NAI

  1. AbSciCon 2015 Abstract Submission Now Open


    Abstract submissions for the 2015 Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon) are now open. For details, visit the AbSciCon 2015 website at: http://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/abscicon2015/

    AbSciCon 2015 is the next in a series of conferences organized by researchers within the interdisciplinary field of astrobiology. Scientists from around the world will gather in Chicago, Illinois, from June 15-19, 2015, to report new research findings and plan for astrobiology’s future. The theme of AbSciCon 2015 is “Habitability, Habitable Worlds, and Life.”

    Other key dates include:

    March 4, 2015 – Deadline for abstract submission and student travel grant applications
    March 4 ...

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  1. Methane and Organic Molecules in Gale Crater


    NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity drilled into this rock target, “Cumberland,” during the 279th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars (May 19, 2013) and collected a powdered sample of material fr NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity drilled into this rock target, “Cumberland,” during the 279th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars (May 19, 2013) and collected a powdered sample of material from the rock’s interior. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

    NASA’s Curiosity rover has made two of its most important observations on Mars since arriving on the planet in 2012. First, the rover measured a spike in levels of the organic chemical methane in the local atmosphere of its Gale Crater research site.

    The second big discovery came when the rover drilled into a rock ...

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  1. A Study in Nonfunctional RNA


    An artist's rendering of a Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) molecule.

 Credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation An artist's rendering of a Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) molecule.

 Credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation

    By comparing nonfunctional and functional RNA, scientists have uncovered new details about the potential chemical evolution of one of life’s essential molecules. The study could provide new insight into RNA’s role in the origins of life on Earth.

    The study, “RNA as an Emergent Entity: An Understanding Gained Through Studying its Nonfunctional Alternatives,” was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the NASA Astrobiology Program under the NSF/NASA Center for Chemical Evolution.

    Source: [astrobio.net]

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  1. Workshop on the Potential for Finding Life in a Europa Plume


    Artist’s conception of water vapor plume erupting from the icy surface of Europa, a moon of Jupiter, based on data from the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: NASA/ESA/K. Retherford/SWRI Artist’s conception of water vapor plume erupting from the icy surface of Europa, a moon of Jupiter, based on data from the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: NASA/ESA/K. Retherford/SWRI

    SAVE THE DATE: Wednesday, February 18, 2015

    The NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) and the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) will co-host the Workshop on the Potential for Finding Life in a Europa Plume at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California.

    Current Europa missions under study by NASA are focused on answering the question “Is Europa habitable?” However, the potential presence of water plumes on the ...

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  1. Astrobiology Related Sessions at AGU


    Looking for astrobiology related sessions at AGU? We’ve combed through the program and made this quick and easy cheat sheet.

    Download the astrobiology related sessions PDF here

    You can find the full program at: http://fallmeeting.agu.org/2014/scientific-program/

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  1. Successful First AbGradE Symposium


    Participants and keynote lecturers of the first AbGradE Symposum 2014. Photo courtesy AbGradE, Baptiste Journaux.

    AbGradE (Astrobiology Graduates in Europe) held its first symposium in Edinburgh, UK, 10–11 October. The symposium started with an icebreaker event and consisted of two days of scientific sessions combined with networking, a round table, and a public outreach and education event. Approximately 40 enthusiastic and motivated early-career astrobiologists from all over Europe and beyond attended the symposium, presenting their work followed by discussions that enhanced sharing ideas with their contemporaries.

    With the success of the first symposium, the committee is planning to hold the symposium biyearly along with the EANA meeting. For more information on AbGradE, visit: http ...

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  1. How Did Life Become Complex?


    A species of yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) seen in a scanning electrograph image. Credit: NASA A species of yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) seen in a scanning electrograph image. Credit: NASA

    Source: [astrobio.net

    The evolution of multicellular life on Earth happened with a number of key transitions from simple organisms to complex. Could the same transitions happen on other worlds? Frank Rosenzweig, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Montana, is looking into such questions over the next five years with funding from the NASA Astrobiology Institute. His lab studies how life evolves “complex traits,” factors that influence everything from lifespan to biodiversity.

    Rosenzweig’s previous NASA funding came from the Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology Program ...

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  1. Success for Orion


    Crowds gathered at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to witness the launch of Orion. Credit: Aaron L. Gronstal Crowds gathered at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to witness the launch of Orion. Credit: Aaron L. Gronstal

    NASA has performed a flawless first flight test of the Orion capsule. Orion is being developed to carry humans to deep space. The expanded launch capabilities of the Orion program could also enable future science missions that are even larger and more capable than previous robotic explorers, which have shaped our understanding of Mars and other bodies throughout the Solar System.

    Source: [astrobio.net]

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  1. M-Dwarf Planets With Oxygen in Their Atmospheres?


    This artist's concept illustrates a young, red dwarf star surrounded by three planets. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-CalTech This artist's concept illustrates a young, red dwarf star surrounded by three planets. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-CalTech

    NAI astrobiologists from the Virtual Planetary Laboratory at the University of Washington, graduate student Rodrigo Luger and professor Rory Barnes, have shown that many terrestrial planets in the habitable zones of low mass (M dwarf) stars could have experienced extreme stellar heating for up to 1 billion years after planet formation. This could lead to oceanic evaporation and atmospheric oxygenation. The study has been accepted for publication in Astrobiology.

    Unlike the Sun, which formed over a span of a few tens of ...

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  1. Astrobiology Acupuncture


    Scientists have programmed a robotic arm to poke the sample with an acupuncture needle. Credit: GA Tech Scientists have programmed a robotic arm to poke the sample with an acupuncture needle. Credit: GA Tech

    Source: [astrobio.net]

    Researchers have turned to acupuncture in order to study samples from rough and uneven surfaces, such as rocks and meteorites. Using the technique, scientists have developed a robotic system that can collect samples from these non-planar surfaces.

    The system uses a 3-D camera mounted on a robotic arm to map the irregular surface of an object. Then an acupuncture needle pokes and probes a tiny spot selected by the scientists. A minuscule amount of material is collected at the tip ...

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  1. How Can We Search for Life on Icy Moons?


    Artist’s conception of water vapor plume erupting from the icy surface of Europa, a moon of Jupiter, based on data from the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: NASA/ESA/K. Retherford/SWRI Artist’s conception of water vapor plume erupting from the icy surface of Europa, a moon of Jupiter, based on data from the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: NASA/ESA/K. Retherford/SWRI

    How likely is habitability on icy worlds, and how would we search for it? This is one of the questions driving a research team led by Isik Kanik at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

    Kanik’s team was selected for a new grant from the NASA Astrobiology Institute for a five-year project looking at how metabolism could come about by way of chemical differences on icy worlds, and ...

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  1. Proof-Of-Concept in an RNA World


    An artist's rendering of a Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) molecule.

 Credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation An artist's rendering of a Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) molecule.

 Credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation

    Astrobiologists have shown that the formation of RNA from prebiotic reactions may not be as problematic as scientists once thought.

    One hypotheses for the origin of life on Earth includes a period known as the 'RNA World.’ In this proposed scenario, ribonucleic acid (RNA) formed from non-biological reactions, and then became incorporated into life’s first cells.

    The study presents a proof-of-concept system that could overcome previously sited challenges to the RNA World hypothesis, and was published in the Journal of the American ...

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  1. A Spark in Rapidly Freezing Saltwater


    Current apparatus being used for freeze-up experiments. Credit: Johnson et al. 2014 Current apparatus being used for freeze-up experiments. Credit: Johnson et al. 2014

    Source: [astrobio.net]

    Scientists have confirmed the existence of a process that causes the electrolysis of water, and which has the potential to drive the production of life in 'Snowball Earth’ scenarios and on icy satellites such as Europa and Enceladus.

    The process, known as the Workman-Reynolds Effect (WRE), occurs when a dilute aqueous solution of salt rapidly freezes, causing ions in the solution to assume a negative or positive charge at the interface between ice and water.

    The research was supported by the Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology ...

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  1. Touchdown on a Comet


    Two images from Philae's Comet nucleus Infrared and Visible Analyzer (CIVA) confirm that the lander is on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. One of the lader's feet can be seen in the for Two images from Philae's Comet nucleus Infrared and Visible Analyzer (CIVA) confirm that the lander is on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. One of the lader's feet can be seen in the foreground. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

    The European Space Agency (ESA) has successfully performed the first soft landing on a comet. The Rosetta mission delivered the Philae lander to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on November 12, 2014. The first two images from the lander have now confirmed that the craft is safely positioned on the comet.

    For more on the Rosetta mission, visit: http://www.esa ...

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  1. Preparing for Alien Life


    There may be a trillion planets in our galaxy, the Milky Way, one-fifth of which may be Earth-like. Image Credit: Serge Brunier There may be a trillion planets in our galaxy, the Milky Way, one-fifth of which may be Earth-like. Image Credit: Serge Brunier

    For two days in September, a group of scientists, historians, philosophers and theologians from around the world explored how we might prepare for the inevitable discovery of life — microbial or intelligent — elsewhere in the Universe. The event was sponsored by the NASA Astrobiology Program and the Library of Congress.

    Source: [astrobio.net]

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