NAI

  1. Astrobiology at the Cartoon Art Museum


    Astrobiology: The Story of our Search for Life in the Universe. Credit: NASA Astrobiology Program Astrobiology: The Story of our Search for Life in the Universe. Credit: NASA Astrobiology Program

    Today, May 21st, NASA Astrobiology joins The Cartoon Art Museum in downtown San Francisco as they explore the theme of outer space through the medium of comic art. Visitors to this Third Thursday event will be able to pick up copies of the Astrobiology graphic history series by Aaron Gronstal in an exhibit featuring both works of science and science fantasy.

    The event takes place 5:00-8:00PM and is free and open to the public.

    Established in 1984, the Cartoon Art Museum displays and ...

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  1. Shrimp Feed in the Mid-Cayman Rise


    The Mid-Cayman rise is an undersea ridge in the Caribbean Sea located at the tectonic boundary of the North American Plate and the Caribbean Plate. Credit: NOAA The Mid-Cayman rise is an undersea ridge in the Caribbean Sea located at the tectonic boundary of the North American Plate and the Caribbean Plate. Credit: NOAA

    By studying shrimp near hydrothermal vents, astrobiologists are learning about the sources of carbon in ecosystems of the Mid-Cayman rise.

    Most life on Earth uses organic carbon produced by photosynthesis, a process that relies on energy from the Sun. However, in the dark depths of Earth’s oceans, hydrothermal vents support microorganisms that are able to produce organic carbon through chemosysnthesis. These microbes provide food for entire ecosystems that can survive independent of ...

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  1. Genomic Potential in Hydrothermal Vents


    This 3-D sketch shows a cross-section of the Mariana Arc with some of its main structures and features. Credit: NOAA This 3-D sketch shows a cross-section of the Mariana Arc with some of its main structures and features. Credit: NOAA

    Astrobiologists studying microbial genomics in populations from the Mariana Arc have provided new information about the diversity and adaptation of microorganisms in the deep sea.

    Microorganisms that live deep below the Earth’s oceans can provide important insights about the potential for life in subsurface oceans on icy worlds. The adaptations they use to survive can also help astrobiologists understand the mechanisms that allow living organisms to inhabit some of the most extreme conditions on Earth.

    The paper, “Strain-level genomic ...

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  1. Hypoliths in the Mojave Desert


    Silver Lake is a dry lake bed in the Mojave Desert. The Mojave has long been studied as a geological analogue to ancient Mars. Image Credit: NASA Spaceward Bound, Ben Haller Silver Lake is a dry lake bed in the Mojave Desert. The Mojave has long been studied as a geological analogue to ancient Mars. Image Credit: NASA Spaceward Bound, Ben Haller

    Astrobiologists have revealed new details about hypolithic cyanobacteria living in a range of different rock types from the Silver Lake region of the Mojave Desert. This area of the Mojave has been studied as a geological analog to Mars, and has several different rock types colonized by hypoliths. The results show that the cyanobacteria Chroococcidiopsis is able to colonize dry environments in a variety of rocks and with varying ...

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  1. Staying Active in the Cold


    A view of Antarctica's Taylor Valley. The Antarctic Dry Valleys are considered one of the most Mars-like environments on Earth. Credit: Peter West, National Science Foundation A view of Antarctica's Taylor Valley. The Antarctic Dry Valleys are considered one of the most Mars-like environments on Earth. Credit: Peter West, National Science Foundation

    Astrobiologists have provided new data about microorganisms that live in the permafrost of Antarctica’s Dry Valleys. Using molecular techniques alongside culturing, the team studied bacterial communities from Taylor Valley and identified psychrophiles, or organisms that are able to remain active at low temperatures. In the laboratory, bacteria collected from the Taylor Valley permafrost remained active down to −5 °C (with peak activity at 15 °C).

    This work was supported by the Astrobiology ...

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  1. An Optically Powered Cryobot


    An artist depiction of a cryobot tunneling through ice. Credit: Copyright Stone Aerospace, presented at <a href="http://abscicon2012.arc.nasa.gov/abstracts/abstract-detail/project-valkyrie-a-next-gen- An artist depiction of a cryobot tunneling through ice. Credit: Copyright Stone Aerospace, presented at AbSciCon 2012

    Researchers are developing a protoype cryobot that could help astrobiologists explore icy worlds in the Solar System as well as some of the most extreme environments on Earth. Technologies developed for VALKYRIE (Very-deep Autonomous Laser-powered Kilowatt-class Yo-yoing Robotic Ice Explorer) could allow robots to explore beneath the ice caps of planets, or glaciers here on Earth. One element of the design includes using a high-energy laser to power the ice explorer.

    Details about the 4-year effort are presented in the paper, “Progress towards ...

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  1. Nathalie Cabrol: How Mars Might Hold the Secret to the Origin of Life


    Nathalie A. Cabrol diving and sampling in the Licancabur lake at 5,917 m elevation in the volcano’s crater. Photo Credit: The High Lakes Project: The SETI Institute Carl Sagan Center/NASA Ames/ NAI Nathalie A. Cabrol diving and sampling in the Licancabur lake at 5,917 m elevation in the volcano’s crater. Photo Credit: The High Lakes Project: The SETI Institute Carl Sagan Center/NASA Ames/ NAI

    Astrobiologist Nathalie Cabrol recently spoke about her work in remote field sites, including high-altitude lakes in the Andes, at the TED2015 conference. In her talk, Cabrol discusses how this work could help scientists search for signs of life on Mars.

    Cabrol’s TED Talk, “Nathalie Cabrol: How Mars might hold the secret to the origin of life,” is now available to watch from TED.com ...

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  1. NASA’s NExSS Coalition to Lead Search for Life on Distant Worlds


    NASA is bringing together experts spanning a variety of scientific fields for an unprecedented initiative dedicated to the search for life on planets outside our solar system.

    The Nexus for Exoplanet System Science, or “NExSS”, hopes to better understand the various components of an exoplanet, as well as how the planet stars and neighbor planets interact to support life.

    “This interdisciplinary endeavor connects top research teams and provides a synthesized approach in the search for planets with the greatest potential for signs of life,” says Jim Green, NASA’s Director of Planetary Science. “The hunt for exoplanets is not only ...

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  1. A New Tool for Deep Sea Microbiology


    The remotely operated Nereus vehicle at the the Mid-Cayman Spreading Center in 2009. A new sample collection tool for marine microbiology and biogeochemical studies could be used on such vehicles to h The remotely operated Nereus vehicle at the the Mid-Cayman Spreading Center in 2009. A new sample collection tool for marine microbiology and biogeochemical studies could be used on such vehicles to help astrobiologists study environments deep below the ocean surface. Credit: Advanced Imaging and Visualization Laboratory, WHOI

    Researchers supported in part by the Astrobiology Science & Technology for Exploring Planets element of the NASA Astrobiology Program have developed a new tool for collecting large-volume samples for marine microbiology and biogeochemical studies.

    The Suspended Particulate Rosette V2 large volume multi-sampling system can be deployed on remotely operated vehicles, and allows astrobiologists to quickly collect multiple samples of the water column from remote environments like hydrothermal plumes. The system was successfully tested on hydrothermal vent systems of the Mid-Cayman Rise.

    The paper, “A large volume particulate and water multi-sampler with in situ preservation for microbial and biogeochemical studies,” was published in the journal Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers.

    Source: [Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers]

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  1. Early Career Astrobiologists Recognized


    Giulio Mariotti (left) and Nicholas Swanson-Hysell (right). Credit: EOS Giulio Mariotti (left) and Nicholas Swanson-Hysell (right). Credit: EOS

    The American Geophysical Union (AGU) has recognized two early career astrobiologists.

    Giulio Mariotti received the 2014 Luna B. Leopold Young Scientist Award for his work on the interactions of coastal hydrodynamics, morphodynamics, and ecological processes. Mariotti was a participant in the 2013 Australian Astrobiology Tour with the The Australian Centre for Astrobiology (ACA), one of the first international partners of the NASA Astrobiology Institute.

    Nicholas Swanson-Hysell was selected as the recipient of the 2014 William Gilbert Award for his work on basalts of the North American Midcontinent Rift. Swanson-Hysell was a ...

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  1. New Library of Congress Astrobiology Chair Announced


    Nathaniel Comfort of the Johns Hopkins Institute of the History of Medicine. Credit: Johns Hopkins Nathaniel Comfort of the Johns Hopkins Institute of the History of Medicine. Credit: Johns Hopkins

    Nathaniel Comfort Announced as Third Chair in Astrobiology at John W. Kluge Center

    Historian of science Nathaniel Comfort will begin on October 1, 2015 as the third Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology in the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress. He will be in residence for twelve months. As Astrobiology Chair, Comfort will use the Library’s collections to examine the history of the genomic revolution in origin-of-life research.

    The Astrobiology Chair at the Kluge Center is ...

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  1. Diverse Methane Sources in Shallow Alaskan Lakes


    An investigator is having a closer look at an open water region of Sukok Lake. Credit: NASA JPL, Icy Worlds <a href="https://astrobiology.nasa.gov/nai/reports/annual-reports/2011/jpl-icy-worlds/detect An investigator is having a closer look at an open water region of Sukok Lake. Credit: NASA JPL, Icy Worlds 2011 Annual Report

    Astrobiologists studying ecological changes in shallow lakes on the North Slope of Alaska have discovered diverse sources of methane in lake sediments. The study shows that methane can arise from sources deep in the Earth or from biological communities that inhabit sediments on the lake floor.

    Importantly, the research also reveals that rising global temperatures may result in increasing production of this potential greenhouse gas by methane-generating microbes. The results of the five-year study are an important ...

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  1. Decomposing Oxalic Acid


    Ball and stick model of the oxalic acid molecule. Credit: Ben Mills and Jynto, Wikimedia Commons Ball and stick model of the oxalic acid molecule. Credit: Ben Mills and Jynto, Wikimedia Commons

    A new study is helping astrobiologists understand whether or not the decomposition of oxalic acid could act as a source of C-O-H in petrologic experiments. The team studied how oxalic acid decomposes in oxidizing, reducing and unbuffered solutions at temperatures up to 800 °C.

    The study could provide insight into how compounds and chemical elements are altered and made available for life on terrestrial planets.

    The paper, “In-situ characterization of oxalic acid breakdown at elevated P and T: Implications for organic C-O-H fluid sources ...

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  1. A Robotic Sentinel to Monitor Remote Lakes


    Researchers sail the PLL toward the northwest finger of Laguna Negra. Credit: Chris Haberle Researchers sail the PLL toward the northwest finger of Laguna Negra. Credit: Chris Haberle

    Researchers supported by the Astrobiology Science & Technology for Exploring Planets (ASTEP) element of the Astrobiology Program have published a field report on the Planetary Lake Lander (PLL) probe. The report describes the design and operation of the PLL as well as its ground data systems.

    The PLL is designed to study physical, chemical, and biological processes in a high-altitude lake, and how these processes are being affected by deglaciation. The PLL also provides an opportunity to test technologies that could be used on a future mission to Saturn’s moon Titan.

    Check out the Planetary Lake Lander Project Video Series here.

    The study, “Planetary Lake Lander—A Robotic Sentinel to Monitor Remote Lakes,” was published in the Journal of Field Robotics.

    Source: [Journal of Field Robotics]

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  1. FameLab: Looking Ahead to Stony Brook


    Finalists from FameLab Season 3 Regional Competition #1, held during AbGradCon 2014 at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Credit: NASA Finalists from FameLab Season 3 Regional Competition #1, held during AbGradCon 2014 at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Credit: NASA

    The Regional Heat #3 for Season 3 of the FameLab competition will be held at Stony Brook University on Long Island from April 16-17, 2015.

    Are you an early career scientist who is passionate about science communication…or simply looking to improve your skills? Visit the FameLab site for more information and to register!

    This regional heat is being hosted in partnership with the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University.

    Source: [FameLab]

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