In a new collaboration, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and the American Astronomical Society (AAS) will apply their distinct areas of expertise to a shared realm of scientific interest: exoplanets. Their cooperative effort, supported by a grant from The Kavli Foundation, will help integrate the work of the two scientific communities through a joint steering committee, special sessions at both societies’ annual meetings, and topical conferences and workshops.
More than 3,000 exoplanets have been identified in more than 2,000 planetary systems beyond our own. Their sizes, compositions, and dynamics are surprisingly diverse. Several dozen systems have multiple planets in the “habitable zone” where liquid water may exist on their surfaces. Exoplanet observations have been a primary focus of the international astronomical community, and the growing amount of data on exoplanetary systems is providing important inputs to our understanding of the formation and evolution of our own solar system.
Fast-Paced Research Field
“We are excited to join with our AAS colleagues to accelerate the exploration of this rapidly evolving field of space science. Thanks to this generous grant from The Kavli Foundation, this unique cooperative effort of our two scientific societies will help bring together and strengthen bonds between the best researchers in the science of exoplanet research,” said Chris McEntee, AGU CEO/Executive Director.
“It is remarkable that only two decades after the first exoplanets were discovered, we are probing the physical characteristics, atmospheric chemistry, and rotational and orbital dynamics of thousands of such objects,” said Kevin B. Marvel, AAS Executive Officer. “Only with a coordinated interdisciplinary approach will astronomers, planetary scientists, and geophysicists be able to maintain this blistering pace of discovery, and thanks to The Kavli Foundation, the AGU and AAS will lead the way.”
“With AGU and AAS working together, the very best scientists from the geosciences and astrophysics will be able to work together to enable the growth of the increasingly interdisciplinary field of exoplanetary research. We are proud to be able to support this exciting joint effort and look forward to an ever-increasing pace of discovery,” said Chris Martin, interim vice-president for science at the Los Angeles, Calif.–based Kavli Foundation, which is dedicated to advancing science and public understanding of science.
The Kavli Foundation grant will help enhance exoplanet science by bringing together the relevant researchers via the following initiatives:
- the establishment of a steering committee composed of key leaders and researchers from each organization
- session presentations at AGU’s 2018 Fall Meeting and AAS’s winter 2019 meeting featuring talks on the state of exoplanet science, the dynamical evolution of our solar system, and our changing understanding of planetary interiors and atmospheres
- travel support for six to eight invited speakers to attend each of the annual meetings
- an exoplanet conference and workshop to be convened by AAS in August 2019 in Reykjavik, Iceland, resulting in the publication of integrated special issues and themes in AGU and AAS journals. Follow-up presentations will occur at AGU’s 2019 Fall Meeting and AAS’s winter 2020 meeting
- a summer 2019 NASA/AGU/AAS Astrobiology Science Conference to help advance interaction between federal science agencies and scientific societies
- other joint projects as they are identified
This collaborative effort will further catalyze exoplanet science by integrating the expertise of the two societies’ shared communities more closely in the coming years. Furthermore, with the resources provided by The Kavli Foundation, AGU and AAS will leverage the interdisciplinary science that is already occurring within the geophysical and astronomical communities. Together, the two organizations represent and are capable of bringing together the relevant researchers from around the world.
—Joshua Speiser (email: [email protected]), Manager, Strategic Communications, AGU