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  1. Ask an Astrobiologist featuring Dr. Carl Pilcher


    Image credit:

    The Ask an Astrobiologist Show returns for its second season, beginning with an interview with Dr. Carl Pilcher, former director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute. The live Q&A has been rescheduled to Thursday, November 2 at 10AM PT.

    Source: [SAGANet]

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  1. Contemporary Water and Habitability of Mars


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    The next live STScI webcast, “Contemporary Water and Habitability of Mars,” presented by Lujendra Ojha of Johns Hopkins University airs November 3 at 12PM ET.

    For more info on the STSci seminar series and to view the calendar of upcoming talks, visit: http://www.stsci.edu/institute/smo/ipl/lecture

    Source: [Space Telescope Science Institute]

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  1. Early Earth, Warm or Cold?


    The early Earth was a hellish place, pummeled by meteors and a choking atmosphere, and yet somehow life got a grip there. Image credit: None
    The early Earth was a hellish place, pummeled by meteors and a choking atmosphere, and yet somehow life got a grip there. Artist concept of the early Earth's surface. Image credit: None
    Artist concept of the early Earth's surface.

    Source: [Earth and Planetary Science Letters]

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  1. Pale Rainbow Dots: The Search for Other Earths


    Source: Carnegie Institute for Science Image credit: Carnegie Science
    Source: Carnegie Institute for Science

    Wednesday, October 25, 2017, 6:30 PM ET

    What does it mean to be a habitable planet? How can we find life if it’s truly “alien” and different from life on Earth? And what techniques can we use to search for life on worlds orbiting distant stars? Drs. Arney and Domagal-Goldman, astrobiologists at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, will discuss the science behind these questions and the future telescopes that may provide the answers.

    The lecture at the Carnegie Institution for Science will be streamed live. For details, visit the event page.

    Source: [Carnegie Institute for Science]

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  1. Middle School Teacher Reviewers Needed - Online Astrobiology "Game"


    Screenshot from the Life Underground Game where students take the role of investigators of extreme subsurface environments looking for microbial life. Image credit:
    Screenshot from the Life Underground Game where students take the role of investigators of extreme subsurface environments looking for microbial life.

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  1. Water can be Corrosive to Life, so what about Alternative Solvents?


    Life on early Earth seems to have begun with a paradox: while life needs water as a solvent, the essential chemical backbones of early life-forming molecules fall apart in water. Our universal solvent, it turns out, can be extremely corrosive.

    Some have pointed to this paradox as a sign that life, or the precursor of life, originated elsewhere and was delivered here via comets or meteorites. Others have looked for solvents that could have the necessary qualities of water without that bond-breaking corrosiveness.

    A “fossil” natural nuclear reactor site in the Okio region of Gabon. The large uranium deposit present underwent nuclear fission on and off for hundreds of thousands of years some 2 billion years ago. The yellow rock is uranium oxide. Image credit: Robert D. Loss
    A “fossil” natural nuclear reactor site in the Okio region of Gabon. The large uranium deposit present underwent nuclear fission on and off for hundreds of thousands of years some 2 billion years ago. The yellow rock is uranium oxide.

    Source: [astrobio.net]

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  1. A Summer of Astrobiology


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    Fall is officially upon us, but not too long ago early career astrobiologists were keeping busy throughout the summer season. AbGradCon 2017 and the Proposal Writing Retreat—organized by and for post-docs, graduate students, and select undergrads—met with great success. The 2017 International Summer School in Astrobiology gathered 22 scholars to the Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo (UIMP) in Santander, Spain to learn about exoplanet habitability. And undergraduates collaborating with scientists at Goddard Space Flight Center presented a GSFC Summer Research Associate 2017 Seminar on their innovative research.

    PIs of the NASA Astrobiology Institute teams also report the activities and achievements ...

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  1. Webcast of Astrobiology, Synthetic Biology, and the Future of Life


    You can now watch the Library of Congress symposium “Life As It Could Be: Astrobiology, Synthetic Biology, and the Future of Life” hosted by Luis Campos, the 2016-2017 Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology. The event took place Thursday, September 28, 9AM-6PM ET.

    Summary:
    What is life? How might life have emerged on Earth or on other worlds? And how might we engineer the future of life—what might we make life to be? Astrobiologists and synthetic biologists grapple with these questions every day. To further explore the intersections between these sciences and the humanities, the ...

    Source: [Library of Congress]

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  1. NASA Astrobiology Program Student Early Career Collaboration Awards - Deadline October 2


    Applications for the next cycle of the NASA Astrobiology Early Career Collaboration Award are due October 2, 2017. Image credit: None
    Applications for the next cycle of the NASA Astrobiology Early Career Collaboration Award are due October 2, 2017.

    Don’t miss the next opportunity to apply for an Astrobiology Early Career Collaboration Award! The deadline is October 2, 2017.

    The Astrobiology Early Career Collaboration Awards offer research-related travel support for undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, and junior scientists. Applicants are encouraged to use these resources to circulate among two or more laboratories supported by the NASA Astrobiology Program (Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology, the NAI, Planetary Science and Technology Through Analog Research, MatiSSE, PICASSO and the Habitable Worlds), however any travel that is critical for the applicant’s research will be considered. Travelers must be formally affiliated with a U.S ...

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  1. Seeing Emergent Physics Behind Evolution


    PI Nigel Goldenfeld of the Institute for Universal Biology, the NASA Astrobiology Institute team based at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was featured in Quanta Magazine, where he talks about collective phenomena, expanding the Modern Synthesis model of evolution, and using quantitative and theoretical tools from physics to gain insights into mysteries surrounding early life on Earth, and the interactions between cyanobacteria and predatory viruses.

    Read the story in Quanta Magazine.

    Source: [Quanta Magazine]

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  1. Library of Congress Symposium: Life As It Could Be: Astrobiology, Synthetic Biology, and the Future of Life


    Image credit: None

    Luis Campos, the 2016-2017 Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology, is hosting a symposium entitled “Life As It Could Be: Astrobiology, Synthetic Biology, and the Future of Life.”

    Date/Time: Thursday, September 28, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
    Location: The John W. Kluge Center, Room 119, Thomas Jefferson Building

    What is life? How might life have emerged on Earth or on other worlds? And how might we engineer the future of life—what might we make life to be? Astrobiologists and synthetic biologists grapple with these questions every day. To further ...

    Source: [Library of Congress]

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  1. NAI 2016 Annual Science Report


    The Annual report has been removed pending final review by NASA HQ. The reviewed report will be reposted by Oct 1, 2017.

    Image credit:

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  1. As Oceans Alkalized, Life Developed Bones and Shells


    View of Mount Slipper looking towards the layers of rock that contain biomineralized fossils. Credit: Phoebe A. Cohen Image credit: None
    View of Mount Slipper looking towards the layers of rock that contain biomineralized fossils. Credit: Phoebe A. Cohen Scanning electron microscope image of a cluster of biomineralized ASM fossils from Mount
Slipper. Fossils are found by dissolving carbonate rocks from Mount Slipper in weak acid. These structures likely acted as armor, with many plates of the same type surrounding a single cell. Credit: Phoebe A. Cohen Image credit: None
    Scanning electron microscope image of a cluster of biomineralized ASM fossils from Mount Slipper. Fossils are found by dissolving carbonate rocks from Mount Slipper in weak acid. These structures likely acted as armor, with many plates of the same type surrounding a single cell. Credit: Phoebe A. Cohen

    Source: [astrobio.net]

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  1. This Enzyme Enabled Life to Conquer a Hostile Earth


    Betül Kacar in her lab. Image credit: None
    Betül Kacar in her lab.

    Computers are simulating the ancestral versions of the most common protein on Earth, giving scientists an unparalleled look at early life’s development of harnessing energy from the Sun and production of oxygen.

    These findings could shed light on the evolution of alien life elsewhere in the Universe, researchers said. They recently detailed their findings in the online version of the journal Geobiology.

    Photosynthesis, which uses energy from sunlight to create sugars and other carbon-based organic molecules from carbon dioxide gas, has played a major role in Earth’s history. Photosynthesis supports the existence of plants and other photosynthetic organisms ...

    Source: [astrobio.net]

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  1. A Simple Bacterium Reveals How Stress Drives Evolution


    E.coli, a common bacteria. Image credit: None
    E.coli, a common bacteria.

    A common bacteria is furthering evidence that evolution is not entirely a blind process, subject to random changes in the genes, but that environmental stressors can also play a role.
    A NASA-funded team is the first group to design a method demonstrating how transposons — DNA sequences that move positions within a genome — jump from place to place.

    The researchers saw that the jumping rate of these transposons, aptly-named “jumping genes,” increases or decreases depending on factors in the environment, such as food supply.

    “This is a new window into how environment can affect evolution rates,” said Nigel Goldenfeld, director ...

    Source: [astrobio.net]

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