September 2008

This National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Research Announcement (NRA) solicits proposals for NASA Specialized Centers of Research (NSCOR) in support of the Space Radiation Program Element within the Human Research Program. NNJ08ZSA003N, entitled, " NASA Specialized Centers of Research (NSCORs): Carcinogenesis and Central Nervous System Risks from Space Radiation."

The central focus of this solicitation is research that will provide the basis for improved estimation and uncertainty reduction for solid cancer, leukemia and central nervous system (CNS) risks from space radiation. In addition the discovery of biological countermeasure approaches to reduce solid cancer risks from galactic cosmic rays (GCR) is a focus. To be responsive to this research solicitation, proposed studies should be hypothesis-driven using cutting edge approaches that will lead to new knowledge within accepted scientific standards. Purely phenomenological approaches with no significant mechanistic basis or likely gain in scientific knowledge will not be funded.

Due to the hardship caused by Hurricane Ike to institutions on the Gulf Coast, NASA is again extending the deadline for the NASA Research Announcement NNH08ZTT003N NRA: Research Opportunities for Fundamental Space Biology Investigations in Microbial, Plant and Cell Biology from September 19, 2008 to September 24, 2008.

WHEN: November 19, 2008 (Wed) ~ November 21, 2008 (Fri)
WHERE: Salle Cassini, Observatoire Paris, Paris, France

Exoplanets are being discovered at an ever accelerating pace, and planetary scientists and astronomers are increasingly called upon to make the transition from discovery to characterization. This workshop aims at bringing together different scientific communities: solar system planetary scientists, brown dwarf and exoplanet modellers and observers, molecular spectroscopy and instrument development experts.

We will cover different topics: radiative transfer, line lists, photochemical models, dynamics, and observations using space- and ground-based facilities. Current results will be discussed in the context of the preparation of upcoming missions, SPITZER, JWST, and SPICA, and the next generation of direct detection mission concepts from ground andspace.

Posted by: Daniella Scalice, NASA Astrobiology

Dr. Mary A. Voytek, a microbiologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, VA, takes charge of NASA's Astrobiology Program effective September 15 as Interim Senior Scientist for Astrobiology in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA HQ.

Dr. Voytek takes over from Dr. John Rummel, who served as Senior Scientist for Astrobiology from late 2006 to August 2008. Dr. Rummel has taken a position with East Carolina University as Director of its Institute for Coastal Science and Policy.

Change in proposal due date for NNH08ZTT003N NRA: Research Opportunities for Fundamental Space Biology Investigations in Microbial, Plant and Cell Biology

Due to the hardship caused by Hurricane Ike to institutions on the Gulf Coast, NASA is extending the deadline for the NASA Research Announcement NNH08ZTT003N, "Research Opportunities for Fundamental Space Biology Investigations in Microbial, Plant and Cell Biology" from September 15, 2008 to September 19, 2008. Please note that no further extensions will be granted.

This email is being sent on behalf of and is intended as an information announcement to researchers interested in NASA's Fundamental Space Biology research. Replies to this email will go unanswered, please reference the above solicitation for contact information.

This amendment delays the proposal due dates for three program element of ROSES-2008: Earth Science for Decision Making: Gulf of Mexico Region (Appendix A.28), Outer Planets Research (Appendix C.7), and Astrobiology: Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology (Appendix C.17).

NASA Hubble Space Telescope Daily Report #4691

NICMOS Confirmation of an Extrasolar Panet Candidate Directly Detected with ACS

With ACS/HRC coronagraphy, we have achieved the direct detection of a planet candidate in F606W and F814W around a bright nearby star with a debris belt. The planet candidate lies 18 astronomical units interior to the dust belt and we detect counterclockwise orbital motion in observations separated by 1.75 years. The candidate has mass no greater than three Jupiter masses based on an analysis of its luminosity and the dynamical argument that a significantly more massive object would disrupt the dust belt.

Oct. 7-9, 2008
Location: Center of Marine Biotechnology, 701 East Pratt Street Baltimore, Maryland 21202

NASA has developed this course on planetary protection policies and practices to familiarize current and future practitioners with NASA and COSPAR planetary protection programs. The course provides a comprehensive review of all applicable policies, practices and procedures necessary to implement a successful planetary protection program, emphasizing integration of managerial, administrative, and laboratory aspects of planetary protection.

The NASA Exoplanet Science Institute announces the introduction of the Sagan Postdoctoral Fellowship Program and solicits applications for fellowships to begin in the fall of 2009.

The Sagan Fellowships support outstanding recent postdoctoral scientists to conduct independent research that is broadly related to the science goals of the NASA Exoplanet Exploration area. The primary goal of missions within this program is to discover and characterize planetary systems and Earth-like planets around nearby stars.

The NAI supports postdoctoral fellows hosted at NAI teams through the NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP). The NPP provides talented postdoctoral scientists and engineers with valuable opportunities to engage in ongoing NASA research programs and serves as a source of talent to ensure the continued quality of the NASA research workforce. The deadline for the next round of applications is November 1. For more information on the program, please see and [Source: NAI Newsletter]

Researchers from NAI's Penn State, MBL, and UCLA Teams have completed a study of the subseafloor marine biosphere, which may be one of the largest reservoirs of microbial biomass on Earth, and which has recently been the subject of debate in terms of the composition of its microbial inhabitants. Their metagenomic analysis indicates that the subsurface environment is the most unique studied to date, distinct in its microbial make-up from the surface waters.

NAI's University of Wisconsin team presents a review of iron isotope fingerprints created through biogeochemical cycling in the May, 2008 issue of The Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences. This landmark paper brings together for the first time the co-evolution records of photosynthesis, bacterial sulfate reduction, and bacterial iron reduction in the early Earth. They review data on natural systems and experiments, looking at both abiological and biological processes, and conclude that the temporal carbon, sulfur, and iron isotope record reflects the interplay of changing microbial metabolisms over Earth's history. [Source: NAI Newsletter]

Using data from the CRISM instrument on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, astrobiologists from NAI's SETI Institute and Marine Biological Laboratory teams present findings of silicate mineralogy indicating a wide range of past aqueous activity in the Mawrth Vallis on Mars. This work, published in the August 8 issue of Science, suggests that abundant water was once present on Mars and that hydrothermal activity may have occurred. The Mawrith Vallis could be a landing site for future rover missions to Mars. [Source: NAI Newsletter]

Members of NAI's University of Wisconsin, Madison team have a new paper in Earth and Planetary Science Letters presenting their analyses of 4.35 - 3.36 billion year old detrital zircons from the Jack Hills, Western Australia.

NNH08ZDA009O, entitled "Stand Alone Missions of Opportunity Notice (SALMON)" is being released by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on September 3, 2008. This Announcement of Opportunity (AO) solicits investigations that address the science objectives of the Science Mission Directorate's (SMD) astrobiology, lunar science, and planetary science programs and the Exploration Science Mission Directorate's (ESMD) fundamental space biology program.

This amendment announces a new proposal opportunity in Appendix D.10 entitled "MOST U.S. Guest Observer Program - Cycle 1." This program element solicits proposals for the acquisition and analysis of new scientific data from the MOST (Microvariability and Oscillations of STars) observatory through a partnership between NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). Observations associated with the MOST U.S. Guest Observer -- Cycle 1 solicitation will begin on or around February 1, 2009 and awards will have a 12-month duration.

Date/Time: Monday, September 29, 2008 11:00AM Pacific
Speaker: Norm Sleep, Stanford University

Abstract: Silicate super-earths are rocky planets with masses up to ~10 that of the Earth. They are of astrobiological interest because they are relatively easy to detect around other stars. Tectonics enhances habitability on the Earth by exhuming biologically important elements. Plate tectonics are too poorly understood on the Earth to tell whether this process should occur on larger planets. Still the Gauss' law relationship that surface heat flow scales with surface gravity provides some insight and yields that the geotherm expressed in terms of pressure is to the first order invariant to planetary size.