September 2012

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute seeks to hire a tenure-track faculty member in Astrobiology. An appointment at the Assistant Professor level is anticipated. The appointee will be based in the School of Science at Rensselaer, and affiliated with the New York Center for Astrobiology (NYCA,, a member of the NASA Astrobiology Institute. The home department of the appointee within the School of Science will be determined at the time of appointment, based on prior experience.

Applicants should have research interests and expertise that complement and synergize with current interdisciplinary research in the NYCA, which includes astrophysical studies of organic molecules in the interstellar medium, star formation and the chemical evolution of protostellar envelopes and protoplanetary disks, the impact history of the early solar system, conditions on the early Earth and Mars, the origin and early evolution of the first biomolecules on these planets, the emergence of life on Earth, and the search for biosignatures in our solar system and beyond. The appointee will join an established team that values the importance of interdisciplinary collaborations. The NYCA also emphasizes education and training at all levels: current programs include an Astrobiology Summer Science Camp for middle-school students, an Astrobiology Teachers Academy for high-school science teachers, college-level courses and a minor degree in Astrobiology, and training of the next generation of researchers at graduate and postdoctoral levels.

The appointee would be expected to contribute to these activities. Applicants should send a curriculum vitae, a statement of research and teaching interests, a list of publications, and the names and contact information of three references to: Professor Douglas Whittet, Chair, Astrobiology Search Committee, New York Center for Astrobiology, Department of Physics, Applied Physics & Astrronomy, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 110 8th Steet, Troy, NY 12180. Applications may be submitted electronically to

Review of applications is ongoing and applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Applications received by October 31, 2012 are assured fullest consideration. [Source: NAI]

This Program Element Appendix (PEA) solicits proposals for NASA-funded instrument investigations led by a U.S. Principal Investigator (PI) for the ESA JUICE mission.

This amendment presents final text for Appendix K, JUpiter ICy Moons Explorer Instrument. Notices of intent are now required (Section 3) and the process for NASA review of proposals submitted to ESA has been clarified (Section 6.1). Changes to the JUICE PEA are shown in bold.

The due dates for the solicitation have not changed. Notices of intent are required and are due July 27, 2012 and proposals are due on September 24, 2012.

On or about July 13, 2012, this Amendment to the NASA Announcement of Opportunity "Second Stand Alone Missions of Opportunity (SALMON-2)" (NNH12ZDA006O) will be posted on the NASA research opportunity home page at

Questions concerning Appendix K, JUpiter ICy Moons Explorer instrument, may be addressed to Dr. Curt Niebur, Planetary Science Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC 20546. Email: Telephone: (202) 358-0390. [Source: NAI]

The Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) Directorate, NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC), anticipates an opening for a civil service research scientist in the Astromaterials Research Office. The incumbent will be expected to conduct fundamental research in the general area of organic geochemistry of astromaterials. United States citizenship and a Ph.D. or equivalent experience in chemistry, physics, geology, geochemistry, planetary sciences, or a related field are required. The position requires an advanced knowledge of principles, practices, and applications of organic geochemistry in planetary and space sciences. The position will be filled at the GS-13 level. For a table of civil servant salaries in the greater Houston area, see

The selectee will be expected to establish a strong research program and to attract funds from any of the range of NASA Research & Analysis programs. This research program should complement or build upon existing ARES strengths, which include studies of primitive materials, meteorites, comets, and asteroids; Mars exploration and science research; experimental studies; and astrobiology. ARES is well-equipped with state of the art analytical and experimental laboratories (see for a complete list). Participation in NASA-sponsored space science missions is strongly encouraged (e.g. instrument team member/PI/co-I, participating scientist, etc.). Finally, the selectee will provide advice and support to the ARES Astromaterials Acquisition and Curation Office for issues relating to organic geochemistry, such as organic contamination control, planetary protection, and procedures for appropriate curation of astromaterials that may contain organic species, on an as-needed basis up to approximately one-fifth time.

It is anticipated that the official position announcement will appear on or about 1 September 2012. All applications must be made through the website. The formal announcement will contain details on the application process, including dates the position will be open for application. Starting date is subject to negotiation. Please address inquiries to Dr. David Draper (Manager, Astromaterials Research Office, David Draper), who will also provide, upon request, a detailed outline (authored by JSC's Human Resources office) for navigating the website and compiling a responsive application. [Source: NAI]

NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program Analysis Group (ExoPAG) will hold its sixth meeting on Saturday-Sunday, October 13-14, 2012, just prior to the 44th AAS Division for Planetary Sciences meeting in Reno, NV. ExoPAG meetings are open to the entire scientific community, and offer an opportunity to participate in discussions of scientific and technical issues in exoplanet exploration, and to provide input into NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program (ExEP). All interested members of the astronomical and planetary science communities are invited to attend and participate.

ExoPAG-6 will focus on ways to expand the inclusiveness of NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program (ExEP) to the wider exoplanet community, beyond the past focus on future flagship missions in space. Topics of discussion will include challenges and opportunities in exoplanetary science in the coming decade, and the status of NASA's plans to sponsor the development of mission concepts for reduced-scale (<$1B) exoplanet exploration missions. The ExoPAG would also like to broaden the discussion to include other ways in which NASA might facilitate exoplanet research over the next few years, so suggestions for topics and/or speakers at the meeting are always welcome.

Suggestions can be sent to Prof. Scott Gaudi, ExoPAG Chair, and/or Dr. Douglas Hudgins, ExoPAG Executive Secretary The meeting will run for two full days, so there should be plenty of time for both presentations and discussion. News and information about NASA's ExoPAG and the ExoPAG-6 meeting can be found on the ExoPAG web site at [Source: NAI]

NASA has awarded five-year grants totaling almost $40 million to five research teams to study the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe.

The newly selected teams are from the University of Washington; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; University of Wisconsin, Madison; University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; and University of Southern California. Average funding to the teams is almost $8 million each. The interdisciplinary teams will become members of the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI), headquartered at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

"These research teams join the NASA Astrobiology Institute at an exciting time for NASA's exploration programs," said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "With the Curiosity rover preparing to investigate the potential habitability of Mars and the Kepler mission discovering planets outside our solar system, these research teams will help provide the critical interdisciplinary expertise needed to interpret data from these missions and plan future astrobiology-focused missions."

This Program Element Appendix (PEA) solicits proposals for NASA-funded instrument investigations led by a U.S. Principal Investigator (PI) for the ESA JUICE mission. This amendment presents updated text for Appendix K, JUpiter ICy Moons Explorer Instrument, which adds additional text and requirements to Sections 5.1 and 5.2. The due date for proposals has not changed. The due date for proposals for the solicitation has not changed. The submission of an Experiment Interface Document - Part B (EID-B) is now required by October 8, 2012.

On or about September 5, 2012, this Amendment to the NASA Announcement of Opportunity "Second Stand Alone Missions of Opportunity (SALMON-2)" (NNH12ZDA006O) will be posted on the NASA research opportunity home page at

Questions concerning Appendix K, JUpiter ICy Moons Explorer instrument, may be addressed to Dr. Curt Niebur, Planetary Science Division, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC 20546. Email: Telephone: (202) 358-0390.

The NASA Astrobiology Program mourns the death of Dick Holland, treasured colleague and forefather of astrobiology.

Dick Holland died May 21, 2012 in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, just short of his 85th birthday. He was born in Mannheim, Germany and spent his early years there before coming to the U.S. in 1940. He received his bachelor's degree in chemistry (with high honors) from Princeton University in 1946 at the age of 19, served in the U.S. Army, then entered graduate school at Columbia University in 1947, receiving is master's degree in 1948 and Ph.D. in 1952, both in geology. At Columbia he worked with Laurence Kulp as part of a remarkable group of graduate students who went on to become leading figures in geochemistry. He served on the faculty of Princeton University from 1950 to 1972, rising from the rank of instructor to full professor. In 1972 he moved to Harvard, where he later became the Harry C. Dudley Professor of Economic Geology.

In 2006 he 'retired' from Harvard and became a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at the University of Pennsylvania, where he remained active in research and writing until his death. During his career he held visiting appointments at the Universities of Oxford, Durham, Hawaii, Heidelberg, Penn State, Imperial College, London, and the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and his numerous awards included the V.M. Goldschmidt Award of the Geochemical Society, the Penrose Gold Medal of the Society of Economic Geologists, and the Leopold von Busch Medal of the Deutsche Geologische Gesellschaft.

Protostars & Planets VI

July 15-20, 2013 at the Convention Center Heidelberg, Germany

The Protostars and Planets series has served the community for more than three decades with state of the art compilations of the current knowledge in the fields of star and planet formation. The previous volume PPV was published in 2007. Since then, the field of protostars and planets has advanced tremendously, from a theoretical as well as observational point of view.

The primary outcome of the conference will be the Protostars and Planets VI book of review articles. Although the meeting is still more than one year away, the logistics of preparing excellent overview articles and getting them into print in due time requires timely organization. Therefore, we ask you to submit proposals for review chapters and associated talks by September 15th 2012.

For more information visit: [Source: NAI]

The Maturation of Instruments for Solar System Exploration (MatISSE) Program supports the advanced development of spacecraft-based instruments that show promise for use in future planetary missions. The goal of the program is to develop and demonstrate planetary and astrobiology science instruments to the point where they may be proposed in response to future announcements of flight opportunity without additional extensive technology development (approximately TRL 6). The proposed instrument must address specific scientific objectives of likely future planetary science missions.

The MatISSE Program seeks proposals for development activities leading to instrument systems in support of the Science Mission Directorate's (SMD) Planetary Science Division. The objectives of the program are to develop new technologies that significantly improve instrument measurement capabilities for planetary science missions (such as Discovery, New Frontiers, Mars Exploration, and other planetary programs). It is the responsibility of the proposer to demonstrate how their proposed technology addresses significant scientific questions relevant to stated NASA goals and not for NASA to attempt to infer this.

This amendment presents final text for Appendix C.19, which replaces the previous version in its entirety. The name of this program has been changed from Astrobiology Science and Technology for Instrument Development, as it was at the time of release of ROSES in February 2012, to the Maturation of Instruments for Solar System Exploration.

This eleven-day scientific discovery tour that journeys from the Western Australian coastal town of Denham through the Pilbara will be a trip back in time. It is designed for scientists interested in the earliest life on Earth, and early environments. Highlights range from the modern stromatolites of Shark Bay, through the banded iron formations of the Hamersley Ranges to the earliest convincing evidence of life on Earth in the 3.5 billion-year-old rocks of the Pilbara Craton. Your guide, Professor Malcolm Walter, will take you through some of Australia's most remote and remarkable countryside. Accommodation will be in a sheep station (ranch), country hotels and camping under the stars (made easy by professional camp managers, Outdoor Spirit).

To download the Tour PDF and booking form visit: [Source: NAI]

Astrobiology Workshop, Aveiro University

October 18-20, 2012 at the Aveiro University in Portugal

Abstract submission deadline: September 15
Pre-registration deadline: October 8

The focus of this workshop is on maximizing resources and gathering and sharing expertise in the field of astrobiology. It's an excellent platform to introduce astrobiology to university students and researchers of related fields. The structure of the workshop includes lectures, a round table session, two poster sessions and an open session to general audience and parallel activities for children. On the last day there will be a field trip to a geological formation of interest to Astrobiology.

For more information visit: [Source: NAI]