2001 Annual Science Report

NASA Ames Research Center Reporting  |  JUL 2000 – JUN 2001

Executive Summary

Executive Summary — ARC (dm)

Introduction

The research efforts of the Ames team integrate a variety of disciplines around three scientific themes that address the context for life, the origin and early evolution of life, and the future of life.

Context for life. We investigate both the chemistry and the environments conducive to life’s origin. First, we trace, spectroscopically and chemically, the cosmic evolution of carbon compounds from the interstellar gas and dust to protoplanetary nebulae, planetesimals, and finally onto habitable bodies. Second, we probe the history of abiotically produced molecules of biological significance. Both investigations rely on spectral and chemical studies of realistic, laboratory analogs tightly coupled with quantum chemical calculations followed by astronomical searches.

We investigate the habitability of planets by identifying and quantifying those factors that collectively determine the inner and outer limits of the circumstellar habitable zone. For example, (1) water ... Continue reading.

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