May 2007

NAI is offering ten full-funded scholarships for students who wish to attend the 2007 International Summer School in Astrobiology, Santander, Spain, July 2-6. The topic for this year's school is "Mars Exploration: The next ten years." The summer schools are co-sponsored by the Spanish Centro de Astrobiologia and the NASA Astrobiology Institute. The application deadline is May 31. For more information, please see: [Source: NAI Newsletter]

A NASA Astrobiology Institute Field Workshop "Biosignatures in Ancient Rocks (BAR)" will be held during September 18-28 in Ontario, Canada. See the details at [Source: NAI Newsletter]

NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) plans to release an Announcement of Opportunity (AO) for new Small Explorer (SMEX) missions and Missions of Opportunity in October of this year. The Explorer Program conducts Principal Investigator (PI)-led space science investigations in SMD's astrophysics and heliophysics programs. It is anticipated that approximately six to eight full-mission SMEX investigations will be selected for 4-month Phase A concept studies through this AO.

The NAI Minority Institution Research Support (MIRS) Program is pleased to announce the selection of two faculty sabbatical research awards to Abel Mendez, from the University of Puerto Rico, Arecibo, and to Don Walter from South Carolina State University. The NAI-MIRS program, which is funded by the NAI, provides opportunities for researchers, from qualified minority serving institutions, to initiate joint partnerships with researchers in the field of astrobiology.

The NASA Astrobiology Institute is pleased to announce the selection of four new research teams to join the twelve current teams comprising the Institute. The new teams will be led from Montana State University in Bozeman, the University of Wisconsin in Madison, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

The following new papers have been published recently by NAI members. These and other recent NAI funded research are presented on the NAI member portal and collected in the NAI Research Highlights Archive - In this archive, you can link to the papers and any press materials that may have been generated about them.

If you have an upcoming or recent publication, please tell us about it as soon as possible. We will work with your institution to produce press releases, publicize the paper on the NAI website, and pre-populate your team's annual report with your publication. Please send any information to Daniella Scalice [Source: NAI Newsletter]

NASA is seeking representatives of the astronomical community to serve on the Primordial Polarization Program Definition Team (PPPDT). Members of the PPPDT will work in collaboration with NASA Headquarters and the astronomical community to provide input for a space-based Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) polarization mission. The PPPDT will help provide technical input from the astronomy community on questions relating to the science mission and technology developments required for this investigation and will help disseminate information about such a mission to the community. Astronomers from the U.S. and other countries are eligible for membership.

Tullis Onstott of NAI's Indiana-Princeton-Tennessee team was recently named to this year's "Time 100," an annual list of "the 100 men and women whose power, talent or moral example is transforming the world," according to list-maker Time magazine. Onstott, a professor of geomicrobiology in the Department of Geosciences at Princeton University, investigates the physical and chemical limitations on subsurface Earth life, toward developing subsurface life detection strategies for Mars.

NAI scientists from the Carnegie Institution of Washington Team and their colleagues have a new paper in Geology outlining their process in resolving the mysterious identity of the Devonian fossil organism Prototaxities as a fungus. The team analyzed carbon isotopic ratios of the fossil relative to plants that lived in the same environment 400 million years ago. [Source: NAI Newsletter]

UW Seminar: Four Billion Years of Climate Change (Lessons from the Precambrian): From Oxygen Poisoning to Snowballs & True Polar Wander Presenter: Joe Kirschvink

Date/Time: 5/29/2007 02:30 PM PDT

NASA Selects New Members of Astrobiology Institute

"NASA is awarding five-year grants to four research teams that will become new members of the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI). The new multidisciplinary teams are led by the University of Wisconsin, Madison; the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena; Montana State University, Bozeman; and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge. For the first 18 months of research, teams will receive $350,000 in funding. The five-year average grant size is approximately $7 million per team."