Astrobiology (general): October 2010

Planetary exploration is shifting into high gear with an unprecedented tripling of flybys, orbital insertions, and launches to destinations around the Solar System. To commemorate the increase, NASA has declared the year ahead The Year of the Solar System. For more information: [Source: NAI]

- A Symposium Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of NASA's Exobiology Program

On October 14th a symposium was held celebrating the 50th anniversary of NASA's Exobiology program. Recordings of the keynote addresses and panel discussions are now available online at For more information about the symposium: . [Source: NAI]

The Nordic Network of Astrobiology encompasses universities that offer several different courses of relevance to Astrobiology. For information on universities and courses visit [Source: NAI]

The Australian Centre for Astrobiology and the Natural Products Research Laboratory in the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Science at UNSW are offering several PhD scholarships for both Australian and overseas PhD students.

To qualify you must have honours or Masters degrees or previous research experience in microbiology, biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology or bioinformatics to work on research projects funded by the Australian Research Council, the University of New Wales, as well as a variety of industry partners.

Particular research interests and strength are in the fields of environmental microbiology and genomics, biotechnology, molecular evolution, functional genomics, drug discovery and development, astrobiology, and extremophiles.

Scholarships include a stipend of up to AUD $30,000 per annum tax-free, international travel support (AUD $5,000), office and/or laboratory expenses. Non-Australian or New Zealand applicants may also be eligible for tuition waivers (valued at AUD $22,000 per annum). Qualified applicants may be invited and funded to visit the facilities. For more information visit [Source: NAI]

Dates: 5-8 June 2011

Location: Montana State University, Bozeman Montana

Eligibility: graduate students, post-doctoral students, early-career astrobiologists (2-5 years past PhD).

Limit: 50

The 2011 Astrobiology Graduate Student Conference (AbGradCon) will be held at Montana State University, from 5-8 June, 2011. The schedule will include two full days of talks and poster sessions, one day of public outreach and educational activities, and a full-day field trip to Yellowstone National Park. The conference application will be available online in January 2011. For more information, please visit our website:, or email

[Source: NAI]

The Canadian Astrobiology Training Program (CATP) is the first Canadian cross-disciplinary, multi-institutional undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral training program in Astrobiology and is an NSERC-funded Collaborative Research and Training Experience Program (CREATE) (2009-2015) located at McGill University, McMaster University, University of Western Ontario, University of Toronto, and the University of Winnipeg. The CATP program objectives are being accomplished through collaborative and integrative research approaches containing elements of geology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, microbiology, and robotics.

CATP trainees (~70 graduate & undergraduate students, PDFs over 6 years) will be exposed to innovative research and training approaches, combining fieldwork at unique Canadian analogue sites, including those in the high Arctic, with laboratory work at cutting edge analytical facilities at participating university, government, and industry partners. Shared expertise within and among institutions will be provided by means of course and seminar videoconferencing, and interdisciplinary supervision. Professional training will be enhanced by training rotations with our collaborators at CSA, MDA Space Missions, and our international partners, including NASA Ames.

CATP Highly Qualified People (HQP) trained in various aspects of astrobiology will be at the forefront of the search for life beyond the Earth. Indeed, CATP will address the recognized lack of HQP in space science and lead to new scientific opportunities and promote Canadian participation in future missions to Mars with the ultimate goal of having Canadian scientists actively participating on such missions within 2-5 years as well as a future Mars sample return mission; both are direct initiatives of the 2008 CSA Exploration Roadmap. The skills acquired through this program will be directly transferable to various other disciplines, such as Earth and environmental sciences, robotics, medicine, and astronomy.

CATP research activities will be structured around 4 major themes that are explicitly linked to the domains of expertise of the CATP co-applicants: Extremophiles, Biosignatures, Astrobiology Instrument and Technology Development, and Planetary Analogues. The 4 themes unite to serve a common purpose: the unambiguous detection of life, extant or extinct, in areas where the existence of life cannot be presupposed. For more information regarding the CATP initiatives, please follow this web link: Here you will find details regarding our current students and their research, our highly successful seminar series, and the training opportunities available and how to apply during the next recruitment period scheduled to start in November 2010. Please note that the deadline for all applications is 14 January 2011. [Source: NAI]

Presented by the NASA Astrobiology Program in celebration of NASA's Year of the Solar System, From Earth to the Solar System (FETTSS) will be an online collection of images that can be freely downloaded and exhibited by organizations worldwide in whatever manner they choose. The images will showcase discoveries in planetary exploration, with a focus on the origin and evolution of the Solar System and the search for life.

We are currently seeking images for the exhibit, whether it be your favorite image taken by a spacecraft, or a picture you took yourself as part of your research. We are looking for artistic and informative images of astrobiological or planetary science significance that tell a story and showcase views of the planets, moons, and other bodies in our Solar System, as well as pictures of field sites here on Earth. Our goal is for this image collection to represent the current state of exploration as seen through the eyes of the scientific community.
See for instructions on how to submit an image.

See for a poster about FETTSS. Please contact for additional information [Source: NAI]

The Astrobiology Society of Britain (ASB) held its 4th biennial conference in April 2010. The meeting was held at Royal Holloway College (London University) and was attended by over 60 people. The International Journal of Astrobiology has devoted an issue to 11 selected original (refereed) papers presented at the meeting. Conference proceedings are listed in the International Journal of Astrobiology, Vol. 9 issue 4, pp 191-291, (2010). Selected proceedings of our earlier meetings are also available in the International Journal of Astrobiology, Vol. 8, issue 1, pp 1-61 (2009); Vol 5., issue 3, pp 181-275 (2006); and Vol. 3, issue 2, pp 71-181 (2004). For further information, see: [Source: NAI]

Date/Time: Monday, October 25 2010 11:00AM Pacific
Speaker: Ken Stedman (Portland State University)
Title: "Quo vadis Astrovirology?"

Abstract: What is "Astrovirology" and where is it going? In the last few years there has been a quiet revolution in the study of viruses on our planet and in our ecosystem. The presence of vast numbers and astounding diversity of viruses in all known environments has been confirmed. Moreover, the discovery of new "giant" viruses has blurred the accepted definition of viruses. Currently, the role of viruses in terrestrial global cycles and their role in the origins and evolution of life as we know it are under intense investigation. We consider these studies to be "Astrovirology". Other central questions in "Astrovirology" include: "What is a virus?", "How old are viruses and how can they be detected?", and "What is (or are) the origin(s) of viruses?". This presentation will address these questions and discuss recent results from our research on virus preservation and a discovery-based study of viruses in an extreme environment, Boiling Springs Lake, in Lassen Volcanic National Park.

For more information and participation instructions: [Source: NAI]

Date: Thursday, October 14, 2010

Time: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Location: Lockheed Martin Global Vision Center 2121 Crystal Drive Arlington, VA 22202

NASA's Astrobiology Program addresses three fundamental questions: How does life begin and evolve? Is there life beyond Earth, and if so, how can we detect it? What is the future of life on Earth and in the universe?

Experts in a range of relevant disciplines will engage in an exciting day of discussions . . . . Are we alone? Confirmed speakers include Baruch S. Blumberg, The Honorable Daniel S. Goldin, David Grinspoon, Noel Hinners, James Lovelock, Lynn Margulis, and Steve Squyres.

Event is free, but kindly RSVP by October 7, 2010, to Non-U.S. citizens will need to provide nationality, passport number, and passport expiration date. Seating is extremely limited. Business attire is requested.