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NASA Astrobiology Institute: June 2008


NAI Director's Seminar

"The CheMin mineralogical instrument on the MSL mission and the field-portable TERRA version available for NAI field campaigns"

Speaker: David Blake
Date/Time: Monday, June 30, 2008 11:00AM Pacific

Abstract: Dr. Blake will describe the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) '09 mission and its CheMin XRD/XRF instrument. A terrestrial field-deployable version of CheMin (called "TERRA") will be available to perform in situ analyses during NAI field campaigns. The TERRA instrument has already been proven to be invaluable on field expeditions to Spitsbergen (Norway), the dry valleys of Antarctica, Canada (twice), and Rio Tinto (Spain).

Researchers from NAI's Marine Biological Laboratory Team continue their study of the deep biosphere, reporting the latest results in Nature. This new study reveals that bacterial communities dwelling on ocean-bottom rocks are more abundant and diverse than previously thought, especially relative to the overlying water column. The microbes appear to ?feed? on the oceanic crust through seawater-rock alteration reactions involving the oxidation and hydration of glassy basalt. [Source: NAI Newsletter]

The NAI congratulates the faculty sabbatical awardees for the NAI MIRS program for 2008. They are:

Dr. Prabhakar Misra, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Howard University, who will be working with Dr. Paul Mahafft at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, on a project entitled "Spectroscopy and Analytical Protocols for Organic Molecules of Relevance to the Origin of Life on Mars and Earth."

Dr. Erik Melchiorre, Associate Professor of Geology, California State University, San Bernardino, who will work with Drs. Karen Meech, Mike Mottl and Jim Cowen at the University of Hawaii, at Manoa. His study is entitled, "Planetary Habitability and the Origins of Life: Evaluation of Mineralogical Evidence for Extremophile Colonization within Terrestrial Subduction Zones. "

For more information about the NAI MIRS program see http://astrobiology.nasa.gov/nai/funding/nai-minority-institution-research-support [Source: NAI Newsletter]

NAI Twitters and Tweets

Do you Tweet? If so, then you'll be happy to know that you can now follow an @AstrobiologyNAI Twitter stream. If you don't have any idea what the first two sentences in this article are about, keep reading! They refer to a micro-blogging tool called "Twitter," an increasingly popular, instant-messaging service that is quickly becoming the place where news breaks first, outpacing mainstream media.

The NASA Astrobiology Institute is now Twittering at AstrobiologyNAI