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.
The image to the left shows Jennifer Glass working in a chamber where she can control the oxygen levels to mimic the deep sea environment. On the right is an example of marine gas hydrates on the sea floor. Credit: Rob Felt (left image); US Department of Energy (right image)
On March 3, 2014, Dr. Jennifer Glass of the Georgia Institute of Technology (GA Tech) will present the second in our series of talks from alumni of the NASA Astrobiology NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP). In her talk, “Microbes, Methane and Metals: Insights From Geochemistry, Omics and Single Cell Imaging,” Glass ...February 11, 2014 / Written by: Aaron Gronstal
Voyager Views Titan's Haze. There is a lot of interesting chemistry occurring in Titan's dense atmosphere. Credit: Voyager Project, JPL, NASA
Henderson (Jim) Cleaves of the Carnegie Institution of Washington will present the next talk in the NAI Director’s Seminar Series on February 10 at 11:00 AM PST.
Amino Acid Analysis of Titan Tholins and Comparison With Other Prebiotic Reaction Systems
Titan’s atmospheric chemistry produces a host of discrete organic chemical products. It is likewise well known than Miller-Urey type reactions produce a host of complex discrete organic products. We have examined various complex reaction ...February 4, 2014 / Posted by: Aaron Gronstal
As we are rapidly approaching the end of the end of this stage of the Astrobiology Strategy planning, we would like to thank everyone that has participated as a presenter or author, commented on a white paper or at a webinar, or even just listened in to one of the presentations. If you have not yet had the opportunity to listen to a particular webinar or comment on a particular white paper, they are all available on the website astrobiologyfuture.org. However, please visit the website soon, as we will be closing the papers to comments on Friday, February 14th ...February 1, 2014 / Posted by: Aaron Gronstal
Panels from Astrobiology: The Story of our Search for Life in the Universe, Issue #4. Credit: NASA Astrobiology
Issue #4 maintains the gorgeous look and feel of the series, and continues the captivating story of Exo and Astrobiology. This installment explores astrobiology’s role in missions to the outer Solar System. See how science helped shape the exploration of gas giants and icy worlds beyond our system’s main asteroid belt.
While spacecraft plied the distant corners of ...January 21, 2014 / Posted by: Aaron Gronstal
Sara Walker, assistant professor at Arizona State University. Credit: BEYOND, ASU
On February 3, 2014, Sara Walker of Arizona State University (ASU) will present the first in a series of seminars from alumni of the NASA Astrobiology NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP). In her talk, “Information Hierarchies, Chemical Evolution and the Transition From Non-Living to Living Matter,” Walker will discuss topics related to the emergence of life… and how to define ‘almost life.’
Sara Walker is an assistant professor at the BEYOND Center in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at ASU. Walker specializes in theoretical physics and astrobiology, and ...January 17, 2014 / Written by: Aaron Gronstal
Dr. David Grinspoon delivered the 2013 Carl Sagan Lecture presented at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco. An outgrowth of his work as the first NASA—Library of Congress Baruch S. Blumberg Chair in Astrobiology, the talk is entitled “Terra Sapiens: The Role of Science in Fostering a Wisely Managed Earth.”
Click here to watch a video of Dr. Grinspoon’s lecture.January 13, 2014 / Posted by: Aaron Gronstal
NASA’s Curiosity Rover landed on Mars a little over a year ago, and results from its first four months of data collection have now been published in the journal Science.
Five articles outline numerous findings from Curiosity’s suite of instruments, including data from Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) and Chemistry & Mineralogy X-Ray Diffraction (CheMin). The studies will help astrobiologists understand past and present environmental conditions on Mars.November 4, 2013 / Written by: Aaron Gronstal
Lab demonstration of the measurement chamber inside the Tunable Laser Spectrometer, an instrument that is part of SAM on NASA’s Curiosity rover. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
New results from the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) investigation on NASA’s Curiosity rover have been reported in two papers in the journal Science. Curiosity has been using SAM to study the atmospheric composition on Mars, and is revealing new clues about how the planet lost much of its original atmosphere.
The findings come from atmospheric samples collected in the first 16 weeks of Curiosity’s mission. The samples were analyzed with ...September 3, 2013 / Posted by: Aaron Gronstal
This map shows the locations of participants in the Astrobiology Roadmapping community around the globe. Credit: www.astrobiologyfuture.org
The Astrobiology Program has completed the first step in creating a new Astrobiology Roadmap. The next phase in outlining the future direction for astrobiology research and technology development at NASA is set to begin next week.
Roughly every ten years, the Astrobiology Program updates NASA’s official Astrobiology Roadmap. This document provides guidance for research funded by the program in areas that encompass space, Earth and biological sciences.
In writing the 2013 Astrobiology Roadmap, NASA’s Astrobiology Program decided to take ...
Members of the Icebreaker Life mission team try to stay warm during drill automation testing at the University Valley, Antarctica, Mars-analog site. Credit: NASA
In the search for past or present life on Mars, current and past missions have only scratched the surface. Astrobiologists supported by the NASA ASTID and ASTEP programs are now developing technology that could dig deeper. The Icebreaker Life mission to Mars would drill down about 3 feet and scan the ice shavings for biosignatures. The mission is based on the same design as NASA’s Phoenix lander, and would land near the Phoenix site. The ...
The Astrobiology Roadmap charts the future directions of astrobiology research and, by joining our community, you can participate in creating it! Credit: NASA
It’s time to chart the future directions of astrobiology research and you can participate. NASA is hosting a series of on-line hangouts and discussions focusing on broad themes in astrobiology: Planetary Conditions for Life, Prebiotic Evolution, Early Evolution of Life and the Biosphere, Evolution of Advanced Life, and Astrobiology for Solar Systems Exploration. The online conversations will then be used as the starting point for an in-person/virtual meeting to draft an outline for the Roadmap ...
The ideal candidate will be an internationally recognized scientist with proven experience in leading large, multi-disciplinary, multi-site research programs or projects, possessed with a vision for leading the Institute into the future. Established in 1998 as part of NASA’s Astrobiology Program, the NAI is a collaboration between NASA, US academic institutions, and foreign institutions, governments and research organizations – and is composed of over 800 US scientists and hundreds of researchers abroad. The NAI, currently headquartered at NASA Ames Research Center in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley, functions as a virtual institute, its members linked by modern information ...March 26, 2013 / Posted by: Julie Fletcher
This photograph shows some of the microchannels being tested by the AstroBioNibbler team for use in organic molecule extraction. Credit: Mike Lee, JPL
An all-in-one chemical analysis instrument — currently under development — could potentially detect a single amino acid in a gram of Martian soil. The instrument is dubbed AstroBioNibbler, or Nibbler for short. Its developers envision it as an end-to-end device (from drilling to extraction to final chemical analysis) that could ride shotgun on some forthcoming rover mission.
With funding from NASA’s Astrobiology Science and Technology Instrument Development (ASTID) program, Frank Grunthaner, an emeritus scientist from JPL ,and his ...
Stephanie Getty of the NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Credit: NASA Goddard
A new instrument could allow astrobiologists to study chirality, or “handedness,” of amino acids on our solar system’s icy moons, asteroids and Kuiper Belt objects. Stephanie Getty, a technologist at NASA Goddard, was recently awarded a grant from NASA’s Astrobiology Science and Technology Instrument Development (ASTID) program to work on the development of the Organics Analyzer for Sampling Icy Surfaces (OASIS) instrument.
“With an instrument like OASIS, we could get that much closer to understanding how organic chemicals formed in the solar system, whether the ...December 7, 2012 / Posted by: Aaron Gronstal
The Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument, largest of the 10 science instruments for NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission, will examine samples of Martian rocks, soil and atmosphere for information about chemicals that are important to life and other chemical indicators about past and present environments. Credit: NASA
In this interview, Jennifer Stern explains how she went from studying methane emissions in landfills to searching for signs of life on Mars. Stern is a geochemist who is using Curiosity’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument to sort out geological signatures in the rock record from potential biological processes ...