Astrobiology (general)

NAI Researchers to Recreate Conditions of the Early Earth

By Keith Cowing
November 27, 2006

NAI has approved funding for the development of a new, state-of-the-art facility capable of recreating past atmospheric and oceanic conditions, to be called VAL, the Variable Atmospheres Laboratory. Capable of simulating various combinations of oxygen, carbon dioxide, temperature, and hydrogen sulfide levels, this facility will be able to test new hypotheses for the cause of some of the Earth’s major mass extinction events – such as the Permian and Triassic mass extinctions.

The VAL will be constructed in the laboratory of researchers at the University of Washington, through the NAI University of Arizona Team. Leveraging forces with a new faculty hire at the University of Washington, this facility will address multiple questions about the early evolution of life on Earth, how life interacted with the changing planetary atmosphere, and how it was affected by cataclysmic impacts from space. These questions of the history of life on Earth are fundamental to astrobiology – addressing life as a planetary phenomenon. [Source: NAI Newsletter]

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