House committee to explore life, the universe and everything

The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee next week will get an update from scientists on whether life exists elsewhere in the universe.

The committee will meet Wednesday for a hearing on "astrobiology." According to NASA, astrobiology is a multidisciplinary field that includes the search for habitable environments inside and outside the Solar System, the search for life on Mars and other planets, and studies on the origin of life.

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"Astrobiology addresses three basic questions, which have been asked in some form for generations," NASA says on its website. "Astrobiology is exciting today because we have the technology to begin to answer these fundamental questions: How does life begin and develop? Does life exist elsewhere in the universe? What is life's future on Earth and beyond?"

To get answers, the committee will hear from Mary Voytek, senior scientist for astrobiology in the planetary science division at NASA; Sara Seager of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Steven Dick, the Baruch S. Blumberg chair of astrobiology at the John W. Kluge Center in the Library of Congress.

This House hearing is just one of several that will be held the week after the Thanksgiving break. Details follow:

House Energy & Commerce

Health subcommittee

December 4, "Medicare Advantage: What Beneficiaries Should Expect Under the President's Health Care Plan"
     10 a.m., 2123 Rayburn House Office Building

House Foreign Affairs

Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations subcommittee

December 3, "The United States' Post-Typhoon Response in the Philippines"
     3 p.m., 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

House Judiciary

December 3, "The President's Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws"
     10 a.m., 2141 Rayburn House Office Building

December 3, "The Bankruptcy Code and Financial Institution Insolvencies"
     1 p.m., 2141 Rayburn House Office Building

House Oversight & Government Reform

December 2, "Changes to the Heights Act: Shaping Washington, D.C. for the Future, Part II"
     10 a.m., 2154 Rayburn House Office Building

December 6, "ObamaCare Implementation, the Broken Promise: If You Like Your Current Plan You Can Keep It"
     10 a.m., City of Apache Junction, Arizona (field hearing)

House Science, Space, and Technology

December 4, "Astrobiology: Search for Biosignatures in our Solar System and Beyond"
     10 a.m., 2318 Rayburn House Office Building

House Small Business

December 4, "The Effect of the Business Aggregation Rules on Small Employers"
     1 p.m., 2360 Rayburn House Office Building