Space

September 5, 2012

NASA selects science teams for astrobiology institute

NASA has awarded five-year grants totaling almost $40 million to five research teams to study the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe.

The newly selected teams are from the University of Washington; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; University of Wisconsin, Madison; University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; and University of Southern California. Average funding to the teams is almost $8 million each. The interdisciplinary teams will become members of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, headquartered at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.

“These research teams join the NASA Astrobiology Institute at an exciting time for NASA’s exploration programs,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “With the Curiosity rover preparing to investigate the potential habitability of Mars and the Kepler mission discovering planets outside our solar system, these research teams will help provide the critical interdisciplinary expertise needed to interpret data from these missions and plan future astrobiology-focused missions.”

The University of Washington’s “Virtual Planetary Laboratory,” led by Victoria Meadows, will integrate computer modeling with laboratory and field-work across a range of disciplines to extend knowledge of planetary habitability and astronomical biosignatures in support of NASA missions to study extrasolar planets.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology team, led by Roger Summons, will focus on how signs of life are preserved in ancient rocks on Earth, with a focus on the origin and evolution of complex life, and how this knowledge can be applied to studies of Mars using the Curiosity rover.

The University of Wisconsin team, led by Clark Johnson, will study how to detect life in modern and ancient environments on Earth and other planetary bodies.

The University of Illinois team, led by Nigel Goldenfeld, seeks to define a “universal biology,” or fundamental principles underlying the origin and evolution of life anywhere, through an interdisciplinary study of how life began and evolved on Earth.

The University of Southern California team, led by Jan Amend, will study life in the subsurface, a potentially habitable environment on other worlds. They will use field, laboratory, and modeling approaches to detect and characterize Earth’s subsurface microbial life.

“The intellectual scope of astrobiology is breathtaking, from understanding how our planet went from lifeless to living, to understanding how life has adapted to Earth’s harshest environments, to exploring other worlds with the most advanced technologies to search for signs of life,” NAI Director Carl Pilcher said. “The new teams cover that breadth of astrobiology, and by coming together in the NAI, they will make the connections between disciplines and organizations that stimulate fundamental scientific advances.”

These five new teams join 10 other teams led by the University of Hawaii; Arizona State University, Tempe; The Carnegie Institution of Washington; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, N.Y.; Pennsylvania State University; Georgia Institute of Technology; and teams at Ames; NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.; and two teams at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

NASA spacecraft nears historic dwarf planet arrival

Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA NASA’s Dawn spacecraft took these images of dwarf planet Ceres from about 25,000 miles away Feb. 25, 2015. Ceres appears half in shadow because of the current position o...
 
 

Northrop Grumman’s AstroMesh reflector successfully deploys for NASA’s SMAP satellite

The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory successfully deployed the mesh reflector and boom aboard the Soil Moisture Active Passive spacecraft, a key milestone on its mission to provide global measurements of soil moisture. Launched Jan. 31, SMAP represents the future of Earth Science by helping researchers better understand our planet. SMAP’s unmatched data capabilities are enabled...
 
 
NASA photograph by Brian Tietz

NASA offers space tech grants to early career university faculty

NASA photograph by Brian Tietz Tensegrity research is able to simulate multiple forms of locomotion. In this image, a prototype tensegrity robot reproduces forward crawling motion. NASA’s Space Technology Mission Director...
 

 

NASA releases first global rainfall, snowfall map from new mission

Like a lead violin tuning an orchestra, the GPM Core Observatory – launched one year ago on Feb. 27, 2014, as a collaboration between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency – acts as the standard to unify precipitation measurements from a network of 12 satellites. The result is NASA’s Integrated Multi-satellite Retrievals for GPM...
 
 

New NASA Earth Science Missions expand view of our home planet

Four new NASA Earth-observing missions are collecting data from space with a fifth newly in orbit ñ after the busiest year of NASA Earth science launches in more than a decade. On Feb. 27, 2014, NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launched the Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory into space from Japan. Data from...
 
 

NASA, ESA telescopes give shape to furious black hole winds

NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and ESA’s (European Space Agency) XMM-Newton telescope are showing that fierce winds from a supermassive black hole blow outward in all directions – a phenomenon that had been suspected, but difficult to prove until now. This discovery has given astronomers their first opportunity to measure the strength of these...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>