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Media Invited to 'Signposts of Planets' Meeting at NASA Goddard
GREENBELT, Md. -- The search for planets orbiting distant stars is among the most exciting in astrophysics. In less than two decades, astronomers have discovered more than 600 bona-fide exoplanets, with hundreds of additional candidates still being studied.

The "Signposts of Planets" meeting being held Oct. 18-20 at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., will bring together dozens of observers, modelers, and instrument builders to explore the relationship between exoplanets and the circumstellar disks in which they form.

"We can see these disks of gas and dust much more easily than the planets themselves," said Marc Kuchner, an astrophysicist at NASA Goddard and the conference organizer. "A planet's gravity can impart large-scale structural changes to the disk it inhabits, effectively making signposts that can guide us to new worlds."

Do debris disks always contain planets? What can we infer about planetary properties from the disk's shape and structure? Will patterns in dust clouds help or hinder the direct imaging of earthlike planets?

Highlights of the meeting will include a talk by Goddard's Mark Clampin on the planet-finding capabilities of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, followed by a tour of Webb hardware now undergoing testing and assembly.

Working journalists and public-information officers will be given complimentary press registration. The meeting will be held at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, which as a government facility requires that all meeting attendees obtain badges in order to enter.

For more information on the meeting and badging requirements, please visit:

Goddard Release No. 11-066

Lynn Chandler
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

Marc Kuchner
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.