NAI

  1. Studying Metabolism in Mixed Cultures


    Crystal structure of photosystem I: a photosynthetic reaction center and core antenna system from cyanobacteria. Credit: Jawahar Swaminathan and MSD staff, European Bioinformatics Institute, Wikimedia Crystal structure of photosystem I: a photosynthetic reaction center and core antenna system from cyanobacteria. Credit: Jawahar Swaminathan and MSD staff, European Bioinformatics Institute, Wikimedia

    Studying Carbon-13 (13C) metabolism in a microbial community can be a time-consuming and tricky prospect. This is because scientists often have to separate a single species out of the mix for study. However, if particular proteins are produced by a single species within the community, they can sometimes be extracted to yield information about the 13C metabolism of those organisms. A new study describes how the protein photosystem I (PSI) might be used as a ...

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  1. Students Inspired by Scientists at MSU Summer Research Program


    Student Omar Perez Carrillo explains his research on air pressure collected using a weather sensor during the Montana Apprenticeship Program (MAP). Credit: Adrian Sanchez-Gozales/The Bozeman Daily Chr Student Omar Perez Carrillo explains his research on air pressure collected using a weather sensor during the Montana Apprenticeship Program (MAP). Credit: Adrian Sanchez-Gozales/The Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

    In Bozeman, Montana, NAI scientists, including Eric Boyd of the NAI CAN 7 University of Colorado Boulder team and professor at Montana State University, took part in the Montana Apprenticeship Program.

    The program aims to motivate Native American and underrepresented high school students to pursue college degrees, especially in STEM fields, through engaging lessons that place students alongside scientists and their teams. This summer’s research projects included how to clone genes and ...

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  1. How Much Contamination Is Okay on Mars 2020 Rover?


    One sample return prototype would hold a cache of up to 31 samples that could be returned to Earth at a later date. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech One sample return prototype would hold a cache of up to 31 samples that could be returned to Earth at a later date. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    Source: [astrobio.net]

    When the Mars 2020 rover arrives on the Red Planet, one of its primary mission goals will be to select and preserve samples that would eventually make it back to Earth for scientific study. Rather than seeking to eliminate contamination of these samples completely, essentially an impossible task, a panel of scientists and engineers met to assess the levels at which significant science could still occur.

    “The whole point of going ...

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  1. New NASA Spaceward Bound Destination: Ladakh, India


    Credit: Spaceward Bound India Credit: Spaceward Bound India

    A new opportunity for remote and extreme climate research has emerged in India, as a part of the NASA Spaceward Bound Program.

    Spaceward Bound India 2016 presents scientists, engineers and students the opportunity to engage in astrobiological field research in Ladakh, a cold, high altitude mountainous ecosystem possessing Mars-analogous topological features. The area will allow different science teams to explore research areas including microbial diversity, geochemistry, lipid biomarkers, field geology and sedimentology, paleobotany and robotics. Through experiments and observations, scientists can learn more about the origin and evolution of living organisms within Ladakh and in similar ...

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  1. NAI Scientists Receive Awards and Distinctions


    Geronimo Villanueva receives the Harold C. Urey Prize, Yuk Yung receives the Gerard P. Kuiper Prize, and Andrew Knoll becomes a Foreign Member of the Royal Society. Credits: NASA Goddard/Jose Aponte, Geronimo Villanueva receives the Harold C. Urey Prize, Yuk Yung receives the Gerard P. Kuiper Prize, and Andrew Knoll becomes a Foreign Member of the Royal Society. Credits: NASA Goddard/Jose Aponte, DPS AAS, Royal Society.

    Two NAI Recipients of 2015 Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) Awards
    [Source: Divison of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society]

    Geronimo Villanueva of the NAI CAN 7 NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center team received the Harold C. Urey Prize, which recognizes early career scientists who have made outstanding achievements in planetary science. His work has ranged from instrument design to spectroscopy to observational astronomy ...

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  1. ‘Snowball Earth’ Might Be Slushy


    Image credit: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Image credit: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    Source: [astrobio.net]

    Imagine a world without liquid water — just solid ice in all directions. It would certainly not be a place that most life forms would like to live.

    And yet our planet has gone through several frozen periods, in which a runaway climate effect led to global, or near global, ice cover. The last of these so-called “Snowball Earth” glaciations ended around 635 million years ago when complex life was just starting to develop. It’s still uncertain if ice blanketed the entire planet, or if some mechanism was able to halt ...

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  1. NAI Welcomes New International Partner, the Japan AstroBiology Consortium (JABC)


    Please join us in welcoming the newest Affiliate International Partner of the NAI, the Japan AstroBiology Consortium (JABC). The Earth-Life Science Institute at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and the National Institutes of Natural Sciences in Japan have partnered to establish the JABC, whose mission is to develop the field of astrobiology, establish a community of researchers in astrobiology, support young researchers, and to be the hub for international relationships. Other organizations in Japan conducting research related to astrobiology are expected to join the JABC in the future.

    For more information, see https://astrobiology.nasa.gov/nai/international-partners/japan-astrobiology-consortium-jabc/.

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  1. 2014 Annual Science Report


    The NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) 2014 Annual Science Report is now available. The report details the accomplishments of NAI members from the September 2013 to December 2014 reporting period, including Team Executive Summaries, research progress and findings, and publication citations focused around compelling questions in astrobiology. Of particular note are several interdisciplinary and integrated science themes that reflect numerous inter-team collaborations. Reports also include field site information, seminars and workshops, education program overviews, and more.

    Browse the 2014 Annual Science Report by NAI Team reports, NAI Central reports, Astrobiology Roadmap Objectives, or by using the search function to explore the ...

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  1. ‘Bathtub Rings’ Suggest Titan’s Dynamic Seas


    Cassini VIMS/RADAR hybrid image of filled and dry lakes south of Titan’s methane sea Ligeia Mare. Blue arrows indicate current lakes, while the white arrows point to evaporates on dry lakes. Credit: N Cassini VIMS/RADAR hybrid image of filled and dry lakes south of Titan’s methane sea Ligeia Mare. Blue arrows indicate current lakes, while the white arrows point to evaporates on dry lakes. Credit: NASA / JPL / UA

    Source: [astrobio.net]

    Saturn’s moon, Titan, is the only object in the Solar System other than Earth known to have liquid on its surface. While most of the hydrocarbon lakes are found around the poles, the dry regions near the equator contain signs of evaporated material left behind like rings on a bathtub that, when combined with geological features, suggest that the ...

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  1. NASA’s LADEE Spacecraft Finds Neon in Lunar Atmosphere


    The moon’s thin atmosphere contains neon, a gas commonly used in electric signs on Earth because of its intense glow. While scientists have speculated on the presence of neon in the lunar atmosphere for decades, NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft has confirmed its existence for the first time.

    Read the press release from NASA here.

    Click here to read more about Astrobiology and the LADEE mission.

    Source: [NASA]

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  1. Nathalie Cabrol to Lead Carl Sagan Center at SETI Institute


    Nathalie Cabrol, PI of NAI SETI Team, appointed to lead Carl Sagan Center at SETI Institute. Credit: SETI Institute Nathalie Cabrol, PI of NAI SETI Team, appointed to lead Carl Sagan Center at SETI Institute. Credit: SETI Institute

    Source: [SETI Institute]

    The SETI Institute announces the appointment of Nathalie Cabrol as the lead for its multidisciplinary research programs into the nature and distribution of life beyond Earth. She will head the Institute’s Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe.

    Cabrol, who has been with the Institute since 1998, is an astrobiologist specializing in planetary science, and is deeply involved in efforts to explore and characterize Mars. She also develops exploration strategies for the moons ...

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  1. Pathways for Life’s Origin on the Ocean Floor


    A view of a hydrothermal vent at the Main Endeavour Field on the Juan de Fuca Ridge, snapped from the submersible Alvin. Credit: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution A view of a hydrothermal vent at the Main Endeavour Field on the Juan de Fuca Ridge, snapped from the submersible Alvin. Credit: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

    Astrobiologists have uncovered two reaction pathways at hydrothermal vents that could produce organic compounds relevant to the origin of life on Earth and other worlds. For the origin of life as we know it, organic compounds need to be formed from inorganic precursors. Theories suggest that natural reactions could form these compounds at hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor, where warm fluids rich in hydrogen are released.

    In a study supported by the ...

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  1. Organics Sniffed Out on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko


    Historic image of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko half an hour before Philae's first landing. Credits: European Space Agency/Rosetta/Navcam – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0. Historic image of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko half an hour before Philae's first landing. Credits: European Space Agency/Rosetta/Navcam – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0.

    While the Rosetta spacecraft orbits the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet, the Philae lander, deployed from Rosetta on November 2014, has gathered data on the surface of the comet that indicate the potential existence of prebiotic organics during the early solar system.

    The lander’s Cometary Sampling and Composition (COSAC) evolved-gas analyzer utilized a “sniffing” mode, allowing molecules in the atmosphere to passively enter the instrument and then ionizing and accelerating the molecules for mass spectral ...

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  1. New Probe Gives Closer Look at Oldest Terrestrial Material


    Cathodoluminescence image of a 400-μm zircon and the 3-D map made by atom-probe tomography of a group of ~10-nm clusters of radiogenic atoms of 207Pb (yellow) and 206Pb (green) from the core of this c Cathodoluminescence image of a 400-μm zircon and the 3-D map made by atom-probe tomography of a group of ~10-nm clusters of radiogenic atoms of 207Pb (yellow) and 206Pb (green) from the core of this crystal. Credit: John Valley, University of Wisconsin.

    A recently designed probe takes the analysis of Hadean-age zircon to the level of a single atom, broadening scientists’ understanding of the ancient mineral and its relation to the history of Earth.

    In his Presidential Address to the Mineralogical Society of America last July, John Valley of the NAI Can 6 Team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison wrote about ...

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  1. 2015 NASA Astrobiology Postdoctoral Program Fellows Announced


    NASA Postdoctoral Program (http://nasa.orau.org/postdoc/) NASA Postdoctoral Program (http://nasa.orau.org/postdoc/)

    The NASA Astrobiology Program is pleased to welcome four new Fellows to the NASA Astrobiology Postdoctoral Fellowship Program (NPP). They are:

    Ashleigh Hood ”Integrated geochemical-petrographic insights on Earth’s oxygenation from Precambrian carbonates”
    Advisor: Noah Planavsky (NAI University of California, Riverside Team, Yale University)

    Nagayasu Nakanishi ”Investigating the early evolution of neuronal signaling mechanisms in animals”
    Advisor: Mark Martindale (Exobiology, University of Florida)

    Stephanie Weldon ”Swapping partners mid-dance: Symbiotic replacement in a tightly integrated intrabacterial, intracellular nested mutualism”
    Advisor: John McCutcheon (NAI University of Montana, Missoula team)

    Kristin Woycheese ”Methane and sulfur ...

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