2007 Annual Science Report

NASA Ames Research Center Reporting  |  JUL 2006 – JUN 2007

Executive Summary

The Ames Team pursued complementary lines of research to understand the context for habitable environments and life, the origins of life and its impact on the planetary environment, and how changing environments can affect ecosystems. These investigations address all seven goals of NASA’s current Astrobiology Roadmap, and they help to unify astrobiology and strengthen its linkages to flight missions and NASA’s new vision for exploration. Our direct involvement in several NASA missions provides context, motivation, and resource-sharing opportunities for our research, education and public outreach efforts. The Ames Team website highlights these activities (see www.amesteam.arc.nasa.gov).

We investigated the processes that influence the formation of planetary systems and the evolution of planetary atmospheres. We examined photo-evaporation effects, which can clear disks and influence the probability that habitable planets might form around a star of a given mass (Figure 1). We used our ... Continue reading.

Field Sites
35 Institutions
7 Project Reports
0 Publications
0 Field Sites

Project Reports

  • Ecosystem to Biosphere Modeling

     

    ROADMAP OBJECTIVES: 4.1 5.3 6.1 7.2
  • Early Metabolic Pathways

    We continue to employ both experimental and computational approaches to investigate the evolutionary origins of functional macromolecules. We conducted the first laboratory evolution of a completely new non-biological enzyme that joins two fragments of RNA into a single strand (it acts as an RNA ligase).

    ROADMAP OBJECTIVES: 3.2 3.4
  • Habitable Planets
    ROADMAP OBJECTIVES: 1.1 1.2 2.1 4.1 4.3
  • Hindcasting Ecosystems

    Collaboration with Rothschild’s team lead to the discovery of short wavelength UV radiation on the earth’s surface. We recorded high levels of UV radiation in southern South America as Rothschild and Rogoff did in the Bolivian Altiplano.

    ROADMAP OBJECTIVES: 6.1
  • Interplanetary Pioneers

    We conducted fieldwork to four sites in extreme environments. This consisted of field trips to the Bolivian Andes (Dec 2006, Feb 2007. At the altitudes where we sampled (~15,000 feet), the ozone column was substantially reduced, resulting in high levels of UV radiation flux.

    ROADMAP OBJECTIVES: 5.3 6.2
  • Biosignatures in Chemosynthetic and Photosynthetic Systems
    ROADMAP OBJECTIVES: 2.1 4.1 5.1 5.2 6.1 7.1 7.2
  • Prebiotic Organics From Space
    ROADMAP OBJECTIVES: 1.1 3.1 3.4 4.3 7.1 7.2