A recap of student activities during their summer internships.
Guadalupe "Lupita" Tover is a member of the Virtual Planetary Laboratory, the NASA Astrobiology Institute team based at the University of Washington. She is among 100 students recognized by the University of Washington for their achievements. Source: UW
Guadalupe “Lupita” Tovar, a member of the Virtual Planetary Laboratory who will be starting a PhD program in astronomy and astrobiology at the University of Washington, was recently profiled by the U of W for her accomplishments.
She was introduced to the field and to VPL through Pre-MAP, the university’s pre-major in astronomy program, and she has since been active in researching parameters for new generation telescopes necessary for mapping exoplanets.
Tovar, the daughter of immigrant parents, is the first in her extended family to finish high school and go to a four-year college, and the story details ...
Source: [University of Washington]June 23, 2017 / Posted by: Miki Huynh
The Emergence of Life display presented at the Field Museum in Chicago, IL on May 18-21, 2017. Image source: NAI
On May 18-21, 2017, the NASA Astrobiology Institute team at the University of Illinois presented interactive displays and lectures about the Emergence of Life and Astrobiology in Yellowstone at Chicago’s Field Museum.
Positioned between the Field’s iconic T. rex “Sue” and the warring bull elephants, displays explored the revolutionary NASA-supported work on molecular phylogeny pioneered by Carl Woese, the origin and evolution of life on Earth, and microbial biomarkers in hot springs. More than 30,000 museum visitors visited the displays, and 450 high school students (90% from underrepresented populations) from the Chicago Public School system were ...June 21, 2017 / Written by: Daniella Scalice
The Kepler & K2 Science Conference takes place June 19-23, 2017. Researchers and scientists unable to attend in-person can attend remotely.
Over the past 8 years, high-precision photometry from the Kepler/K2 mission has enabled breakthrough discoveries in exoplanet science, asteroseismology, eclipsing binary stars, solar-system objects, and extragalactic science. To celebrate the legacy and latest science results of Kepler/K2, NASA invites the community to the 4th Kepler & K2 Science Conference, hosted at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA on June 19-23, 2017.
Researchers and scientists unable to attend the conference in-person can attend remotely by signing in to this Adobe Connect URL: https://ac.arc.nasa.gov/kepler/.
The link will be live starting on Monday ...
Source: [Kepler & K2 Science Conference IV]June 19, 2017 / Posted by: Miki Huynh
Female of the Species is a podcast created by Phoebe Cohen, paleontologist and member of the NASA Astrobiology Institute team based at MIT, centered around casual one-on-one conversations between Cohen and fellow women in science that include a “healthy mix of issues facing women in STEM, good solid chit chat, and belly laughs.”
A batch of six episodes is available for download via iTunes. The discussions glide between personal interests and experiences to broader social topics, and each podcast highlights engaging details about the featured guest, who also in turn gives a shout out to other inspiring women, helping to ...
Source: [Female of the Species]June 08, 2017 / Written by: Miki Huynh
When haze built up in the atmosphere of Archean Earth, the young planet might have looked like this artist’s interpretation — a pale orange dot.
We know little about Earth’s surface temperatures for the first 4 billion years or so of its history. This presents a limitation into research of life’s origins on Earth and also how it might arise on distant worlds as well.
Now researchers suggest that by resurrecting ancient enzymes they could estimate the temperatures in which these organisms likely evolved billions of years ago. The scientists recently published their findings in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“We need a better understanding of not only how life first evolved on Earth, but how life and the ...
Source: [astrobio.net]June 05, 2017 / Written by: Charles Choi
The Astrobiology Graduate Conference (AbGradCon) 2017 takes place June 5-9, and the webcast will be viewable at SAGANet.org.
AbGradCon (Astrobiology Graduate Conference) 2017 takes place June 5-9 and will be webcast in its entirety at SAGANet.org.
AbGradCon provides a unique setting for astrobiologically-inclined graduate students and early career researchers to come together to share their research, collaborate, and network. AbGradCon 2017 marks the 13th year of this conference—each time in a different place and organized by a different group of students, but always with the original charter as a guide.
Since it is organized and attended by only graduate students, post docs, and select undergraduates, AbGradCon is an ideal ...
Source: [AbGradCon 2017]June 02, 2017 / Posted by: Miki Huynh
Lynch examining microbial mats in the Pilot Valley Basin, a paleolake basin in Utah. Photo credit: NASA Astrobiology Institute
In May, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign profiled Kennda Lynch, postdoc and member of the NASA Astrobiology Institute team at Georgia Tech, tracing how she’s grown from an engineering major at Illinois to become a multidisciplinary researcher in the NASA astrobiology community.
Lynch describes how her emerging fascination with astrobiology combined with opportunity, setting her on a path where she currently researches Mars analog environments found in Utah, work that helps NASA narrow down potential landing sites for the Mars 2020 rover and informs future Mars human missions.
Source: [UIUC Engineering]June 02, 2017 / Posted by: Miki Huynh
The Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon) took place at the Mesa Convention Center in Mesa, Arizona on April 24–28, 2017.
Sessions were live streamed, and the recordings of AbSciCon 2017 are now available on the NASA Astrobiology YouTube channel.
The theme this year was “Diverse Life and its Detection on Different Worlds.” Mars and icy worlds in our solar system are increasingly recognized as habitable, even as increasing numbers of exoplanets in their stars’ habitable zones have been discovered. The focus is shifting from identification of habitable worlds, to detection of life on these worlds.
Conference website: http://www.hou ...May 18, 2017 / Posted by: Miki Huynh
A researcher looks over the Greenland ice cap, a “frozen ocean.” Eleven scientists returned from a field campaign testing an instrument that can scrutinize holes in ice for signs of life. Someday, such an instrument might find its way to Europa or Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Michael J. Malaska
Ocean worlds are on planetary scientists’ minds. More and more, evidence rolls in about the potential habitability of ice-covered bodies like Jupiter’s moon Europa or Saturn’s moon Enceladus. The findings point to heat-driven processes in their subsurface oceans that could support life. Scientists are now beginning to wonder: Could the search for life end on one of these icy satellites?
Assuming humanity does land a spacecraft on Europa or Enceladus, any evidence of life it might uncover would receive heavy scrutiny. In a recent report on a possible landing mission to Europa, scientists devoted multiple chapters to discussing ...
Source: [Eos]May 16, 2017 / Written by: JoAnna Wendel
NASA scientist, Mary Beth Wilhelm, collects soil samples of preserved ancient microorganisms in the Atacama Desert.
In the above photo, NASA scientist Mary Beth Wilhelm, wearing a cleanroom suit, kneels as she collects soil samples containing microorganisms from Chile’s Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on the planet. She is investigating the preservation of ancient microorganisms on Earth, and what that might mean for future visits to Mars.
“My research shows that the molecules which made up microbes that lived long ago remain well preserved under extremely dry, Mars-like conditions in the Atacama Desert here on Earth,” said Wilhelm, a researcher at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, and a ...
Source: [NASA]May 13, 2017 / Posted by: Miki Huynh
The NASA Astrobiology Institute was pleased to once again sponsor the Student Poster Competition at the Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon) 2017. As with previous AbSciCon conferences, this event provided motivation, encouragement, and most of all, recognition to astrobiologists of the future.
Thank you to the 85 students and 43 judges that participated in the competition!
The first place poster, with an award of $1000, went to Jacqueline Long from the College of Marine Science, University of South Florida. Her poster was titled: Chlorophyll-f: Earth’s Unseen Production and Habitability Under Red Light.
You can read her abstract at: http://www ...May 04, 2017 / Written by: Julie Fletcher
An artist's conception of planet Kepler-452b, the first near-Earth-sized world to be found in the habitable zone of a star that is similar to our sun.
(Inside Science) — It seems like every day that astronomers discover another possibly habitable world, like Proxima Centauri b, our closest exoplanent neighbor, and TRAPPIST-1f, one of seven recently discovered Earth-sized planets orbiting the same star. But don’t prepare for first contact just yet. It will be exceedingly complicated to figure out whether there’s actually any life or potential for it on such planets, based on new research into our own evolving world.
To a distant observer peering through a telescope, even Earth would not have shown signs of life through most of its past. Despite the fact that our ...
Source: [NBC News]May 02, 2017 / Written by: Ramin Skibba
Marcus Bray (left), a biology Ph.D. candidate, and Jennifer Glass, assistant professor in the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and member of the NASA Astrobiology Institute Alternative Earths team, are shown in the laboratory where tiny incubators simulated early Earth conditions. (Credit: Rob Felt, Georgia Tech)
For much of its first two billion years, Earth was a very different place: oxygen was scarce, microbial life ruled, and the sun was significantly dimmer than it is today. Yet the rock record shows that vast seas covered much of the early Earth under the faint young sun.
Scientists have long debated what kept those seas from freezing. A popular theory is that potent gases such as methane – with many times more warming power than carbon dioxide – created a thicker greenhouse atmosphere than required to keep water liquid today.
In the absence of oxygen, iron built up in ancient ...
Source: [Georgia Tech]April 18, 2017 / Written by: Georgia Tech
We once thought oceans made our planet unique, but we’re now coming to realize that ‘ocean worlds’ are all around us. Video credit: NASA
Two veteran NASA missions are providing new details about icy, ocean-bearing moons of Jupiter and Saturn, further heightening the scientific interest of these and other “ocean worlds” in our solar system and beyond. The findings are presented in papers published Thursday by researchers with NASA’s Cassini mission to Saturn and Hubble Space Telescope.
In the papers, Cassini scientists announce that a form of chemical energy that life can feed on appears to exist on ...
This illustration shows Cassini diving through the Enceladus plume in 2015. New ocean world discoveries from Cassini and Hubble will help inform future exploration and the broader search for life beyond Earth. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Source: [NASA]April 13, 2017 / Written by: NASA
Algal bloom in Arctic pond near Tiksi viewed from a Soviet transport helicopter.
It is thought that animal life first arose during the Ediacaran Period, between 635 and 541 million years ago, but these organisms bore little resemblance to the animals we know today. That’s led some scientists to believe that they may not have been animals at all, and instead amounted to failed experiments in multi-cellular evolution.
The remains of these odd creatures, most of which have no evidence of a circulatory or digestive system, largely vanished from the rock record at the start of the Cambrian Period, 541 million years ago. Piecing together a picture of the Ediacaran environment is key ...
Source: [astrobio.net]March 29, 2017 / Written by: Amanda Doyle
- October 24 - Seminar: "Evolution of the Bacteria, Eukarya and Archaea"
- October 27 - Abstract Submission Deadline for Arizona-JAXA Workshop
- October 31 - Seminar: "The Environmental Context of Early Animal Evolution"
- November 1 - Abstract Submission Deadline for JWST Solar System Workshop
- November 1 - Registration Deadline for JWST Solar System Workshop
- November 1 - Application Deadline: NASA Astrobiology Postdoctoral Program
- November 2 - Seminar: "Ask an Astrobiologist Featuring Dr. Carl Pilcher"
- November 3 - Seminar: "Contemporary Water and Habitability of Mars"
- November 15 - Abstract Submission Deadline for 5th European Conference on Permafrost (EUCOP 2018)
- November 15 - Application Deadline: 2018 Exploration Fellowship in Earth and Space Science
- November 16 - Application Deadline: (ROSES-2017) Habitable Worlds Step 1 Proposals
- November 30 - Registration Deadline for ELSI Symposium: Building Bridges from Earth to Life: From Chemical Mechanism to Ancient Biology
- December 1 - Abstract Submission Deadline for 2nd Recontres du Vietnam on Exoplanetary Science
- December 1 - Application Deadline: Community Announcement Regarding Europa Lander Instrument Investigation Program Element Appendix
- December 16 - Early Registration Deadline for 2nd Recontres du Vietnam on Exoplanetary Science
- December 17 - Application Deadline for 2018 Gordon Research Conference: Origins of Life
- February 9 - Application Deadline for Geobiology 2018
- March 1 - Application Deadline: NASA Astrobiology Postdoctoral Program
- NAI 2014 Annual Science Report