Astrobiology (general): July 2009

This amendment establishes a new program element in Appendix D.12 entitled "SPICA Science Investigation Concept Studies." This new program element solicits proposals for concept studies of science investigations that would develop and use scientific instrumentation on the JAXA/ISAS Space Infrared Telescope for Cosmology and Astrophysics (SPICA). This mission will cover the mid (> 5 micrometers) through far (~400 micrometers) infrared portion of the spectrum to observe many astrophysical phenomena from distant galaxies to star and planet forming systems in our own Galaxy. SPICA will use a cooled telescope (3.5 m diameter primary, ~5 K) to achieve sensitivities currently inaccessible to existing facilities operating over this wavelength range (SOFIA, Herschel). The planned observatory would have a suite of instruments, both imaging and spectroscopic.

Notices of Intent to propose are due September 2, 2009, and proposals are due November 2, 2009. The maximum period of performance for these concept studies is 6 months.

Further information about the SPICA Science Investigation Concept Studies program element is available from Dr. Eric P. Smith, Astrophysics Division, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC 20546; Telephone: (202) 358-2439; E-mail:

This amendment establishes a new program element in Appendix A.39 entitled "ESSP Venture-class Science Investigations: Earth Venture-1." The NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) Earth Science Division's Earth Venture (EV) is a new element within the Earth System Science Pathfinder (ESSP) Program. Earth Venture consists of a series of regularly solicited, competitively selected Earth Science investigations as recommended by the recent National Research Council's decadal survey in Earth science, Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond.

The Planetary Science Division of NASA's Science Mission Directorate is now advertising for the senior Program Scientist for Astrobiology. In general, this civil servant will oversee the science content and execution of the Astrobiology Program. A detailed description of the position and how to apply for this opportunity can be found on using the announcement number (or search number): HQ09B0156. This position opened on July 10 and will close August 10, 2009. I encourage anyone who is interested to apply.

James L. Green
Director Planetary Science Division

Comments are being solicited from members of the astrobiology community on the following paper(s) that will be submitted to the 2009-2011 Planetary Science Decadal Survey. Papers will be revised based on community feedback. Additonal papers will be posted as they become available.

* Astrobiology Research Priorities for Exoplanets (Last Updated: May 28, 2009)
* Astrobiology Research Priorities for Mercury, Venus, and the Moon (Added: June 8, 2009)
* Astrobiology Research Priorities for Mars (Added: June 10, 2009)
* Astrobiology Research Priorities for the Outer Solar System (Added June 15, 2009)
* Astrobiology Research Priorities for Primitive Asteroids (Added July 22, 2009)
* Limits of Terrestrial Life in Space (Added July 24, 2009)
* An Astrobiological Lens on Planetary System Science (Added July 24, 2009)
* Astrobiology Priorities for Planetary Science Flight Missions (Added July 24, 2009)

Please send comments on the first 5 papers (the last added July 22) to no later than July 31, 2009. Please send comments on papers posted subsequently to the same address by August 17, 2009.

For more information and to download the papers, click here.