We now know that our solar system is not unique. There are millions of other worlds in our galaxy and we are making new discoveries every year that bring us closer to finding a planet like our own. 

In this talk, Dr Nicholas Rattenbury will take us on a mission, first to explore the special environments that have made the emergence of life possible here on Earth. He will then relate these to our neighbours in the solar system. 

“We have discovered worlds which have environments very different to what we experience on Earth,” he says, “but some of these are now considered places where there could be life.”

Nicholas looks at exactly how astronomers and astrophysicists discover alien worlds. He will then explore the future and talk about proposed missions such as Europa Lander, a NASA spacecraft that will land on the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa, to seek evidence for liquid water and life. 


Dr Nicholas Rattenbury is an Astrophysicist in the Department of Physics. His research is on the detection of alien worlds and the development of spacecraft missions. He is the President of the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand and the Science Lead for the Auckland Programme for Space Systems.

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Last updated: 24 March 2021