Astrobiology (general): March 2012

The 2012 Astrobiology Graduate Student Conference (AbGradCon) will be held on August 27 - 30, 2012, preceded by the Research Focus Group splinter, August 24-26. The science program for the conference will be held at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), with an outreach event at the University of Southern California (USC), and a field-trip to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The conference will consist of three days of scientific sessions, two evenings of public outreach and education activities, and a one day field trip to JPL. Approximately 100 participants consisting of graduate students and early career postdocs are expected from both the US and abroad. The talks and poster sessions will draw on the success of past AbGradCons as a venue for early career astrobiologists to expand their horizons by forming collaborations and sharing their work and ideas with their contemporaries.

By incorporating organized outreach events, we will highlight the importance of education and communication within our field and provide a venue for public involvement with the astrobiology community. The JPL tour is a unique aspect of this year's meeting, and comes at an especially exciting time for the lab, just after the Curiosity rover's (MSL) landing at Mars. At JPL participants will view active laboratories and mission development relevant to astrobiology.

For more information, please visit our website: or email

Release Date: February 14, 2012
Notice of Intent to propose Due: March 16, 2012, through January 25, 2013
Proposals Due: May 4, 2012, through March 22, 2013

NNH12ZDA001N, entitled "Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences - 2012 (ROSES-2012)," can be accessed by opening the NASA Research Opportunities home page at (choose "Solicitations" followed by "Open Solicitations"). This NASA Research Announcement (NRA) solicits proposals for supporting basic and applied research and technology across a broad range of Earth and space science program elements relevant to one or more of the following NASA Research Programs: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Planetary Science, and Astrophysics.

This ROSES NRA covers all aspects of basic and applied supporting research and technology in space and Earth sciences, including, but not limited to: theory, modeling, and analysis of SMD science data; aircraft, stratospheric balloon, suborbital rocket, and commercial reusable rocket investigations; development of experiment techniques suitable for future SMD space missions; development of concepts for future SMD space missions; development of advanced technologies relevant to SMD missions; development of techniques for and the laboratory analysis of both extraterrestrial samples returned by spacecraft, as well as terrestrial samples that support or otherwise help verify observations from SMD Earth system science missions; determination of atomic and composition parameters needed to analyze space data, as well as returned samples from the Earth or space; Earth surface observations and field campaigns that support SMD science missions; development of integrated Earth system models; development of systems for applying Earth science research data to societal needs; and development of applied information systems applicable to SMD objectives and data.

There is widespread concern about biodiversity declines across all organizational levels, particularly given that human actions may be driving a mass extinction event comparable to those seen in the geological record. As a result, the research community is seeking tools to understand the condition of biodiversity and how it is changing over time. To address biodiversity loss as a global issue requires us to integrate research efforts across multiple spatial and temporal scales and observe biodiversity at all of its levels of organization.

To catalyze progress in our understanding of biodiversity patterns, processes, and change, the NASA Biodiversity Program is soliciting proposals in conjunction with the National Science Foundation (NSF) Dimensions of Biodiversity Program for FY 2012. Through Dimensions of Biodiversity, NSF seeks to transform how we describe and understand the scope and role of life on Earth.

While NSF typically supports research at fine to coarser spatial scales, NASA, with its use of satellite imagery, generally supports research at coarse to finer scales. There is consequently strong complementarity in the research funded by the two agencies. This NASA-NSF partnership promotes the use of satellite remote sensing within the broad context of efforts at NSF to understand biodiversity and how it is changing across multiple dimensions and spatial scales.

This amendment presents the final text for the Biodiversity Program, announces a joint solicitation with NSF, and indicates that proposals should be submitted to the NSF not NASA. Proposals are due April 10, 2012.

On January 23, 2012, this Amendment to the NASA Research Announcement "Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES) 2011" (NNH11ZDA001N) was posted on the NASA research opportunity homepage at (select "Solicitations" then "Open Solicitations" then "NNH11ZDA001N"). You can now track amendments, clarifications, and corrections to ROSES and subscribe to an RSS feed at:

Questions concerning Biodiversity may be addressed to Woody Turner, Earth Science Division, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC 20546-0001; Telephone: (202) 358-1662; Email:

The National Research Council's Space Studies Board has merged the Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration (COMPLEX) and the Committee on the Origins and Evolution of Life (COEL) to create the new Committee on Astrobiology and Planetary Sciences (CAPS). The prime functions of CAPS will be to monitor the implementation of the recommendations contained in the Vision and Voyages planetary science decadal survey and in the reports drafted under the aegis of COEL and COMPLEX, and to act as the organizing committee for future studies in the areas of astrobiology and planetary science (e.g., the mid-term assessment of the decadal survey). Philip Christensen (Arizona State University) and J. Gregory Ferry (Pennsylvania State University) have agreed to serve as the co-chairs of CAPS. Seventeen additional individuals have been identified and have agreed to serve on the committee, pending approval by the NRC's Executive Office. CAPS will hold its first face-to-face meeting on 23-25 May in the National Academies' Keck Center, 500 Fifth St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20001. Additional details about CAPS will be posted on its website at: