NAI

  1. Astrobiology Magazine’s European Edition – France


    The Spring 2007 European Edition of the Astrobiology Magazine focuses on astrobiology research and news from France. The edition features new articles, interviews, and op-ed section, and a special story on testing the Panspermia hypothesis.

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  1. NAI Expands to Include Four New Teams


    The NASA Astrobiology Institute is pleased to announce the selections of four new research teams: the University of Wisconsin, California Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Montana State University. These new teams join the twelve others selected to be part of the Institute in 2003. Welcome to the NAI!

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  1. NAI’s Tullis Onstott Makes “Time 100”


    Astrobiologist Tullis Onstott has made this year’s “Time 100,” an annual list of “the 100 men and women whose power, talent or moral example is transforming the world,” according to list-maker Time magazine.

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  1. Ancient Organism Verified as Fungus


    NAI scientists from the Carnegie Institution of Washington Team and their colleagues have a new paper in Geology outlining their process in resolving the mysterious identity of the Devonian fossil organism Prototaxities as a fungus. The team analyzed carbon isotopic ratios of the fossil relative to plants that lived in the same environment 400 million years ago.

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  1. NASA Astrobiologists Elected to National Academy of Sciences


    Congratulations are due to astrobiologists Donald E. Canfield and Paul G. Falkowski for their election to the distinguished ranks of membership in the National Academy of Sciences.

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  1. Found: Earth-Like Planet


    A rocky planet not much larger than Earth has been detected orbiting a star close to our own neighborhood in the Milky Way, and the European astronomers who found it say it lies within the star’s “habitable zone,” where life could exist, possibly in oceans of water.

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  1. Endurance Explorer


    Antarctic Lake Robot Probe Sets Sights on Outer Space

    A robotic probe designed to draw an underwater three-dimensional map showing the biological and geochemical composition of an ice-bound Antarctica lake may prove to be the ideal tool to search for life on other planets or moons where ice is known to exist.

    Peter Doran, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is the lead investigator in a three-year, $2.3 million dollar study funded by NASA to build the probe that will map Antarctica’s West Lake Bonney, a two-and-a-half mile long, one-mile wide ...

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  1. MISSIONS – Martian Clay


    For the past two years, NASA’s stalwart rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, have stolen most of the Mars headlines. In particular, the discovery by Opportunity of sulfate minerals on Mars confirmed what many scientists had suspected, that Mars, although now thoroughly dried out, had a watery past.

    But another spacecraft, Mars Express, sent into orbit two years ago by the European Space Agency (ESA), has been expanding our understanding the history of water on Mars. Onboard Mars Express is an instrument known as OMEGA, which has been searching the planet’s surface for signs of water-bearing minerals. Like Opportunity, OMEGA has found ...

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  1. Exoplanets and M Stars


    Members of NAI’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory Alumni Team and their colleagues have a new paper in the current issue of Astrobiology. They present a critical discussion of M star properties that are relevant for the long- and short-term thermal, dynamical, geological, and environmental stability of conventional liquid water habitable zone (HZ) M star planets.

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  1. Technology Improves Imaging of Exoplanets


    Imaging Earth-like exoplanets is a daunting challenge because the dim starlight that such relatively small worlds reflect is easily overpowered by the glare of their far larger, brighter parent stars. Now two astrophysicists at JPL have devised new techniques that can overcome this glare, enabling future space telescopes to snap pictures of Earth-like exoplanets up to 10 billion times fainter than the stars they orbit.

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  1. Final Assembly of Earth-Like Planets


    NAI Postdoctoral Fellow Sean Raymond leads a team of authors from NAI’s University of Colorado, Boulder, and University of Arizona Teams, and Virtual Planetary Laboratory and University of Washington Alumni Teams in a new publication in Astrobiology. They present analysis of water delivery and planetary habitability in 5 high-resolution simulations forming 15 terrestrial planets. Their results outline a new model for water delivery to terrestrial planets in dynamically calm systems, which may be very common in the Galaxy.

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  1. NAI Scientist Receives Hazel Barnes Prize


    Margaret Tolbert from NAI’s University of Colorado, Boulder Team, is receiving the 2007 UC-Boulder Hazel Barnes Prize. This prize is the University’s most prestigious faculty award. Tolbert has earned it, UC-Boulder has announced, “for her contributions to understanding the chemistry and climate of planetary atmospheres, including past and present,” and “for her teaching and research efforts with undergraduates and graduate students, 15 of whom have won prestigious NASA and Environmental Protection Agency fellowships in recent years.” Congratulations Margaret!

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  1. Plants on Other Planets May Not Be Green


    Differently colored plants may live on extra-solar planets, according to two new papers in the current issue of Astrobiology authored by members of NAI’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory Alumni Team and their colleagues. They took previously simulated planetary atmospheric compositions for Earth-like planets orbiting various star types (including M stars), generated spectra, and found that photosynthetic pigments may peak in absorbance in the blue for some star types, and red-orange and near-infrared for others. Their results also suggest that, under water, organisms would still be able to survive ultraviolet flares from young M stars and acquire adequate light for growth – ...

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  1. An Update From “Mars”


    EVA continues at the Mars Desert Research Station where graduate student Irene Schneider from the NAI Penn State team is currently on expedition: “Biology: Encountered pond with trees on second stop, unique flower sample collected. Geology: First stop discovered small alcove in Morrison formation about 15 feet deep. Second stop yielded lake discussed above. Third stop found about 3 petrified tree stumps on ridge. Petrified wood and conglomerate samples collected. Astronomy: attempted but due to high winds and clouds was aborted. Medicine: none.”

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  1. Habitability of Planets Around M Dwarf Stars


    Multidisciplinary work from members of NAI’s SETI Institute Team and a host of collaborators across the NAI re-examines what is known at present about the potential for a terrestrial planet forming within, or migrating into, the classic liquid–surface–water habitable zone close to an M dwarf star. Their new paper, published in the current issue of Astrobiology, presents the summary conclusions of an interdisciplinary workshop sponsored by NAI and convened at the SETI Institute in 2005.

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