NAI

  1. Antarctic Offers Insights Into Life on Mars


    Operation IceBridge project scientist Michael Studinger took the photo of Taylor Valley,, one of the Dry Valleys of Antarctica where snow and ice are rare. Credit: NASA Operation IceBridge project scientist Michael Studinger took the photo of Taylor Valley,, one of the Dry Valleys of Antarctica where snow and ice are rare. Credit: NASA

    Source: [astrobio.net]

    The cold permafrost of Antarctica houses bacteria that thrive at temperatures below freezing, where water is icy and nutrients are few and far between. Oligotrophs, slow-growing organisms that prefer environments where nutrients are scarce, could provide clues as to how life could exist in the permafrost of Mars. In this vein, scientists have been studying the lethargic bacteria from the Dry Valleys of Antarctica, a row of snow-free valleys that ...

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  1. NASA Researchers Find “Frozen” Recipe for Extraterrestrial Vitamin


    A picture of the aluminum plate with a chemical deposit on it. Credits: Karen Smith/NASA Goddard A picture of the aluminum plate with a chemical deposit on it. Credits: Karen Smith/NASA Goddard

    Vitamin B3 could have been made on icy dust grains in space, and later delivered to Earth by meteorites and comets, according to new laboratory experiments by a team of NASA-funded researchers. Vitamin B3, also known as niacin or nicotinic acid, is used to build NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), which is essential to metabolism and probably ancient in origin. The result supports a theory that the origin of life may have been assisted by a supply of biologically important molecules produced in space ...

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  1. Barnacles Explain Life at the Extreme


    Stalked barnacles from the vent fields at the Kawio Barat volcano, Western Pacific. Credit: NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, INDEX-SATAL 2010 Stalked barnacles from the vent fields at the Kawio Barat volcano, Western Pacific. Credit: NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, INDEX-SATAL 2010

    Source: [astrobio.net]

    Barnacles — a type of marine crustacean — are highly adaptable animals. Unlike many other groups that prefer quieter waters, they like areas with a lot of activity, are hardy against dry spells that sometimes occur in tidal zones, and can even persist in waters that are becoming more acidic due to human pollution.

    Our solar system is full of icy moons – for example, Jupiter’s Europa or Saturn’s Enceladus — that likely have global oceans under their crusts ...

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  1. Solar Events Unlikely Triggers for Birth Defects on Earth


    Air showers ensuing from very-high-energy cosmic rays can enter Earth’s atmosphere from multiple directions. Credit: Simon Swordy/NASA Air showers ensuing from very-high-energy cosmic rays can enter Earth’s atmosphere from multiple directions. Credit: Simon Swordy/NASA

    Previously, studies have found that airplane crews at high altitude are exposed to potentially harmful levels of radiation from cosmic rays. But could these cosmic rays pose hazards even at sea level?

    A new NASA-funded investigation has found radiation from solar events is too weak to cause worry at ground level. Results have just been published in the Journal of Geophysical Research and hailed as one of three “Editor’s Choice” publications for the first quarter of 2015 by Space Weather ...

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  1. NASA’s Kepler Mission Discovers Bigger, Older Cousin to Earth


    This artist's concept compares Earth (left) to the new planet, called Kepler-452b, which is about 60 percent larger in diameter. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle This artist's concept compares Earth (left) to the new planet, called Kepler-452b, which is about 60 percent larger in diameter. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle

    NASA’s Kepler mission has confirmed the first near-Earth-size planet in the “habitable zone” around a sun-like star. This discovery and the introduction of 11 other new small habitable zone candidate planets mark another milestone in the journey to finding another “Earth.”

    The newly discovered Kepler-452b is the smallest planet to date discovered orbiting in the habitable zone — the area around a star where liquid water could pool on the surface of an orbiting ...

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  1. A Biological Source of Iron in BIFs


    Rocks at Soudan Underground Mine State Park, Minnesota, show banding caused by layers of different minerals in a sample 2.7 billion years old. Credit: University of Wisconsin-Madison, http://news.wisc Rocks at Soudan Underground Mine State Park, Minnesota, show banding caused by layers of different minerals in a sample 2.7 billion years old. Credit: University of Wisconsin-Madison, http://news.wisc.edu/23863

    A new study identifies sources of iron found in Banded Iron Formations (or BIFs) that were formed 2.5 billion years ago. The BIFs are sedimentary deposits formed at the bottom of Precambrian oceans on Earth, and contain distinctive layers of material. BIFs are reddish in color due to the iron they contain, and these deposits are a major source of iron used by humankind today.

    Previously ...

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  1. Advances in Robots Needed to Explore Icy Moons


    Cassini imaging scientists used views like this one to help them identify the source locations for individual jets spurting ice particles, water vapor and trace organic compounds from the surface of S Cassini imaging scientists used views like this one to help them identify the source locations for individual jets spurting ice particles, water vapor and trace organic compounds from the surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. Credit: NASA/JPL

    Source: [astrobio.net]

    The discovery of plumes at worlds like Enceladus raises an intriguing question about how best to explore these small, icy bodies. In a recent presentation called “Europa and beyond: Adaptive robotic exploration of planetary plumes,” Nathalie Cabrol of the SETI Institute described a 'Swiss army knife’ approach in developing instruments and exploration strategies for icy moons in the Solar ...

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  1. Icy Material on Pluto and Charon


    As New Horizons closes in on Pluto and Charon, it may be able to detect signs that one or both objects boast icy plumes, either now or in their past. Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Phy As New Horizons closes in on Pluto and Charon, it may be able to detect signs that one or both objects boast icy plumes, either now or in their past. Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

    Source: [astrobio.net]

    A new study of objects in the outer reaches of the solar system suggests that bodies like Pluto and Charon have the potential to support eruptions of icy material. The research indicates that if cryo-volcanism has occurred on Pluto, Charon’s surface could retain evidence of such events.

    The research was published online in the journal ...

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  1. Astrobiologists Gather for AbSciCon 2015


    Audiences pack the Grand Hall for the AbSciCon 2015 Regional Heat of the FameLab USA competition. Credit: NASA Astrobiology Audiences pack the Grand Hall for the AbSciCon 2015 Regional Heat of the FameLab USA competition. Credit: NASA Astrobiology

    Astrobiologists gathered in Chicago, Illinois, from June 15-19th for the 2015 Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon). Researchers from a multitude of disciplines, and representing institutions from around the world, used the conference as a forum to report new discoveries, share data, initiate and advance collaborative efforts, plan new projects, and educate the next generation of astrobiologists.

    “AbSciCon reflects the importance of astrobiology in supporting NASA’s current and ongoing missions,” said Mary Voytek, Program Scientist for Astrobiology at NASA.

    Peter Doran, the ...

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  1. Early Titan Was a Cold, Hostile Place


    Sunset on Saturn’s moon Titan reveals the atmosphere around the moon as seen from the night side with NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI Sunset on Saturn’s moon Titan reveals the atmosphere around the moon as seen from the night side with NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

    Source: [astrobio.net]

    Titan is a mysterious orange-socked moon of Saturn that is exciting to astrobiologists because it has some of the same kinds of chemicals that were precursors to life on Earth. Its atmosphere is 95 percent nitrogen, but it also has a tad bit of methane, predominantly close to the surface.

    Titan’s methane is thought to be less than a half billion years old, leading astrobiologists to wonder what Titan ...

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  1. Watch AbGradCon 2015 Live


    AbGradCon 2015 webcast (July 20-22) available at http://abgradcon.org/remote.html and http://saganet.org/page/saganlive AbGradCon 2015 webcast (July 20-22) available at http://abgradcon.org/remote.html and http://saganet.org/page/saganlive

    The NAI-sponsored Astrobiology Graduate Conference (AbGradCon) 2015 will be held on July 19-23, 2015 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    Those unable to attend in person can still participate via live webcast. The stream will start at 8AM CDT on July 20, 21, and 22 at http://abgradcon.org/remote.html. You can also view the webcast and join in a live chat on the SAGANet site: http://saganet.org/page/saganlive.

    AbGradCon offers a unique opportunity for graduate students and early career ...

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  1. New Horizons Flyby Gives Opportunity to Revisit Speculations About Water, Nature of Pluto


    The "Dynamic Duo" photo of Pluto and Charon taken by the New Horizons spacecraft on July 8, 2015 from 3.7 million miles away. Credit: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI The "Dynamic Duo" photo of Pluto and Charon taken by the New Horizons spacecraft on July 8, 2015 from 3.7 million miles away. Credit: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI

    Excitement builds as the public waits for the New Horizons spacecraft to fly by Pluto on July 14, 2015. The flyby will create a landmark in our understanding of Pluto’s atmosphere, geology, and other surface conditions and increase our understanding of what lies further on in the Kuiper Belt.

    Because extremely cold temperatures make present-day volcanic activity and circulation of biogenic elements on the icy surface impossible, neither Pluto nor its moons are ...

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  1. NASA Ames NAI Team Participates in the Chickasaw Nation Aeronautics and Space Academy (CNASA)


    Andrew Mattioda, Space and Planetary Scientist at NASA Ames, and Carl Rutledge, Professor at East Central University, guide CNASA students in viewing solar prominences. Credit: NASA Space Science Andrew Mattioda, Space and Planetary Scientist at NASA Ames, and Carl Rutledge, Professor at East Central University, guide CNASA students in viewing solar prominences. Credit: NASA Space Science

    Source: [NASA Space Science and Astrobiology at Ames]

    On June 9th and 10th, Dr. Andrew Mattioda of the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) CAN 7 team participated in the Chickasaw Nation Aeronautics and Space Academy (CNASA) held in Ada, Oklahoma. The Chickasaw Nation conducts the week-long camp to encourage their Native American youth to consider careers in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. During his two days at the camp, Dr ...

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  1. Studying Astrobiology: An Examination of Academic Publications at the NAI


    A graphic showing scientific disciplines covered in astrobiology research at the NAI between 2008 and 2012. Credit: Taşkın and Aydinoglu (2015) A graphic showing scientific disciplines covered in astrobiology research at the NAI between 2008 and 2012. Credit: Taşkın and Aydinoglu (2015)

    Dr. Arsev Aydinoglu performed a thorough examination of academic publications resulting from research funded by the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI). The bibliometric study analyzed 1210 peer-reviewed papers that were published between 2008 and 2012, and provides important insights into the collaborative and interdisciplinary nature of astrobiology research at the NAI. The work reveals information about the types of journals and fields of study that feature in publications, and the ways in which astrobiologists work together to advance the science ...

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  1. Robotic Tunneler May Explore Icy Moons


    The Stone Aerospace team with VALKYRIE (the black tube hanging on the apparatus in the middle of the picture) on the Matanuska glacier during testing in 2014. Image: Stone Aerospace The Stone Aerospace team with VALKYRIE (the black tube hanging on the apparatus in the middle of the picture) on the Matanuska glacier during testing in 2014. Image: Stone Aerospace

    Source: [astrobio.net]

    A robotic “cryobot,” designed to tunnel down through thick ice caps and penetrate subterranean seas, is undergoing tests on the Matanuska glacier in Alaska. It paves the way towards one day exploring the underground oceans of Jupiter’s moon, Europa, or other icy moons of the Outer Solar System.

    Named VALKYRIE (Very deep Autonomous Laser-powered Kilowatt-class Yo-yoing Robotic Ice Explorer) and funded by NASA’s Astrobiology Science ...

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