Researchers from NAI’s University of Washington, University of Colorado, Boulder, and Virtual Planetary Laboratory Teams have developed models testing planet formation in four known systems, 55 Cancri, HD 38529, HD 37124 and HD 74156. Placing Mars to Moon-sized planet embryos between giant planets and allowing them to evolve for 100 million years, they found terrestrial planets formed readily in 55 Cancri, sometimes with substantial water and orbits in the system’s habitable zone. They found HD 38529 is likely to support an asteroid belt and Mars-sized or smaller bodies but no notable terrestrial planets. No planets formed in HD ...July 25, 2006 / Posted by: Shige Abe
Carnegie Institution planetary-formation theorist and founding NAI member, George Wetherill, died from heart failure on July 19, 2006, at his Washington, D.C., home. Wetherill’s work revolutionized planet and solar system formation through theoretical models.July 24, 2006 / Posted by: Shige Abe
Last month, scientists from NAI’s University of Hawai’i Team, in collaboration with Icelandic research institutes, successfully drilled into and sampled a lake deep beneath a glacier in Iceland. The lake and other subglacial lakes are the focus of studies of life in “extreme environments,” and may resemble potential habitats on Mars and icy satellites in the outer Solar SystemJuly 7, 2006 / Posted by: Shige Abe
NAI’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory Team have explored the possibility of detecting exovegetation on terrestrial planets orbiting M stars. They estimated the red-shift of this surface feature using leaf optical property spectra with a three photon photosynthetic scheme. The authors have produced a model wherein a pigment-derived surface signature such as exovegetation could be detected, but would be dependent upon the extent of the vegetation on the surface, cloud cover, and viewing angle. Their paper is in the current issue of The Astrophysical Journal.July 5, 2006 / Posted by: Shige Abe
Researchers from NAI’s University of Rhode Island Team and their colleagues have studied the use of phosphorus vs. sulfur in the membrane lipid sythesis pathways of organisms resident in the ocean’s subtropical gyres. Their data show that the dominant organism in the phytoplankton, a cyanobacterium, has evolved a “sulfur-for-phosphorus” strategy; producing a membrane lipid containing sulfate and sugar instead of phosphate. This adaptation may have been a major event in Earth’s early history when the relative availability of sulfate and phosphate was different than in today’s oceans. Their paper appears in the June 6th issue of ...July 5, 2006 / Posted by: Shige Abe
The city of Hammerfest lies at the northern tip of Norway, well above the Arctic Circle. If you board a ship heading north from there, just before you reach the polar ice cap you run into a group of islands known as the Svalbard archipelago.
For the past two summers, a group of scientists has traveled to the largest of these islands to study an environment that sheds light on a notorious meteorite, discovered at the opposite end of the Earth, in Antarctica.
The meteorite, ALH84001, began as a rather unremarkable piece of volcanic rock that formed about 4.5 ...
Researchers from NAI’s NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Team and their colleagues publish their analysis of two meteorites in the current issue of Meteoritics and Planetary Science. Their study revealed a suite of amino acids present in the meteorites that are not present in the Antarctic ice on which they were found.June 19, 2006 / Posted by: Shige Abe
Andrey Bekker of NAI’s Carnegie Institution of Washington Team and his colleagues have an article in press for Precambrian Research which details the carbon isotope record for the carbonate platform in the Great Lakes area. Observed carbon isotope values from the Lake Superior area may correspond to those from Griqualand West Basin, South Africa, supporting the notion of three global glaciations in the Paleoproterozoic Era.June 19, 2006 / Posted by: Shige Abe
Using NASA’s FUSE spacecraft, scientists from NAI’s Carnegie Institution of Washington Team have discovered abundant amounts of carbon gas in a dusty disk surrounding the young star Beta Pictoris. While planets may have already formed, the prevalence of carbon gas in the disk indicates that the planets could be carbon-rich worlds of graphite and methane, potentially resembling the early conditions of our own Solar System. The authors suggest that either carbon-rich asteroids or comets, unlike any in our own solar system, have vaporized, or that bodies outgassing carbon-bearing species such as methane are responsible for the observation. Their ...June 14, 2006 / Posted by: Shige Abe
Roger Buick from NAI’s University of Washington Team and his colleagues report in the current issue of Geology their analysis of oil-bearing fluid inclusions in 2.45 billion year old rocks from Canada. They assert that the oil is derived from an overlying formation, becoming trapped in the host rock before 2.2 billion years ago – prior to the Great Oxidation Event. Abundant biomarkers for cyanobacteria and eukaryotes were identified in the study, suggesting that aqueous environments at the time had become sufficiently oxygenated for sterol biosynthesis to occur, and implying that organisms had the ability to survive “snowball ...June 14, 2006 / Posted by: Shige Abe
The cover of this week’s Nature belongs to Abigail Allwood of the Australian Centre for Astrobiology, one of NAI’s International Partners. She and her colleagues put forward the latest research on the ancient rocks of the Pilbara Craton in Western Australia, which points to evidence of life on Earth 3.43 billion years ago. Their description of a shallow marine environment, and identification of seven stromatolite morphotypes makes a strong argument for early life. NAI supported Allwood’s work with a 2005 NAI Research Scholarship.June 7, 2006 / Posted by: Shige Abe
Alan Boss of NAI’s Carnegie Institution of Washington Team published in the current issue of the Astrophysical Journal a new look at the origin of super-Earths orbiting M dwarf stars. The core accretion mechanism of giant planet formation has been used to explain the presence of these planets. Boss’ new work shows they could also have been formed by the disk instability mechanism.June 7, 2006 / Posted by: Shige Abe
Researchers from NAI’s NASA Ames Research Center and University of Colorado, Boulder Teams published in the current issue of Astrobiology their study of the petrology and mineral chemistry of a cold spring in Northern California. They propose that the serpentinization process can provide a source of energy for chemosynthetic organisms, and outline criteria to aid in the identification of serpentinizing terranes on Mars.June 6, 2006 / Posted by: Shige Abe
NASA astrobiologists are hard at work examining the nature of the plumes of water vapor recently discovered on Saturn’s moon Enceladus. If a new geological theory about the plumes, published in this week’s Nature, proves to be correct, it would preclude the existence of a subsurface ocean on the moon. The theory is testable with existing data from NASA’s Cassini mission…June 5, 2006 / Posted by: Shige Abe
Researchers from NAI’s Indiana Princeton Tennessee Astrobiology Initiative Team published their theory on the origin of the detected atmospheric methane on Mars in the current issue of Astrobiology. Measurements of deep fracture water samples from South Africa led to a model which distinguishes between abiogenic and microbial methane sources based upon their isotopic composition, and couples microbial methane production to molecular hydrogen generation by water radiolysis. The authors also propose an instrument for future missions to Mars which, with measurements over time, could distinguish mechanisms for methane emissions.May 31, 2006 / Posted by: Shige Abe
- May 28 - Emerging Researchers in Exoplanet Science Symposium (ERES)
- May 29 - Application Deadline for The Forum for New Leaders in Space Science
- May 29 - Pre-proposal deadline for FfAME - Templeton Origins Funding Opportunity
- May 31 - Abstract Submission Deadline for 2nd Symposium of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR 2015): Water and Life in the Universe
- May 31 - Application Deadline for Gordon Research Conference on Origins of Solar Systems
- May 31 - Abstract Submission Deadline for Life in a Cosmic Context - 5th Workshop of the Italian Astrobiology Society
- June 2 - Workshop on the Formation of the Solar System II
- June 10 - Registration Deadline for European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS) 2015
- June 15 - Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon) 2015
- June 15 - Application Deadline for Summer School at Moletai Observatory: "Formation and Evolution of Planetary Systems and Habitable Planets"
- June 19 - Application Deadline for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) International Top Young Fellowship (ITYF)
- June 22 - International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy 70th Meeting
- June 24 - European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS) 2015
- June 28 - Abstract and Registration Deadline for 15th EANA Astrobiology Conference
- June 30 - Abstract Submission Deadline for Exoplanetary Atmospheres and Habitability Workshop
- June 30 - Principal Investigator or Associate Principal Investigator Opportunity at The Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) at the Tokyo Institute of Technology