1. Astrobiology at Chicago's Field Museum

    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 ...

    Read More

  1. Watch the NASA Astrobiology Debates Western Championship Live!

    Watch the debates live right here on October 18th, 2015!

    This webcast is sponsored by SAGANet.org, the social network for all things astrobiology.

    What are the NASA Astrobiology Debates?
    Organized by the NASA Astrobiology Program and The George Washington University, the NASA Astrobiology Debates challenge students of all ages to research and debate the complex ethical and political questions raised by the 2015-16 NASA Astrobiology Debates topic, “Resolved: An overriding ethical obligation to protect and preserve extraterrestrial microbial life and ecosystems should be incorporated into international law.”

    The discovery of extraterrestrial microbial life would change the nature and ...

    Read More

  1. New Astrobiology Exhibit at NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center

    Some of the exhibit panels Some of the exhibit panels

    Join us in congratulating the Goddard Center for Astrobiology on their new “Astrobiology Walk” which is installed at the Visitor Center at NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, MD.

    The ribbon-cutting ceremony took place on October 29, 2013, headlined by Goddard Center Director Chris Scolese, Senior Scientist for Astrobiology at NASA Mary Voytek, and Mike Mumma, Director of the Goddard Center for Astrobiology and an NAI Principal Investigator.

    The ribbon is about to be cut! L-R: Mike Mumma, Mary Voytek, Chris Scolese The ribbon is about to be cut! L-R: Mike Mumma, Mary Voytek, Chris Scolese

    As each station on the Walk was unveiled, scientist-docents were on hand to ...

    Read More

  1. Grand Opening of Biosignatures Exhibit in Wisconsin

    Please join us in congratulating the NAI’s University of Wisconsin, Madison team in the grand opening of their new Biosignatures exhibit at the University’s Geology Museum this week! The exhibit takes visitors on a journey back in time to examine signatures of life in ancient rocks and fossils, as well as a journey through the senses with the Aromas of Astrobiology installation! A meteorite from Mars is the crown jewel…

    Read More

  1. Beyond the Edge of the Sea, in Wisconsin

    Beyond the Edge of the Sea is a breath-taking exhibit consisting of hand-drawn scientific illustrations from hydrothermal vents experienced first hand by scientist Cindy Van Dover and artist Karen Jacobsen. Making its debut in Madison, WI recently, the exhibit was joined by these two collaborators and local residents reaped the benefits. After the opening reception, Van Dover and Jacobsen joined 350 middle school girls at the Expanding Your Horizons conference, an experience designed to give young women the chance to meet professional women in science. The girls used microscopes to explore and sketch microorganisms found in local lake water. Jacobsen ...

    Read More

  1. Summer Workshops for Teachers in Astrobiology for Summer 2011

    Every summer, NAI teams and others host hands-on, in-the-field, in-the-lab workshops for educators. The workshops feature cutting edge astrobiology research delivered by astrobiology scientists and education professionals, as well as inquiry- and standards-based activities ready for your classroom. Below is the list of offerings for Summer 2011.

    Dates: 22-29 July 2012
    Location: San Francisco, CA
    Applications due: 13 February 2012
    Url: http://www.seti.org/epo/ASSET
    The ASSET experience will be intense and exciting, interactive and content rich, with presentations by leading astrobiology researchers from the SETI Institute, NASA, and California Academy ...

    Read More

  1. Scouting for Astrobiology

    When Dr. Eric Boyd of the NASA Astrobiology Institute at Montana State University goes searching for evidence of what extra-terrestrial life might look like, he heads to Norris Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park. On Saturday the 24th of September Dr. Boyd was joined by the Webelos of Packs 524 and 552 of Livingston, Montana, with the goal of finding out what life might look like on another planet.

    Dr. Boyd began the expedition by explaining some basic background on what Yellowstone is, how the Yellowstone area was formed, and some basic safety instructions on walking through a geothermal area ...

    Read More

  1. NAI StoryTeaching Seminar

    On May 31, 2011, Brad McLain and Mike Marlow of the University of Colorado, Denver delivered the first Astrobiology Education and Training (AbET) Seminar, entitled StoryTeaching: An Exploration of the Importance of Story & Narrative in Science Learning. Resources from the seminar can be downloaded here, and the abstract is below.

    An archive of the entire seminar
    Powerpoint slides shown by the presenters
    Video clips shown by the presenters
    Mini-bios of some of the attendees and presenter contact info

    Humans are natural storytellers. We describe our experiences in terms of story. We recount our history in terms of story. We learn new things and construct new understanding through the reframing of old stories and the forging of new ones. We even describe who we are—to ourselves and others—in terms of story. When applied to science learning and science communication, the concept of “story” represents a powerful framework for making STEM relevant, meaningful, and exciting. This talk will explore StoryTeaching as the intersection of two fields of study: (1) Science Identity Construction through Experiential Learning, and (2) the Narrative Study of Lives. We will discuss the formation, maintenance, and maturing of positive science identities in the face of an often science-hostile youth culture, and the significance of personal ownership and ...

    Read More

  1. New High School Astrobiology Course in Washington

    Born from the zeal of high school teacher Dani Leach in Lakewood, Washington, a new course devoted entirely to astrobiology is underway for students at Lakewood High School. Part of their curriculum included a recent visit to the NAI’s team at the University of Washington where they experienced many aspects of astrobiology research, from hydrothermal vent research to predicting habitability on extrasolar planets. The students can also earn credit for the course through their local community college.

    Read More

  1. Telescopes: Tools for Astronomical Discovery and the Search for Life on Other Planets

    This past summer, the Penn State Astrobiology Research team offered a 5-day teacher professional development workshop for 20 in-service educators currently teaching grades 6-12. The educators received two Penn State graduate credits and more than 15 different NASA educational materials and resources. They also received and built Galileoscopes to utlilize in their classroom. The workshop focused on topics ranging from optics to spectrometry to current telescopes and their search for extra solar planets. Astrobiology basics were discussed and activities were facilitated from the Life on Earth and Elsewhere Educator Resource Guide. The workshop is co-funded by the NASA Astrobiology Institute ...

    Read More

  1. ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Camp in Astrobiology

    This summer, NAI’s team at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) hosted the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp in Astrobiology. The camp is a free, academic program of The Harris Foundation, named for Bernard A. Harris, MD, an accomplished NASA astronaut, physician, and entrepreneur, and the first African American to walk in space.

    The theme of this year’s camp, held from June 12-25th, was The Quest for Life, and 50 middle school students participated. During the two exciting weeks, students went on several field trips to Albany Pine Bush, Howe Caverns, Rocky Hill Dinosaur Park, and the American Museum ...

    Read More

  1. Creating a Virtual Field Trip to Yellowstone National Park

    From July 21-August 1, 2010, five K-12 and informal educators joined scientists from the ASU and MSU teams of the NASA Astrobiology Institute for a two week field experience as part of the ASU Astrobiology Virtual Field Trip (VFT) initiative. To address the need for better teacher preparation in STEM education, these teachers worked directly with scientists studying the thermal environments at Yellowstone National Park. They experienced the thrill of doing authentic field research in a breathtaking setting! These educators are an integral part of the VFT project and will provide valuable input on the design of the Web interface ...

    Read More

  1. Sea Monkeys Steal the Show at Astronomy Day in Bozeman

    A tankful of tiny Sea Monkeys were the stars of the show at an Astronomy Day event held in Bozeman, Montana on April 24.

    The centimeter-long creatures, long the staple of old-school comic book ads, twirled and whirled underwater as kids and adults alike kneeled down for a look. The Sea Monkeys were part of an astrobiology exhibit hosted by Montana State University’s Astrobiology Biogeocatalysis Research Center (ABRC), and the creatures helped spark the conversation about “alien” life.

    “If we find alien life on another planet, they probably won’t look like the little green men in movies. They’re much more ...

    Read More

  1. NASA Astrobiology Workshop for Houston Teachers

    The NASA Astrobiology Institute, in collaboration with NASA Johnson Space Center and the Lunar and Planetary Institute, is pleased to have hosted this one-day workshop on astrobiology on May 1, 2010. The workshop provided an overview of the interdisciplinary field of astrobiology, and focused specifically on certain research areas within it such as extrasolar planet discovery, early Earth, habitability of extreme environments on Earth and elsewhere in the Solar System, and ALH84001—“the rock from Mars” that started it all.

    The powerpoints and activities presented in the workshop are available below, as are links to other relevant resources and a ...

    Read More

  1. The Science and Art of Hydrothermal Vent Ecosystems

    Beyond the Edge of the Sea is an exhibition of the work of scientific illustrator Karen Jacobsen. She has accompanied Dr. Cindy Lee Van Dover of Duke University in the deep-sea submersible Alvin numerous times to locations across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, exploring hydrothermal vent ecosystems. This unique collaboration has yielded a vast collection of extraordinary drawings and paintings. The traveling exhibition highlights five newly commissioned pieces, and features over 70 works selected from Jacobsen’s sketchbooks.

    The exhibition is on display currently at Penn State University where several events have been organized to highlight it, including a scientific colloquium ...

    Read More

  1. Science Marathon in Spain

    Members of the NAI-affiliate Centro de Astrobiología in Spain recently hosted a “Scientific Marathon” for the public with the support of Cajastur y la Ciencia entitled “Asteroids, Meteorites and Biodiversity.” A multi-disciplinary event, the day-long program was devoted to talks and round table discussions involving astrophysicists, planetary geologists, and microbiologists. It took place in Asturias, in the north of Spain, on March 22, 2010. The brochure is available for download.

    Read More

  1. NASA and the Navajo Nation Project Hosts Teacher Workshop

    On January 28-29, 2010, the “NASA and the Navajo Nation” project team hosted a large-scale workshop for educators across the Navajo Nation. Over 100 teachers participated, despite the worst snow storm in 25 years, some traveling hours through severe conditions. On the first day, the teachers heard background lectures from both a cultural expert and an astrobiologist, Scott Sandford from NASA Ames Research Center. On the second day, the team trained teachers on classroom use of the six activities in the So’ Baa Hane’ booklet, inter-cultural materials developed by the project in 2006.

    The guiding philosophy for the project is ...

    Read More

  1. Teachers are the Students at Georgia Tech

    Since its inception in 1991, The Georgia Intern-Fellowship for Teachers (GIFT) program at Georgia Tech has placed STEM teachers in more than 1,400 summer research positions in industry and academia statewide. Georgia Tech also pairs GIFT teachers with undergraduate students interested in becoming teachers.

    NAI’s team at Georgia Tech has developed an astrobiology education program to provide two high school biology GIFT teachers and one undergraduate biology student with a summer research experience, investigating extremophiles. They also developed an astrobiology curriculum for a one-week summer enrichment program for 23 high school students. The enrichment program, “Life on the Edge ...

    Read More

  1. Astrobiology Teachers Academy

    NAI’s New York Center for Astrobiology held its first Teachers Academy at RPI on July 13-16, 2009. Nine high school science teachers from four local school districts collaborated with six NAI scientists to learn about topics in astrobiology. The participants represent disciplines across the sciences: biology, chemistry, earth science, forensic science, and physics. The goal of the Academy was to develop a learning module infused with astrobiology and aligned with New York State standards and NASA Astrobiology Science Goals. The teachers used science lectures, existing astrobiology curriculum materials, and consistent interaction with the scientists to develop their learning modules, which ...

    Read More

  1. Teachers from Around the World Examine Life in Extreme Environments


    This summer, sixteen teachers from around the world convened with NAI’s team at Montana State University for a weeklong class called “Examining Life in Extreme Environments: Insights into Early Earth and Beyond.” Students in the course gained an understanding of the relation of extreme environments to early earth, learned about the latest research conducted in these areas, and worked on how to teach and discuss these topics within their own classrooms.

    Part of the class included a field trip to Yellowstone National Park in which the teachers sampled and characterized extreme environments. Joe Deluca who teaches in the Netherlands ...

    Read More

  1. Students Monitor Hydrothermal Features in Lassen Volcanic National Park

    The Lassen Astrobiology Student Internship Program, a collaboration between NAI’s Ames team, Lassen Volcanic National Park, and Red Bluff High School, will wrap up its first year of activity in August. Nine high school students and their chemistry teacher, with training from NAI scientists and under the supervision of a park ranger, have made eight field trips to various sites within the park throughout the course of the school year. They monitored field sites and made seasonal measurements of temperature, pH, and water chemistry of the hydrothermal features. PBS station KNPB, Reno, NV, interviewed the students while sample collections ...

    Read More

  1. Summer Camp: The Quest for Life

    This summer, NAI’s new team at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) played a major role in hosting the 2009 ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp. The camp is a free, academic program of The Harris Foundation, named for Bernard A. Harris, MD, an accomplished NASA astronaut, physician and entrepreneur, and the first African American to walk in space.

    The theme of this year’s camp, held from June 14-26th, was The Quest for Life, and 50 middle school students participated. During the two exciting weeks, students went on several field trips to The Albany Pine Bush, New York State Museum ...

    Read More

  1. Expanding Horizons in Montana

    “Microbial Bingo” was the name of the game in a recent outreach event for more than 50 junior high-aged girls from across Montana. The girls came to Montana State University’s astrobiology laboratories this Spring for “That’s Hot! Investigating the Edge of Life” as part of the national program called Expanding Your Horizons. The girls learned about MSU’s research in Yellowstone National Park, and how astrobiology might give us new insights into the early earth as well as life on other planets. The girls then became scientists themselves, using observational data in a race to fill bingo cards by identifying ...

    Read More

  1. Astrobiology Night at the Ballpark

    This past weekend, minor-league baseball fans in Madison, Wisconsin got treated to an out of this world experience at the local Madison Mallards game. NAI’s Wisconsin Astrobiology Research Center (WARC) sponsored 'Astrobiology Night’ at the ballpark, and delivered a fun and educational experience for the 6250 fans in attendance.

    A rover delivered the ball to WARC researcher Eric Roden who threw out the first pitch, but that was just the beginning of the festivities. Kids and families played with extremophile trading cards and special frisbees with an astrobiology timeline printed on them. The fans also enjoyed demonstration tables where they ...

    Read More

  1. SETI Institute's Seth Shostak on Colbert Report

    On May 20th, Steven Colbert of Comedy Central’s Colbert Report hosted Seth Shostak on the show to discuss his new book, Confessions of an Alien Hunter. Seth held his own against the notoriously contrary Colbert, discussing the probability of life elsewhere in the universe, and what it means if we do – and don’t – find it.

    Read More

  1. Student Astronomers Earn Top Honors in State Science Fair

    NAI’s University of Hawai’i Team has conducted the Hawai’i Student-Teacher Astronomy Research (HI STAR) program for the past four years and counting, supporting middle and high school students to carry-out astronomy research projects under the mentorship of NAI scientists and other astronomers. Teams of 3-4 students and their science teacher come to UH for a week in the summer for background training, project selection, and mentor-matching. Through lectures, demos, and hands-on activities, the students learn astronomical concepts such as spectroscopy, image processing, and remote observation. Projects are selected, and students make plans with their mentors to conduct ...

    Read More

  1. NPR's Science Friday on Origins of Life and the Universe

    National Public Radio’s Science Friday broadcasted live from Arizona State University on Friday, April 3rd as part of their Origins Symposium. The symposium, which inaugurated ASU’s new Origins Initiative, featured world renowned scientists Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Richard Dawkins, and Craig Venter. The Science Friday broadcast included two panels: Physicists and the Origin of the Universe, and Origins and Evolution of Life. Listen to the archive here.

    Read More

  1. NAI Public Lecture (and the New York Times) Kick Off 2009 Celebration of Darwin

    Yesterday, the NAI sponsored the first talk in a new lecture series hosted by NASA Ames Research Center. The series is designed to celebrate several important scientific anniversaries in 2009: Darwin’s 200th birthday, the 150th anniversary of his landmark publication On the Origin of Species, the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first use of the telescope, the 40th anniversary of the Apollo Moon landing, the 70th anniversary of NASA Ames Research Center, and the 25th anniversary of the SETI Institute.

    Last night’s talk featured James Strick, an historian of science from Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania. Although the subject of ...

    Read More

  1. Life in Extreme Environments Educator Conference

    The Life in Extreme Environments Educator Conference, hosted by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory Education Office, was held on January 24-25, 2009 in JPL’s von Kármán auditorium. E/PO Leads from NAI’s teams at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, JPL-Titan, and JPL-Icy Worlds participated in producing the event. Eighty-one educators attended.

    The program included an introduction to astrobiology, as well as more detailed presentations outlining astrobiology research into extrasolar planet habitability, pre-biotic chemistry, spectral “bio”signatures, and planetary protection. NAI educational materials were distributed.

    The conference also served as a platform from which to test a remote video connection ...

    Read More

  1. A Banner Year for Astrobiology in Discover Magazine's Top 100 Stories of 2008

    NAI-funded research confirming the presence of extraterrestrial nucleobases within the Murchison meteorite featured squarely in the middle of Discover’s annual Top 100 list, coming in at number 50. Researchers from NAI’s NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Team contributed to the remarkable study, the results of which imply that the building blocks of life could be widespread throughout the universe. Other stories of astrobiological significance anchored the list on both ends: the confirmation of water ice on Mars by NASA’s Phoenix lander—number 6; and the detection of hydrocarbons in the icy jets of Enceladus by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft—number 95.

    Read More

  1. Astrobiology Curriculum Pilot Kicks-Off Maine STEM Initiative

    The pilot-test of a NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI)-supported curriculum entitled Astrobiology: An Integrated Science Approach helped kick-off the State of Maine’s new Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Initiative. This initiative was the subject of a press conference given this week by Maine’s Governor, The Honorable John E. Baldacci.

    The curriculum was developed with significant input from the NAI Team at NASA Ames Research Center led by Dave Des Marais, who spoke at the press conference. Much of the team’s research in astrobiology is captured in the curriculum.

    Providing ninth grade students an interdisciplinary approach to ...

    Read More

  1. Jill Tarter and Will Wright Talk Gaming, Education, and Evolution in Seed Magazine's Video 'Salon'

    While developing his new game SPORE, Will Wright indulged in his lifelong interest in astrobiology and drew from the work of Jill Tarter over numerous visits to the SETI Institute. In this video, Wright and Tarter meet to ask each other questions about gaming and science, the value of scientific revolutions, and advanced life in the universe.

    Read More