Astrobiology (general): April 2012

NASA and the Library of Congress have announced the selection of David H. Grinspoon to be the first Baruch S. Blumberg NASA-Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology. The chair, selected through an international competition, is named for the late Nobel Laureate and founding director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, Baruch "Barry" Blumberg. Applications are solicited by the Library of Congress and reviewed by a panel jointly established by the Library and NASA. The prestigious position was created in November 2011.

Grinspoon will be in residence for a year beginning November 2012 at the library's scholarly research organization, the Kluge Center, in Washington. He is the curator of astrobiology in the Department of Space Sciences at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Grinspoon is a well-known researcher in planetary science and the author of the award-winning book "Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life."

Date/Time: Monday, April 30, 2012 11:00 AM Pacific

Presenter: Natalie Batalha (San Jose State University)

Abstract: Humankind's speculation about the existence of other worlds like our own turned into a veritable quest with the launch of NASA's Kepler spacecraft in March 2009. The mission is designed to survey a slice of the Milky Way Galaxy to identify planets via transit photometry. The last year of science operation has been a year of milestones in terms of exoplanet characterization: rocky, Earth-size, circumbinary, Habitable Zone, and even invisible planets have made headlines. However, the real work lies in the large sample statistics of the catalogs of viable planet candidates -- statistics that will drive us toward a determination of eta-earth. The Kepler team recently released its third catalog, consisting of 2,321 viable candidates associated with 1,790 stars. Dr. Batalha will describe some of the milestone discoveries that have marked the last year, the make-up of the new catalog, and the strategies moving forward, especially with regards to the recent decision by NASA HQ to support a four year extended mission.

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The probability is investigated that the meteorites originating on Earth are transferred to other planets in our Solar System and to extra solar planets. We take the collisional Chicxulub crater event, and material that was ejected as an example of Earth-origin meteors.

If we assume the appropriate size of the meteorites as 1cm in diameter, the number of meteorites to reach the exoplanet system (further than 20 ly) would be much greater than one. We have followed the ejection and capture rates estimated by Melosh (2003) and the discussion by Wallis and Wickramasinghe (2004). If we consider the possibility that the fragmented ejecta (smaller than 1cm) are accreted to comets and other icy bodies, then buried fertile material could make the interstellar journey throughout Galaxy. If life forms inside remain viable, this would be evidence of life from Earth seeding other planets.

We also estimate the transfer velocity of the micro-organisms in the interstellar space. In some assumptions, it could be estimated that, if life has originated $10^{10}$\ years ago anywhere in our Galaxy as theorized by Joseph and Schild (2010a, b), it will have since propagated throughout our Galaxy and could have arrived on Earth by 4.6 billion years ago. Organisms disperse.

Tetsuya Hara, Kazuma Takagi, Daigo Kajiura
(Submitted on 8 Apr 2012)

Comments: 8 pages
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Journal reference: Journal of Cosmology, 7(2010), 1731
Cite as: arXiv:1204.1719v1 [astro-ph.EP]
Submission history
From: Tetsuya Hara [view email]
[v1] Sun, 8 Apr 2012 08:23:30 GMT (9kb)

One of the main drivers of planetary exploration is the search for life beyond Earth. A number of extraterrestrial targets, including Mars and the moons Europa and Titan, have been identified by NASA as having the potential to host life or to provide valuable insight for researchers and scientists into the conditions that may have been present on Earth when life started.

The Canadian Astrobiology Network (CAN), centered at Western University, is a network of institutions and researchers across Canada that is actively engaged in this type of astrobiological research and effective immediately, CAN has been elevated to affiliate status within the NASA Astrobiology Network.

"Canada possesses unique expertise and analogue sites relevant to astrobiology, and Canadian researchers have a long history of close collaboration with American colleagues," says Western Earth Sciences professor and CAN chair Neil Banerjee. "This partnership with the NASA Astrobiology Institute will strengthen existing ties, facilitate the establishment of new collaborations, and enhance training opportunities for both Canadian and American researchers and students."

CAN builds on the Canadian Astrobiology Training Program- a six-year, $1.5 million program funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada through the Collaborative Research and Training Program. The goal of CAN is to foster collaboration and integration between Canadian scientists and NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) partner institutions in the United States and around the world.

"Western has developed a strong research presence in planetary science and hosts Canada's only graduate program in planetary science, which is critical for training the next generation of astrobiologists," says Gordon Osinski, Acting Chair at Western's Centre for Planetary Science & Exploration. "Western is also home to world-class analytical facilities. Together, with the outstanding facilities available at other CAN affiliates, this will enable cutting-edge research partnerships with NAI."

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