NAI

ASTID Restructured

The Planetary Science Division has restructured its instrument development programs to ease the full development and maturation of instrument technologies. PICASSO will support instruments Technical Readiness Levels (TRLs) 1 through 3, and MatISSE will support instruments TRLs 4 through 6.

  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. Report on Contamination Considerations for Mars 2020


    Researchers at NASA are currently hard at work on the proposed Mars 2020 rover, which will expand upon previous missions to help determine Mars’ potential habitability, both past and present. One task the rover might face is to collect and cache scientific samples that could one day be returned to Earth for further study.

    Protecting such samples from contamination has been identified as an important and complex issue by the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG), and was the subject of an independent investigation by the Mars 2020 Organic Contamination Panel (OCP).

    In 2014, the OCP convened to evaluate and ...

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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. SAM’s First Wet Chemistry Experiment


    NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity drilled into this rock target, “Cumberland,” during the 279th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars (May 19, 2013) and collected a powdered sample of material fr NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity drilled into this rock target, “Cumberland,” during the 279th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars (May 19, 2013) and collected a powdered sample of material from the rock’s interior. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

    Scientists using the Curiosity rover’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument have found complex organic molecules on Mars when analyzing samples from a mudstone in the site dubbed 'Yellowknife Bay.’ The findings are the first results from the wet chemistry experiment on SAM, and were presented at the 46th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC ...

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  1. Curiosity Finds Biologically Useful Nitrogen


    Integration of Sample Analysis at Mars instrument for Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity. Credit: NASA/GSFC/SAM Integration of Sample Analysis at Mars instrument for Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity. Credit: NASA/GSFC/SAM

    A team using the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite aboard NASA’s Curiosity rover has made the first detection of nitrogen on the surface of Mars from release during heating of Martian sediments. The nitrogen was detected in the form of nitric oxide, and could be released from the breakdown of nitrates during heating. Nitrates are a class of molecules that contain nitrogen in a form that can be used by living organisms. The discovery adds to the evidence that ancient ...

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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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  1. Astrobiologists Named Geochemistry Fellows


    Timothy Lyons (left) and Ariel Anbar (right) have been named Geochemistry Fellows. Credit: NASA Astrobiology Timothy Lyons (left) and Ariel Anbar (right) have been named Geochemistry Fellows. Credit: NASA Astrobiology

    Congratulations to Timothy Lyons and Ariel Anbar, who have each been named Geochemistry Fellows by the Geochemical Society and the European Association of Geochemistry.

    Timothy Lyons is the NASA Astrobiology Institute Team PI at the University of California, Riverside. Ariel Anbar, Principal Investigator (PI) in the Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology (Exo/Evo) element of the NASA Astrobiology Program, is also a Co-Investigator for the NAI team at UC Riverside.

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  1. Surviving the Anthropocene


    On the radio program Big Picture Science, David Grinspoon recently joined a discussion about the impacts of humankind on planet Earth. Right now, the Earth is in a geological epoch known as the Holocene. However, some scientists believe we have moved into a new epoch dubbed the 'Anthropocene,’ or the age of man.

    To listen to the program, visit: https://radio.seti.org/episodes/Surviving_the_Anthropocene

    David Grinspoon is a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, and was the first Baruch S. Blumberg NASA-Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology. During his time as chair, Grinspoon studied the ...

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  1. FameLab Online Competition


    FameLab regionals in December 2014 at the Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco, CA. Credit: NASA Astrobiology FameLab regionals in December 2014 at the Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco, CA. Credit: NASA Astrobiology

    Calling all early career scientists! Passionate about science? Love to Communicate. . .or want to learn how? Been wanting to do FameLab but couldn’t make any of the in-person heats? THIS is your chance… join us for the FameLab USA Season 3 Online Competition! Submit a YouTube video of your 3-minute, powerpoint-free presentation by March 16th, then join our live, online event on March 18th to get feedback directly from the judges. Can’t make it on the 18th? We’ll email you a ...

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  1. FameLab USA Online Competition


    FameLab Regional Heat in San Francisco, December 2014

    Passionate about science? Love to communicate…or want to learn how? Missed the in-person regional heats? THIS is your chance. Join us for the FameLab USA Season 3 Online Competition!

    Unlike our in-person events, in this heat you will record yourself giving a 3-minute, powerpoint-free presentation, create a YouTube video of it, and submit that to us no later than March 16th. Then join us for the live, online judging event on March 18th to receive feedback from the judges. We are also planning a live, online science communications workshop, still TBA.

    More info, and plenty of how-to’s, tips ...

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  1. NAI Director’s Seminar Series: Bill Bottke


    Bill Bottke of the Department of Space Studies at the Southwest Research Institute. Credit: SwRI Bill Bottke of the Department of Space Studies at the Southwest Research Institute. Credit: SwRI

    Bill Bottke of Southwest Research Institute will be presenting the next NAI Director’s Seminar on February 23, 2015, at 1pm Pacific Standard Time. A link to the web broadcast will be available here at 12:45pm PST on Feb 23.

    Bottke’s talk, “Early Solar System Bombardment and Earth’s Habitability,” will discuss insights about the bombardment history of the early Earth based on a new bombardment model for the inner Solar System that stretches from Mercury to the asteroid belt.

    For more information ...

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  1. A Tribute to Barry Blumberg


    A NASA portrait of Dr. Baruch Blumberg in 1999. Image credit: NASA/Tom Trower A NASA portrait of Dr. Baruch Blumberg in 1999. Image credit: NASA/Tom Trower

    Baruch S. “Barry” Blumberg, recipient of the 1976 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, was the founding director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI). When Blumberg passed away suddenly of a heart attack at age 85 on April 5, 2011, it was a huge loss for the astrobiology community.

    This month, the journal Astrobiology features a tribute to Barry Blumberg written by current NAI Director, Carl Piltcher. The article is freely available on the journal’s website, and provides a background of Blumberg’s remarkable life ...

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  1. AbSciCon 2015


    Abstract submissions for the 2015 Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon) have now closed. For details, visit the AbSciCon 2015 website at: http://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/abscicon2015/

    AbSciCon 2015 is the next in a series of conferences organized by researchers within the interdisciplinary field of astrobiology. Scientists from around the world will gather in Chicago, Illinois, from June 15-19, 2015, to report new research findings and plan for astrobiology’s future. The theme of AbSciCon 2015 is “Habitability, Habitable Worlds, and Life.”

    Other key dates include:

    May 1, 2015 – Program and abstracts available
    June 15–19, 2015 – Astrobiology Science Conference ...

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  1. Methane and Organic Molecules in Gale Crater


    NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity drilled into this rock target, “Cumberland,” during the 279th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars (May 19, 2013) and collected a powdered sample of material fr NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity drilled into this rock target, “Cumberland,” during the 279th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars (May 19, 2013) and collected a powdered sample of material from the rock’s interior. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

    NASA’s Curiosity rover has made two of its most important observations on Mars since arriving on the planet in 2012. First, the rover measured a spike in levels of the organic chemical methane in the local atmosphere of its Gale Crater research site.

    The second big discovery came when the rover drilled into a rock ...

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  1. Mars 2020 Will Continue Search for Habitability


    Illustration of the mechanism and conceptual research targets for SHERLOC. SHERLOC will provide fine-scale imaging and use an ultraviolet laser to determine fine-scale mineralogy and detect organic co Illustration of the mechanism and conceptual research targets for SHERLOC. SHERLOC will provide fine-scale imaging and use an ultraviolet laser to determine fine-scale mineralogy and detect organic compounds. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    How habitable was Mars in the past? Since the Curiosity rover touched down on Mars in August 2012, it has helped answer a few of these questions in the area surrounding its equatorial landing site of Gale Crater.

    Mars 2020, as it’s currently called, will have improved instruments over Curiosity. The new rover is heavily based on the Curiosity design, and as with its predecessor it will ...

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