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Workshop for the Materials of the Universe

The Materials of the Universe (MotU) workshop brought together 55 experts from astrophysics, planetary science, physics, chemistry, biology, materials science and engineering  in Tempe, Arizona from 24-26 April 2019.  The aim was to define grand questions and challenges in the combined fields of materials research and planetary science for the coming decade. It sought to reveal new and unanticipated questions about the constitution of the universe, that can best be answered by the collective knowledge and imagination of astrophysicists and exoplanetary scientists, geochemists and materials scientists, quantum mechanical and macroscale theorists, and large-scale mission planners and project engineers.  The Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) and Arizona State University co-sponsored the workshop.

Alex Navrotsky, who recently announced  she will be joining joining ASU  in October 2019 (link), made opening remarks and introduced the new ASU Center  for Materials of the Universe.   The first half of the three day meeting was devoted to review talks on: (1) planets near and far; (2) space exploration and technological needs; (3) Life, evolution, sustainability, and our place in the universe; (4) Fundamental physics, chemistry, and materials science; (5) Computational approaches.  The talks were designed to provide sufficient background to the participants for exploring new approaches and directions in studying materials of the universe (agenda). 

Dave Stevenson (Caltech) and Steven Desch (ASU) gave review talks on recent observations of exoplanets and solar system planets and important questions which should be addressed through materials research.  Jim Bell (ASU) and Gustavo Costa (NASA) presented challenges in material development for remote sensing, space exploration and aerospace engineering.  Bob Hazen (Carnegie), Everett Shock (ASU), Hilairy Hartnett (ASU), Ariel Anbar (ASU), and Gary Dirks (ASU) discussed organic and inorganic materials near the surface of planets and theimportance of contributions from materials research.  The rest of the scientific talk program reviewed recent developments in materials research which can be important for exploring the extremely wide parameter space of exoplanets.  Talks were given by Scott Sayres (ASU), Dan Shim (ASU), Andrew Chizmeshya (ASU), and Mark Ghiorso (OFM Research).

In the second half of the meeting, the participants formed four breakout groups for discussions on important short-term and long-term research goals and strategies, for MotU.  The meeting concluded with brainstorming about opportunities for developing research collaborative programs and identifying possible support opportunities for the MOTU center. The  findings and plans are being consolidated and  a white paper is being written.