Students in the Habitable Worlds course learn what goes into making a planet. Credit: Anbar/Horodyskyj
NAI-funded astrobiologists and educators at Arizona State University have made great strides in online education. Using themes in astrobiology, their Habitable Worlds course brings critical thinking skills to non-science majors…and the world is taking notice.
Astrobiologist Aims to Make Science Education More Interactive
I remember battling sleepiness as I slouched in a large lecture hall, squinting to make out the writing on the blackboard during my freshman introductory physics course in college. My difficulty staying alert in class was not the fault of the ...
New from the PlanetQuest group at JPL, these gorgeous posters depict images of travel to worlds orbiting stars other than our own Sun! Just as mid-century travel posters enticed would-be travelers to exotic locales such as the islands of the Caribbean and South Pacific, we are similarly beckoned to consider places beyond our imagination – beyond our Solar System!
Source: [JPL]January 26, 2015 / Posted by: Daniella Scalice
Some of the purported “swimmers” in the Cave of the Swimmers, Egypt. Credit: NASA Photo/Chris McKay
Seven thousand year-old rock paintings in the Sahara desert have, somewhat serendipitously, helped uncover evidence of ancient lake beds. Researchers discovered the mineral remnants of the lake while studying a region well-known for its rock art. The research — presented in the Journal of African Earth Sciences — was partly funded by the NASA Astrobiology Program.
2015 International Year of Light. Background Image: Image Credit: Marek Mís
A new international exhibition, “LIGHT: Beyond the Bulb,” has been launched to celebrate the 2015 International Year of Light.
Together with SPIE (the international society for optics and photonics), the Chandra X-ray Center/Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory are leading Light: Beyond the Bulb for the International Year of Light 2015 (IYL2015). LIGHT: Beyond the Bulb is a cornerstone project for the International Astronomical Union. IYL2015 was declared by the United Nations and is supported by UNESCO.
Source: [lightexhibit.org]January 19, 2015 / Posted by: Aaron Gronstal
Dr. Alberto Behar. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The Astrobiology community deeply mourns the loss of Dr. Alberto Behar, a JPL employee, explorer, colleague, and friend to many. He died in the crash of a small plane on Friday, January 10, 2015, near Van Nuys Airport in the Los Angeles area.
During his 23-year career at JPL, Dr. Behar specialized in robotics for exploring extreme environments on Earth and other planets. He played a key role in developing in situ robotic systems for measuring ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland using submarines, ice rovers and boats. He also participated in the ...January 14, 2015 / Posted by: Daniella Scalice
With support from the NASA Astrobiology Program, Cavosie brought students from the University of Puerto Rico to study outcrops at the Rock Elm meteorite impact structure. Reidite was found in the samples they collected. Credit: Aaron Cavosie
Researchers have identified a rare mineral in a Wisconsin meteorite crater. The mineral reidite was found in the Rock Elm impact structure, making this only the fourth site on Earth where it has been identified.
Reidite is a high-pressure mineral with well-constrained formation conditions, and was first identified in the laboratory in the 1960s. The only other sites where it has been spotted ...January 13, 2015 / Written by: Aaron Gronstal
A NASA portrait of Dr. Baruch Blumberg in 1999. Image credit: NASA/Tom Trower
Baruch S. “Barry” Blumberg, recipient of the 1976 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, was the founding director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI). When Blumberg passed away suddenly of a heart attack at age 85 on April 5, 2011, it was a huge loss for the astrobiology community.
This month, the journal Astrobiology features a tribute to Barry Blumberg written by current NAI Director, Carl Piltcher. The article is freely available on the journal’s website, and provides a background of Blumberg’s remarkable life, his groundbreaking ...January 9, 2015 / Written by: Aaron Gronstal
Current Europa missions under study by NASA are focused on answering the question “Is Europa habitable?” However, the potential presence of water plumes on the satellite could present an opportunity to pursue the question “Is there life on Europa?” Answering this question is far more challenging because measurements currently possible may provide only ambiguous results from a mission that either orbits or flies by Europa at relatively high velocity. To that end, NASA’s Planetary Science Division is convening a workshop to consider strategies to investigate Europa’s putative plumes for evidence of life. Invitees will be asked to provide ...January 7, 2015 / Written by: Julie Fletcher
A biological soil crust in Hovenweep National Monument, a region located in southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah. Credit: Nationalparks (Transferred by Nihonjoe)/Wikipedia
“Biological soil crusts” don’t look like much. In fact, people often trample right over these dark, or green-tinted, sometimes raised patches in the desert soil. But these scruffy stretches can house delicate ecosystems as varied and complexly interwoven as that of a lush, tropical rainforest.
Three new papers in the scientific journal Genome Association shed light on the microbes that commonly set up shop in biological soil crusts in Utah’s Moab Desert ...
Overlay of sketch on photograph from above to assist in the identification of the structures on the rock bed surface. Image credit: Noffke (2015). Courtesy of ASTROBIOLOGY, published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
A careful study of images taken by the NASA rover Curiosity has revealed intriguing similarities between ancient sedimentary rocks on Mars and structures shaped by microbes on Earth. The findings suggest, but do not prove, that life may have existed earlier on the Red Planet. The photos were taken as Curiosity drove through the Gillespie Lake outcrop in Yellowknife Bay.
The study was supported ...
Scott Sandford next to a cryovacuum systems that helps reveal the chemistry that produces organic compounds of astrobiological interest. Credit: NASA Ames/Sandford
A team of scientists has published the results of an investigative survey into the Sutter’s Mill meteorite that landed in California in 2012. The results reveal that the meteorite contained a number of features associated with minerals such as olivines, phyllosilicates, carbonates, and possibly pyroxenes, as well as organics. However, a key conclusion of the paper, and one that is likely to be of keen interest to astrobiologists, is confirmation that meteorites can become contaminated by ...
Ed Roberts competes in FameLab USA at the Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco, CA on December 15, 2014
The second regional heat of FameLab USA’s Season 3 took place in San Francisco, CA on December 14-15th in conjunction with the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting. 14 early career scientists participated, and the research represented covered the gamut from cancer research to acid rain, GMO’s, and finding Earth-like planets elsewhere in the Universe!
Eight of the 14 advanced to the evening competition round, and gave their second 3-minute, powerpoint-free talk to a public audience of 150 people at the Rickshaw Stop ...December 22, 2014 / Posted by: Daniella Scalice
Abstract submissions for the 2015 Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon) have now closed. For details, visit the AbSciCon 2015 website at: http://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/abscicon2015/
AbSciCon 2015 is the next in a series of conferences organized by researchers within the interdisciplinary field of astrobiology. Scientists from around the world will gather in Chicago, Illinois, from June 15-19, 2015, to report new research findings and plan for astrobiology’s future. The theme of AbSciCon 2015 is “Habitability, Habitable Worlds, and Life.”
Other key dates include:
May 1, 2015 – Program and abstracts available
June 15–19, 2015 – Astrobiology ...December 20, 2014 / Written by: Aaron Gronstal
NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity drilled into this rock target, “Cumberland,” during the 279th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars (May 19, 2013) and collected a powdered sample of material from the rock’s interior. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
NASA’s Curiosity rover has made two of its most important observations on Mars since arriving on the planet in 2012. First, the rover measured a spike in levels of the organic chemical methane in the local atmosphere of its Gale Crater research site.
The second big discovery came when the rover drilled into a rock ...December 19, 2014 / Written by: Aaron Gronstal
An artist's rendering of a Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) molecule. Credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation
By comparing nonfunctional and functional RNA, scientists have uncovered new details about the potential chemical evolution of one of life’s essential molecules. The study could provide new insight into RNA’s role in the origins of life on Earth.
The study, “RNA as an Emergent Entity: An Understanding Gained Through Studying its Nonfunctional Alternatives,” was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the NASA Astrobiology Program under the NSF/NASA Center for Chemical Evolution.
Source: [astrobio.net]December 18, 2014 / Written by: Aaron Gronstal
- September 6 - Registration Deadline for Astrobiology and Planetary Atmospheres 2015
- September 11 - Application Deadline for Eugene M. Shoemaker Impact Cratering Award
- September 15 - Registration Deadline for International Meeting: Missions to Habitable Worlds
- September 18 - Early Registration Deadline for K2 Science Conference (K2SciCon)
- September 18 - Abstract Submission Deadline for K2 Science Conference (K2SciCon)
- September 18 - Deadline for Simons Collaboration on the Origins of Life 2016 Postdoctoral Fellowships
- September 25 - Early Registration Deadline for Paneth Kolloquium: First 10 Million Years of the Solar System
- September 28 - Registration Deadline for Geological Society of America (GSA) 2015 Annual Meeting
- October 1 - Application Deadline for NASA Astrobiology Program Student Early Career Collaboration Awards
- October 5 - Astrobiology Graduates in Europe (AbGradE) Mission Design Workshop
- October 6 - Registration Deadline for Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) Meeting
- October 6 - Registration Deadline for 2nd International Planetary Caves Conference
- October 12 - 66th International Astronautical Congress (IAC 2015)
- October 16 - Abstract Submission Deadline for 2016 Gordon Research Conference & Seminar "Origins of Life"