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March 2009


Astrobiology Science News 24 March 2009

Astrobiology Science News 23 March 2009

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (JSC) has released NASA Research Announcement (NRA) NNJ09ZSA001N, entitled "Ground-Based Studies in Space Radiobiology." This NRA solicits ground-based proposals for the Space Radiation Program Element (SRPE) components of the Human Research Program (HRP). Proposals are solicited by the SRPE in the area of Space Radiation Biology utilizing beams of high energy heavy ions simulating space radiation at the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory (NSRL), at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) in Upton, New York.

The full text of the solicitation is available on the NASA Research Opportunities homepage at http://nspires.nasaprs.com under menu listing "Open Solicitations." Potential applicants are urged to access this site well in advance of the proposal due date to familiarize themselves with its structure and to register in the system. Proposals solicited through this NRA will use a two-step proposal process. Only Step-1 proposers determined to be relevant with respect to the Research Emphases outlined in Section (I)(F) of this NRA will be invited to submit full Step-2 proposals. Step-2 proposals must be compliant with respect to all sections of this NRA or they will be declined without review. Proposals must be submitted electronically. Step-1 proposals are due April 23, 2009. Step-2 proposals are due June 25, 2009.

Ames is proud to announce the first lecture in a series on the Evolution of Science and Technology. On Thursday, March 12 at 7:00 PM at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, Dr. James Strick of Franklin & Marshall College will talk about Charles Darwin and his thoughts on the origins of life. Employees and members of the public are invited to attend this free public lecture sponsored by Ames and the NASA Astrobiology Institute. Additional lectures in the series, which honors the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth among other significant anniversaries, will be announced at a later date.

A Meeting-in-a-Meeting to be held during the 214th Meeting of the AAS, June 7-11, 2009, Pasadena, California ( http://aas.org/meetings/aas214 ) Sponsored by the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Working Group on Laboratory Astrophysics (WGLA) - ( http://www.aas.org/labastro/ )

Abstract Submission deadline: 2 March 2009
Late Abstract Submission deadline: 30 April 2009

NNH09ZDA001N, entitled "Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences - 2009 (ROSES-2009)," was released on February 13, 2009. This NASA Research Announcement (NRA) solicits proposals for supporting basic and applied research and technology across a broad range of Earth and space science program elements relevant to one or more of the following NASA Research Programs: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Planetary Science, and Astrophysics. More information can be found by opening the NASA Research Opportunities homepage at http://nspires.nasaprs.com/ and then linking through the menu listings "Solicitations" to "Open Solicitations."

[Source: NAI Newsletter]

The NAI-MIRS Program provides opportunities for researchers, from qualified minority serving institutions, to initiate joint partnerships with researchers in the field of astrobiology. The NAI-MIRS program provides support for 8 - 10 week sabbaticals, follow-up funding, and travel opportunities for faculty and students from minority institutions. The application deadline for 2009 is March 16th.

For more information, visit http://www.nai-mirs.org .

[Source: NAI Newsletter]

Investigating Astrobiology Research Topics Through Scientific Inquiry

July 6 - 11, 2009
Application Form: http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/UHNAI/epo/alii-appform.cfm
Deadline - March 27, 2009

This workshop, designed for secondary science teachers, will emphasize lectures and activities led by scientists, state-of-the-art lab tours, and professional development with the use of learning cycles for concept development. Teachers will review and do activities from the Voyages Through Time curriculum, and other NASA materials aligned with 2061 Benchmarks. Registration fee is $50. Two University of Hawai'i graduate education credits will be offered for an administrative fee of only $110. A limited number of teachers from the continental US will receive a subsidy of $750 for room and board to defray expenses. Accepted Hawai'i teachers will be fully subsidized.

[Source: NAI Newsletter]

Location: Palacio de Magdalena, Santander, Cantabria, Spain

Dates: June 22-26, 2009

The seventh annual summer school in Astrobiology, organized jointly by the Spanish Centro de Astrobiologia and the NASA Astrobiology Institute will be held at the Santander campus of Spain's national university, Universidad Internacional Menendez Pelayo (UIMP).

Astrobiology Science News 10 March 2009

AbGradCon 2009

The next Astrobiology Graduate Student Conference (AbGradCon) will be held July 17 - 20 2009 at the University of Washington in Seattle. The primary objective of AbGradCon is to bring together, in a unique setting, the early-career astrobiologists (graduate students and post-doctoral fellows within 2 years of finishing their Ph.D.) who will lead astrobiology research in the years to come. The conference is unique in that it is a student-led meeting, from the organization, to the presentations. AbGradCon strives to remove the "pressures" of typical scientific meetings, by providing a relaxed atmosphere in which presentations and round-table discussions are fostered, along with numerous social activities. AbGradCon will also be hosted in the virtual world of Second Life at the NASA CoLab Sun Amphitheater.

Abstract submission deadline is March 15 2009: http://tinyurl.com/abgradconAPPLY

For more information: http://tinyurl.com/abgradcon09

[Source: NAI Newsletter]

2009 Soffen Fund Travel Grant

The Gerald A. Soffen Memorial Fund is pleased to announce the first of two 2009 Travel Grant application opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students pursuing studies in the fields of space science and engineering.

The Travel Grants, in the amount of $500, enable student recipients to attend professional meetings to present their research. The first 2009 Travel Grant application deadline is April 1, 2009. Jerry Soffen, a biologist by training, led a distinguished career at NASA, including serving as the Project Scientist for Viking and as an architect for the NASA Astrobiology Institute. The Travel Grant continues Jerry's dedication to educating and involving future generations in space science and engineering pursuits. The electronic application materials and instructions are located on the Soffen Fund website:

http://nasa-academy.org/soffen/travelgrant/

Questions regarding the application or application process may be sent to: travelgrant@nasa-academy.org

[Source: NAI Newsletter]

Evolution of the Modern Nitrogen Cycle

NAI's Deep Time Drilling Project supported the drilling of several pristine cores from ancient rocks in Western Australia in 2004, and a new paper in Science, led by University of Washington astrobiologists, outlines results from the analysis of these cores. The nitrogen isotope values in the core from the 2.5-billion-year-old Mount McRae Shale vary over 30 meters, evidently recording a temporary change from an anaerobic to an aerobic nitrogen cycle, and back again to anaerobic. Other data suggest that nitrification occurred in response to a small increase in surface-ocean oxygenation. The data imply that nitrifying and denitrifying microbes had already evolved by the late Archean and were present before oxygen first began to accumulate in the atmosphere.

[Source: NAI Newsletter]

Starting on February 23rd, 2009, each of the NAI teams began giving one hour overview seminars that describe the work they will be performing as members of the NAI. These seminars, which are broadcast via videoconference and web, provide an opportunity to find out more about the science, EPO and other activities being performed by the NAI teams. These seminars take place at 11am Pacific time. The schedule of the remaining talks follow.

Monday, March 9: Isik Kanik, NASA JPL - Icy Worlds
Wednesday, March 11: Mark Allen, NASA JPL - Titan
Monday, March 16: Ariel Anbar, Arizona State University
Wednesday, March 18: Clark Johnson, University of Wisconsin
Monday, March 30: John Peters, Montana State University
Wednesday, April 1: Loren Williams, Georgia Institute of Technology
Monday, April 6: Chris House, Penn State University
Wednesday, April 8: Doug Whittet, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Monday, April 13: Vikki Meadows, VPL at University of Washington
Wednesday, April 15: Mike Mumma, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Monday, April 20: Roger Summons, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Wednesday, April 22: Karen Meech, University of Hawaii

For more information about these seminars, podcasts of previous seminars and participation information, please visit http://astrobiology.nasa.gov/nai/seminars/

[Source: NAI Newsletter]