NAI

  1. Water, Ice and the Origin of Life in the Universe


    The third Nordic-Hawaii Summer School will be held July 1-14, 2015, in Iceland. Credit: Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC The third Nordic-Hawaii Summer School will be held July 1-14, 2015, in Iceland. Credit: Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

    Applications for the third Nordic-Hawaii astrobiology Summer School are due March 15 at 23:59:00 UTC. The course will take place in Iceland from July 1 to 14, 2015.

    Participants will receive a high-level introduction into water’s role in the evolution of life in the cosmos, starting from the formation of water molecules in space and ending with the evolution of the first organisms.

    The program comprises:
    - Lectures by internationally leading scientists covering a broad range ...

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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. Online Course: Natural Catastrophes and Extinction Events


    Online course, May 15 to June 30, 2015. Credit: Ilustre Colegio Oficial de GEÓLOGOS Online course, May 15 to June 30, 2015. Credit: Ilustre Colegio Oficial de GEÓLOGOS

    A new online astrobiology course in Spanish, “Catástrofes Naturales y Eventos de Extinción” (Natural Catastrophes and Extinction Events), will be taking place this year from May 15 to June 30. The course consists of three Modules with ten thematic units. Ten instructors will cover a wide range topics relevant to catastrophes and extinction events on Earth.

    For more information, click: here.

    A promotional video for the course can be viewed here.

    The new course follows last year’s successful online course, “Planetology and Astrobiology,” which was ...

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  1. Radio Signals From Jupiter and the Search for Life


    True color and feature-highlighted photos of Europa. The bright feature towards the lower right of the disk is the 45 km diameter crater Pwyll. Credit: NASA True color and feature-highlighted photos of Europa. The bright feature towards the lower right of the disk is the 45 km diameter crater Pwyll. Credit: NASA

    Powerful radio signals that Jupiter generates could be used to help researchers scan its giant moons for oceans that could be home to extraterrestrial life, according to a recent study submitted to the journal Icarus.

    The research was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with NASA and funded through the Internal Research and Technology Development program.



    Europa is being put under the spotlight this week at ...

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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. Complex Ecosystems in Barren Deserts


    A biological soil crust in Hovenweep National Monument, a region located in southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah. Credit: Nationalparks (Transferred by Nihonjoe)/Wikipedia A biological soil crust in Hovenweep National Monument, a region located in southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah. Credit: Nationalparks (Transferred by Nihonjoe)/Wikipedia

    Source: [astrobio.net]

    “Biological soil crusts” don’t look like much. In fact, people often trample right over these dark, or green-tinted, sometimes raised patches in the desert soil. But these scruffy stretches can house delicate ecosystems as varied and complexly interwoven as that of a lush, tropical rainforest.

    Three new papers in the scientific journal Genome Association shed light on the microbes that commonly set up shop in biological soil crusts in Utah’s Moab Desert ...

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  1. Curiosity Spots Intriguing Rocks on Mars


    Overlay of sketch on photograph from above to assist in the identification of the structures on the rock bed surface. Image credit: Noffke (2015). Courtesy of ASTROBIOLOGY, published by Mary Ann Liebe Overlay of sketch on photograph from above to assist in the identification of the structures on the rock bed surface. Image credit: Noffke (2015). Courtesy of ASTROBIOLOGY, published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.

    Source: [astrobio.net]

    A careful study of images taken by the NASA rover Curiosity has revealed intriguing similarities between ancient sedimentary rocks on Mars and structures shaped by microbes on Earth. The findings suggest, but do not prove, that life may have existed earlier on the Red Planet. The photos were taken as Curiosity drove through the Gillespie Lake outcrop in Yellowknife Bay.

    The study was supported ...

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  1. AbSciCon 2015 Abstract Submission Now Open


    Abstract submissions for the 2015 Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon) are now open. 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:

    March 4, 2015 – Deadline for abstract submission and student travel grant applications
    March 4 ...

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  1. How Did Life Become Complex?


    A species of yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) seen in a scanning electrograph image. Credit: NASA A species of yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) seen in a scanning electrograph image. Credit: NASA

    Source: [astrobio.net

    The evolution of multicellular life on Earth happened with a number of key transitions from simple organisms to complex. Could the same transitions happen on other worlds? Frank Rosenzweig, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Montana, is looking into such questions over the next five years with funding from the NASA Astrobiology Institute. His lab studies how life evolves “complex traits,” factors that influence everything from lifespan to biodiversity.

    Rosenzweig’s previous NASA funding came from the Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology Program ...

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  1. A Spark in Rapidly Freezing Saltwater


    Current apparatus being used for freeze-up experiments. Credit: Johnson et al. 2014 Current apparatus being used for freeze-up experiments. Credit: Johnson et al. 2014

    Source: [astrobio.net]

    Scientists have confirmed the existence of a process that causes the electrolysis of water, and which has the potential to drive the production of life in 'Snowball Earth’ scenarios and on icy satellites such as Europa and Enceladus.

    The process, known as the Workman-Reynolds Effect (WRE), occurs when a dilute aqueous solution of salt rapidly freezes, causing ions in the solution to assume a negative or positive charge at the interface between ice and water.

    The research was supported by the Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology ...

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  1. Lack of Oxygen Delayed the Rise of Animals on Earth


    Chris Reinhard and Noah Planavsky conduct research for the study. Credit: Yale University Chris Reinhard and Noah Planavsky conduct research for the study. Credit: Yale University

    New research could explain why it took around a billion years for animal species to flourish on Earth after oxygen levels in the atmosphere began to increase.

    Animal life on Earth boomed around 800 million years ago at the end of the Proterozoic period, but scientists have long believed that there was sufficient oxygen in the atmosphere for this increase in animal diversity to occur much earlier. However, new findings published in the journal Science show that oxygen levels were only 0.1% of those we see ...

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  1. Ariel Anbar Named President of Biogeosciences Leadership at AGU



    Ariel Anbar, Principal Investigator (PI) in the Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology (Exo/Evo) element of the NASA Astrobiology Program, has been named President-Elect of the Biogeosciences Leadership at the American Geophysical Union for the 2015-2016 Term.

    Anbar is a Professor in Arizona State University’s (ASU) School of Earth and Space Exploration. Earlier this year, he was also selected as the first Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor at ASU.

    In addition to his work with Exo/Evo, Anbar is also a Co-Investigator for the new NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) team at the University of California: Riverside.

    The 2014 AGU Fall ...

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  1. Evolution in Toxic Mercury Resistance


    The researchers dig holes in the snowpack over sea ice to establish vertical snow profiles used for sampling of the snow at different depths. Credit: Niels Kroer The researchers dig holes in the snowpack over sea ice to establish vertical snow profiles used for sampling of the snow at different depths. Credit: Niels Kroer

    Scientists have traced the evolutionary branches of Arctic bacterial resistance to toxic mercury — an adaptation that appears to have an ancient lineage. Up to 31 percent of bacteria retrieved during an Arctic expedition and grown in lab cultures contain the mercuric reductase gene(merA), a genetic sequence that encodes an enzyme that is capable of breaking down toxic mercury into a more harmless chemical form.

    The study, detailed in the journal FEMS Microbiology ...

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  1. Scientists “Resurrect” Ancient Proteins to Learn About Primordial Life


    The young Earth differed markedly from today’s world. Credit: NASA The young Earth differed markedly from today’s world. Credit: NASA

    Geological evidence tells us that ancient Earth probably looked and felt very different from the planet we all recognize today. Billions of years ago, our world was a comparatively harsh place.

    Thanks to advances in a niche field called paleobiochemistry, researchers in the last decade have started to “resurrect” ancient proteins. Studying these proteins’ properties is offering us glimpses of what life was like in bygone epochs. A new study published in the journal Proteins: Structure, Function, and Bioinformatics explores how such 'resurrection studies’ can provide evidence to support ...

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