June 24 - June 28, 2019
Origins of Life, Artificial Life, & Astrobiology (OoLALA) Research Showcase: Searching for the Laws of Life
The Origins of Life, Artificial Life, & Astrobiology (OoLALA) Research Showcase highlights advances in research into life’s origins, distribution, and future in the universe. The lectures can be streamed live.
Coming up: Sara Walker: “Search for the Laws of Life,” Thursday, March 28, 2:30-3:30pm PST
Currently we do not know what life is, or whether there exist universal laws – in the same sense the laws of physics and chemistry are universal – that describe life. While this may not matter so much for the study of life as it exists at present or in the past on Earth, it is critically important in the field of astrobiology, which seeks to understand life not just on Earth but anywhere in the universe. In this talk I discuss new approaches to ...March 25, 2019 • Posted by: Miki Huynh • Report issue
A rocky planet orbiting Proxima Centauri might sustain liquid water (artist’s depiction). Credit: NASA, ESA, G. Bacon (STSc)
For some distant worlds, carbon monoxide may actually be compatible with a robust microbial biosphere.
Carbon monoxide detectors in our homes warn of a dangerous buildup of that colorless, odorless gas we normally associate with death. Astronomers, too, have generally assumed that a build-up of carbon monoxide in a planet’s atmosphere would be a sure sign of lifelessness. Now, a UC Riverside-led research team is arguing the opposite: celestial carbon monoxide detectors may actually alert us to a distant world teeming with simple life forms.
“With the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope two years from now, astronomers ...
Source: [UC Riverside]March 19, 2019 • Written by: Sarah Simpson • Report issue
Application Deadline EXTENDED: April 1, 2019
AbGradCon 2019 will be hosted by the University of Utah in Salt Lake City from July 22nd – 26th, 2019. This year’s theme will be Science Communication.
The Proposal Writing Retreat (PWR), formerly known as the Research Focus Group (RFG), will take place at from July 19th – 22nd, 2019. Applicants for AbGradCon will be able to apply for PWR at the same time as they submit their AbGradCon application. AbGradCon has funds to support a limited number of participants, although the event can accommodate participants able to provide some or all of their ...
Source: [AbGradCon]March 14, 2019 • Posted by: Miki Huynh • Report issue
11 December 1972 -- Scientist-astronaut Harrison H. Schmitt collects lunar rake samples at Station 1 during the first Apollo 17 extravehicular activity (EVA) at the Taurus-Littrow landing site. Schmitt is the lunar module pilot. The Lunar Rake, an Apollo Lunar Geology Hand Tool, is used to collect discrete samples of rocks and rock chips ranging in size from one-half inch (1.3 cm) to one inch (2.5 cm). Credits: Eugene A. Cernan, Apollo 17 Commander
NASA has selected nine teams to continue the science legacy of the Apollo missions by studying pieces of the Moon that have been carefully stored and untouched for nearly 50 years. A total of $8 million has been awarded to the teams.
“By studying these precious lunar samples for the first time, a new generation of scientists will help advance our understanding of our lunar neighbor and prepare for the next era of exploration of the Moon and beyond, “ said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, DC. “This exploration will bring with it new ...
Source: [NASA]March 11, 2019 • Written by: NASA • Report issue
Yale researchers have discovered a surprising link between the tilting of exoplanets and their orbit in space. The discovery may help explain a long-standing puzzle about exoplanetary orbital architectures. (Illustration: NASA/JPL-Caltech, Sarah Millholland)
For almost a decade, astronomers have tried to explain why so many pairs of planets outside our solar system have an odd configuration — their orbits seem to have been pushed apart by a powerful unknown mechanism. Yale researchers say they’ve found a possible answer, and it implies that the planets’ poles are majorly tilted.
The finding could have a big impact on how researchers estimate the structure, climate, and habitability of exoplanets as they try to identify planets that are similar to Earth. The research appears in the March 4 online edition of the journal Nature Astronomy.
The press release is available through Yale News.
Source: [Yale News]March 06, 2019 • Written by: Jim Shelton • Report issue
Photo of stromatolites in Shark Bay, Western Australia. Scientists have found evidence for ocean oxygenation happening at an earlier date than the Great Oxygenation Event in Mt. McRae Shale in Western Australia. Source: A. Anbar / ASU
The Great Oxidation Event (GOE), an event marking the rise of oxygen in the early Earth’s atmosphere, is estimated to have happened between 2.5 and 2.3 billion years ago. In a study led by researchers at Arizona State University, and supported in part by the NASA Astrobiology Institute, scientists analyzing ancient shale samples found in Western Australia have discovered evidence for significant ocean oxygenation occurring before the GOE, and as far down as the sea floor. This opens up new questions about the GOE and how and why oceanic build-up of O2 happened.
The paper, “Fully oxygenated ...
Source: [Nature Geosciences (via ASU)]March 05, 2019 • Posted by: Miki Huynh • Report issue
An image of Saturn's moon Enceladus backlit by the Sun, taken by the Cassini mission. The false color tail shows jets of icy particles and water that spray into space from an ocean that lies deep below the moon's icy surface. Future missions could search for the ingredients for life in an ocean on an icy moon like Enceladus.Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Scientists have reproduced in the lab how the ingredients for life could have formed deep in the ocean 4 billion years ago. The results of the new study offer clues to how life started on Earth and where else in the cosmos we might find it.
Astrobiologist Laurie Barge and her team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are working to recognize life on other planets by studying the origins of life here on Earth. Their research focuses on how the building blocks of life form in hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor.
The full press release is available at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The research, “Redox and pH gradients drive amino acid synthesis in iron oxyhydroxide mineral systems,” is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Source: [NASA JPL]February 26, 2019 • Written by: NASA • Report issue
The NASA Outer Planets Assessment Group (OPAG) Roadmaps to Ocean Worlds (ROW) group has published a guide with recommendations on how to develop an initiative for the research of Ocean Worlds. This includes confirmed ocean worlds Enceladus, Titan, and Europa and candidate worlds such as Triton. Development of the roadmap began in 2016.
The overarching goal of an Ocean Worlds exploration program as defined by ROW is to “identify ocean worlds, characterize their oceans, evaluate their habitability, search for life, and ultimately understand any life we find.”
The NASA Roadmap to Ocean Worlds is published in Astrobiology.
Source: [Astrobiology / OPAG]February 12, 2019 • Posted by: Miki Huynh • Report issue
Study author Stephanie Carr works with a student to process deep-sea samples aboard the R/V Atlantis. A recent study found that a group of unusual microbes living below the seafloor provides clues to the evolution of life on Earth, and potentially other planets. Source: R. Kaplan / Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences
A new study conducted by a team of researchers from Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, supported in part by the NASA Astrobiology Institute, reveals how a group of deep-sea microbes, Hydrothermarchaeota, could provide clues to the evolution of life on Earth. Instead of cultivating the Hydrothermarchaeota cells in the lab, the researchers were able to use novel genetic sequencing methods (genomics) to learn more about how they evolved strategies to survive life in an extreme environment.
The paper, “Carboxydotrophy potential of uncultivated Hydrothermarchaeota from the ...February 12, 2019 • Posted by: Miki Huynh • Report issue
Image of basalt glass shards before being put through an experiment to test whether microtubules will form after exposure to seawater and whether the glass will be altered by fluid-rock interactions. Source: T. McCollom / C. Donaldson / Astrobiology.
A connection between microbial activity and the appearance of microtubules in basalt glass has been proposed in the past, but direct evidence for biological processes being in their formation is still lacking and non-biological origins are possible. Thomas McCollom and Christopher Donaldson, supported in part by the NASA Astrobiology Institute team based at the University of Colorado, have conducted an experiment simulating a process where subsurface glass would be exposed to seawater and altered by fluid-rocks interaction, a process that might also lead to the formation of microtubules. Their results did not produce evidence for non-biological tubule formation, but did ...
Source: [Astrobiology]February 07, 2019 • Posted by: Miki Huynh • Report issue
Taking on a new approach to understanding the connections between cellular growth and cancer, a collaborative research group led by researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine have identified proteins in the bacteria E. Coli that, when overproduced, can cause DNA mutation and damage to E. coli cells. These “damage-up” proteins (or DDPs) are a wide and varied network of proteins with a stronger link to cancer than other observed sets of proteins. The researchers have also found 284 DDP relatives among human proteins.
The paper, “Bacteria-to-Human Protein Networks Reveal Origins of Endogenous DNA Damage” is published in Cell ...
Source: [Cell (via UIUC)]February 05, 2019 • Posted by: Miki Huynh • Report issue
Image source: AbSciCon / Astrobiology at NASA
The Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon) 2019 takes place June 24-28, 2019 in Seattle, WA. Don’t miss your chance to attend!
Abstract Submissions Deadline: March 6, 2019
Registration Deadline: May 30, 2019
The theme for AbSciCon 2019 is “Understanding and Enabling the Search for Life on Worlds Near and Far.” Within our solar system, icy worlds and Mars have generated excitement, and exoplanets offer numerous and diverse environments where life may exist in other planetary systems. Near future missions and observations will scrutinize many of these targets to understand their environments and search for signs of life. Meanwhile, fundamental research on ...
Source: [AbSciCon]February 01, 2019 • Posted by: Miki Huynh • Report issue
Second Baruch S. Blumberg/Library of Congress Chair Steven J. Dick's book, Professional and Astrobiology, Discovery, and Societal Impact wins the 2019 Professional Scholarly Excellence Award. Image source: Steven J. Dick / Cambridge University Press
The Association of American Publishers has named Steven J. Dick’s book Astrobiology, Discovery, and Societal Impact (Cambridge University Press, 2018) the PROSE winner for 2019 in the category of Cosmology and Astronomy. The PROSE (Professional and Scholarly Excellence) Awards are considered the Oscars of academic publishing. The book uses history, discovery, and analogy to analyze the possible impacts to humanity of discovering life beyond Earth.
The announcement is available at the Assocation of American Publishers website.
Related story: New Book Published on the Societal Impact of Astrobiology
Source: [Association of American Publishers]January 31, 2019 • Posted by: Miki Huynh • Report issue
Scientists, with the help of citizen scientists, have discovered heat-loving microbes living in water heaters in homes across the United States. Image source: Zhidan Zhang / Penn State
With the help of citizen scientists, researchers have discovered that hardy microorganisms able to live in hot springs and thermal vents are also thriving in water heaters in various homes across the US. The strain T. scotoductus, a strain that has been discovered in environments such as hot springs and gold mines throughout the world, dominates even in locations near the hot springs of Yellowstone National Park where other thermophiles might be expected to predominate.
The research is published in Extremophile.
Excerpted from the press release from Penn State News:
“Water heaters are unique because they are isolated from each ...
Source: [Extremophile (via Penn State)]January 28, 2019 • Posted by: Miki Huynh • Report issue
In the Astrophysics and Astrochemistry Lab at NASA's Ames Research Center, researchers Michel Nuevo, Christopher Materese, and Scott Sandford study the cosmic origins of molecules that are important to life. Credits: NASA/Ames Research Center/Dominic Hart
The NASA Astrobiology Institute team based at the NASA Ames Research Center have successfully produced 2-Deoxyribose—the sugar component of DNA—from ultraviolet irradiation of water and methanol mixtures under simulated astrophysical conditions. These experiments were conducted in the Astrochemistry Laboratory at Ames and suggest that the compounds to start life could have been delivered via asteroids and comets.
“Deoxyribose and deoxysugar derivatives from photoprocessed astrophysical ice analogues and comparison to meteorites” is published in Nature Communications.
A feature story is published at the NASA Ames Research Center website.December 21, 2018 • Written by: NASA • Report issue
- June 28 - Poster Submission Deadline for 2019 Sagan Exoplanet Summer Workshop: Astrobiology for Astronomers
- June 30 - Application Deadline: Submitting Manuscripts to the Special Issue: "Conditions on the Early Earth >3.5Gy: Limitations for the Sources/Stability of Prebiotic Compounds and the Prebiotic/Biotic Transition"
- July 4 - Abstract deadline for The First Billion Years: Habitability
- July 8 - Registration deadline for GeoPlaNet Analogue Field School - Fluid-Rock Interactions in the Solar System
- July 18 - Registration Deadline for NASA Exploration Science Forum
- July 31 - Early registration deadline for European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC-DPS) Joint Meeting 2019
- July 31 - Early registration deadline for EPSC-DPS Session OPS2: Saturn System and The Cassini-Huyens Mission
- August 1 - Application Deadline: Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Internships Autumn 2019
- August 10 - Abstract deadline for Potential Landing Sites and Cloud Layer Habitability on Venus Workshop
- August 12 - In-Person Workshop for Mars Extant Life: What’s Next?
- August 23 - Abstract Deadline for Mars Extant Life: What’s Next?
- September 2 - Application Deadline: Cornell Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship
- October 7 - Early Registration Deadline for Mars Extant Life: What’s Next?
- January 1 - Application Deadline: Georgia Institute of Technology - Astrobiology Graduate Certificate Program
- February 14 - Application Deadline: Interdisciplinary Consortia for Astrobiology Research - Solicitation: NNH19ZDA001N-ICAR