NAI

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  1. First Prize of Planetology and Astrobiology


    Organizers of last year’s successful online Spanish course, “Planetología y Astrobiología,” have awarded the first Prize of Planetology and Astrobiology to recognize the contributions of two outstanding students.

    First Prize was awarded to Ruben Campanero, a Geologist specializing in chondritic meteorites. Honorable Mention went to Verónica Casanova, a student of Physics at the National Distance Education University.

    The course was attended by over 100 students from a multitude of countries and backgrounds. The second Spanish online course, “Catástrofes Naturales y Eventos de Extinción” (Natural Catastrophes and Extinction Events), will be taking place this year from May 15 to ...

    Source: [Professional School of the Spanish Association of Geologists (ICOG)]

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  1. Habitable Evaporated Cores


    A new study supported by the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) indicates that some terrestrial planets in the habitable zones of low mass stars could be the evaporated cores of small Neptune-like planets.

    University of Washington (UW) graduate student Rodrigo Luger, professors Rory Barnes and Victoria Meadows, and collaborators published results from an interdisciplinary model that show photoevaporation can remove hydrogen and helium from small, gaseous exoplanets, transforming them into potentially habitable worlds. While these planets are likely to be very different from Earth in composition, they should have abundant surface water, one of the principal ingredients for habitability.

    The study ...

    Source: [University of Washington]

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  1. Water, Ice and the Origin of Life in the Universe


    Applications for the third Nordic-Hawaii astrobiology Summer School are due March 15 at 23:59:00 UTC. The course will take place in Iceland from July 1 to 14, 2015.

    Participants will receive a high-level introduction into water’s role in the evolution of life in the cosmos, starting from the formation of water molecules in space and ending with the evolution of the first organisms.

    The program comprises: – Lectures by internationally leading scientists covering a broad range of subjects in astrobiology – An investigation of the colonization of volcanic rocks and glaciers with in situ life detection techniques – ...

    Source: [Nordic Astrobiology Network]

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  1. The Search for Volcanic Eruptions on Mars


    A new study of emissions from Martian volcanoes suggests there is no activity going on right now, but researchers aren’t ruling out recent eruptions.

    Previously, scientists have used ground-based telescopes to perform short-term searches for sulfuric acid on Mars — a key indicator of volcanic activity. Now, a new instrument on Europe’s next Mars spacecraft could be used for long-term, up-close searches.

    Source: [astrobio.net]

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  1. Ancient Organisms That Have Not Evolved


    Scientists have discovered 1.8 billion-year-old fossil microorganisms in fossilized deep-sea mud from Western Australia. It appears that the sulfur-cycling microbial community is almost identical to microbial fossils from 2.3 billion-years-ago, and to modern communities found off the coast of South America.

    The stability of these communities could be evidence of a long-term lack of evolution, which reflects the lack of change in their environment. This would be an example of a theory known as evolution’s “null hypothesis.” When an environment is stable, and there are no pressures to cause natural selection, the population of microbes that live ...

    Source: [PNAS]

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  1. FameLab USA Online Competition


    Passionate about science? Love to communicate…or want to learn how? Missed the in-person regional heats? THIS is your chance. Join us for the FameLab USA Season 3 Online Competition!

    Unlike our in-person events, in this heat you will record yourself giving a 3-minute, powerpoint-free presentation, create a YouTube video of it, and submit that to us no later than March 16th. Then join us for the live, online judging event on March 18th to receive feedback from the judges. We are also planning a live, online science communications workshop, still TBA.

    More info, and plenty of how-to’s, tips, and hints ...

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  1. Guiding Our Search for Life on Other Earths


    A telescope will soon allow astronomers to probe the atmosphere of Earthlike exoplanets for signs of life. To prepare, Lisa Kaltenegger and her team at Cornell’s Institute for Pale Blue Dots are modeling the atmospheric fingerprints for hundreds of potential alien worlds. They are building a database of atmospheric fingerprints that will then be used as “ID cards” to guide the study of exoplanet atmospheres with the James Webb Space Telescope and other future large telescopes.

    Kaltenegger described her approach in a talk for the NASA Astrobiology Institute’s Director Seminar Series last December.

    Source: [astrobio.net]

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  1. NAI Director’s Seminar Series: Bill Bottke


    Bill Bottke of Southwest Research Institute will be presenting the next NAI Director’s Seminar on February 23, 2015, at 1pm Pacific Standard Time. A link to the web broadcast will be available here at 12:45pm PST on Feb 23.

    Bottke’s talk, “Early Solar System Bombardment and Earth’s Habitability,” will discuss insights about the bombardment history of the early Earth based on a new bombardment model for the inner Solar System that stretches from Mercury to the asteroid belt.

    For more information and details on how to join the event, click here.

    Source: [NAI Director’s Seminar Series]

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  1. Online Course: Natural Catastrophes and Extinction Events


    A new online astrobiology course in Spanish, “Catástrofes Naturales y Eventos de Extinción” (Natural Catastrophes and Extinction Events), will be taking place this year from May 15 to June 30. The course consists of three Modules with ten thematic units. Ten instructors will cover a wide range topics relevant to catastrophes and extinction events on Earth.

    For more information, click: here.

    A promotional video for the course can be viewed here.

    The new course follows last year’s successful online course, “Planetology and Astrobiology,” which was attended by over 100 students. This educational opportunity is organized by the Professional School ...

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  1. Online Course: Natural Catastrophes and Extinction Events


    A new online astrobiology course in Spanish, “Catástrofes Naturales y Eventos de Extinción” (Natural Catastrophes and Extinction Events), will be taking place this year from May 15 to June 30. The course consists of three Modules with ten thematic units. Ten instructors will cover a wide range topics relevant to catastrophes and extinction events on Earth.

    For more information, click: here.

    A promotional video for the course can be viewed here.

    The new course follows last year’s successful online course, “Planetology and Astrobiology,” which was attended by over 100 students. This educational opportunity is organized by the Professional School ...

    Source: [Escuela de Geologia Profesional]

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  1. Radio Signals From Jupiter and the Search for Life


    Powerful radio signals that Jupiter generates could be used to help researchers scan its giant moons for oceans that could be home to extraterrestrial life, according to a recent study submitted to the journal Icarus.

    The research was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with NASA and funded through the Internal Research and Technology Development program.




    Europa is being put under the spotlight this week at the NASA Ames Research Center with a workshop on the potential for finding life in a Europa plume. The workshop will be held on Wednesday, February ...

    Source: [astrobio.net]

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  1. Life in Low-Temperature Fluids Beneath the Ocean Crust


    A new study supported by the NASA Astrobiology Institute and the Astrobiology program is shedding light on microbial communities that live in low-temperature fluids just beneath the ocean crust. The largest aquifer system on Earth exists beneath the crust at the bottom of our planet’s oceans, yet life in this remote environment has remained relatively unexplored for decades. By drilling into the ocean floor, scientists retrieved low-temperature (<100°C) fluids from the environment. In the samples they found evidence of sulfate reducing microbes over a range of temperatures.

    The results suggest that sulfate reducing microbes could be responsible for the removal of organic matter in fluids within the upper oceanic crust, and this might have a measurable impact on the biogeochemical ...

    Source: [Frontiers in Microbiology]

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  1. Deep Sea Microbes Unchanged for 2.3 Billion Years


    In the muddy sediments beneath the deep sea, NAI-funded astrobiologists have found ancient communities of microbes that have remained virtually unchanged for 2.3 billion years.

    Researchers say these microscopic organisms are an example of “extreme evolutionary stasis” and represent the greatest lack of evolution ever seen.

    They may also, paradoxically, prove that Darwin’s theory of evolution is true.

    “If evolution is a product of changes in the physical and biological environment, and there are no changes in the physical and biological environment, then there will be no evolution,” said William Schopf, a paleobiologist at UCLA.

    He calls ...

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  1. NASA Seeks New NASA Astrobiology Institute Director


    Application Deadline Extended to: July 10, 2015

    NASA seeks a new Director for the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI). The ideal candidate will be an internationally recognized scientist with proven experience in leading or managing large interdisciplinary research programs or projects, possessed with a vision for leading the Institute into the future. Applicants for this position should have a broad scientific perspective on astrobiology, experience in conducting interdisciplinary scientific research, and demonstrated skills needed to harness the strengths of disparate research communities towards a greater goal. S/he should understand how to grow a research endeavor and respond to changing budget ...

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  1. Super Earths and Life: A New Online Course


    Super-Earths And Life is a course offered by HarvardX about alien life, how we search for it, and what this teaches us about our place in the universe.

    In the past decade astronomers have made incredible advances in the discovery of planets outside our solar system. Thirty years ago, we knew only of the planets in our own solar system. Now we know of thousands circling nearby stars.

    Meanwhile, biologists have gained a strong understanding of how life evolved on our own planet, all the way back to the earliest cells. We can describe how simple molecules can assemble themselves ...

    Source: [HarvardX]

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