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2006 Annual Science Report

Astrobiology Roadmap Objective 2.2 Reports Reporting  |  JUL 2005 – JUN 2006

Project Reports

  • Untangling Europa’s Evolution
  • Planetary Biology, Evolution, and Intelligence

    Chris Chyba, Cynthia Phillips, Kevin Hand- The project has two components. The first, an overview of the astrobiological potential of various geological features on Europa, is proceeding well — we are continuing the study of various proposed formation mechanisms for different feature types such as ridges, bands, and chaotic terrain.

    ROADMAP OBJECTIVES: 1.1 1.2 2.1 2.2 3.1 3.2 4.1 4.2 5.1 5.2 5.3 6.1 6.2 7.1
  • The Impact of Atmospheric Particles on Life
    ROADMAP OBJECTIVES: 1.1 2.1 2.2 3.1 4.3
  • Earthbound Microbial and Geological Robotic Based Observations for Mars

    After experimenting with robot modules (developed in the previous reporting period), the University of Pennsylvania team has developed new modules better suited to the terrain microbiologists and geologists traversed at the Box Canyon Idaho 2004 field trip. Primarily this involves adding rotational leg modules which allow the traversal of larger obstacles while still allowing access to cluttered environments such as between rocks or weeds

    ROADMAP OBJECTIVES: 2.1 2.2 5.1 5.3
  • Microbial and Biogeochemical Characterization of Terrestrial Analogue Sites for Life in the Subsurface of Mars.

    Onstott and McGown collected ground water from boreholes intersection fractures at depths of 890 and 1100 meters below the surface at the Lupin gold mine, Nunavat Territories March 2005 using 0.2 μm borosilicate filters and 0.2 μm hollow-fiber filters and running the borehole water through these filters for 2-3 day

    ROADMAP OBJECTIVES: 2.1 2.2 5.1 5.2 5.3 6.1 6.2 7.1
  • Project 7. Astrobiotechnology

    Co-Investigator Steele and colleagues have continued to develop the Modular Assays for Solar System Exploration (MASSE) concept, which uses microfluidic technology to incubate a DNA or protein microarray.

    ROADMAP OBJECTIVES: 2.1 2.2 3.1 3.2 4.2 5.3 6.2 7.1
  • Cosmic Ice Laboratory: Organic Synthesis in Energetically Processed Ices

    In the Cosmic Ice Laboratory we simulate the vacuum and low-temperature environment of space using a high-vacuum chamber and a cryostat. Ice samples condensed on a cooled mirror inside the cryostat are irradiated with 1 MeV protons to simulate cosmic-ray bombardment or are photolyzed to simulate vacuum-ultraviolet (UV) exposure.

    ROADMAP OBJECTIVES: 2.2 3.1 7.1
  • Extraterrestrial Organics
    ROADMAP OBJECTIVES: 1.1 2.2 3.1 4.1 4.3
  • Exploring Conditions for Habitability in Our Solar System

    Subsurface Habitability on Mars: Armstrong and Sondossi (2005) are exploring the stability of deep subsurface environments (3-6 km) on Mars. Thermal diffusion models indicate that temperature fluctuations at these depths are minor, and provide reasonable environments for sub-surface life, perhaps probed by the recent detection of methane in Mars’ atmosphere.

    ROADMAP OBJECTIVES: 2.1 2.2 4.1 6.2 7.1
  • Summary of Activities in the Astrobiology Analytical Laboratory

    Dworkin has been active in the lab section of the GCA Astrobiology Team by operating the Astrobiology Analytical Laboratory and collaborating with numerous other laboratories. This involves the creation and maintenance of a world-class organic analytical laboratory. In the last year he developed the methodology for the detection of chiral amino acids at the femtomole level in a variety of laboratory and natural samples.

    ROADMAP OBJECTIVES: 1.1 2.1 2.2 3.1 7.1
  • Origin and Evolution of Organics in Planetary Systems

    As part of the overall Astrobiology Node at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, whose goal is an understanding of the Origin and Evolution of Organics in Planetary Systems (Mike Mumma, P.I.), Co-Investigator Blake is directing both laboratory and astronomical spectroscopy programs.

    ROADMAP OBJECTIVES: 1.1 2.2 3.1
  • Progress Report for APL Effort in Goddard Center for Astrobiology

    Theme 4 work at JHU/APL using laser time-of-flight mass spectrometry (TOF-MS) techniques continues in collaboration with the Goddard Center for Astrobiology (GCA) team and external partners.

    ROADMAP OBJECTIVES: 2.2 3.1 3.2 7.1
  • Search for Evidence for the Presence of Aqueous Alteration at the Surface of Minor Bodies of the Outer Solar System
  • Searching for Water and Organic Material in the Outer Solar System
  • Iceland Subglacial Biology Exploration (ISBOX)

    Subglacial lakes are the focus of studies of life in extreme environments because they may resemble habitats on Mars and icy satellites in the outer solar system. ISBOX II succeeded in drilling through 300 meters of glacial ice to sample a subglacial lake beneath the Vatnajökull glacier in Iceland, in June 2006.

    ROADMAP OBJECTIVES: 2.1 2.2 5.3 6.2 7.1
  • Origin of Irregular Satellites
  • The Deep Impact Mission and Astrobiology

    The Deep Impact mission is the first planetary mission to carry out direct experimentation on a cometary body by delivering a 364-kg impactor to comet 9P/Tempel 1 at 10.2 km/s on UT July 4, 2005.