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Astrobiology (general): August 2007


An international team of researchers, including members of NASA Astrobiology Institute's (NAI) Virtual Planetary Laboratory team used NASA's Spitzer Space telescope to detect the presence of water vapor on the hot Jupiter Henry Draper (HD) Catalog 189733b. (The "b" after the number indicates that the reference is to a planet circling the star with that number.)

This is significant because several attempts to detect water on such planets either failed to find compelling evidence or made it clear that their claims should not be taken as fact. An article about this study was published recently in Nature magazine. The study's primary author, Giovanna Tinetti was a 2003 NAI Postdoctoral Fellow.

NASA Arctic Mars Analog Svalbard Expedition Field Report (AMASE 2007): Arriving in Longyearbyen, Kirsten Fristad, NASA GSFC

"I became more and more excited the closer I got to Longyearbyen, Svalbard. After a busy year working in the SAM Lab at NASA Goddard I am returning to the arctic as part of the Arctic Mars Analog Svalbard Expedition, otherwise known as AMASE 07. No longer a 'newbie' to AMASE, I know I am quickly approaching long work days, sleepless nights and instrument malfunctions. I am also approaching jovial camaraderie, new experiences and the most beautiful landscapes I have ever set eyes on."

ESA AMASE student blog: Arrival at Longyearbyen, Thea Falkenbergand, ESA

"We arrived at Longyearbyen at about 14:00 yesterday with only a single suitcase missing, which fortunately turned up later when the rest of our cargo was located. About half of the expedition arrived on this flight, some with up to 200 kg overweight ;-)."

Arctic Mars Analog Svalbard Expedition
Previous AMASE postings (2006 and 2007)

Maggie Turnbull, a 2004 NAI Postdoctoral Fellow and now an astrobiologist at the Space Telescope Science Institute, was recently named a "Genius" by CNN for her work cataloging stars most likely to develop planets that could support life and intelligent civilizations. Congratulations Maggie!

http://www.cnn.com/2007/LIVING/wayoflife/07/13/genius.scientists/ [Source: NAI Newsletter]

Looking for Life in All the Right Places

This new video from JPL shows how NASA astrobiologists are gathering exciting clues that will help them pick the best spots to search for possible signs of life beyond Earth. http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/videos/phoenix/phx20070724/ [Source: NAI Newsletter]

Seeing Our Reflection

This new article from Science & Spirit magazine cogitates on 'following the water' in the search for life elsewhere, and the relationship between water and enlightenment in mythology and human psychology. http://www.science-spirit.org/newdirections.php?article_id=719 [Source: NAI Newsletter]