A slab of ancient sea bed in Oman could guide scientists’ search for extraterrestrial life.
Some of the researchers of Georgia Tech at AbSciCon 2017. From left: Cesar Menor-Salvan, Nick Hud, Justin Lawrence, Jacob Buffo, Frank Rosenzweig, Amanda Stockton, Britney Schmidt, Kennda Lynch, Gavin Mendez, George Tan, Jennifer Glass, Zachary Duca, Nadia Szeinbaum, Aaron McKee, Chloe Stanton, and Marcus Bray (Courtesy of Jennifer Glass). Source: Georgia Tech
The growing visibility of researchers interested in astrobiology is helping Georgia Tech emerge as a powerhouse in the field.
“Georgia Tech is clearly recognized as a hub for astrobiology and maybe the one that’s growing the most quickly,” says Edward Goolish, the deputy director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI), one of the six elements of the NASA Astrobiology Program. People at Georgia Tech, Goolish adds, “have been generous with their time and have contributed in important ways when NASA has reached out to the science community for input.”
Read the full story at the Georgia Tech website.
Source: [Georgia Tech]November 16, 2017 • Written by: Georgia Tech • Report issue
A breakdown of how water may be heated inside Saturn’s moon Enceladus. Image Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute, LPG-CNRS/U, Nantes/U, Angers, ESA (via ESA)
Building from the revelation of oceans underneath the surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus by the late Cassini spacecraft, a new study suggests that tidal friction could generate enough heat to power tens of millions to billions of years of hydrothermal activity inside Enceladus if the moon has a highly porous core. The likelihood would increase the moon’s potential as a habitable world.
The paper, “Powering prolonged hydrothermal activity inside Enceladus” is published in Nature Astronomy and authored by Gaël Choblet, Gabriel Tobie, Christophe Sotin, Marie Běhounková, Ondřej Čadek, Frank Postberg, and Ondřej Souček. Choblet and Tobie are also members of the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) team based at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and Sotin is a Co-I for the NAI team at JPL.
A press release is available through the European Space Agency.
Source: [Nature Astronomy]November 15, 2017 • Posted by: Miki Huynh • Report issue
Cover of Nature Geosciences featuring the research of M. Amenabar et al. The image shows overlapping gradients in mineral substrates capable of supporting microbial metabolism in a hot spring outflow channel in Yellowstone National Park, WY. Source: Nature Geosciences (August 2017 Volume 10 No 8)
Scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW), Arizona State University (ASU), and Montana State University (MSU) have teamed up to discover a puzzle at the junction of geochemistry and biology: Why would a microorganism thriving in a hot spring draw its energy from low-quality sources instead of rich ones?
The paper “Microbial substrate preference dictated by energy demand rather than supply” is published in Nature Geoscience, and authored by Maximiliano Amenabar (MSU, also with the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) team at University of Colorado, Boulder (CUB)), Everett L. Shock (ASU and NAI teams at MIT and CUB), Eric Roden (UW and NAI team at UW), John Peters (MSU), and Eric Boyd (MSU and NAI teams at CUB, UW, and the Virtual Planetary Institute).
The excerpted press release by Robert Burnham is available through the Arizona State University website.
Source: [Nature Geosciences]November 07, 2017 • Posted by: Miki Huynh • Report issue
A microbe collected from an incubation of coal amended with methylamine. Source: Trembath-Reichert et al. (via DCO)
Elizabeth Trembath-Reichert. a NASA Postdoctoral Porgram fellow at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and a member of the NASA Astrobiology Institute team based at the University of Southern California, is lead author on a paper that measures the activity level and generation times of microbes living in coal and shale beds up to two kilometers below the seafloor. Despite low cell numbers and slow reproduction, the microbes actively consume carbon and nitrogen compounds from their environment.
The paper, “Methyl-compound use and slow growth characterize microbial life in 2-km-deep subseafloor coal and shale beds” is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
We excerpt a press release from Deep Carbon Observatory.
Source: [PNAS]November 01, 2017 • Posted by: Miki Huynh • Report issue
Magdalena Osburn has been selected as a 2017 Packard Fellow. Image source: Osburn Isotope Geobiology Lab
Geobiologist Magdalena “Maggie” Osburn has received a 2017 David and Lucile Packard Fellowship Award for her work at the geochemistry-microbiology interface.
Source: [Packard Foundation]October 25, 2017 • Posted by: Miki Huynh • Report issue
The Ask an Astrobiologist Show returns for its second season, beginning with an interview with Dr. Carl Pilcher, former director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute. The live Q&A has been rescheduled to Thursday, November 2 at 10AM PT.
Source: [SAGANet]October 19, 2017 • Posted by: Miki Huynh • Report issue
The next live STScI webcast, “Contemporary Water and Habitability of Mars,” presented by Lujendra Ojha of Johns Hopkins University airs November 3 at 12PM ET.
For more info on the STSci seminar series and to view the calendar of upcoming talks, visit: http://www.stsci.edu/institute/smo/ipl/lectureOctober 17, 2017 • Posted by: Miki Huynh • Report issue
Artist concept of the early Earth's surface.
The early Earth was a hellish place, pummeled by meteors and a choking atmosphere, and yet somehow life got a grip there.
Source: [Earth and Planetary Science Letters]October 17, 2017 • Written by: Aaron Gronstal • Report issue
Source: Carnegie Institute for Science
Wednesday, October 25, 2017, 6:30 PM ET What does it mean to be a habitable planet? How can we find life if it’s truly “alien” and different from life on Earth? And what techniques can we use to search for life on worlds orbiting distant stars? Drs. Arney and Domagal-Goldman, astrobiologists at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, will discuss the science behind these questions and the future telescopes that may provide the answers. The lecture at the Carnegie Institution for Science will be streamed live. For details, visit the event page.
Source: [Carnegie Institute for Science]October 16, 2017 • Posted by: Miki Huynh • Report issue
Screenshot from the Life Underground Game where students take the role of investigators of extreme subsurface environments looking for microbial life.
The NASA Astrobiology Institute has funded the production of an exciting, new educational game/software called Life Underground. In the game, students take on the role of a young scientist navigating and investigating a subsurface environment, searching for and characterizing microbial life.
The development team at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts is seeking educator reviewers for the game.October 06, 2017 • Posted by: Miki Huynh • Report issue
Life on early Earth seems to have begun with a paradox: while life needs water as a solvent, the essential chemical backbones of early life-forming molecules fall apart in water. Our universal solvent, it turns out, can be extremely corrosive.
Some have pointed to this paradox as a sign that life, or the precursor of life, originated elsewhere and was delivered here via comets or meteorites. Others have looked for solvents that could have the necessary qualities of water without that bond-breaking corrosiveness.
A “fossil” natural nuclear reactor site in the Okio region of Gabon. The large uranium deposit present underwent nuclear fission on and off for hundreds of thousands of years some 2 billion years ago. The yellow rock is uranium oxide.
Source: [astrobio.net]October 05, 2017 • Written by: Marc Kaufman • Report issue
Fall is officially upon us, but not too long ago early career astrobiologists were keeping busy throughout the summer season. AbGradCon 2017 and the Proposal Writing Retreat—organized by and for post-docs, graduate students, and select undergrads—met with great success. The 2017 International Summer School in Astrobiology gathered 22 scholars to the Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo (UIMP) in Santander, Spain to learn about exoplanet habitability. And undergraduates collaborating with scientists at Goddard Space Flight Center presented a GSFC Summer Research Associate 2017 Seminar on their innovative research.
PIs of the NASA Astrobiology Institute teams also report the activities and achievements ...October 03, 2017 • Written by: Miki Huynh • Report issue
You can now watch the Library of Congress symposium “Life As It Could Be: Astrobiology, Synthetic Biology, and the Future of Life” hosted by Luis Campos, the 2016-2017 Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology. The event took place Thursday, September 28, 9AM-6PM ET.
What is life? How might life have emerged on Earth or on other worlds? And how might we engineer the future of life—what might we make life to be? Astrobiologists and synthetic biologists grapple with these questions every day. To further explore the intersections between these sciences and the humanities, the ...
Source: [Library of Congress]September 27, 2017 • Posted by: Miki Huynh • Report issue
Applications for the next cycle of the NASA Astrobiology Early Career Collaboration Award are due October 2, 2017.
Don’t miss the next opportunity to apply for an Astrobiology Early Career Collaboration Award! The deadline is October 2, 2017.
The Astrobiology Early Career Collaboration Awards offer research-related travel support for undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, and junior scientists. Applicants are encouraged to use these resources to circulate among two or more laboratories supported by the NASA Astrobiology Program (Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology, the NAI, Planetary Science and Technology Through Analog Research, MatiSSE, PICASSO and the Habitable Worlds), however any travel that is critical for the applicant’s research will be considered. Travelers must be formally affiliated with a U.S ...September 13, 2017 • Posted by: Miki Huynh • Report issue
PI Nigel Goldenfeld of the Institute for Universal Biology, the NASA Astrobiology Institute team based at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was featured in Quanta Magazine, where he talks about collective phenomena, expanding the Modern Synthesis model of evolution, and using quantitative and theoretical tools from physics to gain insights into mysteries surrounding early life on Earth, and the interactions between cyanobacteria and predatory viruses.
Source: [Quanta Magazine]September 09, 2017 • Posted by: Miki Huynh • Report issue