2011 Annual Science Report

NASA Ames Research Center Reporting  |  SEP 2010 – AUG 2011

EPO Activity: Astrobiology Student Intern Program at Lassen Volcanic National Park

Project Progress

The Ames Team continued to forge its strong partnership with Lassen Volcanic National Park by exploring astrobiological aspects of hydrothermal activity and microbiology. Ames team members collaborated with staff at Red Bluff High School and Lassen Park to offer the Lassen Astrobiology Student Intern Program to high school juniors and seniors. The program syllabus for the 2011 school year includes six in-class lectures and labs, four remote lectures/lab (via Adobe Connect), three field trips (plus a winter trip that includes hiking into the park on snowshoes), one mid-term presentation to the Ames Team, and a final presentation to the general public.

In the chemistry lab at Red Bluff High School, Ames team member Niki Parenteau watches as Lassen Astrobiology Student Interns use a field-based version of the CheMin, a minerology instrument that is en route to Mars on the Mars Science Laboratory Curiousity Rover. The Lassen interns are the only students in the nation who have had the opportunity to work with this instrument and to work with Ames Team member Dave Blake, inventor of the CheMin.

Interns examined hydrothermal features, collected field data and generated a database of temperature, pH, GPS coordinates, photos and geochemical and biological analyses.

Lassen Astrobiology Student Interns measure the temperature and pH of an acidic, iron-rich spring at Ridge Lakes, Lassen Volcanic National Park, CA.

They presented their final report to the Red Bluff community at “Astrobiology Night” at the high school. Their report will enrich astrobiological research, classroom lectures and public talks.

The Lassen interns presented their final science report to their local community at “Astrobiology Night.”

Ames team members continue to work with Lassen Park interpretive staff to develop trailside signs that will be located at sites that illustrate astrobiology research at Lassen. Park staff installed the first in a series of all-weather trailside signs.