Astrobiology (general): May 2010

Astrobiology Science and Technology for Exploring Planets (ASTEP) program solicits proposals for investigations focused on exploring the Earth's extreme environments in order to develop a sound technical and scientific basis to conduct astrobiological research on other solar system bodies.

This amendment delays the proposal due date for Appendix C.20, Astrobiology Science and Technology for Exploring Planets (ASTEP) Program. Programmatic schedule conflicts at NASA Headquarters have postponed the ASTEP peer review and hence the date when SMD must have proposals. A corresponding deferral of the ASTEP due date will provide the community additional time to prepare proposals. The proposal due date for ASTEP has been changed to Friday, July 16, 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) is posted on the NASA research opportunity homepage at (select "Solicitations" then "Open Solicitations" then "NNH10ZDA001N"). You can now track amendments, clarifications and corrections to ROSES and subscribe to an RSS feed at:

Questions concerning ASTEP may be addressed to Mary Voytek, Planetary Science Division, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC 20546-0001; Telephone: (202) 358-1577; Email:

[Source: NAI Newsletter]

Astrobiology Primer 2.0

Dear colleagues, We are leading a group of early-career astrobiologists to update the first edition of the Astrobiology primer (Mix et al., Astrobiology, 2006). The astrobiology primer was created to provide a brief, but comprehensive, overview of the subject for those new to the field. It is aimed at graduate students, but we hope others will also find it useful. We would welcome your views on the proposed content. Please complete the survey linked to below. We are accepting completed survey through Tuesday, May 18th. The survey can be found at: An outline of the primer can be downloaded here.

Thank you in advance for your time and your voice. Sincerely, Shawn Domagal-Goldman and Katherine Wright, Co-Lead Editors, Astrobiology Primer, Version 2.0

[Source: NAI Newsletter]

Life in the Universe Curriculum

The Life in the Universe curriculum is a unique set of resources, for elementary and middle school teachers, designed to bring the excitement of searching for life beyond Earth into the classroom. The SETI Institute, with funding from NSF and NASA, developed these award winning classroom materials with a team of educators, curriculum developers, and scientists. The Life in the Universe curriculum explores many facets of how scientists are trying to answer the questions: Where did life come from? What is its future? Are we alone?

In the Life in the Universe curriculum, students explore conditions that support life on Earth, and the possible existence of life elsewhere. The curriculum draws upon the experience of SETI scientists, whose research encompasses the full spectrum of Astrobiology: astronomy, life sciences, Earth sciences, chemistry, physics, mathematics, engineering, and many other disciplines. The hands-on science activities were tested nationally in a variety of schools representing a broad range of students. Organized around story lines, these activities pose challenges that require students to investigate what is known about life on Earth.

For more information:

[Source: NAI Newsletter]

Jonathan Lunine, a member of NAIs JPL-Titan team and professor in the University of Arizonas Department of Planetary Sciences has been elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors a U.S. scientist or engineer can achieve. Congratulations, Jonathan!

For more information:

[Source: NAI Newsletter]

Date/Time: Monday, June 7, 2010 11:00AM Pacific
Speaker: Katrina Edwards (University of Southern California)
Title: "Intraterrestrial Life on Earth"

In 1986, scientists sailing in the Pacific Ocean made an astonishing discovery. In sediments collected from 850m below the seafloor, they identified that microbes were living and thriving in an environment not previously known to contain life. This discovery has spawned a new field of research on the "deep biosphere" with researchers exploring how life persists and evolves at hostile temperatures and pressures. With estimates that the sub-seafloor may contain as much two-thirds of the Earth's microbial population, research today focuses on understanding the importance, or lack thereof, of this community to the Earth's systems. This presentation will focus on the current state of knowledge with respect to the deep biosphere and the major questions being addressed in this field, such as what are the nature and extent of life on Earth? What are the physico-chemical limits of life on Earth? How metabolically active is the deep biosphere, and what are the most important redox processes? What are the dispersal mechanisms for life in the deep biosphere? How does life evolve in deeply buried geological deposits that can occur more than a km beneath the ocean floor? What is the influence of the deep biosphere on global-scale biogeochemical processes?

For more information and participation instructions:

[Source: NAI Newsletter]

The NAI once again hosted the Student Poster Competition at the Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon) 2010, held in League City Texas on April 26-29, 2010. Louis Lerman and Steve Benner from the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution (FfAME) provided a generous contribution in support of the competition, as they did for AbSciCon2008.

Thirty posters were submitted to the competition, and four cash prizes wereawarded.

The first place prize went to Jorge Nunez, a graduate student at Arizona State University, for his poster entitled The Multispectral Microscopic Imager (MMI) and the Mars Microbeam Raman Spectrometer (MMRS): An Integrated Payload for the In-Situ Exploration of Past and Present Habitable Environments on Mars. Jorges co-authors were J. D. Farmer (advisor), R. G. Sellar, S. Douglas, K. S. Manatt, M. D. Fries, A. L. Lane, Alian Wang, and D. L.Blaney.

Second place in the competition was awarded to Jennifer Glass, a graduate student at Arizona State University for her poster Signatures of Low-Mo Ancient Ocean May be Preserved in Cyanobacterial Genomes. Jennifers co-authors were Felisa L. Wolfe-Simon, A. T. Poret-Peterson and A. D. Anbar(advisor).

The third place winner was Eva Stueeken, a graduate student at the University of Washington, for her poster Selenium Biogeochemistry as a Planetary Deep-Time Redox Proxy. Evas co-authors were Julien Foriel, B. K.Nelson, and Roger Buick(advisor).

Fourth place in the competition was awarded to undergraduate student Dyana Lucas of the Native American Research Laboratory (NARL) at The University of Montana, for her poster Evidence for Local Adaptation in Extremophilic Crenarchaeal Systems: A SSV-Sulfolobus Study. Dyanas co-authors were Manny Ceballos, and Michael Ceballos(advisor).

Congratulations to these four outstanding students for theirachievement! [Source: NAI Newsletter]