NAI

  1. Fossils Explain How Life Coped During Snowball Earth


    Ice Ages that covered much of the world in glaciers are thought to have occurred twice during the Cryogenian period, between about 720 and 660 million years ago, and again from 650 to 640 million year Ice Ages that covered much of the world in glaciers are thought to have occurred twice during the Cryogenian period, between about 720 and 660 million years ago, and again from 650 to 640 million years ago. Credit: NSF

    Source: [astrobio.net]

    Researchers have discovered what they think are fossils of a unique red algae species that lived about 650 million years ago during a brief respite between some of the most extreme ice ages the world has ever known. The fossils could speak to how life coped in the aptly named Cryogenian period, when glaciers held most of Earth ...

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  1. Origins, Bottlenecks, and Present-Day Diversity


    An outcrop of fossil bivalve shells from the Miocene. Credit: <a href="http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/news/061101_diversity" target="_blank">UC Berkeley</a> An outcrop of fossil bivalve shells from the Miocene. Credit: UC Berkeley

    Researchers studying living and fossil marine bivalves are providing new insights into how geographic range relates to the evolution of diversity in families of organisms. The study, supported in part by the Exobiology & Evolutionary Biology element of the NASA Astrobiology Program, focuses on how an organism’s position in a morphospace can affect evolution.

    A 'morphospace’ is a way of representing an organism’s possible form, shape or structure. A morphospace has multiple dimensions, and each axis corresponds to a different character of the organism being studied. A single point on the morphospace represents an individual organism in the population.

    The ...

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  1. Results of the AbSciCon 2015 Student Poster Competition


    Timothy Lenz, David Fiahlo and Ryo Mizuuchi win top standings in AbSciCon 2015 Student Poster Competition Timothy Lenz, David Fiahlo and Ryo Mizuuchi win top standings in AbSciCon 2015 Student Poster Competition

    Winners of the NAI-sponsored Student Poster Competition at AbSciCon have been announced. The top posters were selected out of 93 entries, in a session aimed to encourage and recognize the most promising astrobiologists of the future. Given the large number of submissions and the enthusiastic turnout, the event proved to be the highlight of the conference for students.

    First Place: David Fialho, Georgia Tech, Synthesis and Self-Assembly of Model Proto-Nucleosides

    Second Place: Timothy Lenz, Georgia Tech, Iron(II) and Magnesium Binding to Full-Length LSU ...

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  1. Pascale Ehrenfreund, Astrobiologist, Appointed to Chair the German Aerospace Center


    Pascale Ehrenfreund appointed Chair of the Executive Board of DLR. Photo credit: GW Magazine Pascale Ehrenfreund appointed Chair of the Executive Board of DLR. Photo credit: GW Magazine

    The German Aerospace Center (known natively as Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) has selected Pascale Ehrenfreund as their new Chair of the Executive Board. She currently serves as a Research Professor of Space Policy and International Affairs at the Space Policy Institute in Washington and as a member of the NAI University of Wisconsin team that investigates Hability, Life Detection, and the Signatures of Life on the Terrestrial Planets. She has made important contributions to several space missions at NASA.

    Ehrenfreud established herself “as ...

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  1. The pH of Enceladus’ Ocean


    This view looks across the geyser basin of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, along fractures spewing water vapor and ice particles into space. Cassini scientists have pinpointed the source locations of about 1 This view looks across the geyser basin of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, along fractures spewing water vapor and ice particles into space. Cassini scientists have pinpointed the source locations of about 100 geysers and gained new insights into what powers them. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

    Researchers supported in part by the NASA Astrobiology Institute have revealed the pH of water in the geyser-like plumes of Enceladus. The findings could help astrobiologists understand the potential for past or present life on Saturn’s sixth-largest moon. Click here to view the press release from the Carnegie Institute.

    The study, “The pH ...

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  1. Building a Smarter Rover


    TextureCam analyzes rocks in the Mojave Desert that resemble rocks it may one day be called to identify on Mars. Credit: Kiri Wagstaff TextureCam analyzes rocks in the Mojave Desert that resemble rocks it may one day be called to identify on Mars. Credit: Kiri Wagstaff

    Source: [astrobio.net]

    The next mission to Mars could carry a smarter rover that is able to make better decisions absent instructions from Earth. Engineers are looking to automate some of the simple decision-making steps undertaken by rovers and orbiters, which could dramatically improve the science they are able to perform in the search for habitable environments.

    This is the focus of the TextureCam Intelligent Camera Project, a NASA system that enhances autonomous investigations. TextureCam will allow ...

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  1. AbSciCon Sessions Streaming Live


    Those outside of Chicago can still catch AbSciCon sessions remotely at https://ac.arc.nasa.gov/abscicon. Just login as a guest user using your first and last name.

    Monday, June 15 (all times CDT)
    8:00AM – The Deep History of a Carbon Atom
    9:15AM – Sustained Habitability on a Dynamic Early Earth
    10:30AM – The Beginning and End of the RNA World from the Perspective of Ribosome Origins
    1:45PM – Major Transitions in Evolution: Catalysts and Constraints I: Inference from Natural Systems
    4:00PM – Major Transitions in Evolution: Catalysts and Constraints II: Studying De Novo Complexity

    Tuesday, June 16 ...

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  1. A Chance for Microbes in Meteorites


    Microbes survived on the exterior of the International Space Station for nearly two years, if their UV radiation was limited or eliminated. Credit: NASA Microbes survived on the exterior of the International Space Station for nearly two years, if their UV radiation was limited or eliminated. Credit: NASA

    Microbes Can Survive In Meteorites If Shielded From UV Radiation

    Source: [astrobio.net]

    Understanding how well microbes can survive in space is of importance when sending out orbiters or landers around bodies that might present the right conditions for life, such as Mars. Scientists want to be careful to avoid contaminating other worlds with life from our own. And microbes’ resilience to Outer Space enhances the prospects of panspermia, in which life can be seeded between ...

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  1. FameLab at AbSciCon


    FameLab USA Facebook Page FameLab USA Facebook Page

    Season 3, Regional Heat #5 at AbSciCon in Chicago, IL

    The next FameLab USA competition will be held Saturday, June 13th, Sunday, June 14th & Monday, June 15th, during the 2015 Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon).

    For more information, visit: http://famelab-eeb.arc.nasa.gov/competitions/season3-abscicon2015/.

    The preliminary competition round, lunch and the communications workshop will be held at the:

    Chicago Field Museum
    Lecture Hall 2
    1400 South Lake Shore Drive
    Chicago, IL 60605

    The evening competition round and reception will be held at the:

    Hilton Downtown Chicago
    Hilton Downtown Chicago Ballroom
    720 South Michigan Avenue
    Chicago ...

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  1. Molecular Crowding and Early Evolution


    A 3-D view of a model protocell (a primitive cell) approximately 100 nanometers in diameter modeled by a team of researchers at Harvard University. Credit: Janet Iwasa/NSF A 3-D view of a model protocell (a primitive cell) approximately 100 nanometers in diameter modeled by a team of researchers at Harvard University. Credit: Janet Iwasa/NSF

    Protocells are thought to be precursors to life’s first living cells and, in their simplest form, are a self-organized spheres of lipids. New research is providing insight into the environment in which protocells on the early Earth could have formed. The work indicates that protocells may have been crowded by small molecules and polymers. This crowding could have affected reaction rates, changed the structure and activity of water, and even enhanced ...

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  1. Steps Toward Making Nucleosides


    A process known as intramolecular nucleosidation led to high yields of the molecule orotidine. This process could have implications for the prebiotic formation of nucleosides. Credit: Kim and Krishnam A process known as intramolecular nucleosidation led to high yields of the molecule orotidine. This process could have implications for the prebiotic formation of nucleosides. Credit: Kim and Krishnamurthy (2015).

    Astrobiologists supported in part by the Exobiology & Evolutionary Biology element of the NASA Astrobiology Program have provided new insight into a process that could have implications for the formation of nucleosides on the early Earth. A nucleoside is a component of genetic material in living cells, and is composed of a nucleobase attached to a sugar.

    The study, “Synthesis of orotidine by intramolecular nucleosidation,” was published in the journal Chemical Communications.

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  1. Impact Synthesis of RNA Bases


    Artist concept of the early Earth. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab Artist concept of the early Earth. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab

    Understanding the origin of bio-organic molecules is a key step in determining how life on Earth began. In 1953, the Miller-Urey experiment showed that amino acids can be produced by electrical discharges in simple gases. Ever since then, scientists have demonstrated that many organic compounds can be formed from non-biological processes.

    Astrobiologists are now trying to determine how biomolecules used by life were selected from the complex mixture of molecules that may have been available on the early Earth. Of particular interest is the ...

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  1. Borucki Awarded 2015 Shaw Prize


    William J. Borucki awarded 2015 Shaw Prize. Credit: Service to American Medals/NASA William J. Borucki awarded 2015 Shaw Prize. Credit: Service to American Medals/NASA

    William J. (Bill) Borucki has been awarded the 2015 Shaw Prize in Astronomy. The announcement of this prestigious award, often referred to as the “Nobel of the East,” was announced yesterday in Hong Kong. The prize honors Bill for “his conceiving and leading the Kepler mission, which greatly advanced knowledge of both extrasolar planetary systems and stellar interiors.” The award will be presented on September 24, and is accompanied by a prize of $1,000,000 (US).

    Bill is in his 53rd year as a devoted civil ...

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  1. Euxinia in the End Triassic Ocean


    A new study shows that changes in the oxygen content at the ocean's surface may have led to an extinction event at the end of the Triassic. Image Credit: <a href="http://www.nasa.gov/centers/jpl/news/ A new study shows that changes in the oxygen content at the ocean's surface may have led to an extinction event at the end of the Triassic. Image Credit: NASA

    Researchers studying ocean chemistry around the end-Triassic extinction (ETE) event have revealed new details about how oxygen availability in ocean water could have disrupted Earth’s nitrogen cycle and the ecological turnover in certain groups of organisms. Their results provide the first evidence for what is known as photic zone euxinia (PZE) associated with this event in Earth’s history. The scientists report that if the conditions they found ...

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  1. Conservation of Energy in Electromagnetic Fields


    Drawing of Faraday disk, the first homopolar generator, invented by British scientist Michael Faraday in 1831. Credit: Émile Alglave & J. Boulard (1884) The Electric Light: Its History, Production, an Drawing of Faraday disk, the first homopolar generator, invented by British scientist Michael Faraday in 1831. Credit: Émile Alglave & J. Boulard (1884) The Electric Light: Its History, Production, and Applications

    Poynting’s theorem deals with the conservation of energy in a electromagnetic field, and is typically applied to stationary circuits or circuit elements. A team of researchers has now applied the theorem to the homopolar generator. Instead of being stationary, the homopolar generator is a conductor moving in a background magnetic field. Their results reveal new information about how magnetic braking arises within Poynting’s theorem.

    The study was supported in part by the Exobiology & Evolutionary Biology element of the NASA Astrobiology Program.

    The paper, “Energy conservation and Poynting’s theorem in ...

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