August 2009

Dear Astrobiology Community member,

The Astrophysics Division of NASAs Science Mission Directorate is soliciting nominations for the Executive Committee of a newly established Exoplanet Exploration Program Analysis Group (ExoPAG).

The inaugural ExoPAG Chair will be Jim Kasting, a long-time member of the astrobiology community and the NAI. The ExoPAG will be responsible for soliciting and coordinating community input into the development and execution of NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program. Additional information and a link to a website with detailed information are provided in the attachment.

I am writing to encourage interested members of the astrobiology community to nominate colleagues or themselves to serve on the ExoPAG Executive Committee. The deadline for receipt of nominations is Sept. 4, 2009. See the attachment and website for nomination requirements and procedures.

With best wishes,

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

Dear members and friends of ASGSB,

Make plans to join with your colleagues and friends in Raleigh, North Carolina, from November 5-8, 2009, for the annual meeting of the American Society for Gravitational and Space Biology. The scientific committee is very excited about the program, which will include symposia on Habitation Science (chaired by Cary Mitchell), Biological Engineering and Synthetic Biology (chaired by Marshall Porterfield) and The ISS as a National Laboratory (chaired by Ken Souza). We will also have posters, oral sessions, committee meetings, and plenty of time for networking.

Utrecht University's Faculty of Geosciences offers education and research concerning the geosphere, biosphere, atmosphere and anthroposphere. With a population of 2,200 students (BSc and MSc) and 575 staff, the faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty is organised in four Departments: Innovation and Environmental Sciences, Earth Sciences, Physical Geography, and Human Geography and Urban and Regional Planning.

Currently, we are looking to fill the following position within the Geochemistry group at the Department of Earth Sciences: PhD researcher in Biogeochemical Ocean Modeling

The PhD-researcher will be employed in a project on: Modeling Ocean Biogeochemistry in the mid-Cretaceous: reconstructing the nutrient-biosphere-climate link

Marine Methane Oxidation Without Sulfur

A new study in Science from NAI's Penn State Team shows that the anaerobic oxidation of methane is not solely a sulfate-dependent process. Microbes cultured from marine methane seeps in California's Eel River Basin have demonstrated capability of using manganese and iron to oxidize methane to carbon dioxide. These same compounds may have been key to methane oxidation in the early, oxygen-less days of Earth's atmosphere.

Weary of catching planes, burning up fossil fuels, and spending lots of time and money to attend meetings? Take heart! Virtual worlds are shaping up as possible venues for online meetings--and astrobiology graduate students are leading the way in exploring their potential. On July 17-18, 2009, early-career astrobiologists met at the University of Washington in Seattle for the 6th annual Astrobiology Graduate Student Conference (AbGradCon), and simultaneously in the virtual world Second Life. Students presented talks that were streamed live into Second Life and participated in a real-world and virtual world "mixed reality" poster session. Social media such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter were also used for sharing information before, during and after the conference. MORE