An illustration of water in our Solar System through time from before the Sun’s birth through the creation of the planets. Credit: Bill Saxton, NSF/AUI/NRAO
A new study published in Science looks beyond the question of whether Earth’s oceans can be traced to comets or other objects from space, and instead asks the question: where did the water in comets come from? The answer: some of it, maybe even a majority, is interstellar, and either survived the formation of our Sun and planetary disk or migrated here at a later time. The findings could have important ...
A light wave can be roughly imagined as a single line that wiggles up and down. If circular polarization occurs, this line rotates as the wave moves. Circular polarization of light when it interacts with dust might help identify molecules relevant to the origins of life. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Dust particles can be found everywhere in space, but what can dust tell us about life’s potential in the Universe? By modeling how light scatters when it interacts with dust particles, researchers supported by the Exobiology & Evolutionary Biology are looking at ways of determining whether or ...September 25, 2014 / Posted by: Aaron Gronstal
Members of the mission team at the Lockheed Martin Mission Support Area in Littleton, Colorado, celebrate after successfully inserting NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft into orbit around Mars at 10:24 p.m. EDT Sunday, Sept. 21. Image Credit: Lockheed Martin
NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft successfully entered Mars’ orbit at 10:24 p.m. EDT Sunday, Sept. 21, where it now will prepare to study the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere as never done before. MAVEN is the first spacecraft dedicated to exploring the tenuous upper atmosphere of Mars.
Source: [NASA]September 22, 2014 / Posted by: Aaron Gronstal
This week’s Science Nation video features research at the Center for Chemical Evolution (CCE), headquartered at Georgia Tech. Nicholas Hud and a team from the CCE are working to understand the origins of life on Earth by studying how chain-like chemicals called polymers first came together to form RNA and DNA.
Source: [NSF]September 16, 2014 / Posted by: Aaron Gronstal
This artist's concept shows NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft orbiting Mars. Image Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
NASA will be hosting a televised media briefing at 1 pm EDT on September 17 to outline activities around the upcoming orbital insertion of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft. The briefing will be held in NASA’s Headquarters’ auditorium in Washington DC, and broadcast live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
The public will be able to ask questions on social media using the hashtag #askNASA.
Panelists include: Lisa May (lead program ...September 16, 2014 / Posted by: Aaron Gronstal
The first symposium of AbGradE (Astrobiology Graduates in Europe) will be streamed live on SAGANet October, 9th-10th at http://saganet.org/page/saganlive
The purpose of AbGradE is to start a network of early-career astrobiologists in Europe. Yearly symposia will be organized where young researchers can meet, attend background lectures, and present their work and ideas in front of their peers in a pressure-free environment.
The group emerged in response to the rising need for multidisciplinary collaborations and for the creation of a solid scientific and social network across the astrobiological scene. It will also strive to set a common ...September 15, 2014 / Written by: Julie Fletcher
Not every planet in or near a habitable zone is habitable. Inhospitable Venus is an excellent example. Credit: NASA/JPL/Caltech
A new study explores how distant analogs to Venus might be detected and differentiated from Earth-like planets. Discovering a twin to Venus could help astrobiologists identify systems similar to our own Solar System and narrow the search for habitable worlds around distant stars.
The work was supported by the NASA Astrobiology Institute’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory and published in Astrophyiscal Journal Letters.
Dr. Shawn Domagal-Goldman of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and co-author of the study recently spoke ...
Left: Ozone molecules in a planet's atmosphere could indicate biological activity, but ozone, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide -- without methane, is likely a false positive. Right: Ozone, oxygen, carbon dioxide and methane -- without carbon monoxide, indicate a possible true positive.
Astronomers searching the atmospheres of alien worlds for gases that might be produced by life can’t rely on the detection of just one type, such as oxygen, ozone, or methane, because in some cases these gases can be produced non-biologically, according to extensive simulations by researchers in the NASA Astrobiology Institute’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory. The study appears ...
An Arizona State University alumna has devised the largest catalog ever produced for stellar compositions. Called the Hypatia Catalog, after one of the first female astronomers who lived ~350 AD in Alexandria, the work is critical to understanding the properties of stars, how they form, and possible connections with the formation and habitability of orbiting planets. And what she found from her work is that the compositions of nearby stars aren’t as uniform as once thought.
Since it is not possible to physically sample a star to determine its composition, astronomers study of the light from the object. This ...September 10, 2014 / Posted by: Daniella Scalice
Discoveries of new, potentially habitable worlds beyond our solar system raise challenging questions for humanity vis-a-vis faith, human nature, reality and religion. This discussion, hosted at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC on June 18, 2014, addresses the complex intersection of astrobiology and theology as part of the Kluge Center’s astrobiology program and features scholars from the Library, George Washington University, and Princeton.September 8, 2014 / Posted by: Daniella Scalice
Clouds that are probably composed of ice crystals and possibly supercooled water droplets were caught in images by NASA’s Opportunity rover. Credit: NASA/JPL/Texas A&M/Cornell
Curiosity celebrated two years on Mars on August 5, 2014, and is continuing its progress across the surface of the planet. In a tweet on September 2, 2014, Curiosity shared its view of the path ahead and proclaimed, “Head for the hills! I’m driving towards these hills on Mars to do geology work & also search for clouds.”
In this news post from astrobio.net, Dr. Robert M. Haberle, Planetary Scientist at NASA Ames and a team member for the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station (REMS), explains why clouds on Mars are relevant to Curiosity’s astrobiology goals.Curiosity tweeted this image from the surface of Mars on Sept 2, 2014. Credit: NASA, @MarsCuriosity
REMS is an environmental monitoring station and was contributed to the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission by the Centro de Astrobiologia (CAB) in Spain, one of the NASA Astrobiology Institute’s international partners.
Source: [astrobio.net]September 8, 2014 / Written by: Aaron Gronstal
Deadline to submit Session Topics is October 22, 2014
The Astrobiology Science Conference 2015 (AbSciCon2015) Science Organizing Committee is soliciting community input for Session Topics and Session Organizers. Given the wide variety of disciplinary tools and topics to be presented at the conference, the success of AbSciCon 2015 will be built upon the community’s involvement in the organization of topical sessions. Community members are urged to be proactive in proposing sessions, merging similar session topics, and organizing abstracts into selected sessions.
To submit a session topic and to see the list of submissions visit: http://www.hou.usra.edu ...September 3, 2014 / Written by: Julie Fletcher
The Habitability of Icy Worlds workshop was held in early February, 2014 in Pasadena, CA, co-sponsored by NASA and USRA. The primary objective was to focus on the astrobiological potential of icy worlds in the outer solar system — including Europa, Ganymede, Enceladus, Titan, and beyond — with discussion on future research directions and spacecraft missions that can best assess that potential. The agenda for the workshop was organized around thematic sessions that address the potential habitability of the unique planetary environments of the outer solar system. Archived video of the sessions can be viewed here, courtesy of the NASA Astrobiology Institute ...September 3, 2014 / Written by: Daniella Scalice
Artist impression of Earth during the Archean eon. Image Credit: Peter Sawyer / Smithsonian Institution
A new study supported by the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) has revealed details about the composition of Earth’s atmosphere during the Archean eon, which occurred roughly 4 to 2.4 billion years ago.
Astrobiologists study the Archean in order to better understand the early evolution of life on Earth, and how organisms survived in an environment that was much different than the planet today. Studying the Archean Earth can also provide clues about life’s potential beyond our planet.
“The Archean Earth is the most ...September 2, 2014 / Written by: Aaron Gronstal
Leading scientific experts were convened at NASA Headquarters on August 20th to discuss early Earth and how studying it can inform our search for life elsewhere in the Universe.
What can Earth’s history teach us about planets orbiting other stars? If you could visit the early Earth, you would find it a vastly different, inhospitable, and alien place. Yet, it was in this environment that life on this planet began and evolved. What do we know about the ancient Earth and how can that guide our search for habitable planets orbiting other stars?
NASA, NSF, and the Smithsonian Institution ...August 28, 2014 / Posted by: Daniella Scalice
- January 3 - Exoplanet Exploration Program Analysis Group (ExoPAG) Meeting
- January 5 - Application Deadline for Tenure-track Assistant Professor Opportunity in Geobiology & Sedimentary Geology at UW
- January 5 - Abstract Submission Deadline for Comparative Tectonics and Geodynamics of Venus, Earth, and Rocky Exoplanets
- January 6 - Abstract Submission Deadline for 46th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference
- January 6 - 12th Meeting of NASA Small Bodies Assessment Group (SBAG)
- January 7 - Abstract Submission Deadline for European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2015
- January 9 - Application Deadline for 2015 LPI Summer Intern Program in Planetary Science
- January 15 - Abstract Submission Deadline for Star and Planet Formation in the Southwest
- January 22 - Abstract Submission Deadline for Workshop on Venus Science Priorities for Laboratory Measurements and Instrument Definition
- January 31 - Proposal Deadline for 2014 NASA EONS Solicitation New Appendix
- January 31 - Application Deadline for the 2015-16 Academic Year in Residence Opportunity with the Princeton Center of Theological Inquiry (CTI) on the Social Implications of Astrobiology
- February 2 - Application Deadline for NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF) Program Opportunity