Spaceflight Now: Breaking News

Universities launch Astrobiology center
Posted: November 5, 2000

Cardiff is to become home to the UK's first Centre for Astrobiology -- providing the UK with a facility to contribute to space missions probing for life on solar system bodies.  

The Centre, a joint initiative between Cardiff University and the University of Wales College of Medicine, forges a connection between astronomy and biology. It is led by two UK leaders in these fields: Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe and Professor Anthony Campbell.

The Centre combines research interests in astronomy and molecular cell biology to throw light on the emergence and development of life in the cosmos and planetary bodies. The work of the Centre will also provide information essential for the emergent discipline of space medicine.

Initial research will focus on seeking evidence of the existence of biomolecules and cells in the upper atmosphere as well as in comets and interstellar dust; evidence for the existence of life molecules and processes in material recovered from space; and the effect of space conditions of living systems.

"The unique combination of astronomy and molecular cell biology will provide Cardiff will a centre of world excellence," said Professor Wickramasinghe. "It will give us the facility to contribute to space missions probing for life on solar system bodies." Universities launch Astrobiology Centre To mark the opening of the Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology, an inaugural lecture will take place at 7.00pm on Monday, 6 November 2000 at Cardiff University. The lecture, entitled "The search for extraterrestrial intelligence in the optical spectrum" will be delivered by Dr Stuart A Kingsley, Director of the Columbus Optical SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Observatory in the USA.

Born and educated in the UK, Dr Kingsley moved to the United States in 1981. He has gained an international reputation for his pioneering work on fibre-optic systems which, since 1990, he has applied to the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.