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  1. Life: Small but Robust


    In the never-ending line of discoveries relating to the robustness of life, scientists have recently made two important discoveries. The first, which revived bacteria and algae that had been frozen for 2,800 years, is an exciting discovery for prospects of Mars life. Peter Doran of the University of Illinois at Chicago led a team to Lake Vida in the Antarctic. This is no ordinary lake; it has dozens of feet of ice above a pristine water body. They drilled through about 50 feet of ice and collected frozen samples, stopping just short of reaching the water layer. The team ...

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  1. A Teacher in Space


    NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe announced recently that Barbara Morgan, the agency’s first Educator Astronaut, has been assigned as a crew member on a November 2003 Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station.

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  1. Mars Update


    Mars astrobiology has recently received two almost simultaneous announcements on prospects of water on the Red Planet. The first, which deals with possibilities of a wet Mars in the past, was led by scientists at NASA Ames Research Center and the University of Colorado. This study challenges the notion that early Mars sustained a continuously warm environment that supported liquid water on its surface. Alternatively, this research shows that frequent impacts of large asteroids would have allowed only brief periods of a warm, wet environment. The impacts would cause extraordinary conditions that would induce massive floods, landslides, and quakes on ...

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  1. Ripples in Time


    Until the last fifteen percent of the Earth’s age, the continents were barren, lifeless wastelands. Life had yet to hit the shore. But a kind of molecular clock says the hands of time may have started ticking many billions of years earlier.

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  1. Jupiter-Like Planets Formed in Hundreds – Not Millions – of Years, Study Shows


    An accepted assumption in astrophysics holds that it takes more than 1 million years for gas giant planets such as Jupiter and Saturn to form from the cosmic debris circling a young star. But new research suggests such planets form in a dramatically shorter period, as little as a few hundred years.

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  1. Focus on Titan


    Conditions on Titan

    Long hailed as a natural astrobiology laboratory, Saturn’s largest moon Titan is certainly on the minds of many scientists today. This moon is the second largest in the solar system (Jupiter’s Ganymede is the largest); its diameter is about 3200 miles (larger than the planet Mercury), or approximately the distance across the United States. Titan is interesting because it is unique: it is the only moon in the solar system known to have a thick atmosphere. The composition of the atmosphere is largely nitrogen (about 90%). By comparison, Earth’s atmosphere has a nitrogen content of about 78 ...

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  1. The Rover Naming Contest


    And that’s only the beginning! It’ll take about six months for each of the two Mars Exploration Rovers to reach the Red Planet, but if you’re the winner of the contest, the names you choose for the Rovers will be part of Space Exploration History forever!

    NASA announced this week a collaboration with the LEGO Company in this ‘Name the Rovers’ contest for America’s school kids. The Planetary Society will join LEGO in managing the contest. The robotic explorers, part of NASA’s upcoming Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission, will land at two different locations on the mysterious Red Planet ...

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  1. Studying Europa From the Outside In


    At a recent Geological Society of America meeting in Colorado, several papers were presented on new research and technologies that might enhance our understanding of Europa. One of these papers outlined a method to “listen” to the moon’s internal structure by landing an instrument package that contains a geophone on Europa’s surface. This device would allow scientist to hear cracks and quakes inside the moon as it was stressed in its orbit around Jupiter. For more on this release, visit GSA’s news release page

    Another paper given by a research team at the University of Colorado presents ...

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  1. Building Planets in Cyberspace


    Recipe: Take a rocky mass [about 12.8 thousand kilometers (nearly 8 thousand miles) wide], add carbon dioxide, water vapor and methane. Place in stable, circular orbit, the same distance from a sunlike star as the distance between Earth and the Sun. Heat to an average of 10 degree Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) for 1 billion years.

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  1. NAI Lead Team Member Awarded Donath Medal


    Established in 1988, the Young Scientist Award grants recognition for “outstanding achievement in contributing to geologic knowledge through original research that marks a major advance in the earth sciences.” In order to be eligible, a researcher must be 35 or younger during the award year. Dr. Anbar is a member of the NAI Harvard and JPL 1 Lead Teams and he is a co-chair of the Mission to Early Earth Focus Group. He holds the rank of Associate Professor in the Departments of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Chemistry at the University of Rochester. His research involves using novel ...

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  1. NASA Researchers Seek Astrobiology Insights on the Leonid Multi-Instrument Aircraft Campaign


    Meteor showers may be a beautiful, heavenly spectacle that can provide for a good evening of entertainment, but they are also much more. Meteors, or “shooting stars,” are streaks of light that appear in the sky when small particles from space enter Earth’s atmosphere. They have amazed stargazers for millennia. But only recently have scientists realized their importance to understanding the evolution of the solar system—and their connection to astrobiology. One shower in particular, the Leonids, has been especially strong recently. And this year, stargazers and scientists alike are in for a spectacular show, and astrobiologists will be ...

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  1. NASA Astrobiologists to Study Extreme Life at Earth's Highest Lake


    During October, the scientists will explore several lakes in the region, including the highest freshwater lake in the world, in the caldera of the Licancabur volcano, almost 20,000 feet high. The information they gather will help astrobiologists devise strategies and technologies to search for life on planets like Mars during future missions.

    “If there was life on Mars 3.5 billion years ago, it could have used defense mechanisms similar to those used by the organisms at Licancabur volcano to survive,” said expedition principal investigator Dr. Nathalie Cabrol of the SETI Institute and NASA Ames Research Center. “This ...

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  1. NAI Congratulates and Welcomes Another Nobel Prize Winner


    Brenner’s work on C. elegans proved to it be a novel experimental model organism. “This provided a unique opportunity to link genetic analysis to cell division, differentiation and organ development – and to follow these processes under the microscope,” says the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet. For the complete press release, visit http://www.nobel.se/medicine/laureates/2002/press.html

    Dr. Sydney Brenner advised the Ames Center Director in the early stages of developing the NAI, and he has served as a member of the distinguished NAI Director’s Science Council from the time of its establishment by Director ...

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  1. G. Scott Hubbard Named NASA Ames Research Center Director


    G. Scott Hubbard, Deputy Director for Research at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., has been selected as Center Director, effective immediately.

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  1. Do You See What I See?


    NAI molecular biologist Michael Cummings studies one of the most basic interactions an organism has with its environment – the perception of light and color. But does the world hold the same colors for everyone?

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