NAI

  1. Microbes in Space Provide Clues for Planetary Protection


    Microbes survived on the exterior of the International Space Station for nearly two years, if their UV radiation was limited or eliminated. Credit: NASA Microbes survived on the exterior of the International Space Station for nearly two years, if their UV radiation was limited or eliminated. Credit: NASA

    [Source: astrobio.net]

    Outer space might be the toughest environment for life, but some hearty microbes have been able to survive in it for surprising amounts of time. Understanding how well microbes can survive in space is of importance when sending out orbiters or landers around bodies that might present the right conditions for life, such as Mars. Scientists want to be careful to avoid contaminating other worlds with life from our own.

    In a recent ...

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  1. Earth and Mars May Have Shared Seeds of Life


    The red color of Aguas Calientes comes from algae, which must create their protection from the harsh ultraviolet radiation coming from the son. Credit: The High Lakes Project: The SETI Institute Carl The red color of Aguas Calientes comes from algae, which must create their protection from the harsh ultraviolet radiation coming from the son. Credit: The High Lakes Project: The SETI Institute Carl Sagan Center/NASA Ames/ NAI

    Source: [astrobio.net]

    Could Mars, of all places, be the place to look for early life on Earth? It’s an intriguing thought and one that astrobiologists take seriously as they consider the conditions during the early days of Solar System when both planets experienced frequent bombardments by asteroids and comets that resulted in debris exchange between one body and the other.

    Planetary ...

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  1. FameLab USA’s AbSciCon Finalist


    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 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 ...

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  1. Fossils Explain How Life Coped During Snowball Earth


    Ice Ages that covered much of the world in glaciers is thought have occurred twice during the Cryogenian period, between about 720 and 660 million years ago, and again from 650 to 640 million years ag Ice Ages that covered much of the world in glaciers is thought have occurred twice during the Cryogenian period, between about 720 and 660 million years ago, and again from 650 to 640 million years ago. Credit: NSF

    Source: [astrobio.net]

    Researchers have discovered what they think are fossils of a unique red algae species that lived about 650 million years ago during a brief respite between some of the most extreme ice ages the world has ever known. The fossils could speak to how life coped in the aptly named Cryogenian period, when glaciers held most of Earth in ...

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  1. Results of the AbSciCon 2015 Student Poster Competition


    Timothy Lenz, David Fiahlo and Ryo Mizuuchi win top standings in AbSciCon 2015 Student Poster Competition Timothy Lenz, David Fiahlo and Ryo Mizuuchi win top standings in AbSciCon 2015 Student Poster Competition

    Winners of the NAI-sponsored Student Poster Competition at AbSciCon have been announced. The top posters were selected out of 93 entries, in a session aimed to encourage and recognize the most promising astrobiologists of the future. Given the large number of submissions and the enthusiastic turnout, the event proved to be the highlight of the conference for students.

    First Place: David Fialho, Georgia Tech, Synthesis and Self-Assembly of Model Proto-Nucleosides

    Second Place: Timothy Lenz, Georgia Tech, Iron(II) and Magnesium Binding to Full-Length LSU ...

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  1. Pascale Ehrenfreund, Astrobiologist, Appointed to Chair the German Aerospace Center


    Pascale Ehrenfreund appointed Chair of the Executive Board of DLR. Photo credit: GW Magazine Pascale Ehrenfreund appointed Chair of the Executive Board of DLR. Photo credit: GW Magazine

    The German Aerospace Center (known natively as Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) has selected Pascale Ehrenfreund as their new Chair of the Executive Board. She currently serves as a Research Professor of Space Policy and International Affairs at the Space Policy Institute in Washington and as a member of the NAI University of Wisconsin team that investigates Hability, Life Detection, and the Signatures of Life on the Terrestrial Planets. She has made important contributions to several space missions at NASA.

    Ehrenfreud established herself “as ...

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  1. The pH of Enceladus’ Ocean


    This view looks across the geyser basin of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, along fractures spewing water vapor and ice particles into space. Cassini scientists have pinpointed the source locations of about 1 This view looks across the geyser basin of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, along fractures spewing water vapor and ice particles into space. Cassini scientists have pinpointed the source locations of about 100 geysers and gained new insights into what powers them. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

    Researchers supported in part by the NASA Astrobiology Institute have revealed the pH of water in the geyser-like plumes of Enceladus. The findings could help astrobiologists understand the potential for past or present life on Saturn’s sixth-largest moon. Click here to view the press release from the Carnegie Institute.

    The study, “The pH ...

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  1. AbSciCon Sessions Streaming Live


    Those outside of Chicago can still catch AbSciCon sessions remotely at https://ac.arc.nasa.gov/abscicon. Just login as a guest user using your first and last name.

    Monday, June 15 (all times CDT)
    8:00AM – The Deep History of a Carbon Atom
    9:15AM – Sustained Habitability on a Dynamic Early Earth
    10:30AM – The Beginning and End of the RNA World from the Perspective of Ribosome Origins
    1:45PM – Major Transitions in Evolution: Catalysts and Constraints I: Inference from Natural Systems
    4:00PM – Major Transitions in Evolution: Catalysts and Constraints II: Studying De Novo Complexity

    Tuesday, June 16 ...

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  1. A Chance for Microbes in Meteorites


    Microbes survived on the exterior of the International Space Station for nearly two years, if their UV radiation was limited or eliminated. Credit: NASA Microbes survived on the exterior of the International Space Station for nearly two years, if their UV radiation was limited or eliminated. Credit: NASA

    Microbes Can Survive In Meteorites If Shielded From UV Radiation

    Source: [astrobio.net]

    Understanding how well microbes can survive in space is of importance when sending out orbiters or landers around bodies that might present the right conditions for life, such as Mars. Scientists want to be careful to avoid contaminating other worlds with life from our own. And microbes’ resilience to Outer Space enhances the prospects of panspermia, in which life can be seeded between ...

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  1. FameLab at AbSciCon


    FameLab USA Facebook Page 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 ...

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  1. Borucki Awarded 2015 Shaw Prize


    William J. Borucki awarded 2015 Shaw Prize. Credit: Service to American Medals/NASA 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 ...

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  1. Could ‘Green Rust’ Be a Catalyst for Martian Life?


    NASA’s Curiosity rover is among those machines that have discovered signs of ancient water on Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona NASA’s Curiosity rover is among those machines that have discovered signs of ancient water on Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

    Source: [astrobio.net]

    Mars is a large enough planet that astrobiologists looking for life need to narrow the parameters of the search to those environments most conducive to habitability.

    NASA’s Mars Curiosity mission is exploring such a spot right now at its landing site around Gale Crater, where the rover has found extensive evidence of past water and is gathering information on methane in the atmosphere, a possible signature of microbial activity.

    But where would life ...

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  1. The Order of Genes


    NJ phylogram, starting with 172 representative taxa, limited to only the 23 taxa found in the agreement subtrees for the 100 replicate trees formed using iterations of six predicted orthologs. Credit: NJ phylogram, starting with 172 representative taxa, limited to only the 23 taxa found in the agreement subtrees for the 100 replicate trees formed using iterations of six predicted orthologs. Credit: Figure 8, House et. al. (2015)

    Astrobiologists studying microbial genomes have found that determining the order of genes in an organism’s DNA could provide insight into how genomes from different organisms are related. The team took a large selection of prokaryotic genomes and developed a method for determining how closely the genomes were related to one another based on the conservation of gene order. In doing so, they ...

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  1. Carotenoids Through Time


    This National Weather Service photo depicts a turbulent sea surface in the North Pacific during a storm. Credit: NOAA/Historic National Weather Service Collection This National Weather Service photo depicts a turbulent sea surface in the North Pacific during a storm. Credit: NOAA/Historic National Weather Service Collection

    Current models of ocean redox on Earth suggest that anoxygenic photosynthesis in marine environments was more prevalent during Earth’s earliest time span (Precambrian) than during Earth’s current geological eon (Phanerozoic). To examine this theory, a team of scientists looked at products from carotenoid pigments in rock extracts and oils over a time period ranging from the Proterozoic (just before the rise of complex life) to the Paleogene (roughly 23 million years ago).

    Carotenoids are ...

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  1. Is There Methane on Mars? III: Revenge of the Cows


    NASA’s Curiosity rover has detected methane on Mars. Could the gas be coming from the rover itself? Credit: NASA/JPL NASA’s Curiosity rover has detected methane on Mars. Could the gas be coming from the rover itself? Credit: NASA/JPL

    Source: [astrobio.net]

    Is the Red Planet giving off methane?

    The question has taunted scientists for nearly 50 years, ever since the Mariner 7 spacecraft detected a whiff of the gas near Mars’ south pole. Researchers retracted the finding a month later after realizing that the signal was in fact coming from carbon dioxide ice.

    Then in 2003 and 2004, earthbound telescopes and orbiting spacecraft rekindled the mystery with reports of large methane clouds in Mars’ atmosphere. Most of ...

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