New Rochelle, April 5, 2007 – Which planets outside of Earth’s Solar System are most likely to be capable of supporting life is a question that will be the focus of both a NASA-sponsored workshop later this year and a special collection of papers in the Spring 2007 (Volume 7, Number 1) issue of Astrobiology, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. The papers are available free online at

These reports present the preliminary results and conclusions from recent studies on the habitability of M Star Planets, which are planets about the size and mass of Earth that contain sufficient amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) in their atmosphere to support a stable source of water on the planet’s surface. The habitability of terrestrial planets depends in large part on the distance of their orbit from the nearest star. Most of the stars closest to the Earth’s Sun are characterized as M Stars, and planets orbiting M Stars are of particular importance in the ongoing Darwin/Terrestrial Planet Finder missions being developed jointly by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA).

Astrobiology presents a collection of intriguing papers that explore various aspects of M Stars (including dwarf M Stars and low mass M Stars), describe efforts to simulate Earth-like planets, consider the possible greenhouse effects in the atmosphere of Earth-like planets, and review the spectral signatures of photosynthesis.

“M stars are the most accessible, yet challenging, targets for habitable zone terrestrial planet searches,” says journal Editor-in-Chief, Sherry L. Cady, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Geology at Portland State University. “The potential for M Star habitable zone planets to evolve biospheres and retain them are but two of the many reasons to include M stars in the search for evidence of life beyond the confines of Earth.”

Astrobiology is an authoritative peer-reviewed journal published quarterly in print and online. The Journal provides a forum for scientists seeking to advance our understanding of life’s origins, evolution, distribution and destiny in the universe. A complete table of contents and a full text for this issue may be viewed online at

Astrobiology is the leading peer-reviewed journal in its field. To promote this developing field, the Journal has teamed up with The Astrobiology Web to highlight one outstanding paper per issue of Astrobiology.

These papers are available free online at and to visitors of The Astrobiology Web at

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., is a privately held, fully integrated media company known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in many promising areas of science and biomedical research. Its biotechnology trade magazine, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN), was the first in its field and is today the industry’s most widely read publication worldwide. A complete list of the firm’s 60 journals, books, and newsmagazines is available at

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