ROE Workshop 2008: Habitability in Our Galaxy

Royal Observatory Edinburgh Workshop 2008

8-10 October 2008, Royal Observatory Edinburgh

Habitability in our Galaxy

Registration now CLOSED!

The scope of the meeting is to consider the origins of life in our galaxy. The aim is to gather researchers from areas including astrophysics, geophysics and biology. The workshop will also include discussions on astronomical instruments, both present and future, and laboratory based experiments studying extreme environments.

The diversity of the meeting means that there will be many review-like talks that will be at a level appropriate for the intended audience. Topics will include:

1. Exoplanets: observation, habitability, and future
ground-based and space projects

2. Solar System: life in the Solar System, current and
future missions to Solar System objects

3. Origin and Prospects for Life: signature of life, extraterrestrial
life (including SETI), simulation of extreme environments

Invited speakers (not definitive list):

Monica Grady (Open University), Jane Greaves (Univ. of St-Andrews), Leslie Hebb (Univ. of St-Andrews), Don Pollacco (Queens University, Belfast), John Parnell (Univ. of Aberdeen), Helen Fraser (Strathclyde University), Simon Conway Morris (Univ. of Cambridge), Markus Kasper (ESO), Giovanna Tinetti (UCL), Lewis Dartnell, Alan Boss (Carnegie Institution of Washington)

Public Lecture by Prof. Monica Grady (Open University)

8 October 2008

at Our Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh

2nd October 2008: Registration now closed! We have a total of 93 participants.

5th August 2008: Registration now open!

Please print our A4 flyer for your department notice board.

If you are interested in this workshop but cannot yet commit to registering, then please email so we can add you to an email list for workshop announcements and so we can get an idea of how many people are interested.

Dates: 8-10 October 2008

Themes: Astrobiology, Astrochemistry, Exoplanets, Solar System, Origin and Propects for Life


Use the links box on the left to navigate the workshop pages, or the whole thing is available on a single page for easy printing.


Royal Observatory Edinburgh

Royal Observatory Edinburgh
Blackford Hill

Tel: 0131 668 8306 (Adeline Nicol)
Fax: 0131 668 8464 (Adeline Nicol)

google map | Contacts page | aerial view with route to lecture theatre entrance

Please note that ROE is not on Calton Hill!

Our Dynamic Earth (for public lecture)

Our Dynamic Earth
Holyrood Rd

Tel: 0131 550 7800

google map

Apex International Hotel (for workshop dinner)

Apex International Hotel
31-35 Grassmarket

Tel: 0131 666 5028

google map


Wednesday 8th October 2008

09:30-11:20Registration & Coffee
Session 1: Chair Dr Wing-Fai Thi
11:20-11:30Dr Andy Longmore - Welcome to the Royal Observatory Edinburgh and overview of the workshop
11:30-12:20Prof Simon Conway Morris - Evolution is predictable, so where are the extra-terrestrials?
12:20-13:00Dr Giovanna Tinetti - Exploring extrasolar worlds: from gas giants to terrestrial habitable
13:00-14:00Buffet lunch
Session 2: Chair Prof Peter Clarke
14:00-14:40Prof John Parnell - Could we find evidence of life in meteorites?
14:40-15:20Dr Jane Greaves - Debris disks and exo-planet habitability
15:20-15:40Dr J Douglas Armstrong – Genetic dissection of gravity perception in the fruit fly Drosophila
Session 3: Chair tbc
16:00-16:40Dr Marialuisa Aliotta - The origin of elements in the universe
16:40-17:00Duncan Forgan - SETI: a new monte carlo approach
17:00-17:30David Kipping - Searching for the moons of extrasolar planets
17:30-18:00Coach to Dynamic Earth
18:30-19:30Public lecture: Prof Monica Grady “Are we alone?”
19:30-20:30Reception and gallery viewing at Our Dynamic Earth

Thursday 9th October 2008

Session 4: Chair Prof Malcolm McMahon
09:00-09:40Dr Leslie Hebb - How do observations of extra-solar planets fit our understanding of planet formation and evolution?
09:40-10:20Dr Albert Bolhuis - The Rough Guide to extreme environments: a microbiological perspective
10:20-10:40Helen Maynard - Extreme environment facilities at the Centre for Science at Extreme Conditions
Session 5: Chair Dr Andy Longmore
11:00-11:50Prof Monica Grady - Opportunities for life
11:50-12:30Dr John Barnes - The potential for precision radial velocities in the near infrared
12:30-13:30Buffet lunch
Session 6: Chair Dr Gillian Wright
13:30-14:10Dr Claudio Maccone - Recent progress in SETI
14:10-14:50Dr Markus Kasper – EPICS, the exoplanet imager for the E-ELT
14:50-15:10Dr Anders Johansen - Metallicity dependence of planetesimal formation
Session 7: Chair Prof John Raven
15:30-16:00Dr Lewis Dartnell - What is life and how do you spot it?
16:00-16:30Dr Tom Greene - Observing transiting exoplanets with the James Webb Space Telescope
16:30-16:50Dr Dan Hillier - Communicating with the public and schools about the search for life
17:15Coach into town
19:00-22:00drinks reception and conference dinner at Apex International Hotel, Grassmarket

Friday 10th October 2008

Session 8: Chair Dr Wayne Holland
09:30-10:10Dr Don Pollacco - The next decade of exoplanet detection
10:10-10:30Miss Francesca Faedi - A search for planets in star's graveyards. What is the fate of hot Jupiters?
10:30-11:10Dr Helen Fraser - Crash diets - or using weightlessness as a probe of star and planet formation
Session 9: Chair Dr Bill Dent
11:30-11:45Prof Alan Boss - Summary of the workshop
11:45-12:00Prof Graeme Ackland - Summary of the workshop
12:00-13:00Panel-led discussion
13:00-14:00Buffet lunch
14:00-15:00Depart / Astrobiology Scotland meeting (Chair: Dr Jane Greaves)


AbdulgalilAliHeriot Watt University
AliottaMarialuisaSchool of Physics - University of Edinburgh
AllenRosalindEdinburgh University (IfP)
AlsubaiKhaliduniversity of St.andrews
ArmstrongDouglasUniversity of Edinburgh
BarnesJohnUniversity of Hertfordshire
BarrosSusanaQueen's University Belfast
BolhuisAlbertUniversity of Bath
BossAlanCarnegie Institution
BryantDavidUniversity of Leeds
ClarkPaulDurham University
ClarkePeterNational e-Science Centre
ColeHarriet University of Edinburgh
CollingsMarkHeriot-Watt University
Conway MorrisSimonEarth Sciences, University of Cambridge
CordinerMartinQueen's University Belfast
CossinsPeterUniversity of Leicester
CraigonAlisonStrathclyde University
DawsonAngelaUniversity of Edinburgh
DominikMartinSUPA, University of St Andrews
EnochBeckySt Andrews University
FaediFrancescaUniversity of Leicester
ForganDuncanIfA, ROE
FranklandVictoriaHeriot-Watt University
fraserhelen janeuniversity of strathclyde
GibsonNealeQueen's University Belfast
GlauserAdrianUK ATC
Grady Monica The Open University
GreavesJaneSt Andrews
GreeneTomNASA's Ames Research Center
GrocuttEmmaROE Institute for Astronomy
HebbLeslieUniversity of St Andrews
HillierDanROE Visitor Centre
HollandWayneUK ATC
IbarEduardo Institute for Astronomy - University of Edinburgh
JohansenAndersLeiden Observatory, Leiden University
JoshiYogeshQueen's University Belfast
KeeTerenceUniversity of Leeds
KiesslingAlinaUniversity of Edinburgh
KippingDavidUniversity College London
LovedayJohnUniversity of Edinburgh
LynnStuartEdinburgh Royal Observatory
MacconeClaudioCo-chair, SETI Permanent Study Group if the IAA
MacPheeCaitUniversity of Edinburgh
MagennisMarisaUniversity of Edinburgh
MamatsashviliGeorgeInstitute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh
MaynardHelenUniveristy of Edinburgh
McCormacJamesQueens University
McDonaldIainKeele University
McMahonMalcolmUniversity of Edinburgh
MemariYasinInstitute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh
MilesCarolineThe University of Edinburgh
MouldsVictoriaQueens University Belfast
PagalingEulynUniversity of Edinburgh
ParkinsonHannahIfA, University of Edinburgh
ParnellJohnUniversity of Aberdeen
PearceHenryIfA, UoE
PhillipsNeilInstitute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh
PoelmanDieterSt Andrews
PollaccoDonQueens University Belfast
RajanAkhilHeriot Watt University
RavenJohn University of Dundee and Scottish Crop Research Institute
RiceKenInstitute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh
RichardsonJennyIfA, Edinburgh
RupprechtGeroEuropean Southern Observatory ESO
SheehanChrisUniversity of St Andrews
SibthorpeBruceUK ATC
SimpsonElaineQueen's University Belfast
ThiWing-FaiInstitute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh
ThompsonSamanthaUniversity College London
TillingIanIfA PhD Student
TinettiGiovannaUniversity College London
TittleyEricInst. for Astronomy, U. of Edinburgh
WatsonChristopherQueens University
WrightGillianSTFC: UK-ATC

Payment Information

Money will only be collected once registration has been confirmed by the organisers. Participants will be notified as quickly as possible. We can accept payment by debit/credit card or bank transfer.

Prices (in GBP):
Conference fee: £50.00
Extra guest for conference dinner: £35.00 (per extra guest)
Extra guest for public lecture only: £3.00 (per extra guest)
Extra guest for public lecture + reception: £15.00 (per extra guest)
Payment by Credit/Debit Card (MasterCard or VISA only):

Please fax your card details to the LOC using the following fax form. The form is available in both PDF and in OpenDocument formats. When completed please fax your form for the attention of Adeline Nicol.

The following info on the fax is needed:

  • Participant's name
  • E-mail address
  • Phone number
  • Card type [Mastercard/Visa only]
  • Name on card (full details)
  • Issue date
  • Expiry date
  • Card number
  • Security code (last 3 digits on back of card)
  • Total payable (GBP)
  • Signature

When registration has been confirmed, card details are expected to take up to a week to be processed.

Payment by Bank Transfer:

The ROE Workshop 2008 bank details are:

Address: UK Astronomy Technology Centre
Bank of Scotland
426 Morningside Road
Edinburgh EH10 5QF
Account number: 00136018
Sort code: 80-02-77
IBAN: GB72 BOFS 8002 7700 1360 18

It is essential to indicate on the bank transfer the following information as well:

Reference: ROE Workshop 2008
Name (in full): <your name>

Payment (in GBP) should only be done once registration has been confirmed by the organizers. Participants will be notified as quickly as possible.


A limited number of rooms have been held at the following guest houses and hotels for the ROE Workshop 2008. Booking can start immediately however, the rates below are only available until Monday 8 SEPTEMBER. To obtain the quoted rates below, please contact the guest houses/hotels by phone, with the reference number shown.

Transport will be arranged to/from the accommodations listed below to the Workshop.

Guest Houses

Lauderville Guest House
52 Mayfield Road, Edinburgh, EH9 2NH [google map, directions to ROE]
B&B - £40-£60 for single occupancy - (mix of accommodation single/double rooms).
Phone: +44 (0) 131 667 7788
Quote ROE 2008.
21 West Mayfield (not on web)
21 West Mayfield, Edinburgh, EH9 1TQ [google map, directions to ROE]
4* B&B - £49.50 double room for single occupancy (discounted from £54).
WIFI free of charge.
Phone: +44 (0)131 668 2148 (ask for Lorette)
Quote ROE 2008.
Highfield Guest House
83 Mayfield Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3AE [google map, directions to ROE]
B&B - Single £40 (separate private bathroom) / double for single occupancy £54
Phone: +44 (0)131 667 8717 (ask for Maggie/Kate/Gordon)
Quote ROE 2008
Number One Tipperlinn Road
1 Tipperlinn Road, Morningside, Edinburgh, EH10 5ET [google map, directions to ROE]
B&B - £45 double rooms for single occupancy or £70 for double occupancy
Phone: +44 (0) 131 447 6689 (ask for Bolette or Jonathan Nason)
Quote ROE 2008

Please have a look at this webpage for more accommodation opportunities, where "Lower end prices" correspond to "up to £40", "Mid-range" to "up to £80", and "Upper" "more than £80". Bed & Breakfast (B&B) accommodation is unlikely to be found at less than £25 per person.


Apex International Hotel
31-35 Grassmarket, Edinburgh, EH1 2HS
Superior Twin Room over looking Edinburgh Castle £135 B&B single occupancy
Phone: +44 (0) 131 666 5028 (ask for Amy Garside)
Quote ROY1410_003
Best Western Bruntsfield Hotel
69 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh, EH10 4HH
Standard double room - £77 B&B for single occupancy £110 for double occupancy.
Phone: +44 (0) 131 229 1393
Quote ROE 2008
Salisbury Hotel
43-45 Salisbury Road, Edinburgh, EH16 5AA
B&B per room - £75 double / £85 family
Phone: +44 (0) 131 667 1264
Quote ROE 2008
Kildonan Lodge Hotel
27 Craigmillar Park, Newington, Edinburgh EH16 5PE
£65 double room for single occupancy B&B.
Phone: +44 (0) 131 667 2793
Quote ROE 2008

Public Lecture: "Are we alone?"

The public lecture will be given by Monica Grady at Our Dynamic Earth after the first day of the workshop.

Time:18:30 BST, 8 October 2008
Location:Our Dynamic Earth
Tickets:£3.00. Available from hubtickets, or with workshop registration.

The question of whether we are alone in the Solar System, Galaxy or Universe is one which has fascinated humanity since the earliest of times. Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. The search for life beyond the Earth starts with a look at how and where life arose on Earth, and the type of conditions in which life survives. Where might similar environments exist on other bodies, either now or in the past?

From the deepest depths of the ocean floor to the outermost edges of the Galaxy, Monica Grady explores the potential for life to have arisen in a variety of environmental habitats. Starting with the birth of the Sun from a cloud of dust and gas, through the formation of the Earth, its atmosphere and oceans, she highlights key stages that lead to the emergence of life on Earth. Mars, Europa, the water-rich satellite of Jupiter, and Saturn's enigmatic moon Titan are all described as possible niches in which life might have arisen. Beyond the Solar System, the search for extra-solar planets is considered as a future direction for fruitful exploration.

Monica will also be giving a plenary lecture titled "Opportunities for Life" at the workshop.

Monica Grady photo

Since April 2005, Monica Grady has been Professor of Planetary and Space Sciences at the Open University in Milton Keynes. Prior to that, she was Head of the Meteorites and Cosmic Mineralogy Division in the Department of Mineralogy at the Natural History Museum, and Honorary Professor of Meteoritics at University College London. In 2003, she gave the Royal Institution Christmas lectures on the theme Voyage in Space and Time.

Dynamic Earth logo

Our Dynamic Earth is located about 3 miles from the ROE near Holyrood.

Our Dynamic Earth
Holyrood Rd
Tel: 0131 550 7800

Here is a google map showing Dynamic Earth relative to the ROE.


Local Organising Committee

Scientific Organising Committee

Email address: