Archives

March 2008


Created by NAI's IPTAI Team the Exploring Deep Subsurface Life Workbook and DVD teaching materials highlight research sites at Harmony Gold Mine in South Africa, and Lupin Gold Mine and High Lake Mine in Nunavut Territory, Canada. The workbook's imagery invites the audience into the mine sites, and the lessons correspond to the astrobiology research carried out in the deep subsurface.

The video and animation materials support and compliment the lessons in the workbook and introduce the scientists. The materials can be accessed at: http://www.indiana.edu/~deeplife/epo_products.html [Source: NAI newsletter]

The new integrated website for NASA's Astrobiology Program was launched on Friday, March 21: http://astrobiology.nasa.gov/. The link to the NAI website remains the same: http://nai.nasa.gov and its contents have been redesigned and integrated with the program site. NAI Central staff worked with Astrobiology Program Communications Coordinator, Linda Billings, to design and implement the new website. We're pleased that NAI Central has been able to make this contribution to the Astrobiology Program and the community. We invite you to take a look at the new site and send us your comments, using the page feedback boxes online. [Source NAI newsletter]

Full report

Executive Summary

Astrobiology is a scientific discipline devoted to the study of life in the universe--its origins, evolution, distribution, and future. It brings together the physical and biological sciences to address some of the most fundamental questions of the natural world: How do living systems emerge? How do habitable worlds form and how do they evolve? Does life exist on worlds other than Earth?

NAI Releases Request for Information

The NAI has released a Request for Information entitled "Collaborative Technology Tools and Methods For Distributed Interdisciplinary Science." For more information, see: http://astrobiology.nasa.gov/articles/nai-request-for-information/ [Source: NAI newsletter]

The Space Studies Board and the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board of the National Research Council (NRC) have begun a study of science opportunities enabled by NASA's Constellation system of launch vehicles and spacecraft. The Committee on Science Opportunities Enabled by NASA's Constellation System will first analyze a set of "Vision Mission" concepts provided by NASA.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Stand Alone Missions of Opportunity Notice (SALMON), is intended to provide regular opportunities for science and technology investigations on space flight missions that advance the high priority science, technology, and exploration objectives of NASA's four Mission Directorates.

Astrobiology Science News 27 March 2008

Astrobiology Science News 26 March 2008

  • NAI Virus Focus Group, Monday, April 14, 1 -5:30PM, Room 207
  • NAI Origin of Life Focus Group, Wednesday, April 16, Lunch Hour, Room 206
  • NAI Early Earth Focus Group, Wednesday, April 16, Lunch Hour, Great America #1
  • NAI Mars Focus Group, Wednesday, April 16, Lunch Hour, Great America #2
  • NAI Planetary System Formation, Wednesday, April 16, Lunch Hour, Great America #3

Conference Center Floor Plan http://www.santaclara.org/conventioncenter/floorplan.cfm [Source: NAI newsletter]

The Government is seeking information regarding existing instruments (such as flight spares and engineering models) that could be quickly flight qualified, accommodated, and flown on the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), scheduled for a 2010-2011 launch. The Government is also interested in potential "build to print" possibilities from existing flight instruments, in the event that there are no flight spares available.

Science Mission Directorate, NASA
Solicitation Number: NNH08ZDA005L
Release Date: March 14, 2008
Response Date: April 9, 2008

NASA is soliciting ideas and suggestions from the science and research communities on potential new uses of existing NASA science spacecraft that support NASA's science goals.

Scientists from NAI's Carnegie Institution of Washington Team have a new paper in Meteoritics and Planetary Science detailing their discovery of amino acids in two meteorites at concentrations ten times higher than levels previously measured in other similar meteorites. The result suggests that the early solar system was far richer in the organic building blocks of life than scientists had thought, and that fallout from space may have spiked Earth's primordial broth. [Source: NAI newsletter]

July 21-25, 2008, St Andrews, Scotland

The Cool Stars meetings have a long tradition of presenting cutting edge science in the fields of cool stars, exoplanets and solar physics. Topics of interest at Cool Stars 15 will include seismology, surface and atmospheric dynamics, angular momentum evolution, dust formation, coronae, magnetospheres and winds. The conference aims to gather scientists working in all these fields in order to stimulate cross-disciplinary exchange. The NAI is sponsoring 9 speakers at this meeting.

For a preliminary program and registration see: http://star-www.st-and.ac.uk/coolstars15/

The deadline for contributed talks is May 2, 2008. [Source: NAI newsletter]

The NAI announces that it is now accepting proposals for the 2008 Director's Discretionary Fund. Proposals will be accepted through June 1, 2008 and selections will be made by July 1, 2008.

For more information: http://nai.nasa.gov/ddf_2008/

NASA Planetary Science Summer School

NASA is accepting applications from science and engineering post-docs, recent PhDs, and doctoral students for its 20th Annual Planetary Science Summer School, which will hold two separate sessions this summer (21-25 July and 4-8 August) at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. During the program, student teams will carry out the equivalent of an early mission concept study, prepare a proposal authorization review presentation, present it to a review board, and receive feedback. At the end of the week, students will have a clearer understanding of the life cycle of a space mission; relationships between mission design, cost, and schedule; and the tradeoffs necessary to stay within cost and schedule while preserving the quality of science.

Applications are due 1 May 2008. Partial financial support is available for a limited number of individuals. Further information is available at http://pscischool.jpl.nasa.gov.

The Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics invites applications for a post-doctoral researcher in the area of Mars geology, starting summer 2008. Researchers in the disciplines of geology/geomorphology, geochemistry, geophysics, hydrology, or astrobiology that study the history of water on the Red Planet are encouraged to apply.

Potential applicants are welcome to contact Brian Hynek

(hynek@lasp.colorado.edu) for additional information and to discuss research interests. Send a curriculum vitae, up to 3 articles that are published or in submission, a brief research proposal (up to 2 pages), and the names and contact information of three references.

Applications for this position will be accepted until the position is filled. Submit application materials via e-mail to: HRADS@lasp.colorado.edu or mail to LASP, University of Colorado at Boulder, 392 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309-0392. In your correspondence, please include the code PDAM0208.

All final applicants being considered for employment are subject to a background investigation including a criminal history check and if necessary, motor vehicle histories check. The University of Colorado at Boulder is committed to diversity and equality in education and employment.

Presenters: Jody Deming and James Staley (University of Washington)

Date/Time: Monday, March 31, 2008 11:00 AM Pacific

For more information and participation instructions: http://nai.arc.nasa.gov/seminars/seminar_detail.cfm?ID=119

Request for ASGSB awards nominations

The Awards Committee is soliciting nominations for the awards listed below from the membership at large. Please take a moment to review the categories, think about a deserving candidate, and send your nomination!

1. Thora W. Halstead Young Investigator Award: This award was established to honor a young scientist (usually under 40) who exemplifies Thora's drive and enthusiasm for science, and who has made significant contributions to the field of space biology.

2. Orr Reynolds Distinguished Service Award: This award is made to an individual for distinguished service to the Society "above and beyond the call of duty."

3. Founder's Award: This award is the highest honor given by the Society. It is made to a member of the Society for distinguished scientific contributions to and leadership in the field of gravitational and space biology.

For more information about the awards-including a list of past recipients, please see: http://asgsb.org/awards.html.

Nominations should be accompanied by the name and professional address of the candidate and a short Curriculum Vitae, along with a paragraph outlining why the candidate is particularly deserving of the award. Please submit nominations by e-mail to Dr. John Z. Kiss, Chair, Awards Committee, kissjz@muohio.edu. The deadline for receiving nominations is April 25, 2008.

Astrobiology Science News 24 March 2008

The NAI Selects Postdoctoral Fellows

The NAI is very pleased to announce the selection of three NAI Fellows, who will receive awards through the NASA Postdoctoral Program.

The three Fellows are:

Daiki Horikawa, Advisor: Lynn Rothschild, NAI's SETI Institute Team, Tolerance of tardigrades to extremes: Implications for the existence of multicellular organisms in extraterrestrial environments.

Olivia Mason, Advisor: Jim Cowen, NAI's University of Hawaii Team, Phylogenetic and functional diversity of microorganisms associated with crustal fluids

Steven Mielke, Advisor Nancy Kiang, NAI's VPL - University of Washington Team, Molecular-Environmental Limits of Terrestrial Photosynthesis: Implications for Extrasolar Biosignatures

We welcome the new Fellows to the NAI.

The deadline for the next NAI opportunity for NPP Fellowships is July 1, 2008. For additional information about the program see http://nasa.orau.org/postdoc .

Full Proposal Deadline Date: May 28, 2008

Lack of essential observations from space is currently a major limiting factor in space weather research. Recent advances in sensor and spacecraft technolo

ASM's MicrobeWorld Radio Program

This could be your 90 seconds of fame! NAI is forming a partnership with the American Society of Microbiology's MicrobeWorld radio program, http://www.microbeworld.org, and we're looking for NAI scientists to be subjects of these short segments. They are broadcast on numerous radio stations across the country in the style of NPR's "Earth and Sky" series, and are also are available as podcasts (downloads are in the hundreds of thousands per year). If you're interested, please contact NAI's E/PO Coordinator, Daniella Scalice, daniella.m.scalice@nasa.gov.

Astrobiology Science News 21 March 2008

This amendment explicitly includes the search for extrasolar planets that may harbor intelligent life within the scope of the Origins of Solar Systems program.

The first paragraph of Section 1 is amended to state that, "These investigations may involve ... the detection and characterization of other planetary systems including those that may harbor intelligent life." The second paragraph of Section 1 is amended to include the following as one of the categories that Origins of Solar Systems proposals should fall into: "Investigations to identify and characterize signal characteristics and/or observable properties of extrasolar planets which may distinguish planetary systems with intelligent life."

On or about February 29, 2008, this Amendment to the NASA Research Announcement "Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES) 2008" (NNH08ZDA001N) will be posted on the NASA research opportunity homepage at http://nspires.nasaprs.com/ (select "Solicitations" then "Open Solicitations" then "NNH08ZDA001N").

Further information about this program element is available from Dr. Zlatan Tsvetanov, Astrophysics Division, Science Mission Directorate, NASA, Washington, DC 20546; Telephone: (202) 358-0810; E-mail: Zlatan.Tsvetanov@nasa.gov.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recognizes the advancement of the commercial suborbital spaceflight industry and requests information on potential human-tended flight experiments enabled by this capability. NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) is in the formulation phase of a possible new program to fly government-sponsored payloads and researchers on commercial suborbital systems with the intent of advancing SMD's goals and objectives. Responses to this RFI (NNH08ZDA004L) will be used to inform NASA's program planning.

Calling all students who are presenting posters at AbSciCon 2008! You're invited to enter your poster in the NAI Student Poster Competition. First prize is $1500, Second prize is $1000, and Third prize is $500! The DEADLINE TO ENTER IS MONDAY, MARCH 17TH. Judges will be recruited from the astrobiology community, and winners will be announced at the start of the afternoon plenary session on Thursday, April 17th. Information on eligibility requirements and online registration can be found here: http://nai.nasa.gov/postercompetition/. NAI is pleased to be continuing this astrobiology community event! Contact Daniella Scalice at NAI Central with questions: daniella.m.scalice@nasa.gov

The NASA High-End Computing (HEC) Program is considering awards of computing time to Principal Investigators with projects supported by NASA's Science Mission Directorate. Only the PIs of currently funded SMD research projects are eligible to propose. Requests must be submitted at https://ebooks.reisys.com/gsfc/nccs/submission/index.jsp?solId=27 by March 20, 2008, for May 1, 2008 awards.

For additional information about requesting computing time on NASA HEC resources go to http://www.hec.nasa.gov.

Questions may be addressed to Dr. Tsengdar Lee, Scientific Computing Portfolio Manager
NASA Science Mission Directorate,
Phone: 202-358-0860,
Email:Tsengdar.J.Lee@nasa.gov.

Astrobiology Science News 14 March 2008

Astrobiology Science News 13 March 2008