NAI

  1. The Origin of Planetary Impactors in the Inner Solar System


    Scientists from NAI’s University of Arizona and University of Washington Lead Teams recently published a paper in Science concerning this history of the Solar System. Their paper looks at differences in the size distrubutions of asteroid populations during and after the heavy bombardment period ~ 3.8 billion years ago.

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  1. Rise in Earth’s Oxygen Levels


    David Des Marais from NAI’s NASA Ames Research Center Lead Team recently published a News and Views article in Nature. In it, he discusses a microbial “footprint” which bolsters geological data explaining the long term rise in Earth’s oxygen levels two billion years ago.

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  1. Finding Life in Mars Analog Sites on Earth


    Andrew Steel of the NAI Carnegie Team and other scientists have recently tested life-detection instruments designed for Mars at the Arctic Mars Analog site in a Norwegian volcano. In a press release, Hans Amundsen of the University of Oslo said “The instruments detected both living and fossilized organisms, which is the kind of evidence we’d be searching for on the Red Planet.” One instrument, designed by scientists at the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), detected “minute quantities of aromatic hydrocarbons from microorganisms and lichens present in the rocks and ice,” said JPL researcher Arthur Lonne Lane. One goal of the ...

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  1. Astrobiology Education News From the UK


    Astrobiology is becoming a part of the curriculum in British universities. An introductory course (with specially written text) has been taught for several years at the Open University, and recently the University of Glamorgan has introduced a major in this subject.

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  1. Astrobiology: The Study of the Living Universe


    Christopher Chyba and Kevin Hand of the NAI’s SETI Institute Lead Team have just published this article in the Annual Reviews of Astronomy and Astrophysics (ARAA). It reviews the habitability of the Galaxy in general and of planets and moons in particular, and summarizes current controversies in origins-of-life research and in evidence for the earliest life on Earth. It critiques certain “rare Earth” and “anthropic” arguments, and considers four approaches to deciding whether intelligent life exists elsewhere in the Galaxy. It concludes that astrobiology must also speak to the future of human civilization.

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  1. Dust Around an Old Star?


    Investigators from NAI’s UCLA and* Carnegie Institution of Washington* Lead Teams observed dust orbiting an old, relatively dead star, GD 362, and published their results in the_ Astrophysical Journal_ this month. This enigmatic observation could form the basis for predictions about the end of our own solar system.

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  1. Teaching Evolution


    Peter Ward of the University of Washington, the leader of the UW NAI Team, addresses the current attack on teaching evolution by an analogy with teaching students that the Earth is flat. Ward writes that “I teach evolution at the University of Washington. Even at the college level, it is a very difficult and demanding subject, and its abundant proofs require a detailed understanding of genetics, molecular biochemistry and paleontology. But for those who have made the intellectual journey to master these concepts, the stark explanatory power first realized by Charles Darwin more than 150 years ago shows clearly how ...

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  1. Digging in the Dirt on Mars


    The following report is based on a short paper “The Enigma of the Martian Soil” by Amos Banin of the NAI SETI Institute Team, published in Science.

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  1. Preparing for TPF: Disk-Averaged Synthetic Spectra of Mars


    In this month’s issue of Astrobiology, members of NAI’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory Team published a study using their model of a Mars-like planet to ascertain the detectability of a planet’s surface and atmospheric properties from disk-averaged spectra.

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  1. Shark Bay Stromatolites Revealed


    Members of NAI’s University of Colorado Team published a study of the composition and structure of the Shark Bay stromatolites in this month’s Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Their rRNA studies revealed the most abundant sequences representing novel proteobacteria, with a surprising less than 5% representing cyanobacteria.

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  1. Robot Astrobiology Rover


    NAI astrobiologists are involved in developing a prototype robotic astrobiologist to explore the driest desert on Earth, in preparation for later flights to Mars. This Astrobiology Magazine story is based on a news release from Carnegie Mellon University.

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  1. What Yellowstone Teaches Us About Ancient Mars


    NAI scientists study Yellowstone National park as an analog for thermal areas that probably existed on Mars long ago. This SPACE.com article by Leonard David also tells how visitors to the park are learning about astrobiology.

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  1. Extremophiles


    Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute discusses life living under extreme (to us) conditions, and what this tells us about the search for life beyond Earth.

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  1. The Enigma of the Martian Soil


    Amos Banin from NAI’s SETI Institute Team discusses the state of knowledge about the Martian soil in this week’s Science “Perspectives.” He looks specifically at information gained from past missions, and the role water processing may have played in soil formation.

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  1. Spitzer Finds Carbon Compounds in Young Universe


    This news story is based on a JPL/NASA press release dated July 28, 2005, which reports that the Spitzer Space Telescope has found the ingredients for life all the way back to a time when the universe was a mere youngster.

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