NAI

  1. NAI Researchers Search for Meteorites in Antarctica


    Follow along as scientists from NAI’s University of Hawai’i Team go on expedition with the NSF/NASA – sponsored Antarctic Search for Meteorites (ANSMET) program. View photos, read about the team and their mission, and stay current with regular dispatches from the “Streets of McMurdo.” The ANSMET program enables researchers to collect meteorites in Antarctica first hand for scientific study. Over 75% of meteorites are recovered from Antarctica, and more than 15,000 samples have been supplied to over 400 scientists in 32 countries over the last 30 years.

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  1. Oxygen and Life in the Precambrian


    The December 2006 issue of Geobiology is a collection of papers focusing on the history of Earth’s biogeochemistry, from the earliest sedimentary rocks in Greenland to the late Proterozoic. The rise of atmospheric oxygen provides a thematic link. The papers in this issue, edited by David Catling and Roger Buick of NAI’s University of Washington Alumni Team, grew out of a session of the Earth System Processes 2 conference in Calgary, Canada, 8–11 August 2005, sponsored by the NAI.

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  1. Mineral Surfaces and Life


    Robert Hazen, from NAI’s Carnegie Institution of Washington Team, published his 2005 Presidential Address to the Mineralogical Society of America in this month’s American Mineralogist. The address reviews the role of mineral surfaces on the self-assembly of lipids, the polymerization of amino acids and nucleic acids, and the selective adsorption of organic species, including chiral molecules, onto mineral surfaces.

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  1. Organic Hazes on Early Earth and Titan


    Researchers from NAI’s Unviersity of Colorado, Boulder and University of Arizona Teams have published a new study in PNAS this week about the atmospheres of both present day Titan and early Earth. For Titan, their experiments modeled conditions measured by the Huygens probe from NASA’s Cassini mission, and CO2 was added to model the early Earth conditions. They conclude that organize haze can form over a wide range of methane and carbon dioxide concentrations.

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  1. Earth’s Hidden Biospheres


    Two recent discoveries in astrobiology challenge many of our assumptions about an integrated biological community on Earth. At the microbial level, it seems that there may be previously hidden biospheres that exist on Earth alongside our more familiar neighbors. One such community has been found deeply buried underground, while the other lives in the sea alongside more familiar life forms.

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  1. NASA Study Shows Titan and Early Earth Atmospheres Are Similar


    Organic haze in the atmosphere of Saturn’s moon, Titan, is similar to haze in early Earth’s air — haze that may have helped nourish life on our planet— according to a NASA Astrobiology Institute study released Nov. 6, 2006.

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  1. Astrobiology Primer Published!


    The Astrobiology Primer: An Outline of General Knowledge appears in this month’s issue of Astrobiology. Sponsored by NAI, the Primer was spearheaded by editor-in-chief Lucas Mix, and represents the work of 8 editors, 13 authors, and countless contributors. Intended as a reference tool, it provides information in these 7 topics: Stellar Formation and Evolution, Planetary Formation and Evolution, Astrobiogeochemistry and the Origin of Life, Evolution of Life Through Time, Planet Detection and Characterization, Diversity of Life, and Science in Space. The Primer came about in large part because of NAI support for graduate student research, collaboration, and inclusion as ...

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  1. Romer’s Gap Confirmed


    Peter Ward from NAI’s Alumni Team at the University of Washington and his collaborators have a new paper out in PNAS this week providing supportive evidence for Romer’s Gap. Their results link this gap in vertebrate terrestrialization with a low atmospheric oxygen interval. This paper supports Ward’s new book on the evolution of effective respiratory systems, entitled “Out of Thin Air.”

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  1. Microbes of the Deep


    In this week’s Science, researchers from NAI’s Indiana, Princeton, Tennessee Astrobiology Initiative (IPTAI) and Carnegie Institution of Washington Teams report that they have found an extant microbial biome at 2.8km depth in a South African mine. Analyses showed thermophilic sulfate reducers existing “with no apparent reliance on photosynthetically derived substrates.”

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  1. Impact From the Deep


    Strangling heat and gases emanating from the earth and sea, not asteroids, most likely caused several ancient mass extinctions. Peter Ward from NAI’s Alumni Team at the University of Washington asks in this week’s Scientific American: “Could the same killer-greenhouse conditions build once again?”

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  1. Exoplanet Weather


    Researchers from NAI’s UCLA, Carnegie Institution of Washington, and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Teams published this week in Science Express what may well be the first “Interstellar Weather Report.” Focusing on the innermost planet orbiting the star Upsilon Andromeda b, a hot Jupiter, the team used NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope to make measurements indicating that the temperature variation between the planets light and dark sides is 2,550 degrees Fahrenheit.

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  1. Photosynthesis in the Late Archean


    A new study on carbon isotopes in sedimentary rocks from Western Australia by researchers from NAI’s Penn State and Carnegie Institution of Washington Teams supports the idea that small, shallow pools of water containing photosynthetic microbes existed on the early Earth ~ 2.72 Gya, about 300 million years before the rise of oxygen in the atmosphere. Their findings suggest a “global-scale expansion” of these habitats, and a progression away from anaerobic ecosystems and toward photosynthetic communities before the oxygenation of the atmosphere. This work was published in the early edition of this week’s PNAS.

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  1. Microbial Production of Gases in the Deep Marine Subsurface


    Members of the Former University of Rhode Island Team, have published their latest findings on the production of ethane and propane in the deep subsurface in this week’s PNAS. The work stems from cores drilled on Leg 201 of the Ocean Drilling Program, February-March 2002. The Ocean Drilling Program is succeeded by the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program which concluded it’s “Exploring Subseafloor Life” workshop this week in Vancouver.

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  1. A New Book on the Evoution of Earth’s Early Atmosphere


    With significant contribution from NAI’s Penn State University Team, a new book entitled “Evolution of Early Earth’s Atmosphere, Hydrosphere, and Biosphere – Constraints from Ore Deposits”, edited by Stephen E. Kesler and Hiroshi Ohmoto, is available. It grew from a 2002 Pardee Symposium held during the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting sponsored in part by the NAI.

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  1. Exotic Earths


    Collaborators from NAI’s Teams at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, University of Colorado, Boulder, and Penn State as well as the former Virtual Planetary Lab Team have a paper this week in Science discussing the possible formation of “Exotic Earths.” Their models have simulated terrestrial planet growth during and after inward giant planet migration. Their results cause them to speculate that more than a third of the known systems of giant planets may harbor Earth-like planets.

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