1. From Chemical Gardens to Life and Art

    Image source: <a href=""></a> Image source:

    Chemical garden systems, generated by the chimney-shaped structures of ocean hydrothermal vents, have been of astrobiological interest to scientists in the NAI team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for some time. The possible link between these vents to the creation of energy and the beginnings of life on early Earth, first presented by Mike Russell in 1989, was recently reflected upon in an essay by Tim Requarth, published in Aeon.

    In December 2015, the potential of these vents also became the subject of an art installation at the Aksioma Project Space in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Based on ...

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  1. Baruch S. Blumberg Honored for His Lifetime Work in Science and Medicine

    A program hosted by the American Philosophical Society honored Barry S. Blumberg's scientific research approach and presented the handwritten journals that detailed his discovery of the Australian ant A program hosted by the American Philosophical Society honored Barry S. Blumberg's scientific research approach and presented the handwritten journals that detailed his discovery of the Australian antigen, a biomarker for hepatitis B. Image source: APS.

    Source: [American Philosophical Society]

    On December 10, 2015, the family of the late Baruch (Barry) S. Blumberg officially bequeathed his handwritten journals to the American Philosophical Society. Dr. Blumberg, a former President of the Society and discoverer of the Australia antigen, a biomarker for hepatitis B, received the 1976 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on the hepatitis B virus ...

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  1. Upcoming Astrobiology Application Deadlines

    Calling all scientists! Don’t miss these opportunities to kick-start your career or fund research both in the lab and out in the field. The deadlines are approaching soon.

    The Lewis and Clark Fund for Exploration and Field Research in Astrobiology

    Deadline: February 16, 2016

    The American Philosophical Society (APS) and the NASA Astrobiology Institute partnered in 2006 to promote the continued exploration of the world around us through a program of research grants in support of astrobiological field studies undertaken by graduate students, postdocs, and early-career scientists and scholars who are affiliated with U.S. institutions. Previous award recipients ...

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  1. NAI 2015 Director’s Discretionary Fund (DDF) Selections

    The NASA Astrobiology Institute is pleased to announce nine selections for the Director’s Discretionary Fund for 2015. The proposals were chosen based on responsiveness to the scientific and programmatic priorities for the year: integrating the research of and realizing synergies among the current NAI teams, support for early career investigators, and collaboration with our international partners.

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  1. Nitrogen May Be a Sign of Habitability

    About 78% of Earth’s atmosphere is made up of nitrogen. Credit: NASA About 78% of Earth’s atmosphere is made up of nitrogen. Credit: NASA

    We might commonly think of Earth as having an oxygen-dominated atmosphere, but in reality the molecule makes up only a fifth of our air. Most of what surrounds us is nitrogen, at 78 percent. Astrobiologists are beginning to see nitrogen — and not just oxygen— as a key indicator of a planet’s habitability. Nitrogen is essential for life on Earth and could signal an atmosphere thick enough to stabilize liquid water on a planet’s surface, fundamental to creating habitable conditions.

    Nitrogen, in fact, was even more ...

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  1. Life’s Rocky Start

    Life’s Rocky Start airs tonight, 9PM ET/PT on PBS. It follows astrobiologist Robert Hazen as he looks for life in a mineralogical context, and features NAI University of Wisconsin team member John Valley and his research on Archean/Hadean zircons.

    The program will be available for streaming.

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  1. The 4th International ELSI Symposium Broadcasting Live

    The 4th International Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) Symposium: Early Earth, Venus & Mars, taking place January 12-15 at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, is broadcasting live via SAGANLive!

    For a full schedule of talks, visit: (times are JST).

    About the symposium:
    In the Solar System, Earth has alone managed to generate and maintain a large active biosphere whose existence greatly altered the subsequent chemical and physical evolution of the planet. Whether its nearest neighbours, Venus and Mars, were temporarily able to do this as well, or were never in ...

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  1. Hunting Alternative Earths

    Timothy Lyons, PI of the NAI Alternative Earths team, presents the study of Earth’s history happening at the University of California, Riverside and shares how the team’s research connects to the search for life on exoplanets.

    The video was produced by UC Riverside, providing a glimpse of the lab and the people conducting the research.

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  1. Recap of the 2015 Western Australia Astrobiology Grand Tour

    Overhead shot of Shark Bay. Source: ACA/UNSW. Overhead shot of Shark Bay. Source: ACA/UNSW.

    NASA Astrobiology Institute Field Trip Scholarship recipients Giada Arney, Marisol Juarez Rivera and Shaunna Morrison took part in the Western Australia Astrobiology Grand Tour, an eleven-day field trip where participants discovered the unique geography, molluscs and microbial life of Shark Bay, trekked through the iron-rich landscape of the Pilbara—analogous to Martian terrain—to study the banded iron formation of Mount Tom Price and ancient gorges of Karijini National Park, investigated fossils, camped under the stars, and more. The tour was lead by Malcolm Walter, professor of astrobiology at the University of ...

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  1. Seth Shostak Wins Prize for Science Popularization

    Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute. Image source: FameLab Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute. Image source: FameLab

    [Source: SETI Institute]

    Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute, was announced the recipient of the Wonderfest 2015 Carl Sagan Prize for Science Popularization, an award recognizing researchers who “have contributed mightily to the public understanding and appreciation of science.” Shostak has authored numerous articles and books and has been seen and heard on several television and radio programs. He is a well-known voice of the podcast, Big Picture Science, a weekly hour-long show that explores a diverse range of science topics that tie in to our understanding of life ...

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  1. NAI Scientists Honored With Math and Chemistry Awards

    Daniel Rothman of MIT was honored with the AMS 2016 Levi L. Conant Prize. Jason Dworkin of GSFC was honored with 2015 Maryland Chemist Award. Image Credits: Rothman Group at MIT / NASA/GSFC. Daniel Rothman of MIT was honored with the AMS 2016 Levi L. Conant Prize. Jason Dworkin of GSFC was honored with 2015 Maryland Chemist Award. Image Credits: Rothman Group at MIT / NASA/GSFC.

    [Source: American Mathematical Society]

    Daniel Rothman, a member of the NASA Astrobiology Institute MIT team, received the 2016 Levi L. Conant Prize of the American Mathematical Society for his article “Earth’s Carbon Cycle: A Mathematical Perspective” which appeared in the Bulletin of the AMS.

    His paper explores the underlying mathematical structure of the carbon cycle and encourages mathematicians to see their role along with scientists in addressing ...

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  1. Astrobiology Graphic History Issue #5 at AGU

    Issue #5 of the ongoing Astrobiology graphic history series dives into the study of life on Mars through analog locations found on Earth, with special appearances made by real life astrobiologists. The issue is available for download as both a high-resolution PDF and a PDF for mobile devices.

    If you are attending AGU, don’t miss your chance to get physical copies of Astrobiology, the Search for Life in the Universe signed by series writer and illustrator Aaron Gronstal on December 14th 6-8pm and December 15th 11:30-1pm.

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  1. An Audiovisual Concert – Origins: Life and the Universe

    Performance of the Northwest Sinfonia Orchestra Performance of the Northwest Sinfonia Orchestra

    On November 7, 2015, in Benaroya Hall, Seattle, Washington, an audiovisual concert was held paying tribute to some of the greatest discoveries made by astrobiologists, space scientists, and astronomers. The concert was a benefit for the scholarship program at the University of Washington Astrobiology Program and the Department of Astronomy and featured Grammy-award winning conductor David Sabee and the Northwest Sinfonia orchestra.

    The symphonic concert was accompanied by projected high-resolution movies created using some of the most spectacular imagery, videos and conceptual art from the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA, the European Southern Observatory, the ...

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  1. Astrobiology Sessions at the 2015 AGU Fall Meeting

    The 2015 AGU Fall Meeting will take place December 14-18. We’ve compiled a cheat sheet schedule of this year’s astrobiology talks and poster sessions for easy downloading and printing out.

    These events can also be conveniently scheduled and brought along using the AGU mobile app.

    More information about AGU is available at their website:

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  1. The Search for the Origin of Life

    Image: PBS LearningMedia Image: PBS LearningMedia

    The Search for the Origin of Life, a documentary by Devon Riter and Daniel Schmidt, follows NASA Astrobiology Institute scientists as they explore the question: How did life on our planet begin? Their research takes them all around the globe and into extreme environments, from arctic glaciers to thermal hot springs to deep into caves. The program originally aired on PBS and is available for viewing through the Montana PBS website.

    PBS LearningMedia provides teaching resources to accompany the program.

    Source: [Montana PBS]

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