NAI

  1. NAI CAN7 Draft Released


    On July 3, 2013 The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Science Mission Directorate released a Draft Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) soliciting team-based proposals for membership in the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) for community review and comment. The draft text can be downloaded from the NSPIRES web page.

    Comments on this draft text are due to the point of contact below by July 31, 2013. It is anticipated that final, Step-2 proposals will be due early calendar year 2014.

    The goal of CAN Cycle 7 is to maintain a multidisciplinary institute by selecting focused, interdisciplinary teams that complement without replicating ...

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  1. Phosphorus From Meteorites Aided Life on Early Earth


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    This artist’s conception shows a young, hypothetical planet around a cool star.

    Astrobiologists have shown that a key element for life on Earth was likely delivered to our planet on meteorites. Their work indicates that the early Earth was bombarded by meteorites that provided reactive phosphorus. When released in water, this phosphorus could have been incorporated into prebiotic molecules.

    The team showed that phosphorus was abundant on Earth 3.5 billion years ago by documenting its presence in limestone from the early Archean. They think the phosphorus was delivered in minerals from meteorites that are not seen on the ...

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  1. ROSES-13 Amendment 15: Appendix C.20, Astrobiology Science and Technology for Exploring Planets Will Not Be Solicited in ROSES-13


    When the ROSES-2013 omnibus solicitation was released, the Astrobiology Science and Technology for Exploring Planets (ASTEP) program included a notice at the top that said in part “NASA may solicit research proposals under this program…” and the due dates were listed as “TBD.” We regret to inform proposers that ASTEP will not be solicited in ROSES-13 due to a lack of funding.

    This Amendment removes Appendix C.20 from ROSES-13. It will appear in Tables two and three as “Not solicited this year.”

    On or about June 26, 2013, this Amendment to the NASA Research Announcement “Research Opportunities in Space ...

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  1. The Anthropocene: Humankind as a Turning Point for Earth


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    Humankind’s activity on Earth is changing the planet. Image Credit: EPA/Belinda Rain

    The “Anthropocene” is the name for a proposed new geological time period defined by humanity’s role as a geological force that is capable of shaping the evolution of planet Earth. The term may soon enter the official Geologic Time Scale. In this interview, David Grinspoon discusses the implications of the Anthropocene from an astrobiologist’s point of view.

    “It’s a topic I’ve long been interested in. Even as a kid enthralled with science fiction, I wondered about the role of people in the ...

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  1. The FameLab Online Competition Is Open!


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    Passionate about science? Love to Communicate? FameLab is for you…
    Can’t get to one of our in-person competitions? No problem!

    Announcing the FameLab: Exploring Earth and Beyond Online Competition!

    YouTube urls due: Friday, July 19th
    Winner and Wild Cards Announced: no later than Wednesday, August 2nd

    If you haven’t registered yet:
    Go to our website and register.
    You will receive a follow up email from FameLab EEB organizers confirming your registration.
    If you haven’t registered, your video will not be judged.

    Once you’re registered:
    Create your 3-minute video clip and upload it to YouTube!
    See production ...

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  1. Martian Clay Contains Compound Important to the Origin of Life


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    Electron microscope image showing the 700-million-year-old Martian clay veins containing boron.

    Researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa NASA Astrobiology Institute (UHNAI) have discovered high concentrations of boron in a Martian meteorite. When present in its oxidized form (borate), boron may have played a key role in the formation of RNA, one of the building blocks for life. The work was published on June 6 in PLOS One.

    The Antarctic Search for Meteorites team found the Martian meteorite used in this study in Antarctica during its 2009-2010 field season. The minerals it contains, as well as its chemical composition ...

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  1. ROSES-13 Amendment 15: Appendix C.20, Astrobiology Science and Technology for Exploring Planets Will Not Be Solicited in ROSES-13


    When the ROSES-2013 omnibus solicitation was released, the Astrobiology Science and Technology for Exploring Planets (ASTEP) program included a notice at the top that said in part “NASA may solicit research proposals under this program…” and the due dates were listed as “TBD.” We regret to inform proposers that ASTEP will not be solicited in ROSES-13 due to a lack of funding.

    This Amendment removes Appendix C.20 from ROSES-13. It will appear in Tables two and three as “Not solicited this year.”

    On or about June 26, 2013, this Amendment to the NASA Research Announcement “Research Opportunities in Space ...

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  1. Tardigrades Eggs Survive Space-Like Conditions


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    An adult tardigrade less than 1 millimeter in length. (ESA/Ralph O. Schill) 2) Anhydrobiotic tardigrade eggs (left) and hydrated eggs (right). (D.D. Horikawa et al./Astrobiology)

    Microscopic animals called tardigrades are among the few lifeforms thought capable of surviving the intense radiation, extreme temperatures, and life-sucking vacuum of outer space. Even their eggs can survive space-like conditions, hinting at the possibility of successful hatches on other planets.

    “[I]f we are to assess the ability of tardigrades to survive transfer among planets or to thrive in extreme environments, they must be able to reproduce,” wrote astrobiologists who tested ...

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  1. Life Beneath Glacial Ice


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    Robertson Glacier, Canada. Image Credit: Eric Boyd.

    Despite the fact that Earth has experienced widespread glaciation throughout its history and that 11% of Earth’s surface today is covered with ice, active microbial communities in subglacial systems have yet to be fully characterized. Astrobiologists at Montana State University funded by NASA’s Exobiology Program have completed a study describing the presence of active, endogenous communities of microorganisms living beneath Robertson Glacier, Alberta, Canada.

    Molecular techniques have revealed that the communities are more diverse than glacial surface communities, and are making active contributions to the global carbon cycle. The study appears ...

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  1. The Next Step for Astrobiology’s Roadmap


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    This map shows the locations of participants in the Astrobiology Roadmapping community around the globe. Credit: www.astrobiologyfuture.org

    The Astrobiology Program has completed the first step in creating a new Astrobiology Roadmap. The next phase in outlining the future direction for astrobiology research and technology development at NASA is set to begin next week.

    Roughly every ten years, the Astrobiology Program updates NASA’s official Astrobiology Roadmap. This document provides guidance for research funded by the program in areas that encompass space, Earth and biological sciences.

    In writing the 2013 Astrobiology Roadmap, NASA’s Astrobiology Program decided to take ...

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  1. Astrobiologist Elected to the National Academy of Sciences


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    On April 30th, the National Academy of Sciences announced the election of 84 new members and 21 foreign associates from 14 countries in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Dr. Katherine Freeman of the Penn State Astrobiology Research Center was among those elected! She is honored for her work using stable isotopes in fossil molecules to learn about the origins of life on Earth and other planets.

    This announcement came in the same week that Kate was recognized at Penn State with the Wilson Award for Excellence in Research. Please join NAI in congratulating Kate Freeman!

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  1. The Exoplanets That Cried Wolf


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    Of all the exoplanets being discovered, how many so-called potentially 'habitable’ worlds are really capable of hosting life? Image Credit: PHL@UHR Aricebo

    In part eight of the 2012 AbSciCon plenary session, 'Expanding the Habitable Zone: The Hunt for Exoplanets Now and Into the Future,’ the panelists debate whether the many press releases about the possible habitability of new-found planets risk “crying wolf”. What are astrobiologists doing right and what are they doing wrong when communicating exoplanet discoveries to the public?

    Source: [astrobio.net]

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  1. Mars Icebreaker Life Mission


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    Members of the Icebreaker Life mission team try to stay warm during drill automation testing at the University Valley, Antarctica, Mars-analog site. Credit: NASA

    In the search for past or present life on Mars, current and past missions have only scratched the surface. Astrobiologists supported by the NASA ASTID and ASTEP programs are now developing technology that could dig deeper. The Icebreaker Life mission to Mars would drill down about 3 feet and scan the ice shavings for biosignatures. The mission is based on the same design as NASA’s Phoenix lander, and would land near the Phoenix site. The ...

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  1. Planktonic Autotrophs in Earth’s Early Oceans


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    Clusters of spheroidal microfossils of the FQ in transmitted optical light (A) and in reflected light (B). Credit: CH House et al. (2013)

    Astrobiologists supported in part by the NASA Astrobiology Institute have found evidence that structures found in ~3 billion year old (Ga) quartzite may be biological in origin. The potential microfossils were identified in Farrel Quartzite from Australia, but determining whether or not they are biogenic in origin has been difficult.

    The team performed isotopic analysis of the structures, and their results indicate that the spindle-like structures were formed by planktonic microorganisms. The study also suggests that the ...

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  1. Questioning Exoplanet Missions


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    Artist’s illustration of a Super-Earth planet Gliese 667C c (4.54 Earth masses), compared to Earth and Mars. Credit: PHL@UPR Aricebo

    At the 2012 Astrobiology Science Conference, Astrobiology Magazine hosted a plenary session titled: “Expanding the Habitable Zone: The Hunt for Exoplanets Now and Into the Future.” In part seven, the audience asks questions and makes comments about exoplanet missions and development.

    The session was hosted by David Grinspoon, Curator of Astrobiology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Participants included: * Dr. Dirk Schulze-Makuch, Professor at the School of Earth and Environmental Science at Washington State University ...

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