The NAI welcomes three new teams!
Lucianne Walkowicz has been selected as the fifth Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology. Image source: TED.
The fifth Baruch S. Blumberg/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology has been announced. Lucianne Walkowicz, astronomer based at the Adler Planetarium, will begin her 12-month residency with the Kluge Center on October 1, 2017.
As Chair, Walkowicz intends to work on a project entitled “Fear of a Green Planet: Inclusive Systems of Thought for Human Exploration of Mars.” Her project will create an inclusive framework for human exploration of Mars—a vision that encompasses both cutting-edge research on Mars as a place of essential astrobiological significance and weaves in lessons from the diverse histories of exploration on Earth. In addition ...
Source: [Library of Congress]July 17, 2017 / Posted by: Miki Huynh
David Gold with the Summons Lab looked at evidence of sterol biosynthesis and used molecular clock analysis to date the earliest appearance of eukaryotes. Image credit: MIT
David Gold, a member of the NASA Astrobiology Institute at MIT, with researchers at the Summons Lab has published a paper, finding biomarker evidence that suggests eukaryotic organisms were present on Earth as early as 2.31 billion years ago, around the time of the first wide-spread availability of oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere.
The paper, “Paleoproterozoic sterol biosynthesis and the rise of oxygen,” is published in Nature.
Gold and his team used molecular clock analysis, sifting through DNA databases tracing the evolution of genes for encoding enzymes necessary for sterol biosynthesis, and using the age of fossils ...
Source: [Foundations of Complex Life]July 14, 2017 / Posted by: Miki Huynh
NASA’s Nexus for Exoplanet System Science and the NASA Astrobiology Institute held a series of joint Exoplanet Biosignatures Workshop Without Walls from June to July 2016, including an in-person workshop, in Seattle, WA that brought together the astrobiology, exoplanet, and mission concept communities to review, discuss, debate, and advance the science of biosignatures. A broad range of experts were engaged, merging the interdisciplinary reaches of NExSS, the NAI, NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program (ExEP), and international partners, such as the European Astrobiology Network Association (EANA) and Japan’s Earth Life Science Institute (ELSI).
The report from the NExSS Exoplanet ...
Source: [NExSS]July 07, 2017 / Posted by: Miki Huynh
Satellite view of the Red Lakes region in Ontario, Canada with four of the sampling areas from the UW-Madison study of Sr isotope compositions of Archaen carbonates. Image source: Google Maps
As the complexity and diversity of life on Earth keeps getting pushed further back in time with more and more data from the geologic record, the issue of the role of continents in the evolution of the early biosphere has become increasingly prominent. Are emergent continents required for life’s origin? Are nutrients such as P dependent on exposure of evolved continental crust? Are the ecological niches provided by extensive continental shelves required for a diverse ecosystem?
Scientists with the NASA Astrobiology Institute team based at the University of Wisconsin conducted a detailed study of Sr isotope compositions of Archean ...
Source: [University of Wisconsin]June 29, 2017 / Written by: University of Wisconsin
ROSES-17 Amendment 13 releases final text for D.11 TESS Guest Investigator – Cycle 1, which replaces in its entirety the placeholder text released with the ROSES-17 NRA in February.
The TESS Guest Investigator (GI) Program solicits proposals for the acquisition and analysis of scientific data from the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission, a NASA Explorer mission currently scheduled for launch no later than June 2018. In a 2-year, near all-sky survey, TESS will monitor the brightness of nearby, bright F, G, K, and M stars in order to photometrically search for transiting planets smaller than Neptune ...
Source: [NSPIRES]June 28, 2017 / Written by: NASA
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
- May 24 - Application Deadline: NASA Exobiology Proposals (ROSES 2018)
- May 30 - Registration Deadline for Mars Workshop on Amazonian and Present Day Climate
- May 31 - Application Deadline for Summer School/Workshop: Microsatellites in Planetary and Atmospheric Research
- May 31 - Indication of Interest Due for The First Billion Years: Bombardment
- May 31 - Application Deadline for Summer School/Workshop: "Microsatellites in Planetary and Atmospheric Research
- May 31 - Application Deadline: Postdoc Position: Physics and Chemistry of Outer Planetary (Europa), Ice Analogs, JPL
- May 31 - Application Deadline: Postdoc Position: Isotope Analysis Instrument- Origin and Distribution of Water in the Solar System, JPL
- May 31 - Application Deadline: Early Career Research Associate, Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science, Cornell University
- June 1 - Abstract Submission Opens for The First Billion Years: Bombardment
- June 1 - Indication of Interest Deadline for Late Mars Workshop
- June 1 - Application Deadline: Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences 2017 (ROSES–2017)
- June 1 - Application Deadline: GSA Planetary Geology Division Junior Student Advisory Member
- June 3 - Application Deadline for Molecular Geobiology EMBO Practical Course with a Field Trip
- June 5 - Seminar: "AbGradCon 2018"
- June 6 - Registration Deadline for Science of Early Life Conference at the Origins Institute
- June 11 - Application Deadline for Field Training and Research Program at Meteor Crater
- June 13 - Abstract Submission Deadline for Comparative Climatology of Terrestrial Planets III
- June 13 - Abstract Submission Deadline for Comparative Climatology of Terrestrial Planets: From Stars to Surfaces (CCTP-3)
- NAI 2015 Annual Science Report