Astrobiology (general): November 2006

The NAI is excited to announce the release of this year's NAI Annual Report. It can be viewed on the NAI website by navigating to the "Teams" section and selecting any team.

NAI has approved funding for the development of a new, state-of-the-art facility capable of recreating past atmospheric and oceanic conditions, to be called VAL, the Variable Atmospheres Laboratory. Capable of simulating various combinations of oxygen, carbon dioxide, temperature, and hydrogen sulfide levels, this facility will be able to test new hypotheses for the cause of some of the Earth's major mass extinction events - such as the Permian and Triassic mass extinctions.

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (B). Organised and edited by Charles Cockell, Sydney Leach and Ian Smith Published August 2006

Speakers: Sean Raymond (University of Colorado) and Avi Mandell (Goddard Space Flight Center) Date/Time: Monday, November 27, 2006 11AM PST

With this amendment to ROSES-2006, NASA establishes a new program element in Appendix E.5 entitled "History of the Scientific Exploration of Earth and Space." The primary objective of the History of the Scientific Exploration of Earth and Space (HSEES) program element is to engage, inform, and inspire diverse public audiences by sharing historical knowledge about NASA's scientific exploration of the Earth and space and by communicating NASA's unique contributions to the advancement of Earth and space science during the past 50 years. An essential component of communicating to the public is accurate, complete, well-written histories about the scientific exploration of space.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) invites proposals for the Major Research Instrumentation Program (MRI). See Program Solicitation NSF 07-510 at: This solicitation addresses major instrument acquisition or instrument development that is too costly for support through other NSF programs.

The Astrobiology Primer: An Outline of General Knowledge appears in this month's issue of Astrobiology. Sponsored by the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI), the Primer was spearheaded by editor-in-chief Lucas Mix, and represents the work of 8 editors, 13 authors, and countless contributors.

Peter Ward from NAI's Alumni Team at the University of Washington and his collaborators have a new paper out in PNAS providing supportive evidence for Romer's Gap. Their results link this gap in vertebrate terrestrialization with a low atmospheric oxygen interval. This paper supports Ward's new book on the evolution of effective respiratory systems, entitled "Out of Thin Air." [Source: NAI Newsletter]