1. Recorded Sessions From AbSciCon Now Available

    Several sessions at the 2012 Astrobiology Science Conference were broadcast live via Adobe Connect and recorded. An archive of talks from 18 sessions is now available for viewing online via the AbSciCon website.

    Source: [AbSciCon]

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  1. FameLab Astrobiology…and the Winner Is…

    Join us in congratulating Brendan Mullan from Pennsylvania State University on winning the 2012 FameLab Astrobiology competition! The Finals were held on Monday, April 16th during the Astrobiology Science Conference in Atlanta, GA. The judges selected one winner from among the 11 finalists, whose presentations can all be seen here. Brendan joins the winners of FameLab competitions from all over the world this June in the UK, and will represent the United States in the FameLab International Final event!

    FameLab was set up in 2005 by Cheltenham Festivals in partnership with the UK’s National Endowment for Science, Technology and ...

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  1. NASA and Library of Congress Select First Astrobiology Chair

    NASA and the Library of Congress have announced the selection of David H. Grinspoon to be the first Baruch S. Blumberg NASA-Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology.

    The chair, selected through an international competition, is named for the late Nobel Laureate and founding director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, Baruch “Barry” Blumberg. Applications are solicited by the Library of Congress and reviewed by a panel jointly established by the Library and NASA. The prestigious position was created in November 2011.

    Grinspoon will be in residence for a year beginning November 2012 at the library’s scholarly research organization, the Kluge ...

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  1. FameLab Astrobiology Finals – Live Webcast!

    The 2012 FameLab Astrobiology Finals will be broadcast live on NASA TV as well as over the internet! The event will be held from 7-9 PM (EDT) on Monday, April 16th.

    The livestream will be available at and at Check local listings for the NASA TV channel number in your area.

    FameLab Astrobiology is a science communication extravaganza! Over the past few months, more than 70 early career astrobiologists have gathered at sites across the USA (and on YouTube) to compete in FameLab Astrobiology preliminaries. Eleven have emerged as finalists.

    Each ...

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  1. Raindrops in Rock

    A new study published in Nature from NASA’s Exobiology and Evoluationary Biology program investigators and their colleagues looks at fossilized raindrops and what they indicate about conditions on the early Earth.

    In ancient Earth history, the sun burned as much as 30 percent dimmer than it does now. Theoretically that should have encased the planet in ice, but there is geologic evidence for rivers and ocean sediments between 2 billion and 4 billion years ago.

    Scientists have speculated that temperatures warm enough to maintain liquid water were the result of a much thicker atmosphere, high concentrations of greenhouse gases ...

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  1. Sao Paulo School of Advanced Science-Evolution

    The undergraduate students, graduate students, and post docs of the astrobiology community are invited to apply to the 2012 Sao Paulo School of Advanced Science, held from 19-31 August, 2012 on Ilhabela, an archipelago 200km from Sao Paulo, Brazil. The school will be organized around the theme of evolution, addressing topics such as paleontology, phylogenetics, homology, and character evolution, and will feature instructors from both North and South America. Visit the School website for more information and application materials.

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  1. Issue #3 of the Graphic Novel Is Here!

    Building on #'s 1 and 2, issue #3 focuses on the robotic exploration of the inner solar system, and the legacy it has bequeathed to astrobiology. Once again, issue #3 delivers stunning graphics and a compelling storyline! Download a pdf or mobile app.

    Join us for a special “book signing” event at AbSciCon! Bring your copies or get them there and meet Aaron Gronstal, the artist behind the astrobiology graphic novels!

    For copies of issue #3, please contact Daniella Scalice at

    Source: [NASA Astrobiology Program]

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  1. Early Earth Air Quality: Code Orange

    About two and a half billion years ago, Earth might have been confused for Titan. New research suggests that our planet had the same hazy, methane-rich atmosphere as Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.

    For the first third of the history of life on Earth, the atmosphere was devoid of the oxygen we breathe, supporting a dramatically different chemistry. A new study from NASA Astrobiology Program-funded researchers suggests connections between Earth’s atmosphere and its biosphere that induced an orange, hydrocarbon haze that would have blocked incoming sunlight and cooled the planet.

    The study, published in Nature Geoscience, provides analyses of ...

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  1. AbSciCon Program Announced

    The Astrobiology Science Conference website has been updated with new information about the conference.

    The Scientific Program is now available. For more information, visit the Astrobiology Science Conference 2012 Website.

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  1. 2012 Santander Summer School

    The 2012 International Astrobiology Summer School will be held at the summer campus of the Spanish National University (UIMP), Palacio de la Magdalena, Santander, Spain on June 18-22. This year’s theme is “Origins of the Building Blocks for Life.” Confirmed lecturers include: George Cody, Carnegie Institution of Washington; Jamie Elsila, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Karen Meech, University of Hawaii; and Alessandro Morbidelli, Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur, Nice.

    Additional information about the school and applications for student scholarships are available at the school website.

    The school is co-sponsored by the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) and the Spanish ...

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  1. Exo/Evo Program Call for Proposals Update

    To better synchronize the Exobiology evaluation and selection cycle with the federal budget process, Exobiology grants should start near the beginning of the federal fiscal year (October 1). To achieve this, the Exobiology proposal due date will be moved to the June time frame. To minimize the impact of this move, it will be done in two steps. The first step is to move the due date for ROSES-2011 to March 2, 2012. NASA’s ROSES-2012 call will not include a solicitation for Exobiology proposals. Exobiology solicitations will resume in ROSES-2013, with a proposal due date of June 2013. For ...

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  1. A Slow Death in the P-T Extinction

    New research, supported in part by the NASA Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology (Exo/Evo) program, shows that mass extinctions need not be sudden events. In an extensive investigation of rock layers at West Blind Fiord on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic, the team revealed that Earth’s deadliest-known mass extinction took place in stages over hundreds of thousands of years.

    The “Great Dying” occurred roughly 252 million years ago at the end of the Permian period, and resulted in the loss of 90 percent of Earth’s marine life. The evidence suggests that the event was linked to massive ...

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  1. A New Pathway to Life’s Origin

    Scientists have shown that sugars essential for life to begin can be produced by a previously unknown pathway. For decades, chemists thought that the formose reaction was the only route for sugar production, but the a study may push research in pre-life chemistry past this hurdle. The research was funded in part by the Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology program, an element of the NASA Astrobiology Program.

    The team from the Scripps Research Institute reporting their research online ahead of print in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The research was funded by the Skaggs Research Foundation, NASA Astrobiology: Exobiology ...

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  1. 2012 Astrobiology Graduate Student Conference

    The 2012 Astrobiology Graduate Student Conference will be held on August 27–30, 2012, preceded by the Research Focus Group splinter, August 24-26. The conference will be held at the California Institute for Technology (Caltech), with an outreach event at the University of Southern California (USC), and a field-trip to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

    The conference will consist of three days of scientific sessions, two evenings of public outreach and education activities, and a one day field trip to JPL. The talks and poster sessions will draw on the success of past AbGradCons as a venue for early career ...

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  1. A Salt-Free Primordial Soup?

    Most scientists who study the origin of life assume that it occurred in the ocean. But a minority view is that ions in seawater may interfere with prebiotic chemistry, making a freshwater environment more likely.

    “The main argument for a marine origin is that there is so much seawater,” says David Deamer of UC Santa Cruz. Roughly 98% of the Earth’s water bodies are salty, and this percentage was likely much higher 4 billion years ago when we think the first life-forms made their appearance.

    But Deamer doesn’t think quantity is a substitute for quality. Seawater, in his ...

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