An image of Saturn's moon Titan, which is surrounded by a thick haze. Scientists speculate that a similar haze surrounding early Earth may have helped to make it habitable. Source: NASA.
Before it became visible as the Pale Blue Dot, early Earth may have been aglow in orange, and this might have helped to make it habitable.
Scientists at the Virtual Planetary Laboratory, the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) team based at the University of Washington, have developed a simulation of Earth during the Archaen era (3.8-2.5 billion years ago), with the atmosphere supporting an organic-rich and orange-colored haze that—shifting from previous haze studies— provided UV and temperature shielding to support the existence of life.
The paper, “The Pale Orange Dot: The Spectrum and Habitability of Hazy Archaen Earth,” was ...
Source: [Astrobiology]January 04, 2017 / Written by: Miki Huynh
Scott Sandford, PI of the NAI Team at the NASA Ames Research Center, joined David Livingston to discuss astrobiology.
In August 2016, PI Scott Sandford of The Evolution of Prebiotic Chemical Complexity and the Organic Inventory of Protoplanetary Disks and Primordial Planets, the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) team based at the NASA Ames Research Center, was a guest on the Space Show radio program hosted by David Livingston.
In the program, Sandford gave his explanation of the science of astrobiology and ways to think about the search for life in the Universe. Topics and questions also ranged from his research at the Ames labs, the OSIRIS-Rex mission, working with the NAI, and how aspiring astrobiologists can pursue a ...
Source: [The Space Show]December 29, 2016 / Posted by: Miki Huynh
Images of carbonate components in marine cements from the Balcanoona reef in South Australia. Source: A. Hood, et. al., via Geological Society of America.
In the effort to understand the history of Earth’s oxygenation, scientists have sought geochemical proxies, but studies don’t always fully consider how samples get preserved within the ancient environment and how that may affect results, especially when it comes to marine carbonates which can be altered during rock transitions and formations.
NASA Astrobiology Postdoctoral Program fellow Ashleigh Hood and the Alternative Earths team looked at uranium isotopes in samples from a reef complex in South Australia dating back over 635 millions ago. The research paper, “Integrated geochemical-petrographic insights from component-selective δ238U of Cryogenian marine carbonates” was featured on ...
Source: [Geology]December 27, 2016 / Written by: Miki Huynh
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]December 22, 2016 / Written by: Miki Huynh
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]December 21, 2016 / Written by: Miki Huynh
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
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]December 16, 2016 / Posted by: Miki Huynh
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]December 14, 2016 / Written by: Miki Huynh
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]December 12, 2016 / Posted by: Miki Huynh
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 ...December 08, 2016 / Posted by: Miki Huynh
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]December 07, 2016 / Written by: Melanie Schefft
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]December 02, 2016 / Written by: Marc Kaufman
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]December 01, 2016 / Written by: Miki Huynh
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
Source: [Astrobio.net]November 30, 2016 / Written by: Charles Q. Choi
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]November 23, 2016 / Posted by: Miki Huynh
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]November 21, 2016 / Posted by: Miki Huynh
- May 23 - Seminar: "The Promise of Polarimetry for Biosignatures and Habitability Markers"
- May 24 - Early Registration Deadline for 14th Annual Meeting of the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society (AOGS)
- May 25 - Application Deadline: 7th Paolo Farinella Prize
- May 26 - Indication of Interest Deadline for The XVIIIth International Conference on the Origin of Life
- May 26 - Abstract Submission Deadline for 12th Low-Cost Planetary Missions Conference
- May 29 - Registration Deadline for 3rd Planetary Data Workshop
- May 30 - Seminar: "Ask an Astrobiologist Featuring Dr. Eric Boyd"
- May 31 - Application Deadline for Summer School: "Formation of Complex Molecules in Space and on Planets - From interstellar Clouds to Life"
- June 1 - Abstract Submission Deadline for The First Billion Years: Accretion: Building New Worlds
- June 1 - Abstract and Registration Deadline for EANA 2017
- June 1 - Registration Deadline (Foreign Nationals) for NASA Exploration Science Forum (ESF)
- June 1 - Registration Deadline for Planet Formation and Evolution 2017
- June 1 - Abstract Submission Deadline for Planet Formation and Evolution 2017
- June 4 - Indication of Interest Deadline for Fourth International Conference on Early Mars
- June 9 - Registration Deadline for Robotic Telescopes Student Research and Education Conference
- June 9 - Registration Deadline for 3rd International Asteroid Impact Deflection Assessment (AIDA) Workshop
- June 11 - Application Deadline for Gordon Research Conference: Microbial Population Biology
- June 12 - Registration Deadline for Emerging Researchers in Exoplanet Science (ERES III)
- NAI 2014 Annual Science Report