Results tagged “Astrobiology”

Solving the "faint young Sun paradox" -- explaining how early Earth was warm and habitable for life beginning more than 3 billion years ago even though the Sun was 20 percent dimmer than today -- may not be as difficult as believed, says a new University of Colorado Boulder study.

Cycle 7 Cooperative Agreement Notice NNH13ZDA010J: On or about July 3, 2013 The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Science Mission Directorate is releasing a Draft Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) soliciting team-based proposals for membership in the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) for community review and comment.

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.

The NASA Astrobiology Program has begun the process of developing a new Astrobiology Roadmap to chart the future directions of astrobiology research. During the month of May, NASA hosted a series of on-line hangouts and discussions focusing on broad themes in astrobiology.

The NAI is pleased to announce selections for the 2013 Lewis and Clark Fund for Exploration and Field Research in Astrobiology.

The NASA Astrobiology Program Early Career Collaboration Award offers research-related travel support for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Applicants are encouraged to use these resources to circulate among two or more research teams, however any travel that is critical for the applicant's research will be considered.

The Astrobiology Program has selected 5 faculty members from minority serving institutions to conduct research in the labs of NASA Astrobiology Program researchers as part of the Minority Institution Research Support (MIRS) program during 2013.

Writing in the journal Nature Geoscience, astrobiologists Alberto Fairen of Cornell University and Dirk Schulze-Makuch of Washington State University say the NASA Office of Planetary Protection's "detailed and expensive" efforts to keep Earth microorganisms off Mars are making missions to search for life on the red planet "unviable."

Astrobiology News 27 June 2013

One of the most profound questions about the newly discovered class of low-density super-Earths is whether these exoplanets are predominately H2-dominated mini-Neptunes or volatile-rich worlds with gas envelopes dominated by H2O, CO2, CO, CH4, or N2.

Recent calculations suggest that the inner edge of the habitable zone around the Sun could be as far out as 0.99 astronomical units (AU)- much closer to the orbit of Earth than had been thought. This reopens the question of whether future increases in atmospheric CO2 might trigger a runaway or moist greenhouse. A runaway greenhouse implies complete ocean vaporization; a moist greenhouse implies that the stratosphere becomes wet, leading to ocean loss via hydrogen escape to space.

Astrobiology News 26 June 2013

The compositions of the 3.7-billion-year-old surface rocks on Mars -- as observed by the Spirit rover at Gusev crater -- are shown to be consistent with early mixing of oxidized surface material into the uppermost Martian mantle: such oxidation appears to have had less influence on more recent volcanic rocks, which are sampled as Martian meteorites.

The autonomous, solar-powered Zoe, which became the first robot to map microbial life during a 2005 field expedition in Chile's Atacama Desert, is heading back to the world's driest desert this month on a NASA astrobiology mission led by Carnegie Mellon University and the SETI Institute. This time, Zoe is equipped with a one-meter drill to search for subsurface life.

The widespread disappearance of stromatolites, the earliest visible manifestation of life on Earth, may have been driven by single-celled organisms called foraminifera.

Recently the Brazilian Network of Astrobiology (Rede Brasileira de Astrobiologia - RBA) was created. Linked to the Research Unit in Astrobiology (NAP-Astrobio) of the Universidade de Sao Paulo (USP). NAP-Astrobio is an international partner of important institutions in the area, such as the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) and the European Astrobiology Networks Association (EANA).

Astrochemistry aims at studying chemical processes in astronomical environments. This discipline -- located at the crossroad between astrophysics and chemistry -- is rapidly evolving and explores the issue of the formation of molecules of increasing complexity in particular physical conditions that deviate significantly from those frequently encountered in chemistry laboratories. The main goal of this paper is to provide an overview of this discipline.

The temperature in the permafrost on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian high Arctic is nearly as cold as that of the surface of Mars. So the recent discovery by a McGill University led team of scientists of a bacterium that is able to thrive at -15oC, the coldest temperature ever reported for bacterial growth, is exciting.

Mars Icebreaker Life Mission

Missions to Mars have only scratched its surface. To go deeper, scientists are proposing a spacecraft that can drill into the Red Planet to potentially find signs of life.

Are we alone in the universe? How did life begin? Will the human civilization expand out into the solar system and beyond? How can we act as curators of our home planet to achieve long-term sustainability? As astrobiologists we recognize these scientific and societal questions as some of the greatest of our time.

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