Operation IceBridge project scientist Michael Studinger took the photo of Taylor Valley,, one of the Dry Valleys of Antarctica where snow and ice are rare. Credit: NASA
The cold permafrost of Antarctica houses bacteria that thrive at temperatures below freezing, where water is icy and nutrients are few and far between. Oligotrophs, slow-growing organisms that prefer environments where nutrients are scarce, could provide clues as to how life could exist in the permafrost of Mars. In this vein, scientists have been studying the lethargic bacteria from the Dry Valleys of Antarctica, a row of snow-free valleys that ...
Stalked barnacles from the vent fields at the Kawio Barat volcano, Western Pacific. Credit: NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, INDEX-SATAL 2010
Barnacles — a type of marine crustacean — are highly adaptable animals. Unlike many other groups that prefer quieter waters, they like areas with a lot of activity, are hardy against dry spells that sometimes occur in tidal zones, and can even persist in waters that are becoming more acidic due to human pollution.
Our solar system is full of icy moons – for example, Jupiter’s Europa or Saturn’s Enceladus — that likely have global oceans under their crusts ...
Audiences pack the Grand Hall for the AbSciCon 2015 Regional Heat of the FameLab USA competition. Credit: NASA Astrobiology
Astrobiologists gathered in Chicago, Illinois, from June 15-19th for the 2015 Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon). Researchers from a multitude of disciplines, and representing institutions from around the world, used the conference as a forum to report new discoveries, share data, initiate and advance collaborative efforts, plan new projects, and educate the next generation of astrobiologists.
“AbSciCon reflects the importance of astrobiology in supporting NASA’s current and ongoing missions,” said Mary Voytek, Program Scientist for Astrobiology at NASA.
Peter Doran, the ...July 17, 2015 / Written by: Aaron Gronstal
AbGradCon 2015 webcast (July 20-22) available at http://abgradcon.org/remote.html and http://saganet.org/page/saganlive
The NAI-sponsored Astrobiology Graduate Conference (AbGradCon) 2015 will be held on July 19-23, 2015 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Those unable to attend in person can still participate via live webcast. The stream will start at 8AM CDT on July 20, 21, and 22 at http://abgradcon.org/remote.html. You can also view the webcast and join in a live chat on the SAGANet site: http://saganet.org/page/saganlive.
AbGradCon offers a unique opportunity for graduate students and early career ...July 15, 2015 / Posted by: Miki Huynh
The "Dynamic Duo" photo of Pluto and Charon taken by the New Horizons spacecraft on July 8, 2015 from 3.7 million miles away. Credit: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI
Excitement builds as the public waits for the New Horizons spacecraft to fly by Pluto on July 14, 2015. The flyby will create a landmark in our understanding of Pluto’s atmosphere, geology, and other surface conditions and increase our understanding of what lies further on in the Kuiper Belt.
Because extremely cold temperatures make present-day volcanic activity and circulation of biogenic elements on the icy surface impossible, neither Pluto nor its moons are ...July 13, 2015 / Written by: Miki Huynh
The Stone Aerospace team with VALKYRIE (the black tube hanging on the apparatus in the middle of the picture) on the Matanuska glacier during testing in 2014. Image: Stone Aerospace
A robotic “cryobot,” designed to tunnel down through thick ice caps and penetrate subterranean seas, is undergoing tests on the Matanuska glacier in Alaska. It paves the way towards one day exploring the underground oceans of Jupiter’s moon, Europa, or other icy moons of the Outer Solar System.
Named VALKYRIE (Very deep Autonomous Laser-powered Kilowatt-class Yo-yoing Robotic Ice Explorer) and funded by NASA’s Astrobiology Science ...
The fifth regional heat of FameLab USA’s Season 3 took place at the 2015 Astrobiology Science Conference in Chicago. Credit: NASA Astrobiology
The fifth regional heat of FameLab USA’s Season 3 took place in Chicago, IL, on June 13-15 in conjunction with the 2015 Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon).
Fifteen early career scientists participated, and the research represented covered everything from the geological history of Earth to planetary atmospheres and the search for life on planets beyond our solar system! The first round of competition was held in The Field Museum of Chicago.
Ten of the fifteen participants advanced ...June 25, 2015 / Written by: Aaron Gronstal
FameLab USA Facebook Page
Season 3, Regional Heat #5 at AbSciCon in Chicago, IL
The next FameLab USA competition will be held Saturday, June 13th, Sunday, June 14th & Monday, June 15th, during the 2015 Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon).
For more information, visit: http://famelab-eeb.arc.nasa.gov/competitions/season3-abscicon2015/.
The preliminary competition round, lunch and the communications workshop will be held at the:
Chicago Field Museum
Lecture Hall 2
1400 South Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60605
The evening competition round and reception will be held at the:
Hilton Downtown Chicago
Hilton Downtown Chicago Ballroom
720 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago ...June 11, 2015 / Written by: Aaron Gronstal
William J. Borucki awarded 2015 Shaw Prize. Credit: Service to American Medals/NASA
William J. (Bill) Borucki has been awarded the 2015 Shaw Prize in Astronomy. The announcement of this prestigious award, often referred to as the “Nobel of the East,” was announced yesterday in Hong Kong. The prize honors Bill for “his conceiving and leading the Kepler mission, which greatly advanced knowledge of both extrasolar planetary systems and stellar interiors.” The award will be presented on September 24, and is accompanied by a prize of $1,000,000 (US).
Bill is in his 53rd year as a devoted civil ...June 4, 2015 / Posted by: Miki Huynh
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 ...
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 the ...May 20, 2015 / Written by: Aaron Gronstal
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 variation ...May 8, 2015 / Written by: Aaron Gronstal
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 ...May 7, 2015 / Written by: Aaron Gronstal
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 Science ...May 5, 2015 / Written by: Aaron Gronstal
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 ...April 29, 2015 / Written by: Aaron Gronstal