1. Astrobiology Newsletter 2015-July


    NEWS

    RECENTLY PUBLISHED RESEARCH

    CAREER, EMPLOYMENT, & FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES

    UPCOMING DEADLINES IN THE NEXT 30 DAYS


    NEWS


    Astrobiologists Gather for AbSciCon 2015

    Audiences pack the Grand Hall for the AbSciCon 2015 Regional Heat of the FameLab USA competition. Credit: NASA Astrobiology Audiences pack the Grand Hall for the AbSciCon 2015 Regional Heat of the FameLab USA competition. Credit: NASA Astrobiology

    Astrobiologists gathered in Chicago, Illinois, from June 15-19th for the 2015 Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon). Researchers from a multitude of disciplines, and representing institutions from around the world, used the conference as a forum to report new discoveries, share data, initiate and advance collaborative efforts, plan new projects, and educate the next generation of astrobiologists.

    “AbSciCon reflects the importance of astrobiology in supporting NASA’s current and ongoing missions,” said Mary Voytek, Program Scientist for Astrobiology at NASA.

    Peter Doran, the John Franks Endowed Chair at Louisiana State University, served as Conference Chair for AbSciCon 2015 and led a team of over 20 committee members in organizing the five-day conference.

    “We put a lot of effort into the program, making sure as many people who wanted to talk could,” said Doran. “The trade off was short talks, but I think it was worth it. We also put a lot of time into keeping overlap to a minimum so that everyone could see what they wanted to see.”

    Topical sessions took place throughout the meeting rooms of the Chicago Hilton during the week. Above, Dr. Lindsay Hays of the Mars  Program Office at NASA JPL speaks to an audience about astrobiology Topical sessions took place throughout the meeting rooms of the Chicago Hilton during the week. Above, Dr. Lindsay Hays of the Mars Program Office at NASA JPL speaks to an audience about astrobiology input into the landing site selection for the upcoming Mars 2020 rover. Credit: NASA Astrobiology

    Talks at this year’s AbSciCon were framed around the theme “Habitability, Habitable Worlds, and Life.”

    With over 800 attendees, the conference is one of the largest gatherings on the astrobiology calendar, and requires a team of dedicated people to ensure its success.

    Dr. John Grunsfeld, former astronaut and Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA, speaks to the audience at AbSciCon 2015. Credit: NASA Astrobiology Dr. John Grunsfeld, former astronaut and Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA, speaks to the audience at AbSciCon 2015. Credit: NASA Astrobiology

    “Mary Voytek did a lot behind the scenes,” said Doran. “Elizabeth Wagganer and other folks at the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) were also great in handling the logistics. In addition, there was a subset of the organizing committee appointed as “theme leads” that were instrumental in the conference’s success.”

    Theme leads included Shawn Domagal Goldman (NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies(GISS)), Jim Kasting (Penn State University), Britney Schmidt (Georgia Tech), Frank Rosenzweig (University of Montana), Tim Lyons (University of California, Riverside), Charlie Cockell (University of Edinburgh) and Daniella Scalice (NASA Astrobiology, Paragon Tech). Each lead was in charge of organizing a plenary session on a conference theme, and served as the point person for the sessions that were organized under each category.

    The historic Hilton hotel in downtown Chicago served as the venue for this year’s AbSciCon, with the first round of the regional FameLab competition being held at Chicago’s world-renowned Field Museum.

    Mary Voytek, Program Scientist for Astrobiology at NASA, opens the AbSciCon 2015 Regional Heat of the FameLab USA competition. Credit: NASA Astrobiology Mary Voytek, Program Scientist for Astrobiology at NASA, opens the AbSciCon 2015 Regional Heat of the FameLab USA competition. Credit: NASA Astrobiology

    “I think the venue shined,” said Doran. “We initially were thinking something more campus-oriented, but I’m glad we went with the Hilton. The history, location, and efficiency of the staff were all great. Having the Stanley Cup at the same time was a cool addition. Chicago showed well.”

    Institutional Support for AbSciCon came from the Universities Space Research Association (USRA), the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

    Dr. Britney Schmidt of Georgia Tech discusses the search for life in the Solar System and beyond during an event at AbSciCon 2015. Credit: NASA Astrobiology Dr. Britney Schmidt of Georgia Tech discusses the search for life in the Solar System and beyond during an event at AbSciCon 2015. Credit: NASA Astrobiology

    Sponsors included the Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Smart Sparrow, Blue Marble Space, and the University of Montana.

    If you missed a talk at AbSciCon 2015, or were unable to attend, all plenary sessions and some afternoon sessions were recorded and are available on demand. Check out all of the archived presentations below:
    https://astrobiology.nasa.gov/seminars/featured-seminar-channels/conferences-and-workshops/2015/6/15/abscicon-2015/

    University researchers and NASA take part in a Highlighted Event at AbSciCon 2015. Participants included (left to right) Victoria Meadows of the University of Washington, Britney Schmidt of Georgia Te University researchers and NASA take part in a Highlighted Event at AbSciCon 2015. Participants included (left to right) Victoria Meadows of the University of Washington, Britney Schmidt of Georgia Tech, Alexis Templeton of the University of Colorado at Boulder, John Grunsfeld, former astronaut and Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA, and moderator Linda Billings of George Washington University. Credit: NASA Astrobiology

    Back to Top

    Selections Announced for the April 2015 Early Career Collaboration Award

    The Astrobiology Early Career Collaboration Award offers research-related travel support for undergraduate, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and junior scientists. Applicants are encouraged to use these resources to circulate among two or more laboratories supported by the NASA Astrobiology Program (the NASA Astrobiology Institute, Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology, Planetary Science and Technology Through Analog Research, MatISSE, PICASSO and the Habitable Worlds Programs), however any travel that is critical for the applicant’s research will be considered. https://astrobiology.nasa.gov/nai/funding/nasa-astrobiology-early-career-collaboration-award/

    The NAI is pleased to announce the selections for the April 2015 Early Career Collaboration Award.

    Daniel Angerhausen, Goddard Space Flight Center
    Daniel will collaborate with Antonio García Muñoz (ESA Scientific Support Office) and the International Space Science Institute (ISSI) team, and with Andrea Chiavassa (CNRS) and members of the Thermodynamics, Disequilibrium and Evolution (TDE) Focus Group.

    Zach Grochau-Wright, University of Arizona
    Zach will travel to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County to work with Dr. Stephen Miller on his project, “Evolution of the Genetic Basis for Cellular Differentiation in the Volvocine Green Algae”.

    Peter Ilhardt, Carnegie Institution of Washington
    Peter will visit James Moran, at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA, to examine microstructures in a Neoarchaean stromatolite using Laser Ablation Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (LA-IRMS).

    Joshua Krissansen‐Totton, University of Washington
    Joshua will travel to Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) to meet with Avi Mandell and Shawn Domagal-Goldman, members of the Virtual Planetary Laboratory team and Harley Thronson’s study team, for mission planning for the next generation of space telescopes to search for life on exoplanets.

    Kira Lorber, University of Cincinnati
    Kira will collaborate with Kenneth Williford at JPL and John Valley at the University of Wisconsin, Madison on diversity and evolution of early fossil microorganisms.

    Jeff Osterhout, University of Cincinnati
    Jeff will also work with Kenneth Williford at JPL and John Valley at the University of Wisconsin, Madison to perform in situ carbon isotope analyses of microfossils.

    Ben Placek, Schenectady County Community College
    Ben intends to work with an international team of collaborators through the International Space Science Institute (ISSI) on the application of Bayesian methods to the analysis of the Kepler light curves of transiting exoplanets.

    Back to Top


    Selections Announced for the 2015 Lewis and Clark Fund for Exploration and Field Research in Astrobiology

    The NASA Astrobiology Institute and the American Philosophical Society are pleased to announce selections for the 2015 Lewis and Clark Fund for Exploration and Field Research in Astrobiology. The graduate students, postdocs, and early-career scientists listed below will engage in field studies in astrobiology, at sites from Idaho to Oman.

    Ashley Berg, University of Tennessee at Knoxville will examine “Preservation of Proterozoic Microbial Mats in the Angmaat Formation, Baffin Island, Canada”.

    Devon Cole, Yale University will assess “Oxygenation in the Late Mesoproterozoic, Baffin Island, Canada”.

    Holly Farris, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville will examine “Survivability of Halophiles through Deliquescence in the Atacama Desert, Chile: Implications for Liquid Water Stability and Habitability of the Martian Surface”.

    Rebecca Greenberger, Brown University will engage in “Mapping Mineralogies of Serpentine Seeps at an Ophiolite in Oman: Insights into Microbial Activity”.

    Leanne Hancock, University of California, Riverside will collect samples along the California coast to examine “Redox Variation and Nutrient Controls on Monterey Formation Deposition: A Case Study on Methane Cycling in Borderland Basins and Proximity Controls”.

    George Kasun, Portland State University will study “Recombination Between RNA and DNA Viruses in an Acidic Hot Spring” in Lassen Volcanic National Park, California.

    Cara Magnabosco, Princeton University will conduct “A Comparison of Subsurface Microbial Communities and Function” in northern Portugal.

    Charity Phillips-Lander, University of Oklahoma will investigate “Trace Metals as Indicators of Microbially-Induced Weathering in Water-Limited Systems: The Snake River Plain (Idaho) as an Analog for Post-Noachian Weathering on Mars”.

    Arpita Roy, Pennsylvania State University will collect data “In the Quest for Habitable Extrasolar Planets: Exploring the full potential of the PARAS Spectrograph in India”.

    We look forward to the reports resulting from these exciting trips.

    Back to Top


    Studying Astrobiology: An Examination of Academic Publications at the NAI

    A graphic showing scientific disciplines covered in astrobiology research at the NAI between 2008 and 2012. Credit: Taşkın and Aydinoglu (2015) A graphic showing scientific disciplines covered in astrobiology research at the NAI between 2008 and 2012. Credit: Taşkın and Aydinoglu (2015)

    Dr. Arsev Aydinoglu performed a thorough examination of academic publications resulting from research funded by the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI). The bibliometric study analyzed 1210 peer-reviewed papers that were published between 2008 and 2012, and provides important insights into the collaborative and interdisciplinary nature of astrobiology research at the NAI. The work reveals information about the types of journals and fields of study that feature in publications, and the ways in which astrobiologists work together to advance the science of astrobiology.

    The paper, “Collaborative interdisciplinary astrobiology research: a bibliometric study of the NASA Astrobiology Institute,” was published in the journal Scientometrics.

    Back to Top


    Astrobiology Graduate Conference (AbGradCon) Webcast

    AbGradCon 2015 webcast (July 20-22) available at http://abgradcon.org/remote.html and http://saganet.org/page/saganlive AbGradCon 2015 webcast (July 20-22) available at http://abgradcon.org/remote.html and http://saganet.org/page/saganlive

    The NAI-sponsored Astrobiology Graduate Conference (AbGradCon) 2015 will be held July 19-23, 2015 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    Those unable to attend in person can still participate via a live web broadcast. The stream will be available starting 8AM on July 20, 21, and 22 at http://abgradcon.org/remote.html. You can also view the webcast and participate in a live chat on the SAGANet site at http://saganet.org/page/saganlive.

    AbGradCon offers a unique opportunity for graduate students and early career astrobiologists to network, collaborate, and share their research. AbGradCon 2015 marks the 11th year of this conference. More information is available at http://www.abgradcon.org/.

    Back to Top


    NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) Exploration Science Forum

    SSERVI is holding the Exploration Science Forum (ESF) at NASA Ames in Moffett Field, CA, July 21-23. This year’s forum will feature scientific discussions of exploration targets of interest (the Moon, near-Earth asteroids and the moons of Mars), with recent mission results and in-depth analyses of science and exploration studies. Dedicated side-conferences for graduate students and young professionals will coincide with the ESF. Attendees can participate in a NASA Town Hall with Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate and Science Mission Directorate representatives, and experience the Lunar Mapping and Modeling Portal—an integrated suite of lunar and planetary mapping and modeling tools and products that support exploration and science activities. Come navigate a tabletop touch screen to experience a 3D surface flyover of the Moon and other target bodies of interest! Visit http://nesf2015.arc.nasa.gov/ to register, registration is free.

    Back to Top


    Conference on Re-conceptualizing the Origin of Life

    Abstract Submission Deadline for Poster Presentations: August 1, 2015

    The Re-conceptualizing the Origin of Life Conference will be held at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, DC, on Nov. 9-13th, 2015. The goal of the conference is to concentrate on integrative conceptual and foundational themes, and not to review the field. We hope to facilitate new collaborations and identify specific experimental and theoretical projects that significantly advance our understanding of the origin of life. To maintain a productive workshop-style atmosphere, the conference is limited to 100 participants. Participants must therefore apply to ensure a space at the meeting. There is no registration fee.

    Applications for participation are now open and may be submitted at: https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=mol20150

    For more information on the meeting, including a full list of confirmed speakers, please visit our conference website:
    https://carnegiescience.edu/events/lectures/re-conceptualizing-origin-life

    Back to Top


    RECENTLY PUBLISHED RESEARCH


    Earth and Mars May Have Shared Seeds of Life

    The red color of Aguas Calientes comes from algae, which must create their protection from the harsh ultraviolet radiation coming from the Sun. Credit: The High Lakes Project: The SETI Institute Carl The red color of Aguas Calientes comes from algae, which must create their protection from the harsh ultraviolet radiation coming from the Sun. Credit: The High Lakes Project: The SETI Institute Carl

    Could Mars, of all places, be the place to look for early life on Earth? It’s an intriguing thought and one that astrobiologists take seriously as they consider the conditions during the early days of the Solar System when both planets experienced frequent bombardments by asteroids and comets that resulted in debris exchange between one body and the other.

    Planetary scientist Nathalie Cabrol of the SETI institute discussed this topic and more in an April 2015 TED Talk.

    Source: [astrobio.net]

    Back to Top


    Fossils Explain How Life Coped During Snowball Earth

    Ice Ages that covered much of the world in glaciers are thought to have occurred twice during the Cryogenian period, between about 720 and 660 million years ago, and again from 650 to 640 million year Ice Ages that covered much of the world in glaciers are thought to have occurred twice during the Cryogenian period, between about 720 and 660 million years ago, and again from 650 to 640 million years ago. Credit: NSF

    Researchers have discovered what they think are fossils of a unique red algae species that lived about 650 million years ago during a brief respite between some of the most extreme ice ages the world has ever known. The fossils could speak to how life coped in the aptly named Cryogenian period, when glaciers held most of Earth in a frozen grip.

    The new study appeared in the journal Palaios and was funded by grants from the NASA Astrobiology Institute element and the Exobiology & Evolutionary Biology element of the NASA Astrobiology Program.

    Source: [astrobio.net]

    Back to Top


    The pH of Enceladus’ Ocean

    This view looks across the geyser basin of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, along fractures spewing water vapor and ice particles into space. Cassini scientists have pinpointed the source locations of about 1 This view looks across the geyser basin of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, along fractures spewing water vapor and ice particles into space. Cassini scientists have pinpointed the source locations of about 100 geysers and gained new insights into what powers them. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

    Researchers supported in part by the NASA Astrobiology Institute have revealed the pH of water in the geyser-like plumes of Enceladus. The findings could help astrobiologists understand the potential for past or present life on Saturn’s sixth-largest moon. Click here to view the press release from the Carnegie Institute.

    The study, “The pH of Enceladus’ Ocean,” was published in the journal Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta

    This work was supported by the Deep Carbon Observatory, the Carnegie Institution for Science, the NASA Astrobiology Institute, and the Cassini Project.

    Source: [Carnegie Institution]

    Back to Top


    A Chance for Microbes in Meteorites

    Microbes survived on the exterior of the International Space Station for nearly two years, if their UV radiation was limited or eliminated. Credit: NASA Microbes survived on the exterior of the International Space Station for nearly two years, if their UV radiation was limited or eliminated. Credit: NASA

    Microbes Can Survive In Meteorites If Shielded From UV Radiation. Understanding how well microbes can survive in space is of importance when sending out orbiters or landers around bodies that might present the right conditions for life, such as Mars. Scientists want to be careful to avoid contaminating other worlds with life from our own. And microbes’ resilience to Outer Space enhances the prospects of panspermia, in which life can be seeded between planets via meteors and other traveling bodies.

    This basis formed part of the rationale for a study supported by the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI). Researchers took pure cultures of two salt-loving microbes from solid salt crusts and grew them. After drying them, some of the samples were sent to the International Space Station’s external platform space exposure facility, called EXPOSE-R. Those microbes remained on the exterior for nearly two years. Surprisingly, some survived when they were protected from UV radiation.

    The study, “The affect of the space environment on the survival of Halorubrum chaoviator and Synechococcus (Nägeli): data from the Space Experiment OSMO on EXPOSE-R,” was published in the International Journal of Astrobiology.

    Source: [astrobio.net]

    Back to Top


    Could ‘Green Rust’ Be a Catalyst for Martian Life?

    NASA’s Curiosity rover is among those spacecrafts that have discovered signs of ancient water on Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona NASA’s Curiosity rover is among those spacecrafts that have discovered signs of ancient water on Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

    Mars is a large enough planet that astrobiologists looking for life need to narrow the parameters of the search to those environments most conducive to habitability.

    NASA’s Mars Curiosity mission is exploring such a spot right now at its landing site around Gale Crater, where the rover has found extensive evidence of past water and is gathering information on methane in the atmosphere, a possible signature of microbial activity.

    But where would life most likely gain energy from its surroundings? One possibility is in an environment that includes “green rust,” a partially oxidized iron mineral. A fully oxidized iron “rust” — one exposed to oxidation for long enough — turns orangey-red, similar to the color of Mars’ regolith. When oxidization is incomplete, however, the iron rust is greenish.

    Source: [astrobio.net]

    Back to Top


    The Order of Genes

    Neighbor Joining (NJ) phylogram, starting with 172 representative taxa, limited to only the 23 taxa found in the agreement subtrees for the 100 replicate trees formed using iterations of six predicted Neighbor Joining (NJ) phylogram, starting with 172 representative taxa, limited to only the 23 taxa found in the agreement subtrees for the 100 replicate trees formed using iterations of six predicted orthologs. Credit: Figure 8, House et. al. (2015)

    Astrobiologists studying microbial genomes have found that determining the order of genes in an organism’s DNA could provide insight into how genomes from different organisms are related. The team took a large selection of prokaryotic genomes and developed a method for determining how closely the genomes were related to one another based on the conservation of gene order. In doing so, they showed a strong relationship between two well-known phyla of bacteria.

    The paper “Genome-wide gene order distances support clustering the gram-positive bacteria,” was published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology. The study was supported in part by the Astrobiology Program through its Exobiology & Evolutionary Biology element and the NASA Astrobiology Institute.

    Source: [Frontiers in Microbiology]

    Back to Top


    Carotenoids Through Time

    Stratigraphic distribution of aromatic C 40 carotenoids. Credit: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Stratigraphic distribution of aromatic C 40 carotenoids. Credit: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

    Current models of ocean redox on Earth suggest that anoxygenic photosynthesis in marine environments was more prevalent during Earth’s earliest time span (Precambrian) than during Earth’s current geological eon (Phanerozoic). To examine this theory, a team of scientists looked at products from carotenoid pigments in rock extracts and oils over a time period ranging from the Proterozoic (just before the rise of complex life) to the Paleogene (roughly 23 million years ago).

    Carotenoids are pigments that can be found in plants, algae, and photosynthetic microorganisms. These pigments can be used as biomarkers for life in the geological record. The new study sheds light on how these carotenoid biomarkers are distributed over time, and could provide new information about the evolution of ocean redox on Earth.

    The paper, “Assessing the distribution of sedimentary C40 carotenoids through time,” was published in the journal Geobiology. The study was supported in part by the Astrobiology Program through its Exobiology & Evolutionary Biology element and the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI).

    Source: [Geobiology]

    Back to Top


    Titan’s Atmosphere Useful in Study of Hazy Exoplanets

    Sunset on Saturn’s moon Titan reveals the atmosphere around the moon as seen from the night side with NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI Sunset on Saturn’s moon Titan reveals the atmosphere around the moon as seen from the night side with NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

    With more than a thousand confirmed planets outside of our solar system, astronomers are attempting to identify the atmospheres of these distant bodies to determine if they could possibly host life.

    Yet, viewing a body so far away remains a challenge. Astronomers are honing their technique in exoplanet observation with an object we know much more about in our own solar system — Saturn’s moon, Titan. The process should help scientists better understand what a signal from a hazy planet that is similar to Titan would look like.

    The study, “Titan solar occultation observations reveal transit spectra of a hazy world” was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences under lead author Tyler Robinson of the NASA Ames Research Center and member of the NASA Astrobiology Institute Virtual Planetary Laboratory team at the University of Washington.

    Source: [astrobio.net]

    Back to Top


    “Venus Zone” Narrows Search for Habitable Planets

    Despite being similar sizes, Earth (right half) and Venus (left half) have different surface conditions, a fact that has implications in the search for an Earth-like exoplanet. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltec Despite being similar sizes, Earth (right half) and Venus (left half) have different surface conditions, a fact that has implications in the search for an Earth-like exoplanet. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Ames

    In order to weed out Venus-like planets from those that would be more habitable, scientists proposed the establishment of a “Venus zone” around stars, a region where the atmosphere could be consumed by a runaway greenhouse effect that super-heats its planets. So far, the team of scientists has identified 43 potential Venus analogs, and think that even more exist.

    One of the researchers, Stephen Kane of San Francisco State University, recently spoke with Astrobiology Magazine about how to define a “Venus zone” and the prospects of finding an exo-Venus.

    The study was supported in part by the NASA Astrobiology Institute’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory. The results were presented at the January meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle, Washington, and published in the journal, Astrophysical Journal Letters.

    Additional links:
    Interview with co-author Dr. Shawn Domagal-Goldman (astrobio.net)

    Source: [astrobio.net]

    Back to Top


    CAREER, EMPLOYMENT, & FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES


    Associate Research Scientist (Lab Manager) Position at Arizona State University

    Application Review Begins: July 17, 2015

    The Center for Meteorite Studies in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University invites applications for an Associate Research Scientist (Lab Manager) position. The successful candidate will be responsible for the day-to-day operation and management of the Isotope Cosmochemistry and Geochronology Laboratory, which includes a ThermoNeptune MC-ICPMS and an associated clean chemistry laboratory for ultra low-blank sample preparation. The successful candidate will be expected to conduct independent research and to participate in ongoing research in isotope cosmochemistry.

    Minimum qualifications include a Ph.D. by the time of appointment in the physical sciences and experience with mass spectrometry. Experience in geochemistry and/or cosmochemistry is highly desirable. To apply, please see the information provided at: http://meteorites.asu.edu/job/4955

    Back to Top


    SSERVI Science Communication Workshop from the Alan Alda Center at Stony Brook University

    The RIS4E SSERVI Team and experts from the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, a world-renowned leader in the field of science communication, will facilitate a (free!) Science Communication Workshop on Sunday, July 19 at NASA Ames, right before the SSERVI Exploration Science Forum. The Alda Center has helped hundreds of scientists around the country improve their communication skills and are in high demand by universities and professional agencies nationwide, including NASA’s Office of the Chief Scientist.

    This one-day workshop is designed to help scientists learn to connect with different audiences and to convey the meaning of complex material in vivid, clear language those audiences can understand.

    For more information about the workshop, to see videos of Alan Alda discussing the importance of effective science communication, as well as to read testimonies of past participants, and to apply, visit: http://www.centerforcommunicatingscience.org/sservi-science-communication-workshop/
    The password is (case sensitive): comm_sservi

    For more information about the Alan Alda Center or Communicating Science, please see: http://www.centerforcommunicatingscience.org

    Questions? Contact Andrea Jones (Andrea.J.Jones@nasa.gov).

    Back to Top


    Astrobiology Graduates in Europe (AbGradE) 2015 Mission Design Workshop in Noordwijk, Netherlands

    Registration Deadline: July 24, 2015

    This year, AbGradE together with ESA-ESTEC will organize a one-day mission-design workshop on October 5th, the day before the 15th EANA Astrobiology Conference (October 6-9). The workshop will be followed by an evening social event.

    More information is available at http://www.eana-net.eu/AbGradE/abgrade2015.html.

    The number of spots for participants is limited. Pre-registration is encouraged, especially for travel grant consideration.

    Back to Top


    Gravity and Radiation Working Groups for the Europa Science Team

    Interested persons should submit by: July 27, 2015

    NASA recently selected the science payload for the Europa Multiple Flyby mission and approved the mission to begin formulation. As part of the formulation effort, NASA seeks to form science working groups to provide guidance on using engineering subsystems and/or elements of the selected science instrumentation to conduct additional high priority science.

    To that end, NASA is seeking individuals to serve on two working groups for gravity science and radiation science. The gravity and radiation groups will work with the project and the Europa science team to determine how engineering subsystems (specifically, the communications subsystem and the radiation monitoring subsystem), the selected instruments, and the overall mission architecture can be utilized under their existing and evolving designs to conduct investigations on the interior structure of Europa and the radiation environment present at the moon, respectively. Interested persons should send a curriculum vitae and a cover letter to Dr. Curt Niebur, the Europa Program Scientist curt.niebur@nasa.gov by July 27, 2015.

    These two groups will join the Europa science team for the remainder of Phase A (approximately one year). Travel expenses to participate will be provided by NASA up to an appropriate level and consistent with regulation and policy. Near the end of Phase A, these working groups will be disbanded and NASA will competitively select permanent science team members in these areas. Members of the working groups will be eligible to compete for these permanent positions.

    Back to Top


    Simons Foundation, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Announce 2016 Faculty Scholars Competition

    Application Deadline: July 28, 2015

    The Simons Foundation, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are pleased to announce the Faculty Scholars Competition, a national competition for grants to outstanding early-career scientists.

    The three philanthropies will award a total of $148 million over the program’s first five years, awarding up to 70 grants every two and a half to three years. The awards are intended for basic researchers and physician scientists who have already demonstrated significant research accomplishments and show potential to make unique and important contributions to their fields.

    The Faculty Scholars Competition marks the first time that HHMI, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Simons Foundation have formally undertaken an initiative together. For more information CLICK HERE

    Back to Top


    Postdoctoral Fellowships in Interdisciplinary Research Relating to Origins of Life, Spending 50% time in Tokyo, Japan

    1st Application Deadline: August 1, 2015
    2nd Application Deadline: October 1, 2015

    The Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) Origins Network (EON) announces the availability of post-doctoral research fellowships for research related to the Origins of Life. Ten two-year positions will be funded, to take place within the period 2016-2018.

    Successful candidates will split their time between ELSI in Tokyo and another institution of the candidate’s choice, anywhere in the world. The fellowship will pay a salary for two years, which covers the time spent at both locations, as well as a generous research budget. The positions will start on or before 1st April 2016.

    EON is an interdisciplinary international network which seeks to foster dialogue and collaboration within the Origins of Life community to articulate and answer fundamental questions about the nature and the reasons for the existence of life on Earth, and possibly elsewhere in the Universe. Its goal is to bring together leading-edge research in all areas of the physical, mathematical, computational, and life sciences that bears on the emergence of life. ELSI is chartered as a Japanese World Premier International Research Center, to study the origin of Earth-like planets and the origin of life as inter-related phenomena. ELSI is located at the Ookayama campus of Tokyo Institute of Technology.

    Visit http://eon.elsi.jp/ for more details, including the application procedure.

    Back to Top


    Call for Abstracts for GSA 2015 Technical Session – When Water Meets Rock: Aqueous Alteration in the Solar System

    Abstract Submission Deadline: August 11, 2015

    On Earth, reaction pathways of water-rock reactions can be observed directly, but elsewhere in the solar system we are often left with the mineralogical and geochemical products of these interactions to interpret the processes. On Mars, orbital and rover observations along with analyses of meteorites point to a rich history of water-rock interactions. Carbonaceous chondrites are typified by nearly complete alteration through the action of water. The Dawn and Rosetta missions are exploring solar system bodies that have been modified by water. For planetary aqueous environments, big picture questions include:

    (1) whether observed aqueous minerals formed at the surface or in the subsurface and under ambient or hydrothermal conditions and
    (2) the durations and volumes of liquid water involved.

    The goal of this session is to explore how exciting new results from mineralogic and geochemical studies based on orbital and landed measurements integrate with field, laboratory, meteoritical, and modeling investigations that address aqueous processes on planetary bodies.

    To submit an abstract, go to: http://community.geosociety.org/gsa2015/science-careers/sessions

    Back to Top


    Post Doctoral Position on Modeling and Observations of CO2 Ice Clouds on Mars at LATMOS

    Application Deadline: August 15, 2015

    The Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales (LATMOS) in France is currently accepting applications for a fixed-term post-doc position (1 year + 1 additional year based on performance + a possible extension) on studying CO2 ice clouds on Mars.

    More information on the project and the importance of the CO2 ice clouds for Mars’ climate can be found on the LATMOS careers page.

    Applications from interested scientists with a PhD in planetology, astronomy, meteorology, atmospheric sciences, or related fields are welcome. The applicants should have finished their PhD or provide evidence that they will obtain the PhD degree by the time the post-doc contract begins. Experience in atmospheric modelling, limb observation analysis, and/or radiative transfer modelling are recommended. Fluency in using unix/linux environments and Fortran programming will be appreciated. The gross salary is minimum 2500 EUR/month and depends on experience.

    Applications (in English or in French) consisting of a CV, a publication list, at least one recommendation letter, and a motivation letter should be sent via email to Dr. Anni Maattanen (anni.maattanen@latmos.ipsl.fr).

    Back to Top


    Simons Collaboration on the Origins of Life Postdoctoral Fellowship

    Application Deadline: September 18, 2015

    The Simons Collaboration on the Origins of Life (SCOL) supports creative, innovative research on topics such as the astrophysical and planetary context of the origins of life, the development of prebiotic chemistry, the assembly of the first cells, the advent of Darwinian evolution and the earliest signs of life on the young Earth.

    With this program, SCOL seeks to support early-career researchers at an important inflection point in origins of life research resulting from an influx of new talent, new instrumentation, a growing global community of researchers and growth of the 'systems’ approach that connects disciplines, technologies and institutions.

    Candidates should have received their Ph.D. or equivalent degree within five years of the fellowship’s start date. Appointments last for three years, contingent upon annual progress report assessment. See full eligibility requirements here.

    Back to Top


    2016 Vatican Observatory Summer School (VOSS) in Astrophysics on Water in the Solar System and Beyond

    Application Deadline: October 31, 2015

    The Vatican Observatory will be holding its 2016 Summer School from May 29 to June 24. During the course of the session, students will present a short paper on their research or the research of their home institution. Field trips to visit sites of historical interest to astronomy will be included.

    Water plays an important role in the origin and chemical development of comets, asteroids, icy moons, and planets including our own Earth. It is also a necessary ingredient for life as we know it. Recent space missions, remote sensing, and laboratory research have led to considerable growth in our understanding of the role of water in the solar system and in cosmochemistry. Expert faculty will direct a comprehensive four-week course of lectures, presentations, and hands-on projects in the beautiful setting of the Papal villas outside Rome. It will be an unforgettable experience!

    No formal course credits will be given, but certification of satisfactory completion of the course will be supplied.

    For more information, visit http://www.vaticanobservatory.va/content/specolavaticana/en/summer-schools—voss-/voss2016.html

    Back to Top


    California Academy of Sciences “Cluster Hiring” Ph.D.-level Scientists

    Application Deadline: November 1, 2015

    The California Academy of Sciences seeks to fill several endowed positions with Ph.D.-level scientists who do outstanding biodiversity/ecological science, focus on broader science communication & engagement, care about increasing diversity in science, connect their work to real world sustainability outcomes, and want to change the world.

    The Academy is especially seeking experts in coral reef biology, tropical rain forests, the ecology of California, and the impacts of global change on biodiversity, as well as candidates with interests in marine mammals and amphibian decline. They seek candidates with skills in “big data”, modeling, GIS, visualization, genomics, and innovative methods for field- and collections-based research. Candidates who connect their work to larger sustainability challenges are of special interest. Candidates must also show leadership in science communication and engagement, as well as an interest in increasing diversity in science.

    Visit http://calacademy.snaphire.com/jobdetails?ajid=vNXB8 for all the details and application instructions.

    Back to Top


    UPCOMING DEADLINES IN THE NEXT 30 DAYS


    July 20 – Presentation Submission Deadline for the Second Landing Site Workshop for the Mars 2020 Rover http://marsnext.jpl.nasa.gov/
    July 24 – Registration Deadline for the Astrobiology Graduates in Europe (AbGradE) Mission Design Workshop http://www.eana-net.eu/AbGradE/abgrade2015.html
    July 29USGS Training Workshop: Introduction to GIS for Planetary Mappers http://astrogeology.usgs.gov/facilities/mrctr/planetary-gis-training-for-mappers
    August 1 – Application Deadline for Ten Postdoctoral Fellowships in Interdisciplinary Research Relating to Origins of Life http://eon.elsi.jp/recruitment.html
    August 1 – Application Deadline for the Reconceptualizing the Origin of Life: Experimental, Interdisciplinary, and Computational Windows on the Core Concepts – Conference https://carnegiescience.edu/events/lectures/re-conceptualizing-origin-life
    August 5 – Abstract Submission Deadline for the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting http://fallmeeting.agu.org/2015/abstract-submissions/
    August 11 – Abstract Submission Deadline for the Geological Society of America (GSA) 2015 Annual Meeting http://community.geosociety.org/gsa2015/science-careers/sessions

    Back to Top