NAI

  1. Discovering a New Life Form in the Hot Springs of Yellowstone


    Geysers, mud pots, steam vents and hot springs in the region now known as Yellowstone National Park awed American Indians and early European explorers. Now, two million tourists visit the park in northwestern Wyoming each year to watch wildlife and view the spectacular scenery. Scientists home in on the hot springs, exploring their ecology and plumbing their scalding waters in search of highly adapted, heretofore-undiscovered microorganisms.

    “Octopus Spring and Mushroom Spring in Yellowstone are two of the most thoroughly studied hot springs on the planet,” said Don Bryant, Ernest C. Pollard professor of biotechnology at Penn State. Yet in ...

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  1. Astrobiologist Named “Genius Who Will Change Your Life”


    Maggie Turnbull, a 2004 NAI Postdoctoral Fellow and now an astrobiologist at the Space Telescope Science Institute, was recently named a “Genius” by CNN for her work cataloging stars most likely to develop planets that could support life and intelligent civilizations. Congratulations Maggie!

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  1. Phoenix Prepares for Flight


    Scheduled for launch in August 2007, the Phoenix Mars Mission is designed to study the history of water and habitability potential in the Martian arctic’s ice-rich soil. A new teaser animation about the mission is available – click here to view it.

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  1. Water Vapor Detected on Extrasolar Planet


    An international team of researchers including members of NAI’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory Team have, using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, detected the presence of water vapor on the hot jupiter HD 189733b. Published in this week’s Nature, the study’s primary author, Giovanna Tinetti, was a 2003 NAI Postdoctoral Fellow.

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  1. Oceans From Comets, a How-To


    Last week, teachers in the SETI Institute’s Astrobiology Summer Science Experience workshop probed questions about the Earth’s formation, including “where did the water come from?” The answer discussed was comets, and a classroom activity on how to make them is shared on Space.com…

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  1. Chemical Complexity in an Old Star


    Scientists from NAI’s University of Arizona Team have studied the outflow of VY Canis Majoris, an oxygen-rich supergiant star. Thier results show that, against expectations, an old, oxygen-rich star can synthesize a chemically varied molecular cocktail. The study is published in this week’s Nature, and a News and Views about the paper is also available.

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  1. Robot Dives Deep for Sinkhole Slime


    In May, researchers successfully conducted the third and final field test of the autonomous underwater robot, DEPTHX. Their objective was to explore Cenote Zacatón, the world’s deepest water-filled sinkhole.

    Zacatón lies near one end of a chain of sinkholes stretching nearly half a mile across Rancho La Azufroza (Sulfur Ranch), located in northeastern México, roughly 20 miles from the Gulf Coast. Even without the sinkholes, the biology of the region would make a fascinating subject of study. The landscape is dotted with a muddle of tropical deciduous trees and bromeliads growing side-by-side with agaves and cacti typical of desert ...

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  1. NAI Publication Receives Jubilee Award


    A recent publication by members of the NAI’s Carnegie Institution of Washington Team was honored this week with the Jubilee Award from the Geological Society of South Africa. The team’s research, published in the South African Journal of Geology, concerned sulfur isotopes in ancient rocks in South Africa. Congratulations CIW!

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  1. Methane in the Martian Atmosphere


    Scientists from NAI’s IPTAI Team have a paper out in Geophysical Research Letters detailing a new mechanism for recent methane release on Mars. Their results show that increasing salinity can cause destabilization of subsurface methane hydrates, and that active thermal or pressure fluctuations are not required to account for the presence of methane in the atmosphere.

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  1. NAI Scientist Receives Award From L’Oréal


    Julie Huber from NAI’s Marine Biological Laboratory Team received a 2007 L’Oréal USA Fellowship for Women in Science. Now in its fourth year, the highly selective L’Oréal USA Fellowships annually recognize and reward five up-and-coming female scientists who are conducting innovative and groundbreaking research. Please join NAI in congratulating Dr. Huber!

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  1. Evidence for Ancient Ocean on Mars


    Scientists from NAI’s University of California, Berkeley Team have a new paper out in Nature outlining evidence for the presence of an ancient ocean on Mars. The study points to a large body of liquid water at the pole which could have shifted Mars’ spin axis. This shift would have in turn deformed the shoreline of this ocean relative to the rest of the surface topography, in accordance with observations.

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  1. Extracellular Protein-Metal Aggregates: A New Biosignature?


    Deep inside a flooded mine in Wisconsin, scientists from NAI’s University of California, Berkeley Team have discovered an environment in which bacteria emit proteins that sweep up metal nanoparticles into immobile clumps. Their finding may lead to innovative ways to remediate subsurface metal toxins, and have exciting implications for identifying biosignatures on Earth and other worlds. The research, published in the June 14th issue of Science, was done in collaboration with a team from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

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  1. Earth’s Future Glimpsed on Titan


    The enigmatic Saturnian moon Titan is still yielding surprising new details years after scientists first pierced its thick haze veil. The vision now emerging of Saturn’s largest moon, with its giant dunes and oceanless surface, is perhaps a glimpse of Earth’s desert future. Space.com has the story…

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  1. MESSENGER Probes Venus’ Atmosphere


    On route to Mercury, the MESSENGER spacecraft is doing a flyby of Venus where, on June 5th, it sent out a laser beam to measure the location of Venus’ cloud decks. “We are treating the Venus flyby as a full dress rehearsal for the first flyby of Mercury in January 2008,” says Sean Solomon, PI of both the MESSENGER mission and NAI’s Carnegie Institution of Washington Team.

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  1. New World Frogs


    A new paper on the evolutionary relationships among New World tropical frogs was published online this week in PNAS. The authors, including members of the NAI Penn State Team, used DNA sequence and molecular clock analyses to further understand the frogs’ origin as more likely by dispersal over water from South America, than via land connections with North and South America.

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