1) Speaker: S. Jheeta (Leeds, UK)
Title: “Solid Phase Astrochemistry: Is Space a Realistic Laboratory for Life’s Molecules”
Abstract: The field of astrobiology is rapidly becoming a discipline in its own right, as it seeks to answer the following questions: what are the conditions under which life can develop? How widespread are these conditions in the Universe? And, what are the mechanisms by which life evolves from basic ‘building blocks’ into self replicating systems?
It is believed that some of the necessary organic molecules may have been formed in specific areas of space (namely dark molecular clouds, eg Horsehead nebula) and delivered on to the Earth during the early heavy bombardment period of its history, approximately 4.3-4.0 billion years ago. These organic molecules may have played a pivotal role in the formation of life on Earth. In addition, it is believed that life on Earth was formed within a very short geological time frame of only 200-300 million years. So, it is not unreasonable to suppose that these molecules were initially made in space which in effect could be, metaphorically speaking, a huge chemical laboratory.
The research (drawn from my own experimental astrochemistry) highlighted during this oral presentation focuses on the formation of molecules under a variety of simulated space conditions (eg different temperatures, levels of radiation energies and different types of impinging radiations). There are two types of chemistry that take place in space, namely the solid and gas phases and although only 25% of the chemistry in space occurs in the solid phase, this is the focus of my presentation.
2) Speaker: D. Parunakian (Skobeltsyn Institute of Nuclear Physics, MSU)
Title: “Solar wind interaction with Mercury’s magnetic field”
Abstract: see Russian version