Celebrating Astrobiology and the NAI on November 14, 2019
Credit: Miki Huynh
When: November 14, 2019 8:30AM – 5:00PM PST
Celebrating the NAI at 20
Join us on November 14th to celebrate the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) at 20. As the NAI completes its 20-year tenure, we remember the origin of astrobiology, the impact of the NAI to the field of astrobiology, share the current development of the field, and discuss the future direction of astrobiology at NASA, the Ames Research Center, and the broader community.
The Astrobiology Science Forum will highlight Ames’ exobiology and astrobiology enterprise, NASA’s role as the host of the NAI; and share how ...
Source: [NASA Ames Research Center]November 07, 2019 • Written by: Yael Kovo • Report issue
An artist’s impression of the rocky exoplanet Kepler-186f, which is one of the most promising candidates for a planet could potentially be habitable, but how similar or different does it have to be compared to Earth to be able to support life? Image credit: NASA/Ames/SETI Institute/JPL–Caltech.
Three billion years ago, Earth was a very different place. The sun that shone on its oceans and continents was not as bright as it is today, and rather than the oxygen-rich atmosphere humans need to survive, methane played a much bigger role in the gas layer that encased our young planet. Despite their differences, this early Earth and our current one have something important in common: they could both support life.
For much of its existence, Earth has been inhabited. But if researchers remotely analyzed the atmosphere of that young Earth, they might have missed the evidence for life ...October 01, 2019 • Written by: Sarah Wild • Report issue
Visible fractures in exposed lithospheric rock in Oman. Credit: University of Colorado, Boulder.
A slab of ancient sea bed in Oman could guide scientists’ search for extraterrestrial life.
Hundreds of meters under the surface of a rocky valley in Oman, the sultanate on the south-eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, microbes are thriving even though there is no oxygen. In the past, and in fact until quite recently, scientists thought that oxygen was vital for life, but unique habitats around the world are increasingly showing that life is more diverse than we initially expected – and might be found in many more places than had previously been assumed.
The valley, known as the Semail ...September 26, 2019 • Posted by: Sarah Wild • Report issue
Illustration of the exoplanet Kepler 22-B. Credit: NASA, AMES and JPL-Caltech
The SETI Institute asks big questions: What is life? How does it begin? Are we alone?
Nathalie Cabrol, Director of the Carl Sagan Center at the SETI Institute and the PI at the NAI SETI Institute team, challenges us to think deeper and to question our assumptions in a recent piece for Scientific American. “Science is without a doubt increasingly better at characterizing what life does with each passing day,” said Cabrol. “But brings comparatively fewer advances to the identification of what life is and how it originates.” She suggests the limits we place on the nature of ...
Source: [SETI Institute]September 24, 2019 • Written by: SETI Institute • Report issue
Photo illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo. Photos by maciek905/Thinkstock and Thinkstock.
Dates: Wed, Sept 18 8:00AM – 12:00PM and Thurs, Sept 19 1:00PM – 5:00PM
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Astrobiology Institute (NAI) is hosting a virtual Workshop Without Walls on Astrovirology to review and advance the science of understanding what a virus is, their origin, ecology, impact on evolution, and their role in exobiology as a biosignature.
This virtual workshop will be over two half-days to enabled global scientific exchange with no attendance costs or travel required. Topics covered will presented in a manner to reach a range of scientific understanding including students, researchers, educators, science ...September 12, 2019 • Written by: Yael Kovo • Report issue
Life may have arisen near hydrothermal vents rich in iron and sulfur. The earliest cells incorporated these elements into small peptides, which became the first and simplest ferredoxins – proteins that shuttle electrons within the cell, to support metabolism. As cells evolved, ferredoxins mutated into more complex forms. The ferredoxins in modern bacteria, plant and animal cells are all derived from that simple ancestor. Credit: Ian Campbell, Rice University
A Rutgers-led study sheds light on one of the most enduring mysteries of science: How did metabolism – the process by which life powers itself by converting energy from food into movement and growth – begin?
To answer that question, the researchers reverse-engineered a primordial protein and inserted it into a living bacterium, where it successfully powered the cell’s metabolism, growth and reproduction, according to the study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Source: [Rutgers Today]September 03, 2019 • Written by: Neal Buccino • Report issue
Right: T16 SAR image of Viedma Lacus. Cyan arrows denote portions of the perimeter of the rampart feature, a SAR-bright apron that encloses nearly the entire lake. Yellow arrows denote portions of the raised rim. Top Left: Zoom into the raised rim portion of the lake perimeter, denoted by the white box in the right image. The rim appears eroded in multiple sections; Bottom Left: Conceptual model of a lake with a rampart and rim (not to scale).
Cassini observations of Titan have revealed ~650 polar lakes and seas. Modeling efforts, supported by Cassini data, suggest the liquid composition to be a mixture of methane/ethane with a contribution of dissolved nitrogen. The surface of Titan has abundant carbon-rich molecules (hydrocarbons) that have been shown to form amino acids, the building blocks of proteins needed for life, when exposed to liquid water in laboratory simulations.
Lake formation remains an open question in Titan science. The discovery of ramparts around a few of these lakes might help shed light on the formation of Titan’s lakes in general and ...
Source: [Icarus]August 27, 2019 • Posted by: Yael Kovo • Report issue
The bold notice at the top of C.23 Interdisciplinary Consortia for Astrobiology Research has been updated to note that final text of that program element will be released by October, 2019.
Step-2 proposals will be due no fewer than 90 days after release of the final text.
Questions regarding this (TBD) program element may be directed to Mary Voytek.
The Planetary Science Division intends to solicit Interdisciplinary Consortia for Astrobiology Research (ICAR) to support the goal of the NASA’s Astrobiology program in the study of the origins, evolution, and distribution of life in the Universe. PIs selected as ...August 21, 2019 • Posted by: Yael Kovo • Report issue
The 15th Astrobiology Graduate Conference (AbGradCon) was held from July 22-26, 2019 at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah, with 75 participants presenting 31 talks and 44 posters.
The attendees were graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and select undergraduate students from 47 institutions in 7 different countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Israel, Japan, and the United States). In addition to the scientific program, the attendees gathered for informal networking and social activities each night and an educational field trip to the Timpanogos Cave National Monument on the last day of the conference, which included a lecture on ...August 13, 2019 • Written by: Rebecca Rapf • Report issue
Europa's stunning surface, which may hold clues to the characteristics of the oceans hidden underneath. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute
Earth is a world of astonishing biodiversity. Yet, despite the extreme variety of lifeforms on our planet, there is one key trait all life here shares: none of it can survive without water. This is why, when scientists scour the cosmos for potentially habitable worlds, the presence of liquid water is one of the most alluring traits a celestial object can exhibit.
390 million miles away from Earth, an icy moon harbors an abundance of liquid water just below its frozen surface. Jupiter’s moon Europa is home to an extraterrestrial sea that’s billions of years old, and may ...
Source: [Icarus]August 12, 2019 • Written by: Glorie Martinez • Report issue
Undergraduate Research Associates in Astrobiology: End-of Term Research Presentations
Presenter: Goddard Center for Astrobiology (GCA)
When: August 9, 2019 1PM EDT / 10AM PDT
Meeting Link: https://ac.arc.nasa.gov/gsfc/
The GCA sponsors a summer program (URAA) in which talented undergraduate students conduct cutting-edge research under the direction of GCA scientist-mentors. The students present summaries of their research objectives and findings during an end-of-term session delivered both locally and streamed to the astrobiology community as a whole.
The Class of 2019 will present on Friday, August 9th at 1-2 PM EDT in Building 34, Room W130. You are invited to attend, either locally or remotely.
Source: [Goddard Center for Astrobiology (GCA)]August 08, 2019 • Posted by: Miki Huynh • Report issue
August 8th – Fourth Virtual Meeting, Time: 8:00 – 9:30 AM PDT
Please join us for the fourth Workshop Without Walls on Searching for Signs of Subsurface Life (Extinct and Extant).
Don’t be concerned if you have not participated in the previous editions, links to view them are at the NAI Workshops Without Walls webpage.
The deliverables of this activity will be a series of white papers that will be presented to the community, and then submitted to the decadal committee.
Hope to see you on the 8th.July 26, 2019 • Posted by: Yael Kovo • Report issue
AbGradCon 2019 will be held from July 22-26 at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah. Image credit: AbGradCon 2019.
AbGradCon (Astrobiology Graduate Conference) provides a unique setting for astrobiologically-inclined graduate students and early career researchers to come together to share their research, collaborate, and network. AbGradCon 2019 marks the 15th year of this conference—each time in a different place and organized by a different group of students, but always with the original charter as a guide.
Streaming Tuesday July 22 – Thursday July 25
Since it is organized and attended by only graduate students, post docs, and select undergraduates, AbGradCon is an ideal venue for the next generation of career astrobiologists to form bonds, share ...July 23, 2019 • Posted by: Yael Kovo • Report issue
Image from the online atlas created by National Geographic providing a comprehensive look at the moons, including those significant to the study of life in the universe, that populate our cosmic neighborhood. Source: National Geographic
“We choose to go to the moon,” President John F. Kennedy proclaimed, in an iconic 1962 speech at Rice University in Texas. “We choose to go to the moon…because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.” With this bold declaration, Kennedy galvanized public support of NASA’s fledgling Apollo program and its unprecedented goal: landing humans on the lunar surface and returning them safely to earth. Before the end of the decade, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin would become the first humans to ...July 22, 2019 • Written by: Glorie Martinez • Report issue
Solar System Portrait - Earth as 'Pale Blue Dot'. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
In December 1990, the Galileo spacecraft completed its closest approach of our planet. This fly-by mission, led by astronomer Carl Sagan, offered researchers an unprecedented opportunity to study the hallmarks of life on Earth from space along the way to Jupiter.
Only a few months before the Galileo experiment, Sagan had taken advantage of another remarkable opportunity while working on the Voyager 1 mission. As the interstellar probe reached the fringes of our solar system, Sagan suggested engineers turn its camera around to catch one last glimpse of its home planet. This evocative image of Earth, captured from a distance ...
Source: [Nature Astronomy]July 18, 2019 • Written by: Glorie Martinez • Report issue