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August 2010


Astrobiology Science News 24 August 2010

The Planetary Instrument Definition and Development (PIDD) program solicits proposals to define and develop scientific instruments or components of such instruments to the point where the instruments may be proposed in response to future announcements of flight opportunity without additional extensive technology development.

This amendment delays the proposal due date for C.16 Planetary Instrument Definition and Development (PIDD) Program. Programmatic schedule conflicts at NASA Headquarters have postponed the PIDD peer review and hence the date when SMD must have proposals. A corresponding deferral of the PIDD due date will provide the community additional time to prepare proposals. The proposal due date for PIDD has been changed to Friday, September 17, 2010. Table 2 and Table 3 of the Summary of Solicitation for this NRA have been updated to reflect this change.

This Amendment to the NASA Research Announcement "Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES) 2010" (NNH10ZDA001N) isposted on the NASA research opportunity homepage at http://nspires.nasaprs.com/ (select "Solicitations" then "Open Solicitations" then "NNH10ZDA001N"). You can now track amendments, clarifications and corrections to ROSES and subscribe to an RSS feed at: http://nasascience.nasa.gov/researchers/sara/grant-solicitations/roses-2010

Questions concerning PIDD may be addressed to Janice Buckner, Planetary Science Division, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC 20546-0001; Telephone: (202) 358-0183; Email: janice.l.buckner@nasa.gov.

Source: NAI Newsletter

The AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement with Science, established in 2010, recognizes early-career scientists and engineers who demonstrate excellence in their contribution to public engagement with science activities. A monetary prize of $5,000, a commemorative plaque, complimentary registration to the AAAS Annual Meeting, and reimbursement for reasonable hotel and travel expenses to attend the AAAS Annual Meeting to receive the prize are given to the recipient.

For the purposes of this award, public engagement activities are defined as the individual's active participation in efforts to engage with the public on science- and technology-related issues and promote meaningful dialogue between science and society.

The award will be given at the AAAS Annual Meeting.

For more information: http://www.aaas.org/aboutaaas/awards/public_engagement/

Source: NAI Newsletter

Meeting Dates: December 13-17, 2010
Abstract Submission Deadline: September 2, 2010.

The following is a list of some of the astrobiology-related sessions that will be held at the 2010 AGU fall meeting. For more information and to submit an abstract: http://www.agu.org/meetings/fm10/program/abstract_submissions.php

NASA Request For Information: The Past, Present, and Future of Life on Earth: Scientific Connections between NASA's Earth Science Division and Astrobiology Program

Solicitation Number: NNH10ZDA010L
Release Date: July 30, 2010
Response Date: October 29, 2010
Classification Code: A -- Research and Development

The NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) is soliciting information on connections and synergies between the research goals of the NASA Astrobiology Program and those of the NASA Earth Science Division. The Earth Science Division supports research activities that address the fundamental questions: How is the Earth changing and what are the consequences for life on Earth? It does so by supporting research into: the variability of the Earth system, the forcings of this variability, the response of the Earth system to change, the consequences of changes in the Earth system, and how we might improve our ability to predict future changes. NASA's Astrobiology Program is dedicated to addressing three fundamental questions: "How does life begin and evolve?" "Does life exist elsewhere in the universe?" "What is the future of life on Earth and beyond?" The two programs thus share a focus on life in the Earth system, including the conditions on Earth that allow an abundance and diversity of life to flourish, interactions between the biosphere and its planetary environment, and the future of life on Earth. This request seeks the broadest level of community input on areas in which research addressing the goals of one program has potential impact on achieving the goals of the other.

Responses to this Request for Information (RFI) will be used by NASA program managers in both the Earth Science Division and Astrobiology Program to consider possible joint research topics, scoping workshops or other joint program activities. However, the issuance of this RFI does not imply a new NASA commitment of funding by either program.

For more information: http://bit.ly/dzRxTQ

Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale (IAS), UMR 8617

Studies on organic matter with a potentially prebiotic interest : from the Interstellar Medium to the Solar Nebula and the Oceans on Primitive Earth

The goal of this thesis is to compare the soluble organic phase from various meteorites and compare their compositions with our organic residues from the laboratory. Thus traditional contamination problems arising from weathering and poor manipulations will be greatly reduced. The main goal can be divided into three items (1) to analyze the soluble organic matter of meteorites according to their classification, (2) to evaluate once and for all if ice photo and thermo chemistry is important not only in ISM objects but also in the ecosphere of the Solar Nebula and on primitive telluric planets and finally (3) to propose to more specialized chemists a more realistic prebiotic "soup" possibly leading to the first autocatalytic molecules. Emphasis will be given to scenarios that are relevant to our knowledge of primitive Solar System and planetary evolution as IAS has an important scientific activity in these fields.

This subject is thus largely interdisciplinary (chemistry, physical-chemistry and astrophysics). The candidate (M/F), must be in possession of a MsC in any domain related to this interdisciplinary activity. Special attention will be given to experience in physical-chemistry and/or analytical chemistry. In any case, the candidate should have an experimentalist profile, ready to devote much time in the laboratory. IAS is an institute of fundamental research with application to space instrumentation, running and exploiting space instruments. About 200 people work there (around 80 scientists), an average of 15 Ph.D. students and 15 post-docs. The scientific environment within the laboratory and the Orsay Campus, not far from Paris, is truly exceptional.

For more information, please contact:

Louis d'Hendecourt
Equipe " Astrochimie et Origines "
Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale
Campus Universitaire d'Orsay
Bat 121 - 91405 Orsay Cedex
Tel : +33(0)1 69 85 86 40/+33(0)6 13 16 25 38
E-mail : Louis.DHendecourt@ias.u-psud.fr

or

Donia Baklouti
Equipe " Astrochimie et Origines "
Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale
Campus Universitaire d'Orsay
Bat 121 - 91405 Orsay Cedex
Tel : +33(0)1 69 85 87 88
E-mail : donia.baklouti@ias.u-psud.fr

Source: NAI Newsletter

Many of our galaxy's suns have destroyed the atmospheres of orbiting Earth-like planets--or so astrobiologists have long feared. The Milky Way, they note, is dominated by M dwarf stars: violent, unpredictable suns that frequently hurl high-energy particles and solar flares into space. Because they are much cooler than our sun, any potentially habitable planet would need to orbit them much closer than Earth does, putting it smack in the danger zone. But a new study from NAI's Virtual Planetary Laboratory Team indicates that these planets may be unexpectedly shielded from solar activity, keeping life safe. The study will appear in an upcoming edition of Astrobiology.

Source: NAI Newsletter

AbGradCon 2010 a Success

The 2010 Astrobiology Graduate Student Conference (AbGradCon) was held from June 14-18 this year in Taellberg, Sweden. Eighty-eight participants from 29 different countries attended the meeting, which brought together early-career scientists in the field of astrobiology. The conference schedule included oral sessions on exoplanets, astronomy and life, habitability, weird life, biosignatures and Mars, all of which were video streamed live via the web. There were also participant-led, discussion-oriented workshops on various topics within the field of astrobiology, covering topics ranging from future missions to rocky planets, to habitability, to the origin of life. The third day of the event included an excursion into the Siljan crater area, a known impact crater structure located close by. Participants traveled to various sites of geological interest within the impact structure to study the effects of impacts, and had the opportunity to observe strata that had been distorted by the impact, as well as to search for fossils in outcrops near the crater boundary. The AbGradCon tradition will be carried on in 2011, where it is currently planned to take place in Bozeman, Montana. For more information: http://www.abgradcon2010.org/

Source: NAI Newsletter