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2010 Annual Science Report

University of Hawaii, Manoa Reporting  |  SEP 2009 – AUG 2010

Computational Astrobiology Summer School

Project Summary

The Computational Astrobiology Summer School (CASS) is an excellent opportunity for graduate students in computer science and related areas to learn about astrobiology, and to carry out substantial projects related to the field.

The two-week on-site part of the program is an intensive introduction to the field of astrobiology. NASA Astrobiology Institute scientists present their work, and the group discusses ways in which computational tools (e.g. models, simulations, data processing applications, sensor networks, etc.) could improve astrobiology research. Also during this time, participants define their projects, with the help of the participating NAI researchers. On returning to their home institutions, participants work on their projects, under the supervision of a mentor, with the goal of presenting their completed projects at an astrobiology-related conference the following year.

4 Institutions
3 Teams
0 Publications
1 Field Site
Field Sites

Project Progress

CASS 2010 was held August 1-15 at the University of Hawaii. There were eleven participants (two from Canada, one from Turkey, one from Korea, and the rest from US including three from Hawaii) with a wide range of experience and interests, and sixteen speakers (nine local, three visiting and four remote). Each speaker spent half a day with the group, giving a talk and leading a discussion on potential projects. The group also went on two field trips (one on the Big Island and one one Oahu).

The participants are now working on their projects at their home institutions. Project titles include:

  • Partially Autonomous Sampling Sampling Strategies for a Planetary Rover [Girdhar]
  • Semi-automatic classification of Pavilion Lake images [Dela Rosa]
  • Usability studies for the AIRFrame project including investigation of various information visualization methods and automatic classification [Miller]
  • Web database for amino acids, with visualizations and participatory science [Alexson]
  • Granular Agglomeration: Modeling Asteroid Formation [Riley]
  • The Influence of Asteroids on Habitability within Solar Systems [Gowanlock]
  • Ephemeris Legacy Verification Image Search (ELVIS) [Lum]
  • Anthropic Likelihood for the Cosmological Constant using the Habitability of the Different Types of Galaxies [Hong, Gowanlock, Kai]
  • Is Complex life Possible in the Inner Galaxy? – Irradiation Effects on the Inner Boundary of Galactic Habitable Zone [Kai, Hong, Gowanlock]

Based on feedback from the participants and speakers, we are currently planning CASS 2011, and providing project support for the 2010 participants.

<span class="caps">CASS</span> Participant Gets Up-Close-And-Personal With a Lava Flow

During the Big Island field trip, geologist Darcy Bevens led the group to the active lava flow at Kalapana. [image credit: Eric Collins]

    Kimberly Binsted Kimberly Binsted
    Project Investigator
    Stephen Freeland

    Objective 1.1
    Formation and evolution of habitable planets.

    Objective 1.2
    Indirect and direct astronomical observations of extrasolar habitable planets.

    Objective 2.1
    Mars exploration.

    Objective 2.2
    Outer Solar System exploration

    Objective 3.1
    Sources of prebiotic materials and catalysts

    Objective 3.2
    Origins and evolution of functional biomolecules

    Objective 3.3
    Origins of energy transduction

    Objective 3.4
    Origins of cellularity and protobiological systems

    Objective 4.1
    Earth's early biosphere.

    Objective 4.2
    Production of complex life.

    Objective 4.3
    Effects of extraterrestrial events upon the biosphere

    Objective 5.1
    Environment-dependent, molecular evolution in microorganisms

    Objective 5.2
    Co-evolution of microbial communities

    Objective 5.3
    Biochemical adaptation to extreme environments

    Objective 6.1
    Effects of environmental changes on microbial ecosystems

    Objective 6.2
    Adaptation and evolution of life beyond Earth

    Objective 7.1
    Biosignatures to be sought in Solar System materials

    Objective 7.2
    Biosignatures to be sought in nearby planetary systems