Impact of Exoplanetary Space Weather On Climate and Habitability

A NASA Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NExSS) Workshop Without Walls: November 29th – December 2nd, 2016. New Orleans, LA, and other virtual locations.

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Organizers: Vladimir Airapetian (NASA GSFC), William Danchi (NASA GSFC)

The landscape of exoplanetary science has changed considerably with the great success of the Kepler mission, which has discovered thousands of transit candidates and hundreds of confirmed exoplanets around K-M dwarf stars and a few planets within their Habitable Zones (HZs). How does the classic definition of the HZ relate to the conditions required for development and support of life as we know it within “biogenic zones”? Kepler also revealed thousands of superflares on hundreds of solar-type stars, which may suggest that host stars have profound effects on the physical and chemical evolution of exoplanetary atmospheres. What do we know about the impact of space weather on our own planet? How can we use lessons learned from the largest solar space weather events to understand how exoplanets are affected by their host stars? Stellar forcing in the form of XUV fluxes, winds, coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and associated energetic particle events (EPE) can have a dramatic effect on the histories of atmospheric loss, atmospheric chemistry, and climates that shape exoplanetary habitability. Thus, there is a need to perform sophisticated observations and develop theoretical models to characterize the forms of magnetic activity, their effects on exoplanetary space weather, and its effects on atmospheric dynamics, chemistry and habitability conditions.

The assessment of the impacts of host stars on the climate and habitability of terrestrial (exo)planets may significantly modify the current definition of the habitable zone and provide new avenues for searching for signatures of life.

The major goal of the workshop is to promote collaboration between NExSS team members and the broader U.S. and international communities, to discuss recent progress in interdisciplinary studies, and to develop a community roadmap that crosess the boundaries of space weather from the Sun to cool stars and investigates its impact on (exo)planetary climates. This will be achieved by bringing together scientists involved in related activities in the broader astrophysics, heliophysics and planetary science communities. Their perspectives of interrelations among space weather, climate and habitability conditions will be crucial in defining the boundaries of habitability of exoplanets around F to M dwarfs.

The workshop will be open to community virtual participation via Adobe Connect.

The following key themes will be reviewed and discussed:

  1. How do solar and stellar explosive events and associated space weather (SW) form?
  2. How can we search for SW signatures around cool dwarf stars at various phases of evolution?
  3. What is the impact of space weather on the rate of atmospheric escape from magnetically shielded and unshielded (exo)planets?
  4. What lessons on atmospheric escape rates can we learn from Earth, Mars and Venus?
  5. How does space weather (XUV, particle radiation and interplanetary magnetic fields) affect water loss from (exo)planets?
  6. How does space weather impact planetary chemistry and climates?
  7. What are the SW effects imposed by cool stars on planetary surface habitability?
  8. What are the SW imposed spectral signatures from (exo) planetary atmospheres?

The major output of the workshop will be the development of three white papers (one per science topic) aimed at specifying a conceptual framework for the ways forward in theoretical modeling, chemical experiments, and in situ and remote observations of bio-signatures of life affected by SW. The outcome of such an interdisciplinary approach will become crucial in defining the candidates for habitable planets for upcoming exoplanetary missions including TESS and JWST and for a potential future direct imaging mission.

Workshop Schedule

Please click the underlined text to view recordings from the workshop

Day 1 – November 29, 2016
Space Weather on the Sun and Cool Stars

8:30-9:00 amOpening remarks: “Legos of Habitability: Pieces From Stars” (Vladimir Airapetian, Mary Voytek)
9:00-9:30 am – “Around-the-room” 30-second intros for both local and remote participants.  These will be accompanied by a Profile slide for each person, and there is a sign-up sheet for local and remote participant spots for those of you who would like to introduce yourselves.
9:30-10:00 am – Hiroyuki Maehara (NAOJ/Okayama Astrophysical Observatory) – Solar /Stellar Flares on K-M dwarfs
10:00-10:30 amKevin France – Measuring and Reconstructing XUV, FUV, & NUV
10:30-11:00 am Nat Gopalswamy (NASA GSFC) – CMEs from the Sun
11:00-11:30 am – (Online) Rachel Osten (STSci) – Searching for Signatures of Stellar CMEs

11:30-11:45 am – Coffee Break

11:45 am-12:30 pm Breakout Session 1:
Identifying building blocks of solar magnetic activity: Lessons Learned (Lead TBD)

  • What have we learned from the current solar missions: SDO, STEREO, IRIS, Hinode, IBEX? What are the outstanding questions? What type of an “ideal” solar/heliospheric mission do we need to resolve them?
  • Challenges in modeling the physics of magnetic activity from the Sun (flares, CMEs and SEPs). What “ideal” physics and computational capabilities are needed?

12:30–1:30 pm – Lunch

1:30-2:00 pmRobert Strangeway (UCLA) – Effects of Flares and CMEs on Outflows from the Earth’s Atmosphere
2:00-2:30 pmBruce Jakosky (UC Colorado/LASP) – Effects of Flares and CMEs on Mars
2:30-3:00 pmAlex Glocer (GSFC)- Drivers of Ionospheric Outflows from Earth and (Exo)Planets

3:00-3:15 pm – Coffee Break

3:15-3:45 pmMike Chaffin (UC Colorado/LASP) – Atmospheric Loss from Unmagnetized Planets
3:45-4:15 pmAntti Pulkkinen (GSFC) – ExoCCMC as a New Tool for Characterization of Space Weather on Exoplanets
4:15-4:45 pmChuanfei Dong (Princeton University)– Theoretical Modeling of CME Impact on Atmospheric Loss from Early and Current Mars

4:45-5:45 pm – Breakout Session 2:
Space Weather on Terrestrial Planets: Lessons Learned (Lead TBD)

  • What have we learned from the past and current Earth missions: Polar, FAST, Cluster, ACE? What are the outstanding questions? What “ideal” missions do we need to develop to resolve them?

5:45-6:15 pm – Summary and discussion of online responses

Starting a sketch for a white paper on space weather from the Sun and cool dwarfs.

Day 2 – November 30, 2016
Space Weather From The Sun & Stars and Associated Effects I.

8:30-9:00 amJin Meng (LMRC) Data Constrained Coronal Mass Ejections in A Global Magnetohydrodynamics Model
9:00-9:30 amGary Zank (University of Alabama) – Solar Energetic Particle Events
9:30-10:00 amGregg Hallinan (CalTech) – Observing Aurorae on (Exo)Planets

10:00-10:15 am – Coffee Break

10:15-10:45 amOfer Cohen, O. (CfA) – Space Weather Due to Star-Planet Interaction: Detectability of Space Weather

10:45-11:45 am – Breakout Session 1:
Physics and Methodology For Detection of Stellar CMEs (Lead TBD)

  • What have we learned from the current solar EUV, optical and radio observations of CMEs: SOHO, SDO, STEREO and radio observations of solar CMEs (LOFAR, SKA)? What are the outstanding questions? What “ideal” missions do we need to detect stellar CMEs?
  • Can bow shocks from exoplanetary systems be detected? If yes, how?

11:45 am – 1:00 pm – Lunch

1:00-1:30 pmOlga Verkhoglyadova (JPL/Caltech, University of Alabama in Huntsville) – Chemical Changes of Earth’s Atmosphere During Large CME Events
1:30-2:00 pmColin Johnstone (University of Vienna) – XUV emission and Winds From Fast and Slow Rotators
2:00-2:30 pmGuillaume Gronoff (NASA Langley) – Chemical Impacts of SEPs on Early Earth, Mars and Exoplanetary Atmospheric Chemistry
2:30-3:00 pmMartin Mlynzack (NASA Langley) – Earth’s Thermospheric Response to CME and SEP events: Implications for terrestrial type exoplanets around K-M dwarfs

3:00-3:15 pm – Coffee Break

3:15-3:45 pm – (Online) Robin Wordsworth (Harvard University) – Early Mars Atmosphere
3:45-4:15 pm – (Online) David Catling (University of Washington) – Chemistry of Early Earth

4:15-5:15 pm – Breakout Session 2: Space Weather on Terrestrial Planets: Lessons Learned (Lead TBD)

  • What have we learned from the past and current missions to Mars and Venus: Curiosity, MAVEN, Mars Express, Venus Express? What are the outstanding questions? What “ideal” missions do we need to resolve them?
  • Can we use statistical relationships for outflows from earth and Mars to characterize exoplanetary outflows? What “ideal” mission capabilities are needed?

5:15-5:45 pm – Summary and discussion of online responses

Starting a sketch for a white paper on the effects of space weather from the Sun and cool dwarfs on atmospheric loss.

Day 3 – December 1, 2016
Space Weather From The Sun & Stars and Associated Effects II.

8:30-9:00 am – (Online) Sarah Rugheimer (University of St. Andrews) – Pale Blue Dots Around FGKM Stars
9:00-9:30 am – (Online) Lisa Kaltenegger (Cornell University) – Influence of a Star on the Detectable Spectral Features, Including UV Radiation
9:30-10:00 amAline Vidotto (Trinity College Dublin) – Stellar magnetism, Winds & Their Effects on Planetary Environments

10:00-10:30 am – Coffee Break

10:30-11:00 amLee Grenfell (German Aerospace Center) Biosignatures of Exoplanetary Atmospheres Driven by Photochemistry

11:00 am-12:00 pm – Breakout Session 1:
Chemistry changes during large space weather events on Earth and Mars: Implications for exoplanetary atmospheres (Lead TBD)

  • What have we learned from the current Earth and Mars observations of atmospheric chemistry? What are the outstanding questions? What are the effects of biology?
  • Can we use lessons learned from Earth/Mars for defining bio-signatures of life.

12:00-1:00 pm – Lunch

1:00-1:30 pmKensei Kobayashi (YNU) – Prebiotic Chemistry via Energy Fluxes from Solar/Stellar Explosive Events
1:30-2:00 pmVlada Stamenkovic (Caltech & JPL) – Plate tectonics and dynamo generation on terrestrial type exoplanets
2:00-2:30 pmSvetlana Berdyugina (KIS) – Photosynthetic pigments as biosignatures
2:30-3:00 pmVladimir Airapetian (NASA/GSFC) – Beacons of Life

3:00-3:15 pm – Coffee Break

3:15-4:15 pm – Breakout Session 2:
Habitability of Exoplanets Around K-M stars (Lead TBD)

  • How large are XUV fluxes from active stars in HZs? How large particle fluxes from active stars in HZs? How would they affect surface atmospheric pressure?
  • Effects of volcanic and tectonic activity on atmospheric pressure and climate of exo-terrestrial planets.
  • Defining and characterizing habitability and habitable planets.

5:15-5:30 pm – Summary and discussion of online responses

Starting a sketch for a white paper on the effects of space weather from the Sun and cool dwarfs on atmospheric chemistry.

Day 4 – December 2, 2016 (Half Day)
Climate and Habitability

8:30-9:00 am – (Online) Joanna Barstow (Oxford University) – Observing Biosignatures of Life
9:00-9:30 amTony Del Genio (GISS) – Climate Modeling of Terrestrial Planets
9:30-10:00 amNorman Sleep (Stanford University) – Volcanic Activity on Early Earth and Mars

10:00-10:30 am – Coffee Break

10:30-11:00 amDanchi, W. (GSFC) – Observational Strategies to Search for Biosignatures of Life (Ground-Based and Space Telescopes)

11:00 am-12:00 pm – Breakout Session 1:
Prebiotic Chemistry, Bio-signatures of Life (Lead TBD)

  • Effects of space weather on prebiotic chemistry of early Earth/Mars/exoplanets around active stars. Spectral signatures of prebiotic molecules.
  • Building blocks of life from theory and experiments. Bio-signatures of life.
  • Can we use laboratory experiments of complex biochemistry of life as a guide for defining bio-signatures of life? What “ideal” mission capabilities are needed?

12:00 pm -12:30 pm – Summary and Closing Remarks.


Remote Participation

All of our Workshops Without Walls strive to be all-inclusive and as interactive as possible for both in-person and remote attendees.

Video/Chat/Listen via AdobeConnect:

1. Login to Adobe Connect
Using any internet browser, click on the icon above or go to
Choose the option to Enter as a Guest, type your name in the field, and click Enter Room.
Once inside Adobe Connect, please mute Adobe Connect’s sound by clicking the green speaker icon.

2. Dial into the Telecon
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Telecon: 1-844-467-4685  |  Passcode: 5947549553#
NOTE: Please mute your phone’s microphone when not speaking.  You can use *6 to toggle mute on/off.  If you need an international toll-free number, please let Mike Toillion ( know and he can provide you one.
3. Presenting
Please provide your slides to Mike Toillion via email ( ahead of time.  He will have them uploaded in Adobe Connect and will bring them up for you at the appropriate time.
The local audience will hear you through the phone line and you will be able to control your slides through Adobe Connect.

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