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  1. Light: The Visible Spectrum and Beyond


    Light: The Visible Spectrum and Beyond by Megan Watzke and Kimberly Acand. Published by Black Dog & Leventhal. Image credit: None
    Light: The Visible Spectrum and Beyond by Megan Watzke and Kimberly Acand. Published by Black Dog & Leventhal.

    Megan Watzke, Press Officer for NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, and Kimberly Acand, Visualization Lead for the Chandra X-ray Observatory, have published a book entitled Light: The Visible Spectrum and Beyond.

    Light is a visual guide to understanding electromagnetic radiation, in order of spectrum from radio waves to gamma rays, showing how light affects life on Earth and everything in the Universe. The book has made Forbes 2016 Top 10 Gifts for Lovers of Outer Space (along with David Grinspoon’s Earth in Human Hands).

    Acand and Watzke have previously published books together exploring the Universe, and have been deeply ...

    Source: [arcandwatzke.com]

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  1. Evolutionary Tradeoffs in the Cellular Composition of Bacteria


    Image source: Wikimedia Commons Image credit: None
    Image source: Wikimedia Commons

    The relationship between the cellular composition and size of a species of bacteria can determine how and how well it functions. Scientists with the Life Underground team at the University of Southern California have collected data on a diverse range of bacterial cells spanning five orders of magnitude to call out the cross-species connections between cellular form and function. The paper, “Evolutionary tradeoffs in cellular composition across diverse bacteria” is published in The ISME Journal.

    The team compared cell volume against the amount of DNA, ribosomes, proteins, cell membrane, tRNA, and mRNA contained within, and focused on power-law relationships—how a ...

    Source: [The ISME Journal]

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  1. Astrobiology Graduate Conference (AbGradCon) 2017


    Astrobiology Graduate Conference (AbGradCon) 2017 takes place June 5-9, 2017 at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, VA. Image credit: None
    Astrobiology Graduate Conference (AbGradCon) 2017 takes place June 5-9, 2017 at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, VA.

    Applications to attend the 2017 Astrobiology Graduate Conference (AbGradCon) are now being accepted! The deadline to apply is February 6, 2017.

    Host: National Radio Astronomy Observatory
    When: June 5-9, 2017
    Where: Charlottesville, VA
    Website: http://www.abgradcon.org
    Application Deadline: February 6, 2017

    AbGradCon provides a unique setting for astrobiologically-inclined graduate students and early career researchers to come together to share their research, collaborate, and network, without the presence of senior researchers and PIs. AbGradCon 2017 marks the thirteenth year of this conference.

    This year, the conference will be held at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, VA. AbGradCon ...

    Source: [AbGradCon]

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  1. Barbara Sherwood Lollar Named to Order of Canada


    Barbara Sherwood Lollar has been named as a Companion to the Order of Canada. Image source: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) via the University of Toronto. Image credit: None
    Barbara Sherwood Lollar has been named as a Companion to the Order of Canada. Image source: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) via the University of Toronto.

    Geochemist Barbara Sherwood Lollar, professor of Earth Sciences at the University of Toronto and a past affiliate of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, has received the status of Companion of the Order of Canada, the highest level of honor for the Order. She is recognized for “revolutionary contributions to geochemistry, notably in the development of innovative mechanisms for groundwater remediation, and for her discovery of ancient fluids that hold implications for life on other planets.”

    The ancient fluids are a reference to water trapped beneath the Earth’s surface released through mining fractures, which Sherwood Lollar and her team discovered ...

    Source: [Governor General of Canada]

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  1. NASA New Frontiers Program AO Released


    Image credit:

    NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) is releasing the Announcement of Opportunity (AO) for New Frontiers Program mission investigations. The New Frontiers Program conducts Principal Investigator (PI)-led space science investigations in SMD’s planetary programs under a not-to-exceed cost cap for the PI-Managed Mission Cost. At the conclusion of Phase A concept studies, it is planned that one New Frontiers investigation will be selected to continue into subsequent mission phases. New Frontiers Program investigations must address NASA’s planetary science objectives as described in 2014 NASA Strategic Plan and the 2014 NASA Science Plan. Both documents are now available ...

    Source: [NASA’s Science Mission Directorate]

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  1. Earth in Human Hands


    David Grinspoon, astrobiologist and first Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology, has published a new book. Earth in Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet’s Future, which covers Earth’s history and emergence as a habitable planet and the accelerated changes to Earth introduced by humans. In the trailer for his book, Grinspoon addresses our relationship to our planet and how we can develop a vision for the world we want to create in the future.

    From the publisher, Hachette Book Group:
    “For the first time in Earth’s history, our planet is experiencing a confluence of rapidly accelerating changes ...

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  1. 2.5 Billion-Year-Old Bacteria Fossils Predate the Formation of Oxygen


    Andrew Czaja indicates the layer of rock from which fossil bacteria were collected on a 2014 field excursion near the town of Kuruman in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. Source: Aaron Satkoski Image credit: None
    Andrew Czaja indicates the layer of rock from which fossil bacteria were collected on a 2014 field excursion near the town of Kuruman in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. Source: Aaron Satkoski

    While researchers proclaim the first half of our 4.5 billion-year-old planet’s life as an important time for the development and evolution of early bacteria, evidence for these life forms remains sparse.

    Recent geology research from the University of Cincinnati presents new evidence for bacteria found fossilized in two separate locations in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa.

    “These are the oldest reported fossil sulfur bacteria to date,” says Andrew Czaja, UC assistant professor of geology. “And this discovery is helping us reveal a diversity of life and ecosystems that existed just prior to the Great Oxidation Event ...

    Source: [University of Cincinnati]

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  1. SETI Reconceived and Broadened; A Call for Community Proposals


    A screenshot from a time lapse video of radio telescopes by Harun Mehmedinovic and Gavin Heffernan of Sunchaser Pictures that was shot at several different radio astronomy facilities—the Very Large Array (VLA) Observatory in New Mexico, Owens Valley Observatory in Owens Valley California, and Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia. All three of these facilities have been or are still being partly used by the SETI (Search for the Extraterrestrial Intelligence) program. Image credit: None
    A screenshot from a time lapse video of radio telescopes by Harun Mehmedinovic and Gavin Heffernan of Sunchaser Pictures that was shot at several different radio astronomy facilities—the Very Large Array (VLA) Observatory in New Mexico, Owens Valley Observatory in Owens Valley California, and Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia. All three of these facilities have been or are still being partly used by the SETI (Search for the Extraterrestrial Intelligence) program.

    Earlier this summer, Natalie Cabrol, the director of the Carl Sagan Center of the SETI Institute, described a new direction for her organization in Astrobiology Magazine, and I wrote a Many World column about the changes to come.

    Cabrol’s “Alien Mindscapes – Perspective on the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence” laid out a plan for the new approach to SETI that would take advantage of the goldmine of new exoplanet discoveries in the past decade, as well as the data from fast-advancing technologies. These fresh angles and masses of information come, she wrote, from the worlds of astronomy and astrophysics, as ...

    Source: [Many Worlds]

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  1. NASA Ranked 6th in Index of Most Collaborative Institutions of 2016


    Image source: Wikimedia Commons Image credit: None
    Image source: Wikimedia Commons

    In the Nature Index 2016 Collaborations, an index compiled by Nature Research and released on November 17, 2016, NASA ranked 6th in the list of the top 100 most collaborative research institutions. The ranking was based on the number of primary articles published in high-quality science journals, with results reflecting connections and partnerships between different nations, institutions, and regions that have allowed scientists to share data and accelerate the progress of their research.

    While physical proximity can be a factor for the success of a collaboration, Nature points out that among individual researchers, “factors such as expertise, social networks or ...

    Source: [Nature]

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  1. Nitrogen in Ancient Rocks a Sign of Early Life


    Nitrogen is one of the essential nutrients of life on Earth, with some organisms, such as the kinds of microbes found within the roots of legume plants, capable of converting nitrogen gas into molecules that other species can use.

    Nitrogen fixation, as the process is called, involves breaking the powerful chemical bonds that hold nitrogen atoms in pairs in the atmosphere and using the resulting single nitrogen atoms to help create molecules such as ammonia, which is a building block of many complex organic molecules, such as proteins, DNA and RNA.

    With organisms playing such a crucial role in the ...

    Scientists in Greenland excavating rocks that may hold 3.8-billion-year-old evidence of life. Credit: Laure Gauthiez Image credit: None
    Scientists in Greenland excavating rocks that may hold 3.8-billion-year-old evidence of life. Credit: Laure Gauthiez

    Source: [Astrobio.net]

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  1. NExSS Workshop Without Walls: Impact of Exoplanetary Space Weather On Climate and Habitability


    Image credit: None

    The NASA Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NExSS) presents Workshop Without Walls: Impact of Exoplanetary Space Weather On Climate and Habitability.

    Dates: November 29th – December 2nd, 2016
    Location: New Orleans, LA, and other virtual locations.
    Organizers: Vladimir Airapetian (NASA GSFC), William Danchi (NASA GSFC)

    To RSVP to attend the event remotely, go to https://nexss.info/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=88

    The landscape of exoplanetary science has changed considerably with the great success of the Kepler mission, which has discovered thousands of transit candidates and hundreds of confirmed exoplanets around K-M dwarf stars and a few planets ...

    Source: [NExSS]

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  1. Night Sky Network Webinar: Exploring Exoplanet Biosignatures


    On November 16, 2016, Eddie Schwieterman, a NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP) fellow with the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) Alternative Earths team, and Giada Arney, NPP fellow at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and member of the NAI Virtual Planetary Laboratory, joined the Night Sky Network (NSN) for Exploring Exoplanet Biosignatures, Potential “False Positives” for Life, and the Case of Proxima Centauri b.

    About the webinar (excerpted from NSN):
    In the coming years and decades, we will finally gain the ability to characterize potentially habitable planets outside of the solar system. How would we recognize a habitable or inhabited planet ...

    Source: [Night Sky Network]

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  1. Student Travel Support and STEM Summer Research and Grad Program Opportunities


    Image credit: None

    Deadlines for several early career travel awards are quickly coming due.

    Small Bodies Assessment Group: Early Career Travel Support
    Deadline: November 25, 2016
    Details: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/sbag/
    SBAG is offering limited U.S. travel support for early career scientists to participate in the SBAG 16 meeting, to be held at the University of Arizona on January 11–13, 2017.  Support is for undergraduate students, graduate students, postdocs, and other early career scientists (within 3 years of PhD/MS/BS).

    2016 Pierazzo International Student Travel Award
    Deadline: November 30, 2016
    Details: http://www.psi.edu/pista
    Two awards ...

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  1. NAI Director's Seminar Series Presents: What Can Extant Genomes Reveal About Early DNA Metabolism?


    Join us for the next NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) Director’s Seminar Series presentation: What Can Extant Genomes Reveal About Early DNA Metabolism?

    Presenter: Isaac Cann, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    When: November 21, 2016 1PM PST

    DNA serves as the molecule of modern day inheritance, ensuring continuity of life on our planet. Extant modes of DNA synthesis and repair are extremely complex, unlikely to be representative of the situation when DNA initially became the molecule of life. This discrepancy is all the more pronounced since it is likely that early genomes were not as large as those of present day ...

    Source: [NAI Seminars and Workshops]

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  1. Iron-Loving Bacteria a Model for Mars Life


    A computer-assisted model of the Mars 2020 rover, which is expected to look for signs of habitable environments on the Red Planet. It also will cache samples for possible return to Earth by another mission. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech Image credit: None
    A computer-assisted model of the Mars 2020 rover, which is expected to look for signs of habitable environments on the Red Planet. It also will cache samples for possible return to Earth by another mission. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    Single-celled microbes are considered a living example of the kind of life that might exist elsewhere in the Universe, as they are able to survive some of the extreme conditions that exist on other worlds.

    New research on the bacterium Tepidibacillus decaturensis shows that it could be a model organism for what might live on Mars, should any creature inhabit the red planet. This microorganism, found in water more than a mile underground in the Illinois Basin in a formation known as Mount Simon Sandstone, has been shown to be moderately tolerant of heat and salt and able to persist ...

    Source: [astrobio.net]

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