Searching for habitable planets with Eddington

April 1, 2003

Paris, 31 Mar 2003

The scientific community involved in the search for habitable planets will meet in Palermo (Italy) on April 9-11 to take an important step towards the discovery of other worlds which might harbour life.

The European Space Agency and the Astronomical Observatory of Palermo have organised an international workshop, entitled "Stellar-structure and habitable planet finding'', dedicated specifically to selection of the single area of the sky that will be searched for habitable planets by Eddington, the European mission due for launch at the beginning of 2008.

The workshop has attracted more than 150 participants, from most European countries and also from the USA and Australia. In addition to the leading scientists in the field of extra-solar planets, representatives from several European space companies will be attending.

'Eddington' is an European astronomical space observatory currently being developed by ESA; one of its key scientific aims is the discovery, for the first time, of habitable planets, i.e. planets which could harbour life as we know it on Earth. Eddington will put European scientists in a leading position in this key scientific challenge. It will search for habitable planets in a single area of the sky (its 'target field'); the choice of target field is therefore a critical decision in the mission's lifetime.

Media representatives are welcome to attend the workshop; a press lunch will be organised on April 11, during which some of the leading scientists attending the workshop will be available to answer questions from journalists.

Further information about the Eddington mission, the workshop and its outcome can be requested from:

Fabio Favata
Eddington Project Scientist
ESA, Astrophysics Division
Tel. +31(0)71.565.4665

European Space Agency ml

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