Education and Outreach: March 2010

This two week summer course will be held in Utrecht, The Netherlands at the Universiteit Utrecht from July 5-16, 2010.

Planet Mars has water ice near its surface, and dry rivers, deltas and gigantic canyons attest to past water flow on the surface. But how much water did flow on Mars? What was the past climate, and how long was the planet wet? Was there ever life on Mars and could life exist there in the future? This course focusses on Mars surface dynamics and landforms related to water. Topics include a general introduction to the Mars, comparison of terrestrial and Martian fluvial systems with a variety of landforms including impact craters, drainage patterns, rivers, deltas and canyons. Techniques employed in the course include image analysis, quantitative data analysis, laboratory experiments and physics-based modelling.

The aims of this course are (i) to introduce the student to planet Mars, (ii) to develop a thorough understanding of fluvial and deltaic morphodynamics on Earth and Mars, and (iii) to infer the implications for past hydrology and climate of Mars. We believe that a combination of dedicated lectures, literature and hands-on observation (image and elevation analysis), experimentation (creating self-organising landscapes with water and sand) and physics-based modelling (in a spreadsheet) by the student greatly enhances the acquired understanding of earth- and planetary science. The end product of this course will be an extended abstract on a case study in the style of the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.

For more information: [Source NAI newsletter]

Applications are invited for a Post-doctoral Research fellowship in Cosmochemistry. The successful applicant will join an active research program that investigates a wide variety of topics, including: 1) the chronology of the early solar system, 2) the nature and origin of the presolar dust that provided the raw material for the solar system, 3) the isotopic and chemical compositions and origins of primitive chondritic components, 4) samples returned by the Stardust Mission to comet Wild 2, and 5) solar wind samples returned by the GENESIS Mission. The main analytical tools for this research are the petrographic microscope, scanning electron microscope, electron microprobe, scanning Raman microscope, and ion microprobe. Minimum qualifications include a Ph.D. in a discipline relevant to cosmochemistry and experience in one or more of the following areas: cosmochemistry, meteoritics, isotope geo- or cosmochemistry, secondary ion mass spectrometry. Previous experience with one or more of the following is required (training will be provided for the others): petrographic microscope, scanning electron microscope, electron microprobe, Raman microscope, or ion microprobe. Experience with isotopic measurements or meteorite petrography is desired. The successful candidate will participate in one or more of the above research projects and will receive training and will be expected to become an independent user of the Cameca ims 1280 ion microprobe at the University of Hawai'i. The Fellowship will be for an initial period of 1 year with renewal for up to 2 additional years based on performance and on the availability of support.

Scholarship application deadlines plus new information for Canadian students and a worldwide opportunity provided by the Harvard Origin of Life Initiative

Topic: Extrasolar Planets and Habitability
Location: Palacio de Magdalena, Santander, Spain
Dates: June 21-25, 2010

The ninth annual Summer School in Astrobiology, Extrasolar Planets and Habitability, organized jointly by the Spanish Centro de Astrobiologa and the NASA Astrobiology Institute will be held at the Santander campus of Spain's national university, Universidad Internacional Menendez Pelayo (UIMP).

The 2010 School lecturers are Dr. Jack Lissauer, NASA Ames Research Center, co-investigator on the Kepler space telescope mission; Professor Eduardo Martin, CAB and University of Central Florida, co-discoverer of the first brown dwarf; Professor Victoria Meadows, University of Washington, head of NAI's Virtual Planetary Laboratory (VPL); and Professor Michel Mayor, University of Geneva, co-discoverer of the first hot Jupiter, 51 Peg b.

The deadline for NAI applications is March 31. Scholarships covering travel costs, school fees, accommodations, and meals are provided by NAI for students of any nationality studying at U.S. institutions. See for application details. CIFAR, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research funds scholarships for 3-4 Canadian students. One or two additional scholarships sponsored by the Harvard Origin of Life Initiative are available on a worldwide basis. Applications for CIFAR, and Harvard scholarships should be made via NAI by April 14. See for application details.

European students may apply for scholarship support provided by UIMP and the European Space Agency (ESA) through the UIMP website ( ) at a later date.

The Summer School includes a week of lectures, round-table discussions, astronomical observations, and a half-day field trip to a site of astrobiological interest. Students completing the school receive a UIMP Diploma in Astrobiology. Accommodations and meals are provided on-site at the Palacio de la Magdalena ( ).'

The NAI is pleased to announce selections of the NASA Postdoctoral Program resulting from the November 2009 cycle.

1. William Brazelton - Advisor: Matthew Schrenk, The Carnegie Institution of Washington and East Carolina University Topic: Tracing Energy, Carbon, and Nitrogen Flow in Serpentinization-fueled Microbial Ecosystems

2. Gregory Fournier - Advisor Eric Alm, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Team Topic: Reconstructing the Evolution of Protein Synthesis: A Novel Compositional Approach for Studying Early Life and the Emergence of Complexity

3. Jennifer Kyle - Advisors: Linda Jahnke and Ken Stedman, NASA Ames Research Center and Portland State University Topic: Viral Preservation within Terrestrial Hot Springs

4. Felisa Wolfe-Simon - Advisors: Ariel Anbar and Ronald Oremland, Arizona State University and the USGS- Menlo Park Topic: Arsenic and Old Life: Novel Geo-biochemistry of Arsenic in Biological Systems

More information about the NPP can be found at