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2002 Annual Science Report

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Reporting  |  JUL 2001 – JUN 2002

Isotopic and Molecular Tracers of Life

4 Institutions
3 Teams
0 Publications
0 Field Sites
Field Sites

Project Progress

James Scott completed his postdoc in December 2001 working on stable isotope projects from Lake Tanganyika and other microbial sediments. He also worked on studies of bacteria growing at extreme pressures and published a first paper early in 2002. In January, James became a Staff Associate of the Geophysical Laboratory. His work is indirectly supported by NAI. Albert Colman is a new postdoc, who is just getting started on his project. Albert will be working on developing O and S isotope tracers of phosphates and sulfates as tracers for microbial processing. He is setting up a lab and publishing his dissertation on phosphate cycling by microbes in the ocean. We do not know whether this technique will work in a complex sedimentary envirnoment, but if so, phosphates are found in Martian sediments. Oxygen isotopes might be able to discern whether they were cycled by microbes. Jake Maule is a new postdoc with Andrew Steele, CIW-GL staff member. This spring we completed a flight on NASA Johnson Space Center’s (JSC’s) KC-135 (the Vomit Comet) to perform an immunological experiment at zero gravitiy. Fogel and the Steele lab are interested in developing antibody-antigen reactions for detecting signs of life on Mars and Europa. This flight was a first opportunity to see if the immune response worked well at zero or reduced Martian gravity, and how the fluids behaved in conventional biochemical assays.

    Marilyn Fogel

    Charles Boyce

    Jake Maule

    James Scott

    Jan Toporski

    Objective 8.0
    Search for evidence of ancient climates, extinct life and potential habitats for extant life on Mars.

    Objective 16.0
    Understand the human-directed processes by which life can migrate from one world to another.