NASA is bringing together experts spanning a variety of scientific fields for an unprecedented initiative dedicated to the search for life on planets outside our solar system.
The Nexus for Exoplanet System Science, or “NExSS”, hopes to better understand the various components of an exoplanet, as well as how the planet stars and neighbor planets interact to support life.
“This interdisciplinary endeavor connects top research teams and provides a synthesized approach in the search for planets with the greatest potential for signs of life,” says Jim Green, NASA’s Director of Planetary Science. “The hunt for exoplanets is not only ...April 24, 2015 / Posted by: Aaron Gronstal
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 ...April 17, 2015 / Written by: Aaron Gronstal
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 ...April 15, 2015 / Written by: Aaron Gronstal
A view of a hydrothermal vent at the Main Endeavour Field on the Juan de Fuca Ridge, snapped from the submersible Alvin. Credit: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
A new study reveals that viruses lend a surprisingly helpful hand to microbes eking out a living near deep-sea hydrothermal vents. When they infect the vent’s resident bacteria and archaea, the viruses mix and match the single-celled creatures’ genes. As a result, the microbes can benefit from possessing a wide range of genes in a way that broadens their repertoire of responses to the quick-changing, harsh conditions of the vent environment.
Mixed biofilm. Credit: Cooper Lab, Vaughn Cooper, University of New Hampshire
A new study is helping astrobiologists understand how bacteria adapt to environmental conditions during infections. The researchers paired experimental evolution and modern sequencing techniques to study adaptations in biofilm bacteria when recovering from pathogen infection.
The study, “There and back again: consequences of biofilm specialization under selection for dispersal,” was published in the journal Frontiers in Genetics
This research was supported in part by the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI).
Source: [Frontiers in Genetics]April 9, 2015 / Written by: Aaron Gronstal
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 ...April 7, 2015 / Posted by: Aaron Gronstal
An investigator is having a closer look at an open water region of Sukok Lake. Credit: NASA JPL, Icy Worlds 2011 Annual Report
Astrobiologists studying ecological changes in shallow lakes on the North Slope of Alaska have discovered diverse sources of methane in lake sediments. The study shows that methane can arise from sources deep in the Earth or from biological communities that inhabit sediments on the lake floor.
Importantly, the research also reveals that rising global temperatures may result in increasing production of this potential greenhouse gas by methane-generating microbes. The results of the five-year study are an important ...April 7, 2015 / Posted by: Aaron Gronstal
Ball and stick model of the oxalic acid molecule. Credit: Ben Mills and Jynto, Wikimedia Commons
A new study is helping astrobiologists understand whether or not the decomposition of oxalic acid could act as a source of C-O-H in petrologic experiments. The team studied how oxalic acid decomposes in oxidizing, reducing and unbuffered solutions at temperatures up to 800 °C.
The paper, “In-situ characterization of oxalic acid breakdown at elevated P and T: Implications for organic C-O-H fluid sources ...April 3, 2015 / Written by: Aaron Gronstal
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]March 24, 2015 / Written by: Aaron Gronstal
Artist’s conception of Huygens approaching Titan. Credit: NASA
A decade after landing on Titan, data from the Huygens probe is helping scientists understand how the atmosphere of Saturn’s mysterious moon was formed.
The study, “Noble gases, nitrogen, and methane from the deep interior to the atmosphere of Titan,” was published in the journal Icarus by lead author Christopher Glein. Glein was member of the former NAI Team at Arizona State University and is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Toronto in Canada.
Timothy Lyons (left) and Ariel Anbar (right) have been named Geochemistry Fellows. Credit: NASA Astrobiology
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.March 16, 2015 / Written by: Aaron Gronstal
Researchers Chris Reinhard (right) and Noah Planavsky dig into a shale exposure. Credit: Chu Research Group, Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a philanthropic, not-for-profit institution that provides grants in support of original research and education in science.March 13, 2015 / Written by: Aaron Gronstal
NASA scientists have determined that a primitive ocean on Mars held more water than Earth's Arctic Ocean and that the Red Planet has lost 87 percent of that water to space. Image Credit: NASA/GSFC
A primitive ocean on Mars held more water than Earth’s Arctic Ocean, according to NASA scientists who, using ground-based observatories, measured water signatures in the Red Planet’s atmosphere. Scientists have been searching for answers to why this vast water supply left the surface. Details of the observations and computations appear in Thursday’s edition of Science magazine.
Study authors include members of ...March 12, 2015 / Posted by: Aaron Gronstal
Left to right: Ames scientists Michel Nuevo, Christopher Materese and Scott Sandford reproduce uracil, cytosine, and thymine, three key components of our hereditary material, in the laboratory. Image Credit: NASA/ Dominic Hart
NASA scientists studying the origin of life have reproduced uracil, cytosine, and thymine, three key components of our hereditary material, in the laboratory. They discovered that an ice sample containing pyrimidine exposed to ultraviolet radiation under space-like conditions produces these essential ingredients of life.
The research was funded by the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) and the NASA Origins of Solar Systems Program.
Source: [NASA Ames]March 11, 2015 / Posted by: Aaron Gronstal
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 ...March 11, 2015 / Written by: Aaron Gronstal
- April 29 - Abstract Submission Deadline for European Planetary Science Congress 2015
- April 30 - Abstract Submission Deadline for 3rd International Workshop on Microbial Life Under Extreme Energy Limitation
- April 30 - Abstract Submission Deadline for Comparative Climates of Terrestrial Planets II: Understanding How Climate Systems Work (CCTP2)
- May 1 - Abstract Submission Deadline for 6th International Conference on Polar and Alpine Microbiology
- May 3 - Joint Assembly AGU, GAC, MAC, CGU
- May 4 - Comparative Tectonics and Geodynamics of Venus, Earth, and Rocky Exoplanets
- May 13 - Abstract Submission Deadline for 78th Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society
- May 25 - 1st Advanced School on Exoplanetary Science
- May 28 - Emerging Researchers in Exoplanet Science Symposium (ERES)
- May 31 - Abstract Submission Deadline for 2nd Symposium of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR 2015): Water and Life in the Universe
- May 31 - Application Deadline for Gordon Research Conference on Origins of Solar Systems
- May 31 - Abstract Submission Deadline for Life in a Cosmic Context - 5th Workshop of the Italian Astrobiology Society
- June 2 - Workshop on the Formation of the Solar System II
- June 5 - Application Deadline for Berkner Autumn Program 2015
- NAI 2013 Annual Science Report