NASA Astrobiology Institute: January 2011

The NASA Astrobiology Institute is pleased to announce selections for research awards resulting from its 2010 Director's Discretionary Fund competition. The selections cover a wide range of research topics, including perchlorate salts in Mars analogue environments on Earth, the effects of the space environment on extremophilic bacteria, the search for extrasolar planets around M-stars, the potential for prebiotic organic synthesis in frost flowers, and the microbial diversity of domestic water heaters. Approximately $940K are allocated toward these 15 awards. The median award is $44K.

Selections were based on external reviews, with selection priority given to proposals that

* integrate the research of and realize synergies among the current NAI teams;
* expand the scope of NAI research (and the NAI community) in innovative ways, accepting some risk in return for high pay-off potential;
* respond in a timely way to new scientific results or programmatic opportunities;
* develop connections between astrobiology research and other NASA science programs, particularly NASA's Earth Science Program;
* directly support flight programs, particularly through instrument development; and/or
* use funding particularly effectively, for example through leveraging or building on past investments

In addition, priority was given to supporting early career investigators.

For more information and a list of selected research projects: [Source: NAI Newsletter]