NASA Astrobiology Program

NNH11ZDA016J Statement of Intent to Release a Cooperative Agreement Notice for the NASA Astrobiology Institute

By Keith Cowing
July 25, 2011

Release Date: July 25, 2011

The NASA Science Mission Directorate’s Planetary Science Division intends to release a Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) in first quarter of Fiscal Year 2012 (target is mid-to-late October 2011) soliciting team-based proposals for membership in the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI). Proposals will be due not less than 90 days after release of the solicitation and no earlier than January 31, 2012.

The NASA Astrobiology Institute was established in 1998 as an institution of scientific collaboration across disciplines, across organizations, and within and among its participating Teams irrespective of their geographic distribution. Collaboration between NAI teams and with the larger astrobiology community is facilitated through the use of information technologies; frequent personnel exchanges; mutual participation in field investigations; and ongoing workshops, seminars, and courses. The NAI currently comprises 14 competitively selected teams across the U.S., 8 international partner organizations, and a small management team located at the NASA Ames Research Center.

The Mission of the NAI is to advance the field of astrobiology by:

– carrying out, supporting, and catalyzing collaborative interdisciplinary research in astrobiology;
– training the next generation of astrobiology researchers;
– providing scientific and technical leadership on astrobiology investigations for current and future space missions;
– exploring new approaches using modern information technology to conduct interdisciplinary and collaborative research among widely-distributed investigators; and
– supporting Education and Public Outreach by providing scientific content for K-14 education programs, teaching undergraduate classes, and communicating directly with the public.

The solicited proposals should clearly articulate an innovative, interdisciplinary, astrobiology research program, together with plans to advance the full scope of NAI objectives as defined in its Mission Statement. A large amount of reference material is available at the Institute’s website,, which provides proposers with details of the research suite, activities, and administrative history of the NAI.

The upcoming CAN represents Cycle 6 of the NAI team-based proposal opportunities. Awards are made for 5 years at an approximate annual funding level of $1.0 – 1.5M/year/team. Teams typically comprise researchers and science educators at a number of geographically dispersed institutions, with a single Principal Investigator who is responsible for the quality and direction of the entire proposed investigation and for the use of all awarded funds. For reference, the Cycle 5 CAN is available on the NASA research opportunities homepage at (choose “Solicitations” then “Past solicitations” then “NASA Astrobiology Institute – Cycle 5 NNH08ZDA002C”).

There are four teams whose 5-year awards are expiring in conjunction with the Cycle 6 competition. NASA anticipates selecting 4-5 teams through the Cycle 6 competition to replace these teams. Teams with expiring awards are eligible to propose for a new 5-year award.

NASA also anticipates releasing the Cycle 7 NAI CAN approximately two years after the Cycle 6 CAN release. There will be ten teams whose 5-year awards will be expiring in conjunction with the Cycle 7 competition. NASA anticipates selecting 6-7 teams through the Cycle 7 competition to replace the ten teams with expiring awards, leading to a total of 10-12 teams in the NAI following Cycle 7.

Questions about the Cycle 6 CAN may be addressed to Dr. Mary Voytek, [email protected], phone 202-358-1577. Questions about the NASA Astrobiology Institute may be addressed to Dr. Carl Pilcher, [email protected], phone 650-604-0022.

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