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
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 ...
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 ...August 31, 2015 / Posted by: Miki Huynh
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 ...August 28, 2015 / Posted by: Miki Huynh
Image credit: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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 ...August 27, 2015 / Posted by: Aaron Gronstal
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/.
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 ...August 25, 2015 / Posted by: Miki Huynh
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
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 ...
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]August 24, 2015 / Posted by: Aaron Gronstal
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 ...August 21, 2015 / Posted by: Miki Huynh
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 ...August 20, 2015 / Written by: Aaron Gronstal
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 ...August 19, 2015 / Written by: Miki Huynh
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 ...August 18, 2015 / Written by: Miki Huynh
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 ...August 17, 2015 / Posted by: Miki Huynh
This series of images of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko was captured by Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera on 12 August 2015, just a few hours before the comet reached the closest point to the Sun along its 6.5-year orbit, or perihelion. Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
ESA’s Rosetta today witnessed Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko making its closest approach to the Sun. The exact moment of perihelion occurred at 02:03 GMT this morning when the comet came within 186 million km of the Sun.
In the year ...August 13, 2015 / Posted by: Aaron Gronstal
Artist’s impression of Roche lobe overflow in a planet. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Frank Reddy
Researchers with the NASA Astrobiology Institute’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory Lead Team at the University of Washington have described how mini-Neptune planets could become viable for life around M-Dwarf stars.
M-Dwarfs are cooler than the Sun, meaning any habitable planets around them would have to be much closer to their host star. However, planets in such systems face many hazardous conditions, particularly in the early stages of formation, that could make it difficult for life to take hold.
The study, published in the ...
- October 6 - Registration Deadline for Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) Meeting
- October 6 - Registration Deadline for 2nd International Planetary Caves Conference
- October 16 - Abstract Submission Deadline for 2016 Gordon Research Conference & Seminar "Origins of Life"
- October 20 - Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) Meeting
- October 23 - Abstract Submission Deadline for Paneth Kolloquium: First 10 Million Years of the Solar System
- October 28 - International Meeting: Missions to Habitable Worlds
- October 31 - Application Deadline for 2016 Vatican Observatory Summer School in Astrophyics on Water in the Solar System and Beyond
- October 31 - Application Deadline for the 2016 Exploration Postdoctoral Fellowships at the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University
- November 1 - Application Deadline for NASA Astrobiology Postdoctoral Program Fellowshi[
- November 1 - Geological Society of America (GSA) 2015 Annual Meeting
- November 2 - K2 Science Conference (K2SciCon)
- November 5 - Application Deadline for 2016 Sagan Postdoctoral Fellowships
- November 11 - Paneth Kolloquium: First 10 Million Years of the Solar System
- November 16 - French Astrobiology Society Young Researchers Congress