Tune in to the Breakthrough Discuss conference

Breakthrough Initiatives is livestreaming its third annual academic conference on life in the universe.
By | Published: April 11, 2018 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
ESO/F. Kamphues
The Breakthrough Initiatives were created in 2015 to encourage scientific curiosity about and understanding of the universe around us. The Initiatives consists of several different projects, each with a similar but specific focus:

Breakthrough Listen is an ongoing search for artificially generated radio and optical signals that might come from life elsewhere in our galaxy and others. Along the way, it’s aided with several astronomical projects, including the detection of additional bursts from the single known repeating fast radio burst.

Breakthrough Message is a competition to create a message for other civilizations about Earth and the life it supports. The project’s goal is to both encourage community and promote discussion about the type of message humanity should send.

Breakthrough Watch is a technology development program focused on both Earth- and space-based instruments and observatories capable of finding and characterizing nearby Earth-like planets.

Breakthrough Starshot aims to develop and demonstrate unmanned spaceflight capabilities at 20 percent the speed of light, allowing a mission to visit and study the nearby star system of Alpha Centauri within a generation.

A 20-meter solar sail and boom system, developed by ATK Space Systems, undergoes testing at NASA Glenn Research Center’s Plum Brook facility. Sail systems could be the key to ultralight, ultra-fast interstellar travel.
NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center
This week, the third annual Breakthrough Discuss conference convenes at Stanford University April 12-13. The conference’s focus is “Alien Life: Diversity in the Universe,” with sessions featuring expert astrobiologists, astronomers, and engineers to discuss topics such as life in the solar system and beyond, as well as the current status of the development of new space propulsion systems. Carolyn Porco, leader of the Cassini Imaging Team, and cosmologist Martin Rees are scheduled as keynote speakers, while discussion sessions will be chaired by experts such as Penelope Boston, Zachary Manchester, and Lisa Kaltenegger.

The conference will be livestreamed on the Breakthrough Prize’s YouTube page, which is open to all viewers, with chat features available to allow for moderated questions from the audience. The conference’s schedule is available here, with all times in Pacific Time. You can also find videos and photos from previous Breakthrough Discuss conferences here.

Would you like to learn more about exoplanets and other solar systems? Check out our free downloadable eBook: Our search for extrasolar planets.