Astronomers from around the world will convene in Washington, DC, June
18-21 to discuss the planets of stars beyond the Sun, currently one of the
hottest topics in astrophysical research. Science journalists are invited
to listen in on the deliberations on “Scientific Frontiers in Research on
Extrasolar Planets” and meet the leaders in that field at the Carnegie
Institution, 1530 P Street NW, in Washington. (A Press Reply Form is
enclosed.) It should be a major educational experience on the leading edge
of space exploration.

The topic of Extrasolar Planets is at the intersection of current studies
of how stars are born, how solar systems form, and of “Astrobiology,” the
rapidly growing field that studies the origin of life on Earth and its
potential to exist elsewhere. As of September 1995, there were no known
planets of normal stars (a few planets of a pulsar had been found). Almost
80 planets have been reported since then, and more are sure to follow. The
more planets that are found, the more secure scientists may be in drawing
conclusions about them.

Over 200 researchers are expected for the 4-day conference, which features
invited talks by acknowledged leaders in the field, including Michel Mayor
(Geneva Observatory), Geoffrey Marcy and Debra Fischer (University of
California, Berkeley), Anneila Sargent (California Institute of
), and Norman W. Murray (Canadian Institute for Theoretical
Astrophysics). Discussions of future projects to detect smaller planets,
including those that might resemble Earth, will be led by authorities
including Malcolm Fridlund (European Space Agency), Roger Angel and Neville
Wolff (University of Arizona), and William Borucki (NASA’s Ames Research
Center). The meeting was planned by a Scientific Organizing Committee led
by Sara Seager (Institute for Advanced Study and Carnegie Institution),
Alan Boss (Carnegie Institution) and Drake Deming (NASA’s Goddard Space
Flight Center), and is sponsored by NASA and the Carnegie Institution.

The Conference is organized around the prime topics of planet detection,
physical properties of the planets, how they form and evolve in planetary
systems around newborn stars, the exciting new area of “transit events”
(catching a tiny but reproducible reduction in the intensity of a star as
its planet passes in front), and prospects for future observations. The
future observations will involve huge telescopes and telescope combinations
on the ground, new space satellites, and eventually the remote sensing of
“biomarkers” that might indicate the presence of life on a distance world.

The Conference will operate a low key Press Office in the Mayor Room at the
Carnegie Institution; the telephone numbers will be 202 939-1123 and 202
939-1139. The FAX number will be 202 572-0423 . Reporters who file for
daily deadline may wish to do so from their hotel rooms or local bureaus.
Depending on media response, there may be a limited number of news
briefings or group interviews.

Sessions begin at 8:45 AM EDT Tuesday, June 18 and will end by 5:30 PM on
Friday, June 21. Rooms reserved for Conference attendees at the Hilton
Embassy Row are sold out. The overflow hotel is the Radisson Barcelo Hotel
Washington, 2121 P Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037, where rooms may still
be available at the Conference rate of $150 per night plus tax; specify the
“NASA Scientific Frontiers” group. The phone number of the Radisson
Barcelo Hotel is 202 293-3100.

No events at the Conference are open to the public. Properly accredited
journalists will be granted free press registration; please return the
enclosed form or write to the Press Officers (contacts) listed above.


PRESS REPLY FORM: Send by email to or FAX
to 301 286-1772, attention “Steve Maran”

“Press Registration for the Conference is subject to acceptance.”

(    )  YES   I will attend "Scientific Frontiers in Research on Extrasolar
Planets" in Washington, DC on June 18-21, please grant complementary Press

NAME  ________________________________________________________

Affiliation _______________________________________________________

Street address___________________________________________________


Phone      ________________________         FAX ______________________

E-mail address  ___________________________________________________



Steve Maran

301 286-5154

Tina McDowell

(202) 939-1120