NAI

  1. Early Career Astrobiologists Recognized


    Giulio Mariotti (left) and Nicholas Swanson-Hysell (right). Credit: EOS 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 ...

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  1. Report on Contamination Considerations for Mars 2020


    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 ...

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  1. Viruses Help Microbial Hosts Cope With Life at the Extremes


    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 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.

    The ...

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  1. There and Back Again: Biofilm Specializaton


    Mixed biofilm. Credit: Cooper Lab, Vaughn Cooper, University of New Hampshire 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]

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  1. New Library of Congress Astrobiology Chair Announced


    Nathaniel Comfort of the Johns Hopkins Institute of the History of Medicine. Credit: Johns Hopkins 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 ...

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  1. Diverse Methane Sources in Shallow Alaskan Lakes


    An investigator is having a closer look at an open water region of Sukok Lake. Credit: NASA JPL, Icy Worlds <a href="https://astrobiology.nasa.gov/nai/reports/annual-reports/2011/jpl-icy-worlds/detect 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 ...

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  1. Decomposing Oxalic Acid


    Ball and stick model of the oxalic acid molecule. Credit: Ben Mills and Jynto, Wikimedia Commons 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 study could provide insight into how compounds and chemical elements are altered and made available for life on terrestrial planets.

    The paper, “In-situ characterization of oxalic acid breakdown at elevated P and T: Implications for organic C-O-H fluid sources ...

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  1. FameLab: Looking Ahead to Stony Brook


    Finalists from FameLab Season 3 Regional Competition #1, held during AbGradCon 2014 at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Credit: NASA 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]

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  1. Titan’s Atmosphere Created as Gases Escaped Core


    Artist’s conception of Huygens approaching Titan. Credit: NASA 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.

    Source: [astrobio.net]

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  1. Astrobiologists Named Geochemistry Fellows


    Timothy Lyons (left) and Ariel Anbar (right) have been named Geochemistry Fellows. Credit: NASA Astrobiology Timothy Lyons (left) and Ariel Anbar (right) have been named Geochemistry Fellows. Credit: NASA Astrobiology

    Congratulations to Timothy Lyons and Ariel Anbar, who have each been named Geochemistry Fellows by the Geochemical Society and the European Association of Geochemistry.

    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.

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  1. Chris Reinhard, 2015 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow


    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 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

    Congratulations to Chris Reinhard, an institutional leader of the NASA Astrobiology Institute team at Georgia Tech, who has been named a 2015 Fellow by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

    The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a philanthropic, not-for-profit institution that provides grants in support of original research and education in science.

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  1. Mars Once Had More Water Than Earth’s Arctic Ocean


    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 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 ...

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  1. NASA Ames Reproduces the Building Blocks of Life in Laboratory


    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 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]

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  1. Surviving the Anthropocene


    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 ...

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  1. 2015 Santander Summer School – the Origin of Life: From Monomers to Cells


    The 2015 International Summer School in Astrobiology will be held at the summer campus of the Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo (UIMP), Palacio de la Magdalena, Santander, Spain on June 29 – July 3, 2015.

    This year’s theme will be The Origin of Life: From Monomers to Cells. The school will provide an interdisciplinary examination of the chemical, physical and geological processes that are required to develop cellular life, and discuss the different environmental settings that would support these processes. Topics covered will include an introductory overview of origin of life research and future directions, planetary environments for life’s origin ...

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