Exoplanets in Our Backyard 2 Workshop

Exoplanets in Our Backyard 2 Workshop

The Exoplanets in Our Backyard 2 workshop was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on November 2–4, 2022. The workshop was an interdisciplinary and interdivisional education, networking, and collaboration event, motivated by a need to increase interaction between the exoplanet and planetary science communities.

There is a growing awareness of the power of systems- and process-based approaches to understanding planets, and it is increasingly clear that many of the most exciting and fruitful areas of research lie at the intersection of the traditionally separated domains of solar system and exoplanet research. Within our solar system, we find numerous examples of diverse worlds that can be studied close-up, showing us how planets operate on a level unthought of even a few decades ago. Comparative planetology between these worlds continues to empower a deeper understanding of the processes and phenomena that shape planets on wider scales than a single planet can tell us. Beyond our “cosmic backyard,” more than 5000 exoplanets have been discovered as of November 2022. Despite the significant data limitations inherent to studying any individual exoplanet, these planets have the advantage of their vast numbers and can speak to planetary statistics and processes writ large. The same comparative planetology we apply within our solar system can be applied within and across these other planetary systems to reveal what is “rare” and what is “typical” on scales of individual worlds to the planetary system level — even showing us examples of worlds and processes unlike those seen in our solar system.

The Exoplanets in Our Backyard series of workshops was born out of a recognition of the value and potential of interdisciplinary, cross-divisional exoplanet and solar system research, and to encourage and grow the community of researchers working at this intersection. Exoplanets in Our Backyard 2 expanded the inter-assessment-group (AG) nature of the meeting compared with the first meeting by ensuring involvement from the following AGs: Exoplanet Exploration Program Analysis Group (ExoPAG), Mars Exploration Analysis Group (MEPAG), Mercury Exploration Assessment Group (MExAG), Outer Planets Assessment Group (OPAG), and Venus Exploration Analysis Group (VEXAG). The meeting successfully brought together solar system and exoplanetary scientists from different backgrounds and NASA divisions, fostered communication between researchers whose paths had never crossed at a meeting before, and spurred new collaborations.

The meeting was held at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science immediately following the VEXAG meeting hosted at the same location. The meeting was attended by approximately 70 scientists on site and 40 online participants. Based on the success of the first two meetings, a third meeting is planned to be held in 2024.

— Text provided by Stephen Kane