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Call for Abstracts

The Abstract deadline has been extended! — Thursday, August 10, 2017, 5:00 p.m. U.S. Central Daylight Saving Time (GMT -5)

  • Participants may submit more than one abstract. However, because of the limited number of talks, authors will be given the opportunity to present at most one talk, with the remaining abstracts selected as posters.
  • No late abstracts will be accepted, regardless of the reason.
  • Abstracts sent by e-mail will NOT be considered.
  • Abstracts are limited to one page.
  • All abstracts must be submitted in PDF format.
  • All abstracts must be submitted in U.S. letter size format (8.5” × 11”) and include a one-inch margin on all four sides; A4 submissions will be rejected by the system.
  • Abstract file sizes must be no larger than 3 MB; larger files will be automatically rejected by the system.
  • If not using the template provided, leave a one-inch margin on all four sides of your document.

Authors are encouraged to start the submission process early so the USRA staff will have time to provide assistance in the event of technical problems. For technical assistance, contact Debbie Mitchell (281-486-2106), or send an e-mail message to

Unable to Produce PDF Files?  Authors who are unable to produce a PDF file may send their source files (must be in Word or PostScript format) to USRA no later than August 8, 2017. A PDF file will be created and returned to the author, but it is the author’s responsibility to submit the PDF file by the time of the abstract deadline. Source files should be sent to

If you need to revise your abstract (prior to the deadline only):  If you discover an error and need to replace your abstract file, or correct the information submitted on the form, return to the abstract submission portion of the meeting portal and click on the “Update” link that appears next to the title of the abstract you submitted.

Preparation and Submission of Abstracts

Step 1:  Download the appropriate template
Step 2:  Write the abstract (no more than one page) using the format shown in the template
Create a PDF file (no larger than 3 MB)
Step 4:  Fill out the electronic abstract submission form and upload the abstract file

Program Considerations


The morning plenary sessions will consist of a mix of review and contributed talks. Rather than inviting speakers for the review talks, all talks will be selected from abstract submissions. Review topics are listed below and abstract submitters will have the opportunity to self-nominate to give a review talk.

Review Topics:

What does it mean to be habitable?
"Habitable zones" — A useful concept?
Habitable planet compositions
Habitability in the solar system
How do habitable conditions arise?
Formation of habitable planets
Planetary system dynamics
What are the indicators of these conditions?
Origins of life/early Earth/geosignatures
How can we observe these indicators?
Exoplanet characterization
Current and future observatories and missions


Abstracts not selected for talks will have the opportunity to be presented as posters. We will make every effort to provide ample time for poster viewing, subject to the space available.

Breakout Sessions:

Each afternoon will feature multiple breakout sessions devoted to interdisciplinary discussion. Breakout sessions can include a limited number of talks but will typically emphasize discussion over lectures. We expect to allot three hours for each breakout session. Organizers should also plan to present a short (~10 minute) summary of their session on Friday morning of the workshop.

Submit an abstract for a breakout session as you would for a talk or a poster. The submitter is responsible for organizing the breakout session. We encourage submissions from groups of interdisciplinary collaborators. 

Breakout session choices will be driven by the proposals submitted. You are encouraged to team up to propose breakout sessions. Organizers might serve as a match maker, encouraging two proposers to work together if closely related proposals are submitted.

The format for a breakout session is flexible, but we present the following example as inspiration.

Terrestrial planet formation:

1:00 p.m.  Panel 1:  An Earth geologist, solar system planetary scientist, and exoplanet astronomer each briefly describe the pressing questions in their subfield.
1:20 p.m.   Questions for the panelists and audience discussion; some discussion-sparking questions have been developed in advance by the session organizer
1:40 p.m. Panel 2:  Three graduate students doing research in this area each give a short presentation on their results
2:00 p.m. Questions for the panelists and audience discussion
2:20 p.m.  Audience breaks into discipline-homogeneous groups to brainstorm wish lists of what sort of measurements or theoretical developments they want from other disciplines.
2:40 p.m. Discussion of wish lists
3:00 p.m.  Audience breaks into discipline-heterogeneous groups to brainstorm interdisciplinary research directions
3:30 p.m. Discussion of interdisciplinary research directions
4:00 p.m. Adjourn

The following is a non-exhaustive list of possible topics for breakout sessions.

Terrestrial planet formation
How does disk composition affect planet composition?
Atmospheric biosignatures
Habitability throughout a star’s evolution
Habitable moons