Recently in the Exploration Science & Technology Category

Our ability to explore the cosmos by direct contact has been limited to a small number of lunar and interplanetary missions. However, the NASA Starlight program points a path forward to send small, relativistic spacecraft far outside our solar system via standoff directed-energy propulsion.

Having discovered that Earth-sized planets are common, we are now embarking on a journey to determine if Earth-like planets are also common.

Many of the multi-planet systems discovered to date have been notable for their compactness, with neighbouring planets closer together than any in the Solar System.

We present the first investigation of Th abundances in Solar twins and analogues to understand the possible range of this radioactive element and its effect on rocky planet interior dynamics and potential habitability.

Colonies of bacteria grown aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis behaved in ways never before observed on Earth, according to a new NASA-funded study from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York. Recent findings provide important evidence of spaceflight's effect on the behavior of bacterial communities, and represent a key step toward understanding and mitigating the risk these bacteria may pose to astronauts during long-term space missions.

The deadline for NEW applications is February 1, 2013, and the deadline for RENEWAL applications is March 15, 2013.

NASA announces a call for graduate fellowship proposals to the NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF) program for the 2013-2014 academic year. This call for fellowship proposals solicits applications from accredited U.S. universities on behalf of individuals pursuing Master of Science (M.Sc.) or Doctoral (Ph.D.) degrees in Earth and space sciences, or related disciplines. The purpose of NESSF is to ensure continued training of a highly qualified workforce in disciplines needed to achieve NASA's scientific goals. Awards resulting from the competitive selection will be made in the form of training grants to the respective universities.

The NESSF call for proposals and submission instructions are located at the NESSF 13 solicitation index page at - click on "Solicitations" then click on "Open Solicitations" then select the "NESSF 13" announcement. Also refer to "Proposal Submission Instructions" and "Frequently Asked Questions" listed under "Other Documents" on the NESSF 13 solicitation index page.

All proposals must be submitted in electronic format only through the NASA NSPIRES system. The advisor has an active role in the submission of the fellowship proposal. To use the NSPIRES system, the advisor, the student, and the university must all register. Extended instructions on how to submit an electronic proposal package are posted on the NESSF 13 solicitation index page listed above. You can register in NSPIRES at

For further information contact Claire Macaulay, Program Administrator for NESSF Earth Science Research, Telephone: (202) 358-0151, E-mail: or Dolores Holland, Program Administrator for NESSF Heliophysics Research, Planetary Science Research, and Astrophysics Research, Telephone: (202) 358-0734, E-mail:

NASA/HQ is hereby soliciting information about potential sources to provide support for study and report on radiation standards for lunar sortie missions. This will consist of an Ad Hoc committee to perform an independent assessment of the program's technical quality, relevance to exploration objectives, and effectiveness in maturing and infusing technologies. This work will assist the Government in overseeing the Constellation, human research, exploration technology development and lunar precursor robotic programs as well as the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Project.

The NAI and the American Philosophical Society (APS) jointly sponsor graduate students, postdocs, and junior scientists for field studies through the Lewis and Clark Fund for Exploration and Field Research in Astrobiology. For more information see

We are very pleased to present the young investigators selected for 2009:

Comments are being solicited from members of the astrobiology community on the following paper(s) that will be submitted to the 2009-2011 Planetary Science Decadal Survey. Papers will be revised based on community feedback. Additonal papers will be posted here as they become available.

Please sent comments to no later than July 31, 2009.
For more information on the decadal survey, visit:

NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) intends to release a Draft Announcement of Opportunity (AO) in June 2009 for Discovery Program missions. The Discovery Program conducts Principal Investigator (PI)-led space science investigations in SMD's planetary programs under a not-to-exceed cost cap. It is anticipated that approximately two to three Discovery investigations will be selected for 9-month Phase A concept studies through this AO. At the conclusion of these concept studies, it is planned that one Discovery investigation will be selected to continue into Phase B and subsequent mission phases. There will be no Missions of Opportunity (MO) solicited as part of this AO. All MO are now solicited through the Stand Alone Mission of Opportunity Notice (SALMON) AO.

Full notice below