We had the pleasure recently of hosting a 1 day symposium on Habitable Solar Systems here in St Andrews, funded by the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences for their ongoing ‘Frontier Research’ meetings and as a follow-up to a workshop earlier this year on Novel analytical methods in materials and physical/life sciences funded through EPSRC Institutional Sponsorship. This cross-disciplinary meeting saw attendees gather from geosciences, physics, astronomy and biology, with many others from institutions across Scotland and the rest of the UK. Overall around 70 people came along, making it a thoroughly productive and enjoyable day. The meeting kicked-off with our first invited speaker Prof. Gordon Osinski from the University of Western Ontario, Canada (and St Andrews alumni), who gave us a whirl-wind tour of impact craters in the solar system, followed by a bunch of talks from members of St Andrews Earth Sciences covering everything from planetary formation, organics and perchlorate on Mars, exoplanetary atmospheres, a volcanically-challenged Venus and biogeochemistry on the early Earth. Our other invited speaker, Dr. Caroline Smith from the Natural History Museum (and another St Andrews alumni!) gave us a fantastic history and scientific overview of meteoritics since meteorite curation and research began in the early 1800s. Finally, to round off the day, Charlotte Blake-Kerry from the UK Space Agency spoke to us about new funding opportunities in Mars exploration research, which will hopefully continue to grow here at St Andrews over the coming years.
Overall the meeting further emphasised the exciting planetary science and space exploration activities here in Scotland, which today saw scientists from Glasgow/SUERC, St Andrews, Stirling and Edinburgh get together to explore new collaboration opportunities and discuss ideas for future research.