University of Hawaii, Manoa
02/2009 - 01/2015 (CAN 5)

The Origin, History, and Distribution of Water and Its Relation to Life in the Universe

Water is the medium in which the chemistry of all life on Earth takes place. The NAI UH Team will focus on scenarios involving the sources and distribution of water in planetary systems and the delivery and incorporation of water into rocky habitable planets. The team will investigate:

The Origin of Earth’s Water – Constraining the origin of Earth’s water by better characterizing the D/H ratio of the primitive mantle

D/H in the Interstellar Medium, Disks and the Solar System – Determining the relationship of the highly deuterium-enriched circumstellar envelope material with the planet-forming disks in these systems, and investigating the evolution of D/H in a mature planetary system through observations of comets and models of ice fractionation processes

Ice Chemistry in the Solar System – Investigating the processing of primitive Solar system material and ices by energetic particles that leads to life’s precursor molecules

The Main Belt Comets – Surveying the sky for Main Belt Comets, a new class of solar system objects, in order to investigate the stability and thermal evolution of their ices and understand their place in the dynamical and physical architecture of the Solar system

Early Solar System Thermal and Aqueous Evolution – Elucidating the history of water in the early Solar system by constraining the nature and timing of aqueous alteration on the parent asteroids of primitive chondritic meteorites

Biogeochemical Tracers of Metabolisms on Earth – Investigating the role of microbially mediated reactions in diverse seafloor environments that may be analogues for other planets, assessing the interplay between these reactions and the transfer of water between the mantle, crust and oceans, and inferring how the products of microbial reactions might be used to detect extraterrestrial life