk sessions will be held on Wednesday and Thursday, April 28 and 29. Lightning Talk submissions will be collected on the day before each session and an agenda crafted on site. These sessions are a great opportunity to talk about ideas that may have been generated while listening to talks or discussions during the first few days of AbSciCon. Students may wish to practice their presentation skills with a short talk. Do you have a seed of an idea and would like some feedback? Give a Lightning Talk! More information on how to participate will be distributed on flyers and posters at the conference. Questions may be sent to
Shige Abe
at NAI Central.

Astrobiology Primer Activities:  The Astrobiology Primer was written and published by early-career astrobiologists in 2006. Its purpose is to provide a brief introduction to astrobiology for graduate students and other people who are new to the field. It is not intended to replace textbooks, but to be a much shorter preliminary read. The Astrobiology Primer is now being revised and updated by a group of early-career astrobiologists, led jointly by Shawn Domagal-Goldman (University of Washington at Seattle) and Katherine Wright (University of Colorado at Boulder). The group is seeking feedback from the astrobiology community on the proposed content of the primer. An outline of the primer will be included in the conference materials. There will be a presentation on the primer in the "Astrobiology and Interdisciplinary Communication" session on Monday, April 26, and there will be an open consultation meeting during lunchtime on Wednesday, April 28, in the Harbourview Room.

Internet Access

Complimentary WiFi internet access will be provided in several public areas for participants' convenience, including the Lobby Lounge and Paradise Reef Restaurant. WiFi access will not be available in the meeting rooms.

Meal Options

A complimentary continental breakfast will be served daily in the registration area. Participants desiring a heartier breakfast onsite should visit the Paradise Reef Restaurant, where a breakfast buffet and limited menu will be available.

Lunch will not be provided as part of the conference. Onsite lunch options include a hot buffet in the Paradise Reef Restaurant that includes soup, salad, two main courses, one vegetarian pasta course, two vegetables, one starch, and two desserts. The cost of the lunch buffet is $12.95 plus gratuities. A LUNCH EXPRESS service will be available in the conference registration area. Selections will include assorted sandwiches, chips, fruit, cookies, sodas, and bottled water.

There are also a number of quick-service restaurants within a couple of blocks of the conference center. A restaurant list will be available at the registration desk.

Please note:  Food and drinks from outside vendors are not permitted in meeting conference rooms. If you are attending a lunchtime meeting in an AbSciCon designated conference room, please be advised that you will not be allowed to bring in outside food or beverages, including fast food.

Peripheral Meetings

Limited space is available for groups who wish to meet at South Shore Harbour during the week of the conference. Meeting rooms must be reserved with Elizabeth Wagganer ([email protected] or 281-486-2164). Please do not call the hotel to make arrangements.


Advance Registration Deadline: April 24, 2010


A registration fee will be assessed all participants.

April 1–24, 2010 $225.00 Professionals / $125.00 Students
April 25–29, 2010 $250.00 Professionals / $150.00 Students
Social Event at
Space Center Houston
$30.00 per guest

Credit card registrations:  Participants registering by credit card MUST use the secure electronic registration form.

Other methods of payment:  Those registering using any other method of payment (check, money order, or traveler's check) MUST use the downloadable registration form.

Cancellations:  Requests for cancellation with a fee refund (less a $25.00 processing fee) will only be accepted through April 9, 2010. Those who fail to attend and do not notify the LPI prior to the April 9 deadline will forfeit their full fee.

Check-in: The conference registration desk will be open from 5:00 to 8:30 p.m. on Sunday and from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

*Note: Representatives of the media must present press credentials when checking in.


A block of 200 rooms has been reserved at the host hotel, South Shore Harbour Resort and Conference Center, located at 2500 South Shore Boulevard, League City, Texas, 77573, on the shores of Clear Lake.

*The conference hotel is sold out on peak nights, but rooms are available on some nights scattered throughout the week. Contact the hotel for availability.

The special rate for AbSciCon 2010 participants is $119.00 per night, single or double occupancy, plus 12% tax. Guests are required to show proper government identification at check-in to be eligible for an occupancy tax exemption.

There is no charge for children 18 years and younger when they share a room with parent(s) and utilize existing beds. There will be an additional charge of $10.00 for a third or fourth adult (18 years or older) in a room. A maximum of four adults is allowed per room.

Check-in time is 4:00 p.m.; check-out time is noon. Guests arriving prior to check-in will be accommodated as rooms become available. The hotel will accommodate late check-outs subject to space availability.

All reserved guest rooms are guaranteed for late arrival to each individual. "No-shows" will be billed for one night. Individual cancellation of guest rooms must be made at least 48 hours prior to guest arrival.

Due to the large number of expected attendees, participants who wish to stay at the host hotel are encouraged to make reservations early. To ensure a room at the special rate, reservations MUST be made by April 4, 2010.

Room Reservations: To reserve a room, call the hotel directly at 800-442-5005 or 281-334-1000.

Registered guests will have access to the following amenities:  complimentary covered parking, marina with rentals for water sports, a 185-foot tropical pool with heated jacuzzi, 70,000-square-foot fitness center, and golfing privileges at South Shore Harbour Country Club (green fees extra).

Please note that the hotel is a nonsmoking property, which includes all public areas and guest rooms. Evidence of smoking in the guest rooms will be subject to a $250.00 cleaning fee. Since January 23, 2007, all restaurants within the hotel have become smoke-free in compliance with League City Smoking in Public Places Ordinance.

Other Hotels/Conference Shuttle Service

Shuttle service to all conference sessions and events will be available to and from the host hotel as well as a limited number of other local hotels. Please see the area hotel list to determine which hotels will be serviced by the conference shuttle. Shuttle service to and from conference events will be provided to hotels listed in RED. The local area map shows the locations of the LPI, Space Center Houston, South Shore Harbour Resort and Conference Center, and other local hotels.

The detailed shuttle schedule is now available.


The Houston metropolitan area is primarily served by two airports:  George Bush Intercontinental (IAH), approximately 47 miles from South Shore Harbour Resort and Conference Center, and William P. Hobby (HOU), approximately 20 miles from South Shore Harbour Resort and Conference Center. Visit the Houston Airport System webpage for more information on both airports.

Galveston Limousine Service
provides continuous shuttle service from both George Bush Intercontinental Airport ($70.00 round trip per person) and Hobby Airport ($60.00 round trip per person). Reservations for Galveston Limousine may be made online or by calling 1-800-640-4826.

Clear Lake Shuttle (281-334-3873), located in the lobby of South Shore Harbour Resort and Conference Center, is available to provide transportation to or from George Bush Intercontinental Airport and Hobby Airport. Contact them directly for current rate information.


For further information regarding the format and scientific objectives of the meeting, contact

Linda Billings
Principal Investigator,
NASA Astrobiology Program
Phone:  703-635-9799
E-mail:  [email protected]

For further information regarding conference logistics, announcements, and accommodations, contact

Elizabeth Wagganer
Lunar and Planetary Institute
Phone:  281-486-2164
E-mail:  [email protected]

For further information regarding registration, contact

Linda Tanner
Lunar and Planetary Institute
Phone:  281-486-2142
E-mail:  [email protected]


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