NAI

  1. International FameLab Finals


    Watch Lyl Tomlinson in the International FameLab Final live on June 3rd at 3:30pm EDT!

    Lyl Tomlinson was the winner of the FameLab USA National Competition, an event sponsored by the NASA Astrobiology Program. Lyl is now representing the United States in the FameLab International Final at the Cheltenham Science Festival in the United Kingdom. He will be competing against winners from 23 other countries.

    Lyl will compete in the first semifinal on June 3rd. A second semifinal will be held on June 4th. The winners of the semifinals will then participate in the final competition on Thursday, June ...

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  1. Supporting Early Career Astrobiologists


    Please join us in welcoming a new crop of early career astrobiologists into two of the many community-based programs supported by NASA Astrobiology: the 2014 International Summer School in Astrobiology and the NASA Astrobiology Early Career Collaboration Award.

    This year’s theme for the 2014 International Summer School in Astrobiology is “Habitable Environments in the Universe.” The school will provide an interdisciplinary examination of the nature and evaluation of habitability, an environment’s ability to support life. The Astrobiology Early Career Collaboration Award offers research-related travel support for undergraduate, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and junior scientists.

    2014 Selections for the ...

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  1. 2013 Annual Science Report


    The 2013 Annual Science Report of the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) is now online. The report details the accomplishments of the NAI members for the past year, and reflects the results of more than 600 peer-reviewed publications and numerous Education and Public Outreach projects. Also featured are efforts by the NAI to connect its members and the larger astrobiology community through online events, seminars, workshops and focus groups.

    The 2013 Annual Science Report can be browsed by NAI team, Astrobiology Roadmap objectives, or by using the search function.

    Visit the link and see how NAI researchers are asking exciting questions ...

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  1. A Breath of Fresh Air: NPP Post Doc Trinity Hamilton


    Trinity Hamilton, an NAI NPP Fellow, takes samples from a thermal spring in Yellowstone National Park. Trinity Hamilton, an NAI NPP Fellow, takes samples from a thermal spring in Yellowstone National Park.

    NAI’s NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow Trinity Hamilton was featured in a recent issue of the NPP Newsletter:

    Humble beginnings in a one-room grade school in rural Montana led Trinity Hamilton to look to the stars. Now, as a NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow with the NASA Astrobiology Institute, she brings her focus back to the ground to help expand our knowledge of the emergence of life on Earth.

    “Understanding the role of biology in planetary evolution remains a daunting challenge to astrobiologists,” she said ...

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  1. Destroying Glycine in Ice


    This MARCI image from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is a composite mosaic of the north polar cap. The images were taken at midnight, 6 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m. martian time, during the summer when the This MARCI image from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is a composite mosaic of the north polar cap. The images were taken at midnight, 6 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m. martian time, during the summer when the sun is always shining in the polar region. The image shows the mostly water-ice perennial cap (white area), sitting atop the north polar layered materials (light tan immediately adjacent to the ice), and the dark circumpolar dunes. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/MSSS

    Astrobiologists have provided new insight into how radiation exposure can destroy the amino acid glycine, even when it’s trapped ...

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  1. Planetary Lake Lander – a Video Diary


    The NASA Astrobiology Program funds groundbreaking research around the globe, developing unique instruments to investigate some of Earth’s most remote and extreme environments. One such project is the Planetary Lake Lander, which is a prototype lander being tested in the high lakes of the Andes with an eye toward the exploration of Europa. In this series of videos, meet the researchers and learn about their work in unique and dramatic areas on Planet Earth.

    Source: [NASA Astrobiology]

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  1. 2014 NASA Astrobiology MIRS Fellows


    Please join us in welcoming four new fellows to the NASA Astrobiology Minority Institution Research Support (MIRS) Program!

    The goal of the NAI MIRS Program is to help train a new generation of researchers in astrobiology and to increase diversity within the astrobiology community. Over the past ten years, the program has provided opportunities for faculty members and students from minority-serving institutions to partner with astrobiology investigators.

    One of the program’s main objectives is to engage more faculty from under-represented schools in astrobiology research and increase the number of students pursuing careers in astrobiology.

    The four newest MIRS partnerships ...

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  1. Could Alien Life Cope With a Hotter, Brighter Star?


    An artist's impression of an exoplanet orbiting the well-known, nearby F-type main sequence star Procyon, the brightest star in the constellation Canis Minor. Credit: RedOrbit.com An artist's impression of an exoplanet orbiting the well-known, nearby F-type main sequence star Procyon, the brightest star in the constellation Canis Minor. Credit: RedOrbit.com

    The stars in the night sky shine in myriad hues and brightnesses—piercing blues, clean whites, smoldering crimsons. Every star has a different mass, the basic characteristic that determines its size, lifespan, light output and temperature (which we discern as a particular color).

    Yet when it comes to the existence of life, we know with certainty of only a single star—a toasty, yellow-whitish one, our Sun—that has permitted the rise of ...

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  1. Vitamin B3 Might Have Been Made in Space, Delivered to Earth by Meteorites


    Karen Smith crushing meteorites with a mortar and pestle in Goddard’s Astrobiology Analytical Laboratory to prepare them for analysis. Vitamin B3 was found in all eight meteorites analyzed in the stud Karen Smith crushing meteorites with a mortar and pestle in Goddard’s Astrobiology Analytical Laboratory to prepare them for analysis. Vitamin B3 was found in all eight meteorites analyzed in the study. Image Credit: Karen Smith

    Ancient Earth might have had an extraterrestrial supply of vitamin B3 delivered by carbon-rich meteorites, according to a new analysis by NASA Astrobiology Institute-funded researchers. The result supports a theory that the origin of life may have been assisted by a supply of key molecules created in space and brought to Earth by comet and meteor impacts.

    “It is always difficult to put a ...

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  1. HabWorlds Beyond: A New Type of Online Course


    Smart Sparrow and NAI-funded researchers and educators at Arizona State University announce the launch of a new type of online course! HabWorlds Beyond is a platform that lets educators create rich, interactive and adaptive learning experiences. It teaches students about space exploration, climate science, and the search for life on other planets. Centered on one of the most profound questions in science – does life exist elsewhere in the Universe? HabWorlds Beyond uses game-like simulations to expose students to the thought processes and practice of science in a fun and engaging way.

    HabWorlds Beyond stems from Habitable Worlds – ASU Online’s ...

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  1. New View of Ganymede


    This artist's concept of Jupiter's moon Ganymede, the largest moon in the solar system, illustrates the "club sandwich" model of its interior oceans. Scientists suspect Ganymede has a massive ocean un This artist's concept of Jupiter's moon Ganymede, the largest moon in the solar system, illustrates the "club sandwich" model of its interior oceans. Scientists suspect Ganymede has a massive ocean under an icy crust. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    The largest moon in our solar system, a companion to Jupiter named Ganymede, might have ice and oceans stacked up in several layers like a club sandwich, according to new NASA-funded research that models the moon’s makeup.

    Previously, the moon was thought to harbor a thick ocean sandwiched between just two layers of ice, one on top and one ...

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  1. Probing the Depths of the Methane World


    Methane bubbles rising from the seafloor. Credit: NOAA-OER/BOEM/USGS Methane bubbles rising from the seafloor. Credit: NOAA-OER/BOEM/USGS

    In 2011, Jennifer Glass joined a scientific cruise to study a methane seep off of Oregon’s coast. In these cold, dark depths, microbes buried in the sediment feast on methane that seeps through the seafloor.

    A product of their metabolism, bicarbonate, reacts with calcium in seawater to form tall rocky deposits. The chemical energy these organisms extract from methane supports a vibrant underworld — an eclectic blanket of microbial mats, clam fields and tube worms.

    “It’s such a beautiful landscape,” says Glass, an alumnus of NASA’s Astrobiology post-doctoral ...

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  1. Earth’s Crust Younger Than Moon-Forming Impact


    A zircon from the Jack Hills in Western Australia was claimed to be 4.4 billion years old. The grain is probably less than 100 million years younger than the Earth–Moon system and is likely to be a re A zircon from the Jack Hills in Western Australia was claimed to be 4.4 billion years old. The grain is probably less than 100 million years younger than the Earth–Moon system and is likely to be a remnant of the oldest continental crust. Image Credit: John Valley, Univ. Wisconsin

    The age of the Earth’s crust is contentious, and geologic material available for analysis is few and far between. In a new study in Nature Geoscience, NAI-funded astrobiologists have mapped the distribution of radiogenic isotopes within an ancient zircon from the Jack Hills in Western Australia (a site ...

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  1. NAI Interim Director: Announcement


    Due to unexpected personal conflicts, Dr. Michael Meyer has declined the position of NAI’s Interim Director. Dr. Meyer explains, “Unfortunately, the requirements levied to resolve a conflict-of-interest were unacceptable. I am disappointed that I am unable to accept the Interim Director position with NAI – I very much looked forward to re-engaging with the great work being done at the NAI.” Dr. Steve Zornetzer, Associate Director for Research and Technology at Ames Research Center, indicated that the Center will consider appointing another Interim Director for NAI while re-establishing the search for a distinguished scientific leader for the permanent Director’s ...

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  1. Odd Tilts Could Make More Worlds Habitable


    Tilted orbits might make some planets wobble like a top that's almost done spinning, an effect that could maintain liquid water on the surface. Image Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Tilted orbits might make some planets wobble like a top that's almost done spinning, an effect that could maintain liquid water on the surface. Image Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

    Pivoting planets that lean one way and then change orientation within a short geological time period might be surprisingly habitable, according to new modeling by NASA and university scientists affiliated with the NASA Astrobiology Institute.

    The climate effects generated on these wobbling worlds could prevent them from turning into glacier-covered ice lockers, even if those planets are somewhat far from their stars. And with some water remaining ...

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