Astrobiology (general): January 2013

Solicitation Number: NNH13ZDA006C
Posted Date: January 10, 2013
Proposal Due Date: April 10, 2013

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is soliciting the submission of multiinstitutional team-based proposals for research as participating members of the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI), hereafter referred to as "the Institute." The Institute will succeed the current NASA Lunar Science Institute. Proposals must clearly articulate an innovative, broadly based research program addressing basic and applied scientific questions fundamental to understanding the nature of the Moon, Near Earth Asteroids (NEA), the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos, and the near space environments of these target bodies, to enable human exploration of these destinations. Proposals in the areas of astrophysics and heliophysics that are enabled through human and robotic exploration of the Target Bodies are also solicited through this Cooperative Agreement Notice.

The research scope for the CAN is in the fields of lunar, NEA, and Martian moon sciences, with preference given to topics that relate to the joint interests of both planetary science and human exploration. Topics in astrophysics and heliophysics that are enabled through exploration of the Target Bodies are also within the scope of the CAN. The proposed research should address NASA's science and exploration goals (either or both) and should include broadly based investigations of the highest quality that address basic and applied science objectives. The proposed research should be integrated; thus, proposals consisting of tasks addressing multifaceted questions must demonstrate credible, scientific connections among the tasks. Proposals that only address a single question should strive to integrate interdisciplinary expertise and methodologies. It is expected, but not required, that teams bring together broadly based expertise from more than a single institution.

Application Deadline: February 1, 2013

The American Philosophical Society and the NASA Astrobiology Institute have partnered to promote the continued exploration of the world around us through a program of research grants in support of astrobiological field studies undertaken by graduate students, postdoctoral students, and early career scientists who are affiliated with U.S. institutions.

The Lewis and Clark Fund for Exploration and Field Research in Astrobiology is designed for field studies in any area of astrobiology research. Grants may be used for travel and related expenses, including field equipment, up to $5,000. Applications will be reviewed by a committee that includes members of the NAI, the APS, and the wider science community as needed. Recipients will be designated as Lewis and Clark Field Scholars in Astrobiology.

Additional information, including the application forms and instructions, is available at the APS's Lewis and Clark Fund for Exploration and Field Research in Astrobiology page:

The NAI has selected five early career astrobiologists to participate in an 11-day tour of astrobiology-relevant field sites in Western Australia. This Astrobiology Grand Tour is organized by the Australian Centre for Astrobiology (ACA) and will include visits to the extant stromatolites of Shark Bay, the banded iron formations and iron ore mines of the Hamersley Basin, the putative cyanobacterial stromatolites of the 2.7 Ga Fortescue Group, and the 3.35-3.49 Ga fossiliferous and other units of the Pilbara Craton with what is arguably the oldest convincing evidence of life on Earth.

The five early career scientists selected are:

Megan Ansdell University of Hawaii
Yadira Ibarra University of Southern California
Giulio Mariotti Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Kathleen Scanlon Brown University
Eva Stueeken University of Washington

Hoeor, Sweden, 6 - 9 June 2013

The meeting aims to bring together scientists and teachers engaged in astrobiology education on universities and other training institutions to

* discuss new teaching and assesment forms in astrobiology
* foster international cooperation in astrobiology teaching
* give the attendants athorough overview of the field.

Training students in such a multidisciplinary subject implies a lot of challenges and pitfalls, both in the set-up and organization of the course, choice of lecturers and literature, grading of students as well as the necessity of new teaching methods. The conference will not only serve as forum for exchange of ideas and experiences, but also as a starting point for a long-term international collaboration in astrobiology teaching. Furthermore, the meeting will produce a set of videotaped lectures that can be used as a reference for institutions organizing astrobiology courses.

In Memoriam: Carl Woese

The astrobiology community deeply mourns the loss of Dr. Carl Woese, the University of Illinois microbiology professor credited with the discovery of a "third domain" of life. He died on Sunday, December 30th at his home. He was 84.

In 1977, Dr. Woese and his colleagues overturned a universally held assumption about the basic structure of the tree of life. Microbes known as archaea are as distinct from bacteria as plants and animals are, they wrote in a published paper. Prior to this finding, scientists had lumped archaea together with bacteria and asserted that the tree of life had two main branches -- bacteria (called prokarya), and everything else (eukarya). Their discovery added archaea as a third main branch of the evolutionary family tree.

Dr. Woese was born on July 15, 1928, in Syracuse, N.Y. He earned bachelor's degrees in math and physics from Amherst College and a Ph.D. in biophysics at Yale University. He studied medicine at the University of Rochester, was a postdoctoral researcher in biophysics at Yale and worked as a biophysicist at the General Electric Research Laboratory in Schenectady, N.Y. before he joined the microbiology faculty at the University of Illinois in 1964. He was also a professor at the UI's Institute for Genomic Biology.

"Carl was truly a man of vision, creativity and passion, with a deep love of this university," said Gene Robinson, director of the UI's Institute for Genomic Biology in a statement. "Carl not only rewrote the textbook in evolutionary biology, but his discovery also has given us the tools today to study the human microbiome, the incredibly diverse and complex assemblages of microorganisms in our bodies that contribute so much to both health and disease."

Woese received a number of awards for his research: a MacArthur Foundation grant in 1984, election to the National Academy of Sciences in 1988, the Leeuwenhoek Medal (microbiology's premier honor from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences) in 1992, a National Medal of Science in 2000 and many more.

Source: [University of Illinois]