July 2009

This amendment establishes a new program element in Appendix D.12 entitled "SPICA Science Investigation Concept Studies." This new program element solicits proposals for concept studies of science investigations that would develop and use scientific instrumentation on the JAXA/ISAS Space Infrared Telescope for Cosmology and Astrophysics (SPICA). This mission will cover the mid (> 5 micrometers) through far (~400 micrometers) infrared portion of the spectrum to observe many astrophysical phenomena from distant galaxies to star and planet forming systems in our own Galaxy. SPICA will use a cooled telescope (3.5 m diameter primary, ~5 K) to achieve sensitivities currently inaccessible to existing facilities operating over this wavelength range (SOFIA, Herschel). The planned observatory would have a suite of instruments, both imaging and spectroscopic.

Notices of Intent to propose are due September 2, 2009, and proposals are due November 2, 2009. The maximum period of performance for these concept studies is 6 months.

Further information about the SPICA Science Investigation Concept Studies program element is available from Dr. Eric P. Smith, Astrophysics Division, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC 20546; Telephone: (202) 358-2439; E-mail:

This amendment establishes a new program element in Appendix A.39 entitled "ESSP Venture-class Science Investigations: Earth Venture-1." The NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) Earth Science Division's Earth Venture (EV) is a new element within the Earth System Science Pathfinder (ESSP) Program. Earth Venture consists of a series of regularly solicited, competitively selected Earth Science investigations as recommended by the recent National Research Council's decadal survey in Earth science, Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond.

The ASP is looking for a creative person with good knowledge of astronomy and experience in K-12 education to work on a number of existing and developing programs in astronomy education. Current duties include coordinating Project ASTRO (a program that links volunteer astronomers with 4th - 9th grade teachers), managing a web-based quarterly newsletter for teachers, conducting training programs for school districts interested in hands-on astronomy, helping with grant writing, and assisting with other initiatives in education.

More detailed information about the position and specific instructions for applying can be found at the Society's web site at:

More information about the education programs of the 120-year old international society, headquartered in San Francisco, can be found at:

The Planetary Science Division of NASA's Science Mission Directorate is now advertising for the senior Program Scientist for Astrobiology. In general, this civil servant will oversee the science content and execution of the Astrobiology Program. A detailed description of the position and how to apply for this opportunity can be found on using the announcement number (or search number): HQ09B0156. This position opened on July 10 and will close August 10, 2009. I encourage anyone who is interested to apply.

James L. Green
Director Planetary Science Division

Comments are being solicited from members of the astrobiology community on the following paper(s) that will be submitted to the 2009-2011 Planetary Science Decadal Survey. Papers will be revised based on community feedback. Additonal papers will be posted as they become available.

* Astrobiology Research Priorities for Exoplanets (Last Updated: May 28, 2009)
* Astrobiology Research Priorities for Mercury, Venus, and the Moon (Added: June 8, 2009)
* Astrobiology Research Priorities for Mars (Added: June 10, 2009)
* Astrobiology Research Priorities for the Outer Solar System (Added June 15, 2009)
* Astrobiology Research Priorities for Primitive Asteroids (Added July 22, 2009)
* Limits of Terrestrial Life in Space (Added July 24, 2009)
* An Astrobiological Lens on Planetary System Science (Added July 24, 2009)
* Astrobiology Priorities for Planetary Science Flight Missions (Added July 24, 2009)

Please send comments on the first 5 papers (the last added July 22) to no later than July 31, 2009. Please send comments on papers posted subsequently to the same address by August 17, 2009.

For more information and to download the papers, click here.

The Lassen Astrobiology Student Internship Program, a collaboration between NAI's Ames team, Lassen Volcanic National Park, and Red Bluff High School, will wrap up its first year of activity in August. Nine high school students and their chemistry teacher, with training from NAI scientists and under the supervision of a park ranger, have made eight field trips to various sites within the park throughout the course of the school year. They monitored field sites and made seasonal measurements of temperature, pH, and water chemistry of the hydrothermal features. PBS station KNPB, Reno, NV, interviewed the students while sample collections were underway. A feature presentation about the program was aired in June.

This summer, NAI's new team at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (also known as "The New York Center for Astrobiology") played a major role in hosting the 2009 ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp. The camp is a free, academic program of The Harris Foundation, named for Bernard A. Harris, MD, an accomplished NASA astronaut, physician and entrepreneur, and the first African American to walk in space.

The Josep Comas i Sola International Astrobiology Summer School, held annually in Santander, Spain, has become a tradition in the astrobiology community, as this summer marked its seventh year. The week-long program for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows provides lectures from international experts, round-table discussions, student projects, night-sky observations, and a half-day field trip to a nearby site of astrobiological interest.

August 5, 2009 11:00 AM Pacific - Please join us as this year's students present the results of their summer's research. The 2009 Summer Undergraduate Internship in Astrobiology is a ten-week internship in astrobiology held each year at Goddard Space Flight Center.

Members of the NAI community are cordially invited to submit abstracts to Session P13 of the AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco in December. Conveners are seeking recent measurements, or experimental or theoretical results, relating to the relationship between structure and isotopic anomalies of the organic matter in extraterrestrial materials such as meteorites, IDPs, and Stardust samples.

For more information see Abstract Submissions will be open by July 30 and close September 3.

Dear astrobiology community member:

I'm writing to remind you, on behalf of Mary Voytek at NASA Headquarters and myself, that several draft white papers on astrobiology topics have been posted for public comment on the Astrobiology Program website at (link in the "Spotlight" box to the upper right).

When finalized later this summer, these white papers will be submitted to the Planetary Science Decadal Survey currently being conducted by the Space Studies Board of the National Research Council. Comments are requested by July 31. Additional papers will be posted as they become available, so please check the site periodically during the rest of July.

Thank you in advance for your help in ensuring that the views of the astrobiology community are well represented in the material submitted to the Survey.

Carl B. Pilcher, Director
NASA Astrobiology Institute
NASA Ames Research Center
Moffett Field, CA 94035


Amid the turmoil of new grant solicitations plus the coming holiday, you may have set aside your ASGSB abstract. This is a reminder that the deadline is imminent. Even with some leniency from beneficent organizers, you should get set to submit. The official deadline is Monday, July 6.

Submit your abstract(s) for the 2009 Annual Meeting of the American Society for Gravitational and Space Biology. The meeting roster already contains a range of excellent symposia and paper sessions. To submit an abstract, go to the ASGSB website:

NASA/HQ is hereby soliciting information about potential sources to provide support for study and report on radiation standards for lunar sortie missions. This will consist of an Ad Hoc committee to perform an independent assessment of the program's technical quality, relevance to exploration objectives, and effectiveness in maturing and infusing technologies. This work will assist the Government in overseeing the Constellation, human research, exploration technology development and lunar precursor robotic programs as well as the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Project.