UW News

December 1, 2017

UW astrobiologists to discuss work, introduce IMAX film ‘The Search for Life in Space’ Dec. 6 at Pacific Science Center

UW News

"The Search for Life in Space" is now playing at the IMAX theater at the Pacific Science Center.

“The Search for Life in Space” is now playing at the IMAX theater at the Pacific Science Center.

Three University of Washington astrobiologists will discuss their research and introduce the new 3-D IMAX movie “The Search for Life in Space” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 6, in the PACCAR Theater of the Pacific Science Center.

Speaking will be UW doctoral students Brett Morris of astronomy and Marshall Styczinski of physics as well as Erika Harnett, research associate professor of Earth and space sciences and associate director of the UW’s NASA Space Grant Consortium. All three are affiliated with the UW Astrobiology Program.

Harnett uses physics-based computer programs to study how radiation and the sun’s magnetic fields influence the upper atmospheres and surfaces of planets and moons in the solar system. She investigates the evolutions of these environments over time, and how current conditions may affect how robotic probes, or even humans, could explore such worlds.

Morris studies stars and planets with observations from ground- and space-based telescopes. He was a co-author on UW-led research on the TRAPPIST-1 system and has researched transmission spectroscopy and “transit timing variations” as well. Styczinski uses magnetic fields to study the icy crust of Jupiter’s moons, looking for places where life may be found. He was a speaker in the 2016 UW Science Now lecture series at Town Hall Seattle.

As notes from producer December Media state, “The Search for Life in Space” takes the viewer on a journey “from the depths of the Pacific Ocean into the far reaches of space” to show how astrobiologists are searching for life beyond Earth.

“With cutting-edge imagery from the world’s most powerful telescopes, (the film) takes audiences from the surface of Mars and the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn, to the extreme lava fields of Hawaii and thermal vents deep beneath the sea.” Astrobiologists look in such harsh environments for clues to how life takes hold, on Earth or perhaps elsewhere.

The IMAX documentary is narrated by film star Malcolm McDowell. It features Cornell astronomer Lisa Kaltenegger, who is director of the Carl Sagan Institute.

The film was produced in association with Film Victoria Australia and Swinburne University of Technology. It is part of the Pacific Science Center’s Science in the City series of events.

Tickets are $5 and doors open at 6:40 p.m. A Facebook page for the event is here.

Watch the film’s trailer below: