WorldWideScience

Sample records for mars astrobiology research

  1. Habitability & Astrobiology Research in Mars Terrestrial Analogues

    Science.gov (United States)

    Foing, Bernard

    2014-05-01

    We performed a series of field research campaigns (ILEWG EuroMoonMars) in the extreme Utah desert relevant to Mars environments, and in order to help in the interpretation of Mars missions measurements from orbit (MEX, MRO) or from the surface (MER, MSL), or Moon geochemistry (SMART-1, LRO). We shall give an update on the sample analysis in the context of habitability and astrobiology. Methods & Results: In the frame of ILEWG EuroMoonMars campaigns (2009 to 2013) we deployed at Mars Desert Research station, near Hanksville Utah, a suite of instruments and techniques [A, 1, 2, 9-11] including sample collection, context imaging from remote to local and microscale, drilling, spectrometers and life sensors. We analyzed how geological and geochemical evolution affected local parameters (mineralogy, organics content, environment variations) and the habitability and signature of organics and biota. Among the important findings are the diversity in the composition of soil samples even when collected in close proximity, the low abundances of detectable PAHs and amino acids and the presence of biota of all three domains of life with significant heterogeneity. An extraordinary variety of putative extremophiles was observed [3,4,9]. A dominant factor seems to be soil porosity and lower clay-sized particle content [6-8]. A protocol was developed for sterile sampling, contamination issues, and the diagnostics of biodiversity via PCR and DGGE analysis in soils and rocks samples [10, 11]. We compare the 2009 campaign results [1-9] to new measurements from 2010-2013 campaigns [10-12] relevant to: comparison between remote sensing and in-situ measurements; the study of minerals; the detection of organics and signs of life. Keywords: field analogue research, astrobiology, habitability, life detection, Earth-Moon-Mars, organics References [A] Foing, Stoker & Ehrenfreund (Editors, 2011) "Astrobiology field Research in Moon/Mars Analogue Environments", Special Issue of International

  2. Astrobiology Field Research in Moon/Mars Analogue Environments: Preface

    Science.gov (United States)

    Foing, B. H.; Stoker, C.; Ehrenfreund, P.

    2011-01-01

    Extreme environments on Earth often provide similar terrain conditions to landing/operation sites on Moon and Mars. Several field campaigns (EuroGeoMars2009 and DOMMEX/ILEWG EuroMoonMars from November 2009 to March 2010) were conducted at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in Utah. Some of the key astrobiology results are presented in this special issue on Astrobiology field research in Moon/Mars analogue environments relevant to investigate the link between geology, minerals, organics and biota. Preliminary results from a multidisciplinary field campaign at Rio Tinto in Spain are presented.

  3. Astrobiology field research in Moon/Mars Analogue

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Foing, B.H.; Stoker, C.; Ehrenfreund, P.

    2011-01-01

    Extreme environments on Earth often provide similar terrain conditions to landing/operation sites on Moon and Mars. Several field campaigns (EuroGeoMars2009 and DOMMEX/ILEWG EuroMoonMars from November 2009 to March 2010) were conducted at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in Utah. Some of the

  4. Field astrobiology research instruments and methods in moon-mars analogue site.

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Foing, B.H.; Stoker, C.; Zavaleta, J.; Ehrenfreund, P.; Sarrazin, P.; Blake, D.; Page, J.; Pletser, V.; Hendrikse, J.; Oliveira Lebre Direito, M.S.; Kotler, M.; Martins, Z.; Orzechowska, G.; Thiel, C.S.; Clarke, J.; Gross, J.; Wendt, L.; Borst, A.; Peters, S.; Wilhelm, M.-B.; Davies, G.R.; EuroGeoMars 2009 Team, ILEWG

    2011-01-01

    We describe the field demonstration of astrobiology instruments and research methods conducted in and from the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in Utah during the EuroGeoMars campaign 2009 coordinated by ILEWG, ESA/ESTEC and NASA Ames, with the contribution of academic partners. We discuss the

  5. Astrobiology Results from ILEWG EuroMoonMars Analogue Field Research

    Science.gov (United States)

    Foing, Bernard H.

    We give an update on the astrobiology results from a series of field research campaigns (ILEWG EuroMoonMars) in the extreme environment of the Utah desert. These are relevant to prepare future lunar landers and polar sample return missions, interpret Moon-Mars data (eg SMART1, LRO, Mars Express, MRO, MER, MSL), study habitability and astrobiology in Moon-Mars environments, or to test human-robotic surface EVA or base operations. In the frame of ILEWG EuroMoonMars campaigns (2009 to 2013) we deployed at Mars Desert Research station near Hanksville Utah, a suite of instruments and techniques [0, 1, 2, 9-11] including sample collection, context imaging from re-mote to local and microscale, drilling, spectrometers and life sensors. We analyzed how geological and geo-chemical evolution affected local parameters (mineralogy, organics content, environment variations) and the habitability and signature of organics and biota. Results: Among the important findings are the diversity in the composition of soil samples even when collected in close proximity, the low abundances of detectable PAHs and amino acids and the presence of biota of all three domains of life with significant heterogeneity. An extraordinary variety of putative extremophiles was observed [3,4,9]. A dominant factor seems to be soil porosity and lower clay-sized particle content [6-8]. A protocol was developed for sterile sampling, contamination issues, and the diagnostics of biodiversity via PCR and DGGE analysis in soils and rocks samples [10, 11]. We compare the 2009 campaign results [0-9] to new measurements from 2010-2013 campaigns relevant to: comparison between remote sensing and in-situ measurements; the study of minerals; the detection of organics and signs of life. We acknowledge team members and supporting institutes: B.H. Foing (1, 2, 6), C. Stoker (3), P. Ehrenfreund (4, 5), I. Rammos (2), L. Rodrigues (2), A. Svendsen (2), D. Oltheten (2), I. Schlacht (2), K. Nebergall (6), M. Battler (6, 7), H

  6. A geoethical approach to the geological and astrobiological exploration and research of the Moon and Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Martinez-Frias, Jesus; Horneck, Gerda; de La Torre Noetzel, Rosa; Rull, Fernando

    Lunar and Mars exploration and research require not only scientific and technological inter-disciplinary cooperation, but also the consideration of budding ethical and scientific integrity issues. COSPAR's planetary protection policy (in coordination with the United Nations Com-mittee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space as well as various other bilateral and multilateral organizations) serves as the consensus standard for biological contamination prevention under the 1967 Outer Space Treaty1 . Space agencies Planetary Protection Policies are mostly consis-tent with the COSPAR policy. Geoethics was formerly promoted in 1991 as a new discipline, involving scientific and societal aspects2 , and its institutionalization was officially established in 2004 with the backing of the Association of Geoscientists for International Development, AGID3 (IUGS/ICSU). Recently, it has been proposed that the integration of geoethical issues in studies on planetary geology and astrobiology would enrich their methodological and con-ceptual character4-6 . The incorporation through geoethics of new questions and approaches associated to the "abiotic world" would involve: 1) extrapolating to space the recently defined and approved IUCN/UNESCO guidelines and recommendations on geodiversity7 as "planetary geodiversity", and 2) widening the classical concept of Planetary Protection, giving an addi-tional "abiotic" dimension to the exploration and research of the Moon and Mars. Given the geological characteristics and planetary evolution of the Moon and Mars, it is obvious that they require tailored geoethical approaches. Some fundamental aspects include, among others: the interrelation with bioethics and organics vs. inorganic contamination in Planetary Protection, the appropriate regulations of some necessary natural disturbances (e.g. on the Moon) dur-ing robotic and manned planetary missions, wilderness/planetary parks8,9 , the correct use of mineralogical and geochemical analytical

  7. The subsurface geology of Río Tinto: material examined during a simulated Mars drilling mission for the Mars Astrobiology Research and Technology Experiment (MARTE).

    Science.gov (United States)

    Prieto-Ballesteros, Olga; Martínez-Frías, Jesús; Schutt, John; Sutter, Brad; Heldmann, Jennifer L; Bell, Mary Sue; Battler, Melissa; Cannon, Howard; Gómez-Elvira, Javier; Stoker, Carol R

    2008-10-01

    The 2005 Mars Astrobiology Research and Technology Experiment (MARTE) project conducted a simulated 1-month Mars drilling mission in the Río Tinto district, Spain. Dry robotic drilling, core sampling, and biological and geological analytical technologies were collectively tested for the first time for potential use on Mars. Drilling and subsurface sampling and analytical technologies are being explored for Mars because the subsurface is the most likely place to find life on Mars. The objectives of this work are to describe drilling, sampling, and analytical procedures; present the geological analysis of core and borehole material; and examine lessons learned from the drilling simulation. Drilling occurred at an undisclosed location, causing the science team to rely only on mission data for geological and biological interpretations. Core and borehole imaging was used for micromorphological analysis of rock, targeting rock for biological analysis, and making decisions regarding the next day's drilling operations. Drilling reached 606 cm depth into poorly consolidated gossan that allowed only 35% of core recovery and contributed to borehole wall failure during drilling. Core material containing any indication of biology was sampled and analyzed in more detail for its confirmation. Despite the poorly consolidated nature of the subsurface gossan, dry drilling was able to retrieve useful core material for geological and biological analysis. Lessons learned from this drilling simulation can guide the development of dry drilling and subsurface geological and biological analytical technologies for future Mars drilling missions.

  8. Astrobiology and the Human Exploration of Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Levine, Joel S.; Garvin, James B.; Drake, B. G.; Beaty, David

    2010-01-01

    In March 2007, the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG) chartered the Human Exploration of Mars Science Analysis Group (HEM-SAG), co-chaired by J. B. Garvin and J. S. Levine and consisting of about 30 Mars scientists from the U.S. and Europe. HEM-SAG was one of a half dozen teams charted by NASA to consider the human exploration of Mars. Other teams included: Mars Entry, Descent and Landing, Human Health and Performance, Flight and Surface Systems, and Heliospheric/Astrophysics. The results of these Mars teams and the development of an architecture for the human exploration of Mars were summarized in two recent publications: Human Exploration of Mars Design Reference Architecture 5.0, NASA Special Publication-2009-566 (B. G. Drake, Editor), 100 pages, July 2009 and Human Exploration of Mars Design Reference Architecture 5.0, NASA Special Publication-2009-566 Addendum (B. G. Drake, Editor), 406 pages, July 2009. This presentation summarizes the HEM-SAG conclusions on astrobiology and the search for life on Mars by humans.

  9. Astrobiological aspects of Mars and human presence: pros and cons.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Horneck, G

    2008-08-01

    After the realization of the International Space Station, human exploratory missions to Moon or Mars, i.e. beyond low Earth orbit, are widely considered as the next logical step of peaceful cooperation in space on a global scale. Besides the human desire to extend the window of habitability, human exploratory missions are driven by several aspects of science, technology, culture and economy. Mars is currently considered as a major target in the search for life beyond the Earth. Understanding the history of water on Mars appears to be one of the clues to the puzzle on the probability of life on Mars. On Earth microorganisms have flourished for more than 3.5 Ga and have developed strategies to cope with so-called extreme conditions (e.g., hot vents, permafrost, subsurface regions, rocks or salt crystals). Therefore, in search for life on Mars, microorganisms are the most likely candidates for a putative biota on Mars and the search for morphological or chemical signatures of life or its relics is one of the primary and most exciting goals of Mars exploration. The presence of humans on the surface of Mars will substantially increase this research potential, e.g., by supporting deep subsurface drilling and by allowing intellectual collection and sophisticated in situ analysis of samples of astrobiological interest. On the other hand, such long-duration missions beyond LEO will add a new dimension to human space flight, concerning the distance of travel, the radiation environment, the gravity levels, the duration of the mission, and the level of confinement and isolation the crew will be exposed to. This will raise the significance of several health issues, above all radiation protection, gravity related effects as well as psychological issues. Furthermore, the import of internal and external microorganisms inevitably accompanying any human mission to Mars, or brought purposely to Mars as part of a bioregenerative life support system needs careful consideration with

  10. Astrobiology and Society: Building an Interdisciplinary Research Community

    OpenAIRE

    Race, Margaret; Denning, Kathryn; Bertka, Constance M.; Dick, Steven J.; Harrison, Albert A.; Impey, Christopher; Mancinelli, Rocco

    2012-01-01

    This paper reports recent efforts to gather experts from the humanities and social sciences along with astrobiologists to consider the cultural, societal, and psychological implications of astrobiology research and exploration. We began by convening a workshop to draft a research roadmap on astrobiology's societal implications and later formed a Focus Group on Astrobiology and Society under the auspices of the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI). Just as the Astrobiology Science Roadmap and var...

  11. A concept for NASA's Mars 2016 astrobiology field laboratory.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Beegle, Luther W; Wilson, Michael G; Abilleira, Fernando; Jordan, James F; Wilson, Gregory R

    2007-08-01

    The Mars Program Plan includes an integrated and coordinated set of future candidate missions and investigations that meet fundamental science objectives of NASA and the Mars Exploration Program (MEP). At the time this paper was written, these possible future missions are planned in a manner consistent with a projected budget profile for the Mars Program in the next decade (2007-2016). As with all future missions, the funding profile depends on a number of factors that include the exact cost of each mission as well as potential changes to the overall NASA budget. In the current version of the Mars Program Plan, the Astrobiology Field Laboratory (AFL) exists as a candidate project to determine whether there were (or are) habitable zones and life, and how the development of these zones may be related to the overall evolution of the planet. The AFL concept is a surface exploration mission equipped with a major in situ laboratory capable of making significant advancements toward the Mars Program's life-related scientific goals and the overarching Vision for Space Exploration. We have developed several concepts for the AFL that fit within known budget and engineering constraints projected for the 2016 and 2018 Mars mission launch opportunities. The AFL mission architecture proposed here assumes maximum heritage from the 2009 Mars Science Laboratory (MSL). Candidate payload elements for this concept were identified from a set of recommendations put forth by the Astrobiology Field Laboratory Science Steering Group (AFL SSG) in 2004, for the express purpose of identifying overall rover mass and power requirements for such a mission. The conceptual payload includes a Precision Sample Handling and Processing System that would replace and augment the functionality and capabilities provided by the Sample Acquisition Sample Processing and Handling system that is currently part of the 2009 MSL platform.

  12. Visible-near infrared point spectrometry of drill core samples from Río Tinto, Spain: results from the 2005 Mars Astrobiology Research and Technology Experiment (MARTE) drilling exercise.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sutter, Brad; Brown, Adrian J; Stoker, Carol R

    2008-10-01

    Sampling of subsurface rock may be required to detect evidence of past biological activity on Mars. The Mars Astrobiology Research and Technology Experiment (MARTE) utilized the Río Tinto region, Spain, as a Mars analog site to test dry drilling technologies specific to Mars that retrieve subsurface rock for biological analysis. This work examines the usefulness of visible-near infrared (VNIR) (450-1000 nm) point spectrometry to characterize ferric iron minerals in core material retrieved during a simulated Mars drilling mission. VNIR spectrometry can indicate the presence of aqueously precipitated ferric iron minerals and, thus, determine whether biological analysis of retrieved rock is warranted. Core spectra obtained during the mission with T1 (893-897 nm) and T2 (644-652 nm) features indicate goethite-dominated samples, while relatively lower wavelength T1 (832-880 nm) features indicate hematite. Hematite/goethite molar ratios varied from 0 to 1.4, and within the 880-898 nm range, T1 features were used to estimate hematite/goethite molar ratios. Post-mission X-ray analysis detected phyllosilicates, which indicates that examining beyond the VNIR (e.g., shortwave infrared, 1000-2500 nm) will enhance the detection of other minerals formed by aqueous processes. Despite the limited spectral range of VNIR point spectrometry utilized in the MARTE Mars drilling simulation project, ferric iron minerals could be identified in retrieved core material, and their distribution served to direct core subsampling for biological analysis.

  13. Astrobiology, Mars Exploration and Lassen Volcanic National Park

    Science.gov (United States)

    Des Marais, David J.

    2015-01-01

    The search for evidence of life beyond Earth illustrates how the charters of NASA and the National Park Service share common ground. The mission of NPS is to preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education and inspiration of this and future generations. NASA's Astrobiology program seeks to understand the origins, evolution and distribution of life in the universe, and it abides by the principles of planetary stewardship, public outreach, and education. We cannot subject planetary exploration destinations to Earthly biological contamination both for ethical reasons and to preserve their scientific value for astrobiology. We respond to the public's interest in the mysteries of life and the cosmos by honoring their desire to participate in the process of discovery. We involve youth in order to motivate career choices in science and technology and to perpetuate space exploration. The search for evidence of past life on Mars illustrates how the missions of NASA and NPS can become synergistic. Volcanic activity occurs on all rocky planets in our Solar System and beyond, and it frequently interacts with water to create hydrothermal systems. On Earth these systems are oases for microbial life. The Mars Exploration Rover Spirit has found evidence of extinct hydrothermal system in Gusev crater, Mars. Lassen Volcanic National Park provides a pristine laboratory for investigating how microorganisms can both thrive and leave evidence of their former presence in hydrothermal systems. NASA scientists, NPS interpretation personnel and teachers can collaborate on field-oriented programs that enhance Mars mission planning, engage students and the public in science and technology, and emphasize the ethics of responsible exploration.

  14. Astrobiology and society: building an interdisciplinary research community.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Race, Margaret; Denning, Kathryn; Bertka, Constance M; Dick, Steven J; Harrison, Albert A; Impey, Christopher; Mancinelli, Rocco

    2012-10-01

    This paper reports recent efforts to gather experts from the humanities and social sciences along with astrobiologists to consider the cultural, societal, and psychological implications of astrobiology research and exploration. We began by convening a workshop to draft a research roadmap on astrobiology's societal implications and later formed a Focus Group on Astrobiology and Society under the auspices of the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI). Just as the Astrobiology Science Roadmap and various astrobiology science focus groups have helped researchers orient and understand their work across disciplinary contexts, our intent was to apply the same approach to examine areas beyond the physical and life sciences and expand interdisciplinary interaction and scholarly understanding. These efforts continue as an experiment in progress, with an open invitation to interested researchers-astrobiologists as well as scholars in the humanities and social sciences-to become involved in research, analysis, and proactive discussions concerning the potential impacts of astrobiology on society as well as the possible impacts of society on progress in astrobiology.

  15. Undergraduate Research at SETI in Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kress, Monika; Phillips, C.; DeVore, E.; Hubickyj, O.

    2012-05-01

    The SETI Institute and San Jose State University (SJSU) have begun a partnership (URSA: Undergraduate Research at the SETI Institute in Astrobiology) in which undergraduate science and engineering majors from SJSU participate in research at the SETI Institute during the academic year. We are currently in our second year of the three-year NASA-funded grant. The goal of this program is to expose future scientists, engineers and educators to the science of astrobiology and to NASA in general, and by so doing, to prepare them for the transition to their future career in the Silicon Valley or beyond. The URSA students are mentored by a SETI Institute scientist who conducts research at the SETI Institute headquarters or nearby at NASA Ames Research Center. The SETI Institute is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to scientific research, education and public outreach. Its mission is to explore, understand and explain the origin, nature and prevalence of life in the universe. SJSU is a large urban public university that serves the greater Silicon Valley area in California. Students at SJSU come from diverse ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Many of them face financial pressures that force them to pursue part-time work. URSA students are paid to work for 10 hours/week during the academic year, and also participate in monthly group meetings where they practice their presentation skills and discuss future plans. We encourage underserved and underrepresented students, including women, minority, and those who are the first in their family to go to college, to apply to the URSA program and provide ongoing mentoring and support as needed. While preparing students for graduate school is not a primary goal, some of our students have gone on to MS or PhD programs or plan to do so. The URSA program is funded by NASA EPOESS.

  16. Astrobiological Field Campaign to a Volcanosedimentary Mars Analogue Methane Producing Subsurface Protected Ecosystem: Imuruk Lake (Alaska

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    F. Gómez

    2011-01-01

    Full Text Available Viking missions reported adverse conditions for life in Mars surface. High hydrogen signal obtained by Mars orbiters has increased the interest in subsurface prospection as putative protected Mars environment with life potential. Permafrost has attracted considerable interest from an astrobiological point of view due to the recently reported results from the Mars exploration rovers. Considerable studies have been developed on extreme ecosystems and permafrost in particular, to evaluate the possibility of life on Mars and to test specific automated life detection instruments for space missions. The biodiversity of permafrost located on the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve has been studied as an example of subsurface protected niche of astrobiological interest. Different conventional (enrichment and isolation and molecular ecology techniques (cloning, fluorescence “in situ” probe hybridization, FISH have been used for isolation and bacterial identification.

  17. Mars Analog Research and Technology Experiment (MARTE): A Simulated Mars Drilling Mission to Search for Subsurface Life at the Rio Tinto, Spain

    Science.gov (United States)

    Stoker, Carol; Lemke, Larry; Mandell, Humboldt; McKay, David; George, Jeffrey; Gomez-Alvera, Javier; Amils, Ricardo; Stevens, Todd; Miller, David

    2003-01-01

    The MARTE (Mars Astrobiology Research and Technology Experiment) project was selected by the new NASA ASTEP program, which supports field experiments having an equal emphasis on Astrobiology science and technology development relevant to future Astrobiology missions. MARTE will search for a hypothesized subsurface anaerobic chemoautotrophic biosphere in the region of the Tinto River in southwestern Spain while also demonstrating technology needed to search for a subsurface biosphere on Mars. The experiment is informed by the strategy for searching for life on Mars.

  18. Mud Volcanoes - A New Class of Sites for Geological and Astrobiological Exploration of Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Allen, C.C.; Oehler, D.Z.; Baker, D.M.

    2009-01-01

    Mud volcanoes provide a unique low-temperature window into the Earth s subsurface - including the deep biosphere - and may prove to be significant sources of atmospheric methane. The identification of analogous features on Mars would provide an important new class of sites for geological and astrobiological exploration. We report new work suggesting that features in Acidalia Planitia are most consistent with their being mud volcanoes.

  19. Science Applications of a Multispectral Microscopic Imager for the Astrobiological Exploration of Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Farmer, Jack D.; Sellar, R. Glenn; Swayze, Gregg A.; Blaney, Diana L.

    2014-01-01

    Abstract Future astrobiological missions to Mars are likely to emphasize the use of rovers with in situ petrologic capabilities for selecting the best samples at a site for in situ analysis with onboard lab instruments or for caching for potential return to Earth. Such observations are central to an understanding of the potential for past habitable conditions at a site and for identifying samples most likely to harbor fossil biosignatures. The Multispectral Microscopic Imager (MMI) provides multispectral reflectance images of geological samples at the microscale, where each image pixel is composed of a visible/shortwave infrared spectrum ranging from 0.46 to 1.73 μm. This spectral range enables the discrimination of a wide variety of rock-forming minerals, especially Fe-bearing phases, and the detection of hydrated minerals. The MMI advances beyond the capabilities of current microimagers on Mars by extending the spectral range into the infrared and increasing the number of spectral bands. The design employs multispectral light-emitting diodes and an uncooled indium gallium arsenide focal plane array to achieve a very low mass and high reliability. To better understand and demonstrate the capabilities of the MMI for future surface missions to Mars, we analyzed samples from Mars-relevant analog environments with the MMI. Results indicate that the MMI images faithfully resolve the fine-scale microtextural features of samples and provide important information to help constrain mineral composition. The use of spectral endmember mapping reveals the distribution of Fe-bearing minerals (including silicates and oxides) with high fidelity, along with the presence of hydrated minerals. MMI-based petrogenetic interpretations compare favorably with laboratory-based analyses, revealing the value of the MMI for future in situ rover-mediated astrobiological exploration of Mars. Key Words: Mars—Microscopic imager—Multispectral imaging

  20. Science applications of a multispectral microscopic imager for the astrobiological exploration of Mars.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Núñez, Jorge I; Farmer, Jack D; Sellar, R Glenn; Swayze, Gregg A; Blaney, Diana L

    2014-02-01

    Future astrobiological missions to Mars are likely to emphasize the use of rovers with in situ petrologic capabilities for selecting the best samples at a site for in situ analysis with onboard lab instruments or for caching for potential return to Earth. Such observations are central to an understanding of the potential for past habitable conditions at a site and for identifying samples most likely to harbor fossil biosignatures. The Multispectral Microscopic Imager (MMI) provides multispectral reflectance images of geological samples at the microscale, where each image pixel is composed of a visible/shortwave infrared spectrum ranging from 0.46 to 1.73 μm. This spectral range enables the discrimination of a wide variety of rock-forming minerals, especially Fe-bearing phases, and the detection of hydrated minerals. The MMI advances beyond the capabilities of current microimagers on Mars by extending the spectral range into the infrared and increasing the number of spectral bands. The design employs multispectral light-emitting diodes and an uncooled indium gallium arsenide focal plane array to achieve a very low mass and high reliability. To better understand and demonstrate the capabilities of the MMI for future surface missions to Mars, we analyzed samples from Mars-relevant analog environments with the MMI. Results indicate that the MMI images faithfully resolve the fine-scale microtextural features of samples and provide important information to help constrain mineral composition. The use of spectral endmember mapping reveals the distribution of Fe-bearing minerals (including silicates and oxides) with high fidelity, along with the presence of hydrated minerals. MMI-based petrogenetic interpretations compare favorably with laboratory-based analyses, revealing the value of the MMI for future in situ rover-mediated astrobiological exploration of Mars. Mars-Microscopic imager-Multispectral imaging-Spectroscopy-Habitability-Arm instrument.

  1. Science applications of a multispectral microscopic imager for the astrobiological exploration of Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Nunez, Jorge; Farmer, Jack; Sellar, R. Glenn; Swayze, Gregg A.; Blaney, Diana L.

    2014-01-01

    Future astrobiological missions to Mars are likely to emphasize the use of rovers with in situ petrologic capabilities for selecting the best samples at a site for in situ analysis with onboard lab instruments or for caching for potential return to Earth. Such observations are central to an understanding of the potential for past habitable conditions at a site and for identifying samples most likely to harbor fossil biosignatures. The Multispectral Microscopic Imager (MMI) provides multispectral reflectance images of geological samples at the microscale, where each image pixel is composed of a visible/shortwave infrared spectrum ranging from 0.46 to 1.73 μm. This spectral range enables the discrimination of a wide variety of rock-forming minerals, especially Fe-bearing phases, and the detection of hydrated minerals. The MMI advances beyond the capabilities of current microimagers on Mars by extending the spectral range into the infrared and increasing the number of spectral bands. The design employs multispectral light-emitting diodes and an uncooled indium gallium arsenide focal plane array to achieve a very low mass and high reliability. To better understand and demonstrate the capabilities of the MMI for future surface missions to Mars, we analyzed samples from Mars-relevant analog environments with the MMI. Results indicate that the MMI images faithfully resolve the fine-scale microtextural features of samples and provide important information to help constrain mineral composition. The use of spectral endmember mapping reveals the distribution of Fe-bearing minerals (including silicates and oxides) with high fidelity, along with the presence of hydrated minerals. MMI-based petrogenetic interpretations compare favorably with laboratory-based analyses, revealing the value of the MMI for future in situ rover-mediated astrobiological exploration of Mars.

  2. Microbes in the upper atmosphere and unique opportunities for astrobiology research.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Smith, David J

    2013-10-01

    Microbial taxa from every major biological lineage have been detected in Earth's upper atmosphere. The goal of this review is to communicate (1) relevant astrobiology questions that can be addressed with upper atmosphere microbiology studies and (2) available sampling methods for collecting microbes at extreme altitudes. Precipitation, mountain stations, airplanes, balloons, rockets, and satellites are all feasible routes for conducting aerobiology research. However, more efficient air samplers are needed, and contamination is also a pervasive problem in the field. Measuring microbial signatures without false positives in the upper atmosphere might contribute to sterilization and bioburden reduction methods for proposed astrobiology missions. Intriguingly, environmental conditions in the upper atmosphere resemble the surface conditions of Mars (extreme cold, hypobaria, desiccation, and irradiation). Whether terrestrial microbes are active in the upper atmosphere is an area of intense research interest. If, in fact, microbial metabolism, growth, or replication is achievable independent of Earth's surface, then the search for habitable zones on other worlds should be broadened to include atmospheres (e.g., the high-altitude clouds of Venus). Furthermore, viable cells in the heavily irradiated upper atmosphere of Earth could help identify microbial genes or enzymes that bestow radiation resistance. Compelling astrobiology questions on the origin of life (if the atmosphere synthesized organic aerosols), evolution (if airborne transport influenced microbial mutation rates and speciation), and panspermia (outbound or inbound) are also testable in Earth's upper atmosphere.

  3. The Astrobiology of the Subsurface: Caves and Rock Fracture Habitats on Earth, Mars and Beyond

    Science.gov (United States)

    Boston, Penelope J.

    2017-01-01

    The Astrobiology of the Subsurface: Exploring Cave Habitats on Earth, Mars and Beyond. We are using the spectacular underground landscapes of Earth caves as models for the subsurfaces of other planets. Caves have been detected on the Moon and Mars and are strongly suspected for other bodies in the Solar System including some of the ice covered Ocean Worlds that orbit gas giant planets. The caves we explore and study include many extreme conditions of relevance to planetary astrobiology exploration including high and low temperatures, gas atmospheres poisonous to humans but where exotic microbes can fluorish, highly acidic or salty fluids, heavy metals, and high background radiation levels. Some cave microorganisms eat their way through bedrock, some live in battery acid conditions, some produce unusual biominerals and rare cave formations, and many produce compounds of potential pharmaceutical and industrial significance. We study these unique lifeforms and the physical and chemical biosignatures that they leave behind. Such traces can be used to provide a Field Guide to Unknown Organisms for developing life detection space missions.

  4. The Astrobiology of the Subsurface: Exploring Cave Habitats on Earth, Mars and Beyond

    Science.gov (United States)

    Boston, Penelope Jane

    2016-01-01

    We are using the spectacular underground landscapes of Earth caves as models for the subsurfaces of other planets. Caves have been detected on the Moon and Mars and are strongly suspected for other bodies in the Solar System including some of the ice covered Ocean Worlds that orbit gas giant planets. The caves we explore and study include many extreme conditions of relevance to planetary astrobiology exploration including high and low temperatures, gas atmospheres poisonous to humans but where exotic microbes can flourish, highly acidic or salty fluids, heavy metals, and high background radiation levels. Some cave microorganisms eat their way through bedrock, some live in battery acid conditions, some produce unusual biominerals and rare cave formations, and many produce compounds of potential pharmaceutical and industrial significance. We study these unique lifeforms and the physical and chemical biosignatures that they leave behind. Such traces can be used to provide a "Field Guide to Unknown Organisms" for developing life detection space missions.

  5. The Argyre Region as a Prime Target for in situ Astrobiological Exploration of Mars.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Fairén, Alberto G; Dohm, James M; Rodríguez, J Alexis P; Uceda, Esther R; Kargel, Jeffrey; Soare, Richard; Cleaves, H James; Oehler, Dorothy; Schulze-Makuch, Dirk; Essefi, Elhoucine; Banks, Maria E; Komatsu, Goro; Fink, Wolfgang; Robbins, Stuart; Yan, Jianguo; Miyamoto, Hideaki; Maruyama, Shigenori; Baker, Victor R

    2016-02-01

    At the time before ∼3.5 Ga that life originated and began to spread on Earth, Mars was a wetter and more geologically dynamic planet than it is today. The Argyre basin, in the southern cratered highlands of Mars, formed from a giant impact at ∼3.93 Ga, which generated an enormous basin approximately 1800 km in diameter. The early post-impact environment of the Argyre basin possibly contained many of the ingredients that are thought to be necessary for life: abundant and long-lived liquid water, biogenic elements, and energy sources, all of which would have supported a regional environment favorable for the origin and the persistence of life. We discuss the astrobiological significance of some landscape features and terrain types in the Argyre region that are promising and accessible sites for astrobiological exploration. These include (i) deposits related to the hydrothermal activity associated with the Argyre impact event, subsequent impacts, and those associated with the migration of heated water along Argyre-induced basement structures; (ii) constructs along the floor of the basin that could mark venting of volatiles, possibly related to the development of mud volcanoes; (iii) features interpreted as ice-cored mounds (open-system pingos), whose origin and development could be the result of deeply seated groundwater upwelling to the surface; (iv) sedimentary deposits related to the formation of glaciers along the basin's margins, such as evidenced by the ridges interpreted to be eskers on the basin floor; (v) sedimentary deposits related to the formation of lakes in both the primary Argyre basin and other smaller impact-derived basins along the margin, including those in the highly degraded rim materials; and (vi) crater-wall gullies, whose morphology points to a structural origin and discharge of (wet) flows.

  6. The Lost City Hydrothermal Field: A Spectroscopic and Astrobiological Analogue for Nili Fossae, Mars.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Amador, Elena S; Bandfield, Joshua L; Brazelton, William J; Kelley, Deborah

    2017-11-01

    Low-temperature serpentinization is a critical process with respect to Earth's habitability and the Solar System. Exothermic serpentinization reactions commonly produce hydrogen as a direct by-product and typically produce short-chained organic compounds indirectly. Here, we present the spectral and mineralogical variability in rocks from the serpentine-driven Lost City Hydrothermal Field on Earth and the olivine-rich region of Nili Fossae on Mars. Near- and thermal-infrared spectral measurements were made from a suite of Lost City rocks at wavelengths similar to those for instruments collecting measurements of the martian surface. Results from Lost City show a spectrally distinguishable suite of Mg-rich serpentine, Ca carbonates, talc, and amphibole minerals. Aggregated detections of low-grade metamorphic minerals in rocks from Nili Fossae were mapped and yielded a previously undetected serpentine exposure in the region. Direct comparison of the two spectral suites indicates similar mineralogy at both Lost City and in the Noachian (4-3.7 Ga) bedrock of Nili Fossae, Mars. Based on mapping of these spectral phases, the implied mineralogical suite appears to be extensive across the region. These results suggest that serpentinization was once an active process, indicating that water and energy sources were available, as well as a means for prebiotic chemistry during a time period when life was first emerging on Earth. Although the mineralogical assemblages identified on Mars are unlikely to be directly analogous to rocks that underlie the Lost City Hydrothermal Field, related geochemical processes (and associated sources of biologically accessible energy) were once present in the subsurface, making Nili Fossae a compelling candidate for a once-habitable environment on Mars. Key Words: Mars-Habitability-Serpentinization-Analogue. Astrobiology 17, 1138-1160.

  7. Brazilian research on extremophiles in the context of astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Duarte, Rubens T. D.; Nóbrega, Felipe; Nakayama, Cristina R.; Pellizari, Vivian H.

    2012-10-01

    Extremophiles are organisms adapted to grow at extreme ranges of environmental variables, such as high or low temperatures, acid or alkaline medium, high salt concentration, high pressures and so forth. Most extremophiles are micro-organisms that belong to the Archaea and Bacteria domains, and are widely spread across the world, which include the polar regions, volcanoes, deserts, deep oceanic sediments, hydrothermal vents, hypersaline lakes, acid and alkaline water bodies, and other extreme environments considered hostile to human life. Despite the tropical climate, Brazil has a wide range of ecosystems which include some permanent or seasonally extreme environments. For example, the Cerrado is a biome with very low soil pH with high Al+3 concentration, the mangroves in the Brazilian coast are anaerobic and saline, Pantanal has thousands of alkaline-saline lakes, the Caatinga arid and hot soils and the deep sea sediments in the Brazilian ocean shelf. These environments harbour extremophilic organisms that, coupled with the high natural biodiversity in Brazil, could be explored for different purposes. However, only a few projects in Brazil intended to study the extremophiles. In the frame of astrobiology, for example, these organisms could provide important models for defining the limits of life and hypothesize about life outside Earth. Brazilian microbiologists have, however, studied the extremophilic micro-organisms inhabiting non-Brazilian environments, such as the Antarctic continent. The experience and previous results obtained from the Brazilian Antarctic Program (PROANTAR) provide important results that are directly related to astrobiology. This article is a brief synopsis of the Brazilian experience in researching extremophiles, indicating the most important results related to astrobiology and some future perspectives in this area.

  8. The Proposed Mars Astrobiology Explorer - Cacher [MAX-C] Rover: First Step in a Potential Sample Return Campaign

    Science.gov (United States)

    Allen, Carlton C.; Beaty, David W.

    2010-01-01

    Sample return from Mars has been advocated by numerous scientific advisory panels for over 30 years, most prominently beginning with the National Research Council s [1] strategy for the exploration of the inner solar system, and most recently by the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG s) Next Decade Science Analysis Group [2]. Analysis of samples here on Earth would have enormous advantages over in situ analyses in producing the data quality needed to address many of the complex scientific questions the community has posed about Mars. Instead of a small, predetermined set of analytical techniques, state of the art preparative and instrumental resources of the entire scientific community could be applied to the samples. The analytical emphasis could shift as the meaning of each result becomes better appreciated. These arguments apply both to igneous rocks and to layered sedimentary materials, either of which could contain water and other volatile constituents. In 2009 MEPAG formed the Mid-Range Rover Science Analysis Group (MRR-SAG) to formulate a mission concept that would address two general objectives: (1) conduct high-priority in situ science and (2) make concrete steps towards the potential return of samples to Earth. This analysis resulted in a mission concept named the Mars Astrobiology Explorer-Cacher (MAX-C), which was envisioned for launch in the 2018 opportunity. After extensive discussion, this group concluded that by far the most definitive contribution to sample return by this mission would be to collect and cache, in an accessible location, a suite of compelling samples that could potentially be recovered and returned by a subsequent mission. This would have the effect of separating two of the essential functions of MSR, the acquisition of the sample collection and its delivery to martian orbit, into two missions.

  9. A web based semi automatic frame work for astrobiological researches

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    P.V. Arun

    2013-12-01

    Full Text Available Astrobiology addresses the possibility of extraterrestrial life and explores measures towards its recognition. Researches in this context are founded upon the premise that indicators of life encountered in space will be recognizable. However, effective recognition can be accomplished through a universal adaptation of life signatures without restricting solely to those attributes that represent local solutions to the challenges of survival. The life indicators should be modelled with reference to temporal and environmental variations specific to each planet and time. In this paper, we investigate a semi-automatic open source frame work for the accurate detection and interpretation of life signatures by facilitating public participation, in a similar way as adopted by SETI@home project. The involvement of public in identifying patterns can bring a thrust to the mission and is implemented using semi-automatic framework. Different advanced intelligent methodologies may augment the integration of this human machine analysis. Automatic and manual evaluations along with dynamic learning strategy have been adopted to provide accurate results. The system also helps to provide a deep public understanding about space agency’s works and facilitate a mass involvement in the astrobiological studies. It will surely help to motivate young eager minds to pursue a career in this field.

  10. A wide variety of putative extremophiles and large beta-diversity at the Mars Desert Research Station.

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Oliveira Lebre Direito, M.S.; Ehrenfreund, P.; Marees, A.; Staats, M.; Roling, W.F.M.

    2011-01-01

    Humankind's innate curiosity makes us wonder whether life is or was present on other planetary bodies such as Mars. The EuroGeoMars 2009 campaign was organized at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) to perform multidisciplinary astrobiology research. MDRS in southeast Utah is situated in a cold

  11. Survey on astrobiology research and teaching activities within the United kingdom.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Dartnell, Lewis R; Burchell, Mark J

    2009-10-01

    While astrobiology is apparently growing steadily around the world, in terms of the number of researchers drawn into this interdisciplinary area and teaching courses provided for new students, there have been very few studies conducted to chart this expansion quantitatively. To address this deficiency, the Astrobiology Society of Britain (ASB) conducted a questionnaire survey of universities and research institutions nationwide to ascertain the current extent of astrobiology research and teaching in the UK. The aim was to provide compiled statistics and an information resource for those who seek research groups or courses of study, and to facilitate new interdisciplinary collaborations. The report here summarizes details gathered on 33 UK research groups, which involved 286 researchers (from undergraduate project students to faculty members). The survey indicates that around 880 students are taking university-level courses, with significant elements of astrobiology included, every year in the UK. Data are also presented on the composition of astrobiology students by their original academic field, which show a significant dominance of physics and astronomy students. This survey represents the first published systematic national assessment of astrobiological academic activity and indicates that this emerging field has already achieved a strong degree of penetration into the UK academic community.

  12. BASALT A: Basaltic Terrains in Idaho and Hawaii as Planetary Analogs for Mars Geology and Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hughes, Scott S.; Haberle, Christopher W.; Nawotniak, Shannon E. Kobs; Sehlke, Alexander; Garry, W. Brent; Elphic, Richard C.; Payler, Sam J.; Stevens, Adam H.; Cockell, Charles S.; Brady, Allyson L.; hide

    2018-01-01

    Assessments of field research target regions are described within two notably basaltic geologic provinces as Earth analogs to Mars. Regions within the eastern Snake River Plain of Idaho and the Big Island of Hawaii, USA, provinces that represent analogs of present-day and early Mars, respectively, were evaluated on the basis of geologic settings, rock lithology and geochemistry, rock alteration, and climate. Each of these factors provide rationale for the selection of specific targets for field research in five analog target regions: (1) Big Craters and (2) Highway lava flows at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, Idaho; and (3) Mauna Ulu low shield, (4) Kilauea Iki lava lake and (5) Kilauea caldera in the Kilauea Volcano summit region and the East Rift Zone of Hawaii. Our evaluation of compositional and textural differences, as well as the effects of syn- and post-eruptive rock alteration, shows that the basaltic terrains in Idaho and Hawaii provide a way to characterize the geology and major geologic substrates that host biological activity of relevance to Mars exploration. This work provides the foundation to better understand the scientific questions related to the habitability of basaltic terrains, the rationale behind selecting analog field targets, and their applicability as analogs to Mars.

  13. Protecting and expanding the richness and diversity of life, an ethic for astrobiology research and space exploration

    Science.gov (United States)

    Randolph, Richard O.; McKay, Christopher P.

    2014-01-01

    The ongoing search for life on other worlds and the prospects of eventual human exploration of the Moon and Mars indicate the need for new ethical guidelines to direct our actions as we search and how we respond if we discover microbial life on other worlds. Here we review how life on other worlds presents a novel question in environmental ethics. We propose a principle of protecting and expanding the richness and diversity of life as the basis of an ethic for astrobiology research and space exploration. There are immediate implications for the operational policies governing how we conduct the search for life on Mars and how we plan for human exploration throughout the Solar System.

  14. Protecting and Expanding the Richness and Diversity of Life, An Ethic for Astrobiology Research and Space Exploration

    Science.gov (United States)

    Randolph, Richard O.; McKay, Chris P.

    2011-01-01

    The ongoing search for life on other worlds and the prospects of eventual human exploration of the Moon and Mars indicate the need for new ethical guidelines to direct our actions as we search and how we respond if we discover microbial life on other worlds. Here we review how life on other worlds presents a novel question in environmental ethics. We propose a principle of protecting and expanding the richness and diversity of life as the basis of an ethic for astrobiology research and space exploration. There are immediate implications for the operational policies governing how we conduct the search for life on Mars and how we plan for human exploration throughout the Solar System.

  15. Exploring Astrobiology: Future and In-Service Teacher Research Experiences

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cola, J.; Williams, L. D.; Snell, T.; Gaucher, E.; Harris, B.; Usselman, M. C.; Millman, R. S.

    2009-12-01

    The Georgia Tech Center for Ribosome Adaptation and Evolution, a center funded by the NASA Astrobiology Institute, developed an educational Astrobiology program titled, “Life on the Edge: Astrobiology.” The purpose of the program was to provide educators with the materials, exposure, and skills necessary to prepare our future workforce and to foster student interest in scientific discovery on Earth and throughout the universe. A one-week, non-residential summer enrichment program for high school students was conducted and tested by two high school educators, an undergraduate student, and faculty in the Schools of Biology, and Chemistry and Biochemistry at Georgia Tech. In an effort to promote and encourage entry into teaching careers, Georgia Tech paired in-service teachers in the Georgia Intern-Fellowship for Teachers (GIFT) program with an undergraduate student interested in becoming a teacher through the Tech to Teaching program. The GIFT and Tech to Teaching fellows investigated extremophiles which have adapted to life under extreme environmental conditions. As a result, extremophiles became the focus of a week-long, “Life on the Edge: Astrobiology” curriculum aligned with the Georgia Performance Standards in Biology. Twenty-five high school students explored the adaptation and survival rates for various types of extremophiles exposed to UV radiation and desiccation; students were also introduced to hands-on activities and techniques such as genomic DNA purification, gel electrophoresis, and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). The impact on everyone invested and involved in the Astrobiology program including the GIFT and Tech to Teaching fellows, high school students, and faculty are discussed.

  16. Summer Research Experiences for Science and Art Teachers to Explore Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cola, J.; Gaucher, E.; Snell, T.; Greenwood, J.; Angra, A.; Zimmerman, C.; Williams, L. D.

    2012-12-01

    The Georgia Tech Center for Ribosomal Origins and Evolution, a center funded by the NASA Astrobiology Institute, developed an educational program titled, "Life on the Edge: Astrobiology." The purpose of the program was to provide high school educators with the exposure, materials, and skills necessary to prepare our future workforce and to foster student interest in scientific discovery on Earth and throughout the universe. In an effort to promote and encourage entry into teaching careers, Georgia Tech paired teachers in the Georgia Intern-Fellowship for Teachers (GIFT) program with undergraduate students interested in becoming a teacher through the NSF Pre-Teaching REU program. The GIFT and Pre-Teaching fellows investigated extremophiles, which became the focus of a week-long, "Life on the Edge: Astrobiology " summer program developed by three high school educators, two undergraduate students and faculty in the Schools of Biology, and Chemistry and Biochemistry at Georgia Tech. Twenty high school students were introduced to hands-on activities, such as astrobiology inspired art and techniques such as genomic DNA purification, gel electrophoresis, and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). The impact of the Astrobiology program on the GIFT researchers, Pre-Teaching REU students, high school students, and faculty are discussed.

  17. Geology of McLaughlin Crater, Mars: A Unique Lacustrine Setting with Implications for Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Michalski, J. R.; Niles, P. B.; Rogers, A. D.; Johnson, S. S.; Ashley, J. W.; Golombek, M. P.

    2016-01-01

    McLaughlin crater is a 92-kmdiameter Martian impact crater that contained an ancient carbonate- and clay mineral-bearing lake in the Late Noachian. Detailed analysis of the geology within this crater reveals a complex history with important implications for astrobiology [1]. The basin contains evidence for, among other deposits, hydrothermally altered rocks, delta deposits, deep water (>400 m) sediments, and potentially turbidites. The geology of this basin stands in stark contrast to that of some ancient basins that contain evidence for transient aqueous processes and airfall sediments (e.g. Gale Crater [2-3]).

  18. Astrobiology in the Field: Studying Mars by Analogue Expeditions on Earth

    Science.gov (United States)

    Conrad, Pamela G.

    2011-01-01

    We will present a strategy for how one prepares to engage in fieldwork on another planets by practicing in analogous environments on the Earth, including at Mono Lake. As an example, we will address the problem of how to study the habitability of an environment when you have no idea what kind of life might be there to exploit it. This will all be related to the upcoming launch of the Mars Science Laboratory to Mars in late November this year.

  19. Astrobiology and habitability studies in preparation for future Mars missions: trends from investigating minerals, organics and biota

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Ehrenfreund, P.; Roling, W.F.M.; Thiel, C.S.; Quin, R.; Septhon, M.A.; Stoker, C.; Kotler, M.; Oliveira Lebre Direito, M.S.; Martins, Z.; Orzechowska, G.; Kidd, R.D.; van Sluis, C.A.; Foing, H.

    2011-01-01

    Several robotic exploration missions will travel to Mars during this decade to investigate habitability and the possible presence of life. Field research at Mars analogue sites such as desert environments can provide important constraints for instrument calibration, landing site strategies and

  20. Astrobiology and habitability studies in preparation for future Mars missions : Trends from investigating minerals, organics and biota

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Ehrenfreund, P.; Röling, W.F.M.; Thiel, C.S.; Quinn, R.; Sephton, M.A.; Stoker, C.; Kotler, J.M.; Direito, S.O.L.; Martins, Z.; Orzechowska, G.E.; Kidd, R.D.; Van Sluis, C.A.; Foing, B.H.

    2011-01-01

    Several robotic exploration missions will travel to Mars during this decade to investigate habitability and the possible presence of life. Field research at Mars analogue sites such as desert environments can provide important constraints for instrument calibration, landing site strategies and

  1. Biomolecules in Astrobiology

    OpenAIRE

    Meringer, Markus

    2013-01-01

    Astrobiology is the study of the origin, distribution and future of life in the universe, biomolecules are molecules produced by living organisms. This talk reviews known facts and open questions about biomolecules in the context of Astrobiology and introduces a research project on "Creating a Reference Set of Amino Acids Structures for Use in Multiple Astrobiology Investigations" that tries to find answers using computational methods.

  2. Astrobiology Training in Lava Tubes (ATiLT): Characterizing coralloid speleothems in basaltic lava tubes as a Mars analogue

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ni, J.; Leveille, R. J.; Douglas, P.

    2017-12-01

    Coralloid speleothems or cave corals are small mineralised nodes that can take a variety of forms, and which develop through groundwater seepage and water-rock interaction in caves. They are found commonly on Earth in a plethora of caves, including lava tubes. Since lava tubes have been identified on the surface of Mars from remotely sensed images, there has been interest in studying Earth's lava tube systems as an analogue for understanding Martian lava environments. If cave minerals were found on Mars, they could indicate past or present water-rock interaction in the Martian subsurface. Martian lava tubes could also provide insights into habitable subsurface environments as well as conditions favourable for the synthesis and preservation of biosignatures. One of the aims of the Astrobiology Training in Lava Tubes (ATiLT) project is to analyze biosignatures and paleoenvironmental indicators in secondary cave minerals, which will be looked at in-situ and compared to collected field samples. In this study, secondary mineralization in lava cave systems from Lava Beds National Monument, CA is examined. In the field, coralloid speleothems have been observed growing on all surfaces of the caves, including cave ceilings, floors, walls and overhangs. They are also observed growing adjacent to biofilms, which sometimes fill in the cracks of the coralloid nodes. Preliminary results show the presence of opal, calcite, quartz and other minor minerals in the speleothems. This study seeks to understand the formation mechanism and source of these secondary minerals, as well as determine their possible relation to the biofilms. This will be done through the analysis of the water chemistry, isotope geochemistry and microscale mineralogy.

  3. Astrobiology through the ages of Mars: the study of terrestrial analogues to understand the habitability of Mars.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Fairén, Alberto G; Davila, Alfonso F; Lim, Darlene; Bramall, Nathan; Bonaccorsi, Rosalba; Zavaleta, Jhony; Uceda, Esther R; Stoker, Carol; Wierzchos, Jacek; Dohm, James M; Amils, Ricardo; Andersen, Dale; McKay, Christopher P

    2010-10-01

    Mars has undergone three main climatic stages throughout its geological history, beginning with a water-rich epoch, followed by a cold and semi-arid era, and transitioning into present-day arid and very cold desert conditions. These global climatic eras also represent three different stages of planetary habitability: an early, potentially habitable stage when the basic requisites for life as we know it were present (liquid water and energy); an intermediate extreme stage, when liquid solutions became scarce or very challenging for life; and the most recent stage during which conditions on the surface have been largely uninhabitable, except perhaps in some isolated niches. Our understanding of the evolution of Mars is now sufficient to assign specific terrestrial environments to each of these periods. Through the study of Mars terrestrial analogues, we have assessed and constrained the habitability conditions for each of these stages, the geochemistry of the surface, and the likelihood for the preservation of organic and inorganic biosignatures. The study of these analog environments provides important information to better understand past and current mission results as well as to support the design and selection of instruments and the planning for future exploratory missions to Mars.

  4. Mars analogue glaciovolcanic hydrothermal environments in Iceland : detection and implications for astrobiology

    OpenAIRE

    Cousins, Claire Rachel; Crawford, Ian; Carrivick, Jonathan; Gunn, Matthew; Harris, Jennifer; Kee, Terence; Karlsson, Magnus; Carmody, Laura; Cockell, Charles; Herschy, Barry; Joy, Katherine

    2013-01-01

    This work was funded by the Leverhulme Trust, and the Science and Technology Facility Council. Volcanism has been a dominant process on Mars, along with a pervasive global cryosphere. Therefore, the interaction between these two is considered likely. Terrestrial glaciovolcanism produces distinctive lithologies and alteration terrains, as well as hydrothermal environments that can be inhabited by microorganisms. Here, we provide a framework for identifying evidence of such glaciovolcanic en...

  5. The Use of Water During the Crew 144, Mars Desert Research Station, Utah Desert

    Science.gov (United States)

    De Morais Mendonca Teles, Antonio

    2016-07-01

    Well. from November 29th to December 14th, 2014, the author conducted astrobiological and geological surveys, as analog astronaut member of the international Crew 144, at the site of the Mars Society's Mars Desert Research Station, located at a remote location in the Utah desert, United States. The use of water for drinking, bathing, cleaning, etc., in the crew was a major issue for consideration for a human expedition to the planet Mars in the future. The author would like to tell about the factors of the rationalized use of water.

  6. Astrobiology and the Exploration of Gusev Crater by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit

    Science.gov (United States)

    DesMarais, I. David

    2005-01-01

    We assess the availability of nutrient elements, energy and liquid water on the plains surrounding Columbia Memorial Station by evaluating data from Spirit in the context of previous Mars missions, Earth-based studies of martian meteorites and studies of microbial communities on Earth that represent potential analogs of martian biota. The compositions of Gusev basalts resemble those of olivine basalts beneath the seabed on Earth that deep drilling has shown to support life. Of particular relevance to biology, phosphate abundances are much greater in Gusev basalts (0.84 +/- 0.07 wt. % P2O5) than in oceanic basalts (typically 0.06 wt. %).

  7. Proceedings of the Astrobiology Science Conference 2010. Evolution and Life: Surviving Catastrophes and Extremes on Earth and Beyond

    Science.gov (United States)

    2010-01-01

    Mars?; Titan Versus Europa - Potential for Astrobiology; Habitability Potential of Mars; Biosignatures: Tools and Development I; Origins of Molecular Asymmetry, Homochirality, and Life Detection; Deserts and Evaporite Basins and Associated Microbialite Systems; Ancient Life and Synthetic Biology: Crossroad of the Past and Future; Biosignatures: Tools and Development II; Free Oxygen: Proxies, Causes, and Consequences; Life in Modern Microbialite Systems - Function and Adaptation; Hydrothermal Systems and Organosynthesis Processes: Origin and Evolution of Life; Where Should We Go on Mars to Seek Signs of Life?; Search for Intelligent Life I. Innovative SETI Observing Programs and Future Directions; Integrating Astrobiology Research Across and Beyond the Community; Education in Astrobiology in K-12; Search for Intelligent Life II. Global Engagement and Interstellar Message Construction; Poster sessions included: Extraterrestrial Molecular Evolution and Pre-Biological Chemistry; Prebiotic Evolution: From Chemistry to Life; RNA World; Terrestrial Evolution: Implications for the Past, Present, and Future of Life on Earth; Hydrothermal Systems and Organosynthesis Processes: Origin and Evolution of Life; Virology and Astrobiology; Horizontal Genetic Transfer and Properties of Ancestral Organisms; Life in Volcanic Environments: On Earth and Beyond; Impact Events and Evolution; Evolution of Advanced Life; Evolution of Intelligent Life; Education in Astrobiology in K-12; Origins of Molecular Asymmetry, Homochirality, and Life Detection; Astrobiology and Interdisciplinary Communication; Diversity in Astrobiology Research and Education; Integrating Astrobiology Research Across and Beyond the Community; Policy and Societal Issues: Dealing with Potential Bumps in the Astrobiology Road Ahead; Results from ASTEP and Other Astrobiology Field Campaigns; Energy Flow in Microbial Ecosystems; Psychrophiles and Polar Environments; Deserts and Evaporite Basins and Associated Microbialite

  8. Astrochemistry and astrobiology

    CERN Document Server

    Smith, Ian W M; Leach, Sydney

    2014-01-01

    This debut volume in the new Springer series Physical Chemistry in Action, composed of expert contributions, is aimed at both novice and experienced researchers, and outlines the principles of the physical chemistry deployed in astrochemistry and astrobiology.

  9. Astrobiology: Not Just Little Green Men

    Science.gov (United States)

    Morrison, D.

    2004-05-01

    Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. This new (or at least newly-named) discipline responds to current opportunities to make significant progress on basic questions such as Where did we come from? Are we alone? Can we live on other planets? Every astronomer knows that these questions are frequently asked by the public, along with questions concerning the origin, dimensions, and ultimate fate of the universe itself. What makes curiosity about life in the universe so interesting is that we have some of the tools today to provide answers. Infrared and microwave telescopes characterize the complex chemistry that accompanies the birth of planetary systems. Concepts of planetary habitability emerge from exploring the extremes of life on Earth. We probe the nature of life itself through genetic and genomic insights into heredity and evolution. Our spacecraft are exploring Mars, Europa, and Titan, with the explicit goal of searching for evidence of life, past or present. And the discovery of exo-planetary systems greatly increases our opportunity to explore the diversity of planets and identify other habitable worlds. In addition to its interest as a research field, astrobiology provides an exciting medium for communicating science to students and the public. The questions studied by astrobiologists resonate with non-scientists. Astrobiology is also a popular subject for general-education college science courses. Its interdisciplinary techniques illustrate different ways of doing research such as exploration science versus hypothesis-driven science, or laboratory studies that are complementary to field work or historical science. All of these aspects make astrobiology a "cool" topic, and it will become even more exciting when we find evidence of life on Mars or discover earthlike planets beyond our solar system. (Supported by the NASA Astrobiology Program)

  10. Encyclopedia of astrobiology

    CERN Document Server

    Irvine, William; Amils, Ricardo; Cleaves, Henderson; Pinti, Daniele; Quintanilla, José; Rouan, Daniel; Spohn, Tilman; Tirard, Stéphane; Viso, Michel

    2015-01-01

    The interdisciplinary field of Astrobiology constitutes a joint arena where provocative discoveries are coalescing concerning, e.g. the prevalence of exoplanets, the diversity and hardiness of life, and its increasingly likely chances for its emergence. Biologists, astrophysicists, biochemists, geoscientists and space scientists share this exciting mission of revealing the origin and commonality of life in the Universe. The members of the different disciplines are used to their own terminology and technical language. In the interdisciplinary environment many terms either have redundant meanings or are completely unfamiliar to members of other disciplines. The Encyclopedia of Astrobiology serves as the key to a common understanding. Each new or experienced researcher and graduate student in adjacent fields of astrobiology will appreciate this reference work in the quest to understand the big picture. The carefully selected group of active researchers contributing to this work and the expert field editors inten...

  11. Encyclopedia of astrobiology

    CERN Document Server

    Quintanilla, José Cernicharo; Cleaves, Henderson James (Jim); Irvine, William M; Pinti, Daniele L; Viso, Michel; Gargaud, Muriel

    2011-01-01

    The interdisciplinary field of Astrobiology constitutes a joint arena where provocative discoveries are coalescing concerning, e.g. the prevalence of exoplanets, the diversity and hardiness of life, and its increasingly likely chances for its emergence. Biologists, astrophysicists, biochemists, geoscientists and space scientists share this exciting mission of revealing the origin and commonality of life in the Universe. The members of the different disciplines are used to their own terminology and technical language. In the interdisciplinary environment many terms either have redundant meanings or are completely unfamiliar to members of other disciplines. The Encyclopedia of Astrobiology serves as the key to a common understanding. Each new or experienced researcher and graduate student in adjacent fields of astrobiology will appreciate this reference work in the quest to understand the big picture. The carefully selected group of active researchers contributing to this work and the expert field editors inten...

  12. The Mars Astrobiology Explorer-Cacher (MAX-C): a potential rover mission for 2018. Final report of the Mars Mid-Range Rover Science Analysis Group (MRR-SAG) October 14, 2009.

    Science.gov (United States)

    2010-03-01

    This report documents the work of the Mid-Range Rover Science Analysis Group (MRR-SAG), which was assigned to formulate a concept for a potential rover mission that could be launched to Mars in 2018. Based on programmatic and engineering considerations as of April 2009, our deliberations assumed that the potential mission would use the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) sky-crane landing system and include a single solar-powered rover. The mission would also have a targeting accuracy of approximately 7 km (semimajor axis landing ellipse), a mobility range of at least 10 km, and a lifetime on the martian surface of at least 1 Earth year. An additional key consideration, given recently declining budgets and cost growth issues with MSL, is that the proposed rover must have lower cost and cost risk than those of MSL--this is an essential consideration for the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG). The MRR-SAG was asked to formulate a mission concept that would address two general objectives: (1) conduct high priority in situ science and (2) make concrete steps toward the potential return of samples to Earth. The proposed means of achieving these two goals while balancing the trade-offs between them are described here in detail. We propose the name Mars Astrobiology Explorer-Cacher(MAX-C) to reflect the dual purpose of this potential 2018 rover mission.

  13. Philosophy and data in astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mix, Lucas John

    2018-04-01

    Creating a unified model of life in the universe - history, extent and future - requires both scientific and humanities research. One way that humanities can contribute is by investigating the relationship between philosophical commitments and data. Making those commitments transparent allows scientists to use the data more fully. Insights in four areas - history, ethics, religion and probability - demonstrate the value of careful, astrobiology-specific humanities research for improving how we talk and think about astrobiology as a whole. First, astrobiology has a long and influential history. Second, astrobiology does not decentre humanity, either physically or ethically. Third, astrobiology is broadly compatible with major world religions. Finally, claims about the probability of life arising or existing elsewhere rest heavily on philosophical priors. In all four cases, identifying philosophical commitments clarifies the ways in which data can tell us about life.

  14. Extremotolerance and resistance of lichens: comparative studies on five species used in astrobiological research II. Secondary lichen compounds.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Meessen, J; Sánchez, F J; Sadowsky, A; de la Torre, R; Ott, S; de Vera, J-P

    2013-12-01

    Lichens, which are symbioses of a fungus and one or two photoautotrophs, frequently tolerate extreme environmental conditions. This makes them valuable model systems in astrobiological research to fathom the limits and limitations of eukaryotic symbioses. Various studies demonstrated the high resistance of selected extremotolerant lichens towards extreme, non-terrestrial abiotic factors including space exposure, hypervelocity impact simulations as well as space and Martian parameter simulations. This study focusses on the diverse set of secondary lichen compounds (SLCs) that act as photo- and UVR-protective substances. Five lichen species used in present-day astrobiological research were compared: Buellia frigida, Circinaria gyrosa, Rhizocarpon geographicum, Xanthoria elegans, and Pleopsidium chlorophanum. Detailed investigation of secondary substances including photosynthetic pigments was performed for whole lichen thalli but also for axenically cultivated mycobionts and photobionts by methods of UV/VIS-spectrophotometry and two types of high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Additionally, a set of chemical tests is presented to confirm the formation of melanic compounds in lichen and mycobiont samples. All investigated lichens reveal various sets of SLCs, except C. gyrosa where only melanin was putatively identified. Such studies will help to assess the contribution of SLCs on lichen extremotolerance, to understand the adaptation of lichens to prevalent abiotic stressors of the respective habitat, and to form a basis for interpreting recent and future astrobiological experiments. As most of the identified SLCs demonstrated a high capacity in absorbing UVR, they may also explain the high resistance of lichens towards non-terrestrial UVR.

  15. Extremotolerance and Resistance of Lichens: Comparative Studies on Five Species Used in Astrobiological Research II. Secondary Lichen Compounds

    Science.gov (United States)

    Meeßen, J.; Sánchez, F. J.; Sadowsky, A.; de la Torre, R.; Ott, S.; de Vera, J.-P.

    2013-12-01

    Lichens, which are symbioses of a fungus and one or two photoautotrophs, frequently tolerate extreme environmental conditions. This makes them valuable model systems in astrobiological research to fathom the limits and limitations of eukaryotic symbioses. Various studies demonstrated the high resistance of selected extremotolerant lichens towards extreme, non-terrestrial abiotic factors including space exposure, hypervelocity impact simulations as well as space and Martian parameter simulations. This study focusses on the diverse set of secondary lichen compounds (SLCs) that act as photo- and UVR-protective substances. Five lichen species used in present-day astrobiological research were compared: Buellia frigida, Circinaria gyrosa, Rhizocarpon geographicum, Xanthoria elegans, and Pleopsidium chlorophanum. Detailed investigation of secondary substances including photosynthetic pigments was performed for whole lichen thalli but also for axenically cultivated mycobionts and photobionts by methods of UV/VIS-spectrophotometry and two types of high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Additionally, a set of chemical tests is presented to confirm the formation of melanic compounds in lichen and mycobiont samples. All investigated lichens reveal various sets of SLCs, except C. gyrosa where only melanin was putatively identified. Such studies will help to assess the contribution of SLCs on lichen extremotolerance, to understand the adaptation of lichens to prevalent abiotic stressors of the respective habitat, and to form a basis for interpreting recent and future astrobiological experiments. As most of the identified SLCs demonstrated a high capacity in absorbing UVR, they may also explain the high resistance of lichens towards non-terrestrial UVR.

  16. Compact Micro-Imaging Spectrometer (CMIS): Investigation of Imaging Spectroscopy and Its Application to Mars Geology and Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Staten, Paul W.

    2005-01-01

    Future missions to Mars will attempt to answer questions about Mars' geological and biological history. The goal of the CMIS project is to design, construct, and test a capable, multi-spectral micro-imaging spectrometer use in such missions. A breadboard instrument has been constructed with a micro-imaging camera and Several multi-wavelength LED illumination rings. Test samples have been chosen for their interest to spectroscopists, geologists and astrobiologists. Preliminary analysis has demonstrated the advantages of isotropic illumination and micro-imaging spectroscopy over spot spectroscopy.

  17. Data Sharing in Astrobiology: The Astrobiology Habitable Environments Database (AHED)

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lafuente, B.; Bristow, T.; Stone, N.; Pires, A.; Keller, R. M.; Downs, R. T.; Blake, D.; Fonda, M.

    2017-01-01

    Astrobiology is a multidisciplinary area of scientific research focused on studying the origins of life on Earth and the conditions under which life might have emerged elsewhere in the universe. NASA uses the results of Astrobiology research to help define targets for future missions that are searching for life elsewhere in the universe. The understanding of complex questions in Astrobiology requires integration and analysis of data spanning a range of disciplines including biology, chemistry, geology, astronomy and planetary science. However, the lack of a centralized repository makes it difficult for Astrobiology teams to share data and benefit from resultant synergies. Moreover, in recent years, federal agencies are requiring that results of any federally funded scientific research must be available and useful for the public and the science community. The Astrobiology Habitable Environments Database (AHED), developed with a consolidated group of astrobiologists from different active research teams at NASA Ames Research Center, is designed to help to address these issues. AHED is a central, high-quality, long-term data repository for mineralogical, textural, morphological, inorganic and organic chemical, isotopic and other information pertinent to the advancement of the field of Astrobiology.

  18. The Lassen Astrobiology Intern Program - Concept, Implementation and Evaluation

    Science.gov (United States)

    Des Marais, D. J.; Dueck, S. L.; Davis, H. B.; Parenteau, M. N.; Kubo, M. D.

    2014-12-01

    The program goal was to provide a hands-on astrobiology learning experience to high school students by introducing astrobiology and providing opportunities to conduct field and lab research with NASA scientists. The program sought to increase interest in interdisciplinary science, technology, engineering, math and related careers. Lassen Volcanic National Park (LVNP), Red Bluff High School and the Ames Team of the NASA Astrobiology Institute led the program. LVNP was selected because it shares aspects of volcanism with Mars and it hosts thermal springs with microbial mat communities. Students documented volcanic deposits, springs and microbial mats. They analyzed waters and sampled rocks, water and microorganisms. They cultured microorganisms and studied chemical reactions between rocks and simulated spring waters. Each student prepared a report to present data and discuss relationships between volcanic rocks and gases, spring waters and microbial mats. At a "graduation" event the students presented their findings to the Red Bluff community. They visited Ames Research Center to tour the facilities and learn about science and technology careers. To evaluate program impact, surveys were given to students after lectures, labs, fieldwork and discussions with Ames scientists. Students' work was scored using rubrics (labs, progress reports, final report, presentation). Students took pre/post tests on core astrobiology concepts. Parents, teachers, rangers, Ames staff and students completed end-of-year surveys on program impact. Several outcomes were documented. Students had a unique and highly valued learning experience with NASA scientists. They understood what scientists do through authentic scientific work, and what scientists are like as individuals. Students became knowledgeable about astrobiology and how it can be pursued in the lab and in the field. The students' interest increased markedly in astrobiology, interdisciplinary studies and science generally.

  19. A Conspicuous Clay Ovoid in Nakhla: Evidence for Subsurface Hydrothermal Alteration on Mars with Implications for Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Haigh, Sarah; Lyon, Ian

    2014-01-01

    layer of iron oxides/hydroxides. Carbonates, halite, and sulfates were deposited last within interstitial spaces and along fractures. Among three plausible competing hypotheses here, this particular abiotic scenario is considered to be the most reasonable explanation for the formation of the ovoid structure in Nakhla, and although compelling evidence for a biotic origin is lacking, it is evident that the martian subsurface contains niche environments where life could develop. Key Words: Biomorph—Clays—Search for life (biosignatures)—Martian meteorites—Hydrothermal systems. Astrobiology 14, 651–693. PMID:25046549

  20. The Living Universe: NASA and the Development of Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Dick, Steven J.; Strick, James E.

    2004-01-01

    In the opening weeks of 1998 a news article in the British journal Nature reported that NASA was about to enter biology in a big way. A "virtual" Astrobiology Institute was gearing up for business, and NASA administrator Dan Goldin told his external advisory council that he would like to see spending on the new institute eventually reach $100 million per year. "You just wait for the screaming from the physical scientists (when that happens)," Goldin was quoted as saying. Nevertheless, by the time of the second Astrobiology Science Conference in 2002, attended by seven hundred scientists from many disciplines, NASA spending on astrobiology had reached nearly half that amount and was growing at a steady pace. Under NASA leadership numerous institutions around the world applied the latest scientific techniques in the service of astrobiology's ambitious goal: the study of what NASA's 1996 Strategic Plan termed the "living universe." This goal embraced nothing less than an understanding of the origin, history, and distribution of life in the universe, including Earth. Astrobiology, conceived as a broad interdisciplinary research program, held the prospect of being the science for the twenty-first century which would unlock the secrets to some of the great questions of humanity. It is no surprise that these age-old questions should continue into the twenty-first century. But that the effort should be spearheaded by NASA was not at all obvious to those - inside and outside the agency - who thought NASA's mission was human spaceflight, rather than science, especially biological science. NASA had, in fact, been involved for four decades in "exobiology," a field that embraced many of the same questions but which had stagnated after the 1976 Viking missions to Mars. In this volume we tell the colorful story of the rise of the discipline of exobiology, how and why it morphed into astrobiology at the end of the twentieth century, and why NASA was the engine for both the

  1. Astrobiology, Sustainability and Ethical Perspectives

    Science.gov (United States)

    Arnould, Jacques

    2009-12-01

    Astrobiology, a new field of research associating the prospects and constraints of prebiotic chemistry, mineralogy, geochemistry, astrophysics, theoretical physics, microbial ecology, etc., is assessed in terms of sustainability through the scientific and social functions it fulfils, and the limits it encounters or strives to overcome. In the same way as sustainable development, astrobiology must also take into account the temporal dimension specific to its field of investigation and examine its underlying conception of Nature.

  2. Astrobiology, Sustainability and Ethical Perspectives

    OpenAIRE

    Jacques Arnould

    2009-01-01

    Astrobiology, a new field of research associating the prospects and constraints of prebiotic chemistry, mineralogy, geochemistry, astrophysics, theoretical physics, microbial ecology, etc., is assessed in terms of sustainability through the scientific and social functions it fulfils, and the limits it encounters or strives to overcome. In the same way as sustainable development, astrobiology must also take into account the temporal dimension specific to its field of investigation and examine ...

  3. Astrobiology, Sustainability and Ethical Perspectives

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Jacques Arnould

    2009-12-01

    Full Text Available Astrobiology, a new field of research associating the prospects and constraints of prebiotic chemistry, mineralogy, geochemistry, astrophysics, theoretical physics, microbial ecology, etc., is assessed in terms of sustainability through the scientific and social functions it fulfils, and the limits it encounters or strives to overcome. In the same way as sustainable development, astrobiology must also take into account the temporal dimension specific to its field of investigation and examine its underlying conception of Nature.

  4. Enhancing a Person, Enhancing a Civilization: A Research Program at the Intersection of Bioethics, Future Studies, and Astrobiology.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ćirković, Milan M

    2017-07-01

    There are manifold intriguing issues located within largely unexplored borderlands of bioethics, future studies (including global risk analysis), and astrobiology. Human enhancement has for quite some time been among the foci of bioethical debates, but the same cannot be said about its global, transgenerational, and even cosmological consequences. In recent years, discussions of posthuman and, in general terms, postbiological civilization(s) have slowly gained a measure of academic respect, in parallel with the renewed interest in the entire field of future studies and the great strides made in understanding of the origin and evolution of life and intelligence in their widest, cosmic context. These developments promise much deeper synergic answers to questions regarding the long-term future of enhancement: how far can it go? Is human enhancement a further step toward building a true postbiological civilization? Should we actively participate and help shape this process? Is the future of humanity "typical" in the same Copernican sense as our location in space and time is typical in the galaxy, and if so, can we derive important insights about the evolutionary pathways of postbiological evolution from astrobiological and Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence (SETI) studies? These and similar questions could be understood as parts of a possible unifying research program attempting to connect cultural and moral evolution with what we know and understand about their cosmological and biological counterparts.

  5. Robots for Astrobiology!

    Science.gov (United States)

    Boston, Penelope J.

    2016-01-01

    The search for life and its study is known as astrobiology. Conducting that search on other planets in our Solar System is a major goal of NASA and other space agencies, and a driving passion of the community of scientists and engineers around the world. We practice for that search in many ways, from exploring and studying extreme environments on Earth, to developing robots to go to other planets and help us look for any possible life that may be there or may have been there in the past. The unique challenges of space exploration make collaborations between robots and humans essential. The products of those collaborations will be novel and driven by the features of wholly new environments. For space and planetary environments that are intolerable for humans or where humans present an unacceptable risk to possible biologically sensitive sites, autonomous robots or telepresence offer excellent choices. The search for life signs on Mars fits within this category, especially in advance of human landed missions there, but also as assistants and tools once humans reach the Red Planet. For planetary destinations where we do not envision humans ever going in person, like bitterly cold icy moons, or ocean worlds with thick ice roofs that essentially make them planetary-sized ice caves, we will rely on robots alone to visit those environments for us and enable us to explore and understand any life that we may find there. Current generation robots are not quite ready for some of the tasks that we need them to do, so there are many opportunities for roboticists of the future to advance novel types of mobility, autonomy, and bio-inspired robotic designs to help us accomplish our astrobiological goals. We see an exciting partnership between robotics and astrobiology continually strengthening as we jointly pursue the quest to find extraterrestrial life.

  6. Astrobiology: Future Perspectives

    CERN Document Server

    Ehrenfreund, Pascale; Owen, Toby; Becker, Luann; Blank, Jen; Brucato, John; Colangeli, Luigi; Derenne, Sylvie; Dutrey, Anne; Despois, Didier; Lazcano, Antonio; Robert, Francois

    2005-01-01

    Astrobiology, a new exciting interdisciplinary research field, seeks to unravel the origin and evolution of life wherever it might exist in the Universe. The current view of the origin of life on Earth is that it is strongly connected to the origin and evolution of our planet and, indeed, of the Universe as a whole. We are fortunate to be living in an era where centuries of speculation about the two ancient and fundamental problems: the origin of life and its prevalence in the Universe are being replaced by experimental science. The subject of Astrobiology can be approached from many different perspectives. This book is focused on abiogenic organic matter from the viewpoint of astronomy and planetary science and considers its potential relevance to the origins of life on Earth and elsewhere. Guided by the review papers in this book, the concluding chapter aims to identify key questions to motivate future research and stimulate astrobiological applications of current and future research facilities and space mi...

  7. The UK Centre for Astrobiology: A Virtual Astrobiology Centre. Accomplishments and Lessons Learned, 2011-2016.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cockell, Charles S; Biller, Beth; Bryce, Casey; Cousins, Claire; Direito, Susana; Forgan, Duncan; Fox-Powell, Mark; Harrison, Jesse; Landenmark, Hanna; Nixon, Sophie; Payler, Samuel J; Rice, Ken; Samuels, Toby; Schwendner, Petra; Stevens, Adam; Nicholson, Natasha; Wadsworth, Jennifer

    2018-02-01

    The UK Centre for Astrobiology (UKCA) was set up in 2011 as a virtual center to contribute to astrobiology research, education, and outreach. After 5 years, we describe this center and its work in each of these areas. Its research has focused on studying life in extreme environments, the limits of life on Earth, and implications for habitability elsewhere. Among its research infrastructure projects, UKCA has assembled an underground astrobiology laboratory that has hosted a deep subsurface planetary analog program, and it has developed new flow-through systems to study extraterrestrial aqueous environments. UKCA has used this research backdrop to develop education programs in astrobiology, including a massive open online course in astrobiology that has attracted over 120,000 students, a teacher training program, and an initiative to take astrobiology into prisons. In this paper, we review these activities and others with a particular focus on providing lessons to others who may consider setting up an astrobiology center, institute, or science facility. We discuss experience in integrating astrobiology research into teaching and education activities. Key Words: Astrobiology-Centre-Education-Subsurface-Analog research. Astrobiology 18, 224-243.

  8. Quantifying Variability and Correlation in Biomarker and Mineralogical Measurements: Lessons from Five Astrobiological Mars Analogue Expeditions in Iceland

    Science.gov (United States)

    Gentry, D.; Amador, E. S.; Cable, M. L.; Cantrell, T.; Chaudry, N.; Duca, Z. A.; Jacobsen, M. B.; Kirby, J.; McCaig, H. C.; Murukesan, G.; Rader, E.; Cullen, T.; Rennie, V.; Schwieterman, E. W.; Stevens, A. H.; Sutton, S. A.; Tan, G.; Yin, C.; Cullen, D.; Geppert, W.; Stockton, A. M.

    2017-12-01

    Studies in planetary analogue sites correlating remote imagery, mineralogy, and biomarker assay results help predict biomarker distribution and preservation. The FELDSPAR team has conducted five expeditions (2012-2017) to Icelandic Mars analogue sites with an increasingly refined battery of physicochemical measurements and biomarker assays. Two additional expeditions are planned; here we report intermediate results.The biomarker assays performed represent a diversity of potential biomarker types: ATP, cell counts, qPCR with domain-level primers, and DNA content. Mineralogical, chemical, and physical measurements and observations include temperature, pH, moisture content, and Raman, near-IR reflectance, and X-ray fluorescence spectra. Sites are geologically recent basaltic lava flows (Fimmvörðuháls, Eldfell, Holuhraun) and barren basaltic sand plains (Mælifellssandur, Dyngjusandur). All samples were 'homogeneous' at the 1 m to 1 km scale in apparent color, morphology, and grain size.[1]Sample locations were arranged in hierarchically nested grids at 10 cm, 1 m, 10 m, 100 m, and >1 km scales. Several measures of spatial distribution and variability were derived: unbiased sample variance, F- and pairwise t-tests with Bonferroni correction, and the non-parametric H- and u-tests. All assay results, including preliminary mineralogical information in the form of notable spectral bands, were then tested for correlation using the non-parametric Spearman's rank test.[2] For Fimmvörðuháls, four years of data were also examined for temporal trends.Biomarker quantification (other than cell count) was generally well correlated, although all assays showed notable variability even at the smallest examined spatial scale. Pairwise comparisons proved to be the most intuitive measure of variability; non-parametric characterization indicated trends at the >100 m scale, but required more replicates than were feasible at smaller scales. Future work will integrate additional

  9. The UK Centre for Astrobiology: A Virtual Astrobiology Centre. Accomplishments and Lessons Learned, 2011–2016

    OpenAIRE

    Cockell, Charles S.; Biller, Beth; Bryce, Casey; Cousins, Claire; Direito, Susana; Forgan, Duncan; Fox-Powell, Mark; Harrison, Jesse; Landenmark, Hanna; Nixon, Sophie; Payler, Samuel J.; Rice, Ken; Samuels, Toby; Schwendner, Petra; Stevens, Adam

    2018-01-01

    Abstract The UK Centre for Astrobiology (UKCA) was set up in 2011 as a virtual center to contribute to astrobiology research, education, and outreach. After 5 years, we describe this center and its work in each of these areas. Its research has focused on studying life in extreme environments, the limits of life on Earth, and implications for habitability elsewhere. Among its research infrastructure projects, UKCA has assembled an underground astrobiology laboratory that has hosted a deep subs...

  10. Synthetic Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rothschild, Lynn J.

    2017-01-01

    "Are we alone?" is one of the primary questions of astrobiology, and whose answer defines our significance in the universe. Unfortunately, this quest is hindered by the fact that we have only one confirmed example of life, that of earth. While this is enormously helpful in helping to define the minimum envelope for life, it strains credulity to imagine that life, if it arose multiple times, has not taken other routes. To help fill this gap, our lab has begun using synthetic biology - the design and construction of new biological parts and systems and the redesign of existing ones for useful purposes - as an enabling technology. One theme, the "Hell Cell" project, focuses on creating artificial extremophiles in order to push the limits for Earth life, and to understand how difficult it is for life to evolve into extreme niches. In another project, we are re-evolving biotic functions using only the most thermodynamically stable amino acids in order to understand potential capabilities of an early organism with a limited repertoire of amino acids.

  11. Lower Secondary Students' Views in Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hansson, Lena; Redfors, Andreas

    2013-01-01

    Astrobiology is, on a profound level, about whether life exists outside of the planet Earth. The question of existence of life elsewhere in the universe has been of interest to many societies throughout history. Recently, the research area of astrobiology has grown at a fast rate, mainly due to the development of observational methods, and the…

  12. The UK Centre for Astrobiology: A Virtual Astrobiology Centre. Accomplishments and Lessons Learned, 2011–2016

    Science.gov (United States)

    Biller, Beth; Bryce, Casey; Cousins, Claire; Direito, Susana; Forgan, Duncan; Fox-Powell, Mark; Harrison, Jesse; Landenmark, Hanna; Nixon, Sophie; Payler, Samuel J.; Rice, Ken; Samuels, Toby; Schwendner, Petra; Stevens, Adam; Nicholson, Natasha; Wadsworth, Jennifer

    2018-01-01

    Abstract The UK Centre for Astrobiology (UKCA) was set up in 2011 as a virtual center to contribute to astrobiology research, education, and outreach. After 5 years, we describe this center and its work in each of these areas. Its research has focused on studying life in extreme environments, the limits of life on Earth, and implications for habitability elsewhere. Among its research infrastructure projects, UKCA has assembled an underground astrobiology laboratory that has hosted a deep subsurface planetary analog program, and it has developed new flow-through systems to study extraterrestrial aqueous environments. UKCA has used this research backdrop to develop education programs in astrobiology, including a massive open online course in astrobiology that has attracted over 120,000 students, a teacher training program, and an initiative to take astrobiology into prisons. In this paper, we review these activities and others with a particular focus on providing lessons to others who may consider setting up an astrobiology center, institute, or science facility. We discuss experience in integrating astrobiology research into teaching and education activities. Key Words: Astrobiology—Centre—Education—Subsurface—Analog research. Astrobiology 18, 224–243. PMID:29377716

  13. Moon-Mars Analogue Mission (EuroMoonMars 1 at the Mars Desert Research Station)

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lia Schlacht, Irene; Voute, Sara; Irwin, Stacy; Foing, Bernard H.; Stoker, Carol R.; Westenberg, Artemis

    The Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) is situated in an analogue habitat-based Martian environment, designed for missions to determine the knowledge and equipment necessary for successful future planetary exploration. For this purpose, a crew of six people worked and lived together in a closed-system environment. They performed habitability experiments within the dwelling and conducted Extra-Vehicular Activities (EVAs) for two weeks (20 Feb to 6 Mar 2010) and were guided externally by mission support, called "Earth" within the simulation. Crew 91, an international, mixed-gender, and multidisciplinary group, has completed several studies during the first mission of the EuroMoonMars campaign. The crew is composed of an Italian designer and human factors specialist, a Dutch geologist, an American physicist, and three French aerospace engineering students from Ecole de l'Air, all with ages between 21 and 31. Each crewmember worked on personal research and fulfilled a unique role within the group: commander, executive officer, engineer, health and safety officer, scientist, and journalist. The expedition focused on human factors, performance, communication, health and safety pro-tocols, and EVA procedures. The engineers' projects aimed to improve rover manoeuvrability, far-field communication, and data exchanges between the base and the rover or astronaut. The crew physicist evaluated dust control methods inside and outside the habitat. The geologist tested planetary geological sampling procedures. The crew designer investigated performance and overall habitability in the context of the Mars Habitability Experiment from the Extreme-Design group. During the mission the crew also participated in the Food Study and in the Ethospace study, managed by external groups. The poster will present crew dynamics, scientific results and daily schedule from a Human Factors perspective. Main co-sponsors and collaborators: ILEWG, ESA ESTEC, NASA Ames, Ecole de l'Air, SKOR, Extreme

  14. Educational Outreach for Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kadooka, M.; Meech, K.

    2009-12-01

    Astrobiology, the search for life in the universe, has fascinating research areas that can excite students and teachers about science. Its integrative nature, relating to astronomy, geology, oceanography, physics, and chemistry, can be used to encourage students to pursue physical sciences careers. Since 2004, the University of Hawaii NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) team scientists have shared their research with secondary teachers at our ALI’I national teacher program to promote the inclusion of astrobiology topics into science courses. Since 2007, our NAI team has co-sponsored the HI STAR program for Hawaii’s middle and high school students to work on authentic astronomy research projects and to be mentored by astronomers. The students get images of asteroids, comets, stars, and extrasolar planets from the Faulkes Telescope North located at Haleakala Observatories on the island of Maui and owned by Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope network. They also do real time observing with DeKalb Observatory telescope personally owned by Donn Starkey who willing allows any student access to his telescope. Student project results include awards at the Hawaii State Science Fair and the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. We believe that research experience stimulates these students to select STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) majors upon entering college so a longitudinal study is being done. Plans are underway with California and Hawaii ALI’I teachers cooperating on a joint astronomy classroom project. International collaborations with Brazil, Portugal, and Italy astronomers have begun. We envision joint project between hemispheres and crossing time zones. The establishment of networking teachers, astronomers, students and educator liaisons will be discussed.

  15. Astrobiology - The New Synthesis

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sik, A.; Simon, T.

    organic molecules have been found in the interstellar mat- ter, signing that chemical evolution can start without solid surface. So the first steps of the path leading to life perhaps can be done in the space as well. 3. Meteorites from Mars Back to Planet Mars, the most popular topic of astrobiology was the ALH84001 Martian meteorite in the past five years. Since 1996, when researchers announced that they found sings of ancient, primitive, microbiological Martian life in a meteorite here on Earth, intensive research has started and arguments has arisen for and against it as well [11]. But the final word will be said not earlier than 2004, after the arrival of the new spacecrafts to Planet Mars. (An interesting relation of this discovery is with panspermia-theory. Its essence that life, for example in the form of bacterium- spores, can travel between planets, so bring life from one to an other. So the findings in ALH84001 can be the evidence of this theory which can have important influence on the origin of terrestrial and/or Martian life [12].) Part II. - Bio 1. The champions of bearing: extremophile organisms The other parts of recent breakthroughs in astrobiology come not from space but from the Earth it- self. Terrestrial life namely proves more persistent, flexible and adaptable than previ- ously thought. Places that were considered unbearable for life some years ago recently known as home of a diverse ecosystem - mainly primitive, bacterial life forms. The organisms, that prefer the extreme ecological conditions of these niches called ex- tremophiles. These life forms can be found in thermal springs, hydrothermal vents and black smokers, in the water of isolated lakes under polar ice sheets, in the frozen soils of permafrost terrains, in chemically special places and - most surprisingly - they flourish in rocks as well, deep below the surface. However some extremophile species have known for more then 50 years, the list of them longer and longer from year to year

  16. Lunar and Planetary Science XXXV: Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    2004-01-01

    The session "Astrobiology" included the following reports:The Role of Cometary and Meteoritic Delivery in the Origin and Evolution of Life: Biogeological Evidences Revisited; Hopane Biomarkers Traced from Bedrock to Recent Sediments and Ice at the Haughton Impact Structure, Devon Island: Implications for the Search for Biomarkers on Mars; and Survival of Organic Matter After High Temperature Events (Meteorite Impacts, Igneous Intrusions).

  17. The Astrobiology Field Guide in World Wind

    Science.gov (United States)

    Scalice, D. M.

    2004-12-01

    In collaboration with the Australian Centre for Astrobiology (ACA), and NASA Learning Technologies (NLT), and utilizing the powerful visualization capabilities of their "World Wind" software, the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) is crafting a prototype "Astrobiology Field Guide" to bring the field experiences and stories of astrobiology science to the public and classrooms around the world. The prototype focuses on one region in particular - The Pilbara in Western Australia. This first Field Guide "hotspot" is an internationally recognized area hosting the best known example of the earliest evidence of life on Earth - a stromatolitic chert precipitation in the 3.45 Ga Warrawoona Group. The goal of the Astrobiology Field Guide is to engage students of all ages with the ongoing field expeditions of today's astrobiologists as they explore the ends of the Earth searching for clues to life's origin, evolution, and distribution in the Universe. The NAI hopes to expand this Field Guide to include many more astrobiologically relevant areas across the globe such as Cuatro Cienegas in Mexico, the Rio Tinto in Spain, Yellowstone National Park in the US, and the Lost City hydrothermal vent field on the mid-Atlantic ridge - and possibly sites on Mars. To that end, we will be conducting feasibility studies and evaluations with informal and formal education contacts. The Astrobiology Field Guide is also serving as a cornerstone to educational materials being developed focused on the Pilbara region for use in classrooms in Australia, the UK, and potentially the US. These materials are being developed by the Australian Centre for Astrobiology, and the ICT Innovations Centre at Macquarie University in Sydney, in collaboration with the NAI and the Centre for Astronomy and Science Education at the University of Glamorgan in the UK.

  18. The NASA Astrobiology Roadmap.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Des Marais, David J; Nuth, Joseph A; Allamandola, Louis J; Boss, Alan P; Farmer, Jack D; Hoehler, Tori M; Jakosky, Bruce M; Meadows, Victoria S; Pohorille, Andrew; Runnegar, Bruce; Spormann, Alfred M

    2008-08-01

    The NASA Astrobiology Roadmap provides guidance for research and technology development across the NASA enterprises that encompass the space, Earth, and biological sciences. The ongoing development of astrobiology roadmaps embodies the contributions of diverse scientists and technologists from government, universities, and private institutions. The Roadmap addresses three basic questions: how does life begin and evolve, does life exist elsewhere in the universe, and what is the future of life on Earth and beyond? Seven Science Goals outline the following key domains of investigation: understanding the nature and distribution of habitable environments in the universe, exploring for habitable environments and life in our own Solar System, understanding the emergence of life, determining how early life on Earth interacted and evolved with its changing environment, understanding the evolutionary mechanisms and environmental limits of life, determining the principles that will shape life in the future, and recognizing signatures of life on other worlds and on early Earth. For each of these goals, Science Objectives outline more specific high priority efforts for the next three to five years. These eighteen objectives are being integrated with NASA strategic planning.

  19. The NASA Astrobiology Roadmap

    Science.gov (United States)

    Des Marais, David J.; Allamandola, Louis J.; Benner, Steven A.; Boss, Alan P.; Deamer, David; Falkowski, Paul G.; Farmer, Jack D.; Hedges, S. Blair; Jakosky, Bruce M.; Knoll, Andrew H.; hide

    2003-01-01

    The NASA Astrobiology Roadmap provides guidance for research and technology development across the NASA enterprises that encompass the space, Earth, and biological sciences. The ongoing development of astrobiology roadmaps embodies the contributions of diverse scientists and technologists from government, universities, and private institutions. The Roadmap addresses three basic questions: How does life begin and evolve, does life exist elsewhere in the universe, and what is the future of life on Earth and beyond? Seven Science Goals outline the following key domains of investigation: understanding the nature and distribution of habitable environments in the universe, exploring for habitable environments and life in our own solar system, understanding the emergence of life, determining how early life on Earth interacted and evolved with its changing environment, understanding the evolutionary mechanisms and environmental limits of life, determining the principles that will shape life in the future, and recognizing signatures of life on other worlds and on early Earth. For each of these goals, Science Objectives outline more specific high-priority efforts for the next 3-5 years. These 18 objectives are being integrated with NASA strategic planning.

  20. Proposed biomimetic molecular sensor array for astrobiology applications

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cullen, D. C.; Grant, W. D.; Piletsky, S.; Sims, M. R.

    2001-08-01

    A key objective of future astrobiology lander missions, e.g. to Mars and Europa, is the detection of biomarkers - molecules whose presence indicates the existence of either current or extinct life. To address limitations of current analytical methods for biomarker detection, we describe the methodology of a new project for demonstration of a robust molecular-recognition sensor array for astrobiology biomarkers. The sensor array will be realised by assembling components that have been demonstrated individually in previous or current research projects. The major components are (1) robust artificial molecular receptors comprised of molecular imprinted polymer (MIP) recognition systems and (2) a sensor array comprised of both optical and electrochemical sensor elements. These components will be integrated together using ink-jet printing technology coupled with in situ photo-polymerisation of MIPs. For demonstration, four model biomarkers are chosen as targets and represent various classes of potential biomarkers. Objectives of the proposed work include (1) demonstration of practical proof-of-concept, (2) identify areas for further development and (3) provide performance and design data for follow-up projects leading to astrobiology missions.

  1. The Astrobiology Habitable Environments Database (AHED)

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lafuente, B.; Stone, N.; Downs, R. T.; Blake, D. F.; Bristow, T.; Fonda, M.; Pires, A.

    2015-12-01

    The Astrobiology Habitable Environments Database (AHED) is a central, high quality, long-term searchable repository for archiving and collaborative sharing of astrobiologically relevant data, including, morphological, textural and contextural images, chemical, biochemical, isotopic, sequencing, and mineralogical information. The aim of AHED is to foster long-term innovative research by supporting integration and analysis of diverse datasets in order to: 1) help understand and interpret planetary geology; 2) identify and characterize habitable environments and pre-biotic/biotic processes; 3) interpret returned data from present and past missions; 4) provide a citable database of NASA-funded published and unpublished data (after an agreed-upon embargo period). AHED uses the online open-source software "The Open Data Repository's Data Publisher" (ODR - http://www.opendatarepository.org) [1], which provides a user-friendly interface that research teams or individual scientists can use to design, populate and manage their own database according to the characteristics of their data and the need to share data with collaborators or the broader scientific community. This platform can be also used as a laboratory notebook. The database will have the capability to import and export in a variety of standard formats. Advanced graphics will be implemented including 3D graphing, multi-axis graphs, error bars, and similar scientific data functions together with advanced online tools for data analysis (e. g. the statistical package, R). A permissions system will be put in place so that as data are being actively collected and interpreted, they will remain proprietary. A citation system will allow research data to be used and appropriately referenced by other researchers after the data are made public. This project is supported by the Science-Enabling Research Activity (SERA) and NASA NNX11AP82A, Mars Science Laboratory Investigations. [1] Nate et al. (2015) AGU, submitted.

  2. Assessment of the NASA Astrobiology Institute

    Science.gov (United States)

    2008-01-01

    Astrobiology is a scientific discipline devoted to the study of life in the universe--its origins, evolution, distribution, and future. It brings together the physical and biological sciences to address some of the most fundamental questions of the natural world: How do living systems emerge? How do habitable worlds form and how do they evolve? Does life exist on worlds other than Earth? As an endeavor of tremendous breadth and depth, astrobiology requires interdisciplinary investigation in order to be fully appreciated and examined. As part of a concerted effort to undertake such a challenge, the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) was established in 1998 as an innovative way to develop the field of astrobiology and provide a scientific framework for flight missions. Now that the NAI has been in existence for almost a decade, the time is ripe to assess its achievements. At the request of NASA's Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate (SMD), the Committee on the Review of the NASA Astrobiology Institute undertook the assignment to determine the progress made by the NAI in developing the field of astrobiology. It must be emphasized that the purpose of this study was not to undertake a review of the scientific accomplishments of NASA's Astrobiology program, in general, or of the NAI, in particular. Rather, the objective of the study is to evaluate the success of the NAI in achieving its stated goals of: 1. Conducting, supporting, and catalyzing collaborative interdisciplinary research; 2. Training the next generation of astrobiology researchers; 3. Providing scientific and technical leadership on astrobiology investigations for current and future space missions; 4. Exploring new approaches, using modern information technology, to conduct interdisciplinary and collaborative research among widely distributed investigators; and 5. Supporting outreach by providing scientific content for use in K-12 education programs, teaching undergraduate classes, and

  3. Is Humanity Doomed? Insights from Astrobiology

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Seth D. Baum

    2010-02-01

    Full Text Available Astrobiology, the study of life in the universe, offers profound insights into human sustainability. However, astrobiology is commonly neglected in sustainability research. This paper develops three topics connecting astrobiology to sustainability: constraints on what zones in the universe are habitable, the absence of observations of extraterrestrial civilizations, and the physical fate of the universe. These topics have major implications for our thinking and action on sustainability. While we may not be doomed, we must take certain actions to sustain ourselves in this universe. The topics also suggest that our current sustainability efforts may be of literally galactic importance.

  4. Science at the ends of the Earth: astrobiology field expeditions as outreach tools

    Science.gov (United States)

    Billings, Linda

    martian meteorite, evidence of past and perhaps even present liquid water on Mars, the likelihood of a liquid water ocean on Europa, the possibility of liquid water beneath the surface of Titan, observations of a growing number of extrasolar planets, and identification of new forms of microbial life in an ever-widening range of extreme Earth environments. Consequently, in the 21st century the pace of robotic planetary exploration is speeding up and scientific and public attention is increasingly focusing on astrobiology research, especially the search for signs of life on Mars and in other environments in our solar system. NASA's ASTEP program is sponsoring field campaigns to test science strategies and robotic technologies that could be useful in conducting astrobiological investigations in planetary environments, focusing on Mars and Europa. Public interest in astrobiology research is substantial, and advances in the field are rapid. Thus the NASA Astrobiology Program encourages Principal Investigators to incorporate communication, education, and public outreach initiatives in their research plans. NASA ASTEP projects provide especially good opportunities for communication, education, and outreach. The work of ASTEP projects takes place in remote terrestrial environments, places typically inaccessible to "civilians": the Norwegian protectorate of Svalbard, above the Arctic Circle; the far-northern reaches of the Arctic Ocean; the dry valleys of Antarctica; deep-sea hydrothermal vent systems and other unmapped underwater environments. ASTEP projects involve human researchers working with robotic adjuncts. ASTEP teams often combine include senior and student researchers. Some have even included "embedded" journalists and public affairs officers. ASTEP expeditions typically unfold in visually interesting, sometimes stunning, physical environments. ASTEP expeditions are virtually always intensive learning experiences for their researchers, and thus they provide good

  5. Astrobiology undergraduate education: students' knowledge and perceptions of the field.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Foster, Jamie S; Drew, Jennifer C

    2009-04-01

    With the field of astrobiology continually evolving, it has become increasingly important to develop and maintain an educational infrastructure for the next generation of astrobiologists. In addition to developing more courses and programs for students, it is essential to monitor the learning experiences and progress of students taking these astrobiology courses. At the University of Florida, a new pilot course in astrobiology was developed that targeted undergraduate students with a wide range of scientific backgrounds. Pre- and post-course surveys along with knowledge assessments were used to evaluate the students' perceived and actual learning experiences. The class incorporated a hybrid teaching platform that included traditional in-person and distance learning technologies. Results indicate that undergraduate students have little prior knowledge of key astrobiology concepts; however, post-course testing demonstrated significant improvements in the students' comprehension of astrobiology. Improvements were not limited to astrobiology knowledge. Assessments revealed that students developed confidence in science writing as well as reading and understanding astrobiology primary literature. Overall, student knowledge of and attitudes toward astrobiological research dramatically increased during this course, which demonstrates the ongoing need for additional astrobiology education programs as well as periodic evaluations of those programs currently underway. Together, these approaches serve to improve the overall learning experiences and perceptions of future astrobiology researchers.

  6. Extremophiles: Link between earth and astrobiology

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Stojanović Dejan B.

    2008-01-01

    Full Text Available Astrobiology studies the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe. The most promising worlds in Solar system, beyond Earth, which may harbor life are Mars and Jovian moon Europa. Extremophiles are organisms that thrive on the edge of temperature, hypersalinity, pH extremes, pressure, dryness and so on. In this paper, some extremophile cyanobacteria have been discussed as possible life forms in a scale of astrobiology. Samples were taken from solenetz and solonchak types of soil from the Vojvodina region. The main idea in this paper lies in the fact that high percentage of salt found in solonchak and solonetz gives the possibility of comparison these types of soil with 'soil' on Mars, which is also rich in salt.

  7. Make Astrobiology Yours

    Science.gov (United States)

    Domagal-Goldman, Shawn

    2012-01-01

    In this talk, I will give the AbGradCon attendees an overview of astrobiology activities ongoing at NASA as well as a brief description of the various funding programs and careers that they can pursue. After this, I will present to them the case that the future of the field is theirs to determine, and give input on how to effectively make astrobiology and NASA responsive to the needs of the community. This presentation will leverage my experiences leading various efforts in the early career astrobiology community, where I have served as a conference organizer, primer lead editor, community blogger, and unofficial liaison to NASA headquarters.

  8. Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) 2009 Crew Perspectives

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ferrone, Kristine; Cusack, Stacy L.; Garvin, Christy; Kramer, Walter Vernon; Palaia, Joseph E., IV; Shiro, Brian

    2010-01-01

    A crew of six "astronauts" inhabited the Mars Society s Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) for the month of July 2009, conducting a simulated Mars exploration mission. In addition to the various technical achievements during the mission, the crew learned a vast amount about themselves and about human factors relevant to a future mission to Mars. Their experiences, detailed in their own words, show the passion of those with strong commitment to space exploration and detail the human experiences for space explorers including separation from loved ones, interpersonal conflict, dietary considerations, and the exhilaration of surmounting difficult challenges.

  9. A wide variety of putative extremophiles and large beta-diversity at the Mars Desert Research Station (Utah)

    Science.gov (United States)

    Direito, Susana O. L.; Ehrenfreund, Pascale; Marees, Andries; Staats, Martijn; Foing, Bernard; Röling, Wilfred F. M.

    2011-07-01

    Humankind's innate curiosity makes us wonder whether life is or was present on other planetary bodies such as Mars. The EuroGeoMars 2009 campaign was organized at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) to perform multidisciplinary astrobiology research. MDRS in southeast Utah is situated in a cold arid desert with mineralogy and erosion processes comparable to those on Mars. Insight into the microbial community composition of this terrestrial Mars analogue provides essential information for the search for life on Mars: including sampling and life detection methodology optimization and what kind of organisms to expect. Soil samples were collected from different locations. Culture-independent molecular analyses directed at ribosomal RNA genes revealed the presence of all three domains of life (Archaea, Bacteria and Eukarya), but these were not detected in all samples. Spiking experiments revealed that this appears to relate to low DNA recovery, due to adsorption or degradation. Bacteria were most frequently detected and showed high alpha- and beta-diversity. Members of the Actinobacteria, Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes and Gemmatimonadetes phyla were found in the majority of samples. Archaea alpha- and beta-diversity was very low. For Eukarya, a diverse range of organisms was identified, such as fungi, green algae and several phyla of Protozoa. Phylogenetic analysis revealed an extraordinary variety of putative extremophiles, mainly Bacteria but also Archaea and Eukarya. These comprised radioresistant, endolithic, chasmolithic, xerophilic, hypolithic, thermophilic, thermoacidophilic, psychrophilic, halophilic, haloalkaliphilic and alkaliphilic micro-organisms. Overall, our data revealed large difference in occurrence and diversity over short distances, indicating the need for high-sampling frequency at similar sites. DNA extraction methods need to be optimized to improve extraction efficiencies.

  10. Martian Chemical and Isotopic Reference Standards in Earth-based Laboratories — An Invitation for Geochemical, Astrobiological, and Engineering Dialog on Considering a Weathered Chondrite for Mars Sample Return.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ashley, J. W.; Tait, A. W.; Velbel, M. A.; Boston, P. J.; Carrier, B. L.; Cohen, B. A.; Schröder, C.; Bland, P.

    2017-12-01

    Exogenic rocks (meteorites) found on Mars 1) have unweathered counterparts on Earth; 2) weather differently than indigenous rocks; and 3) may be ideal habitats for putative microorganisms and subsequent biosignature preservation. These attributes show the potential of meteorites for addressing hypothesis-driven science. They raise the question of whether chondritic meteorites, of sufficient weathering intensity, might be considered as candidates for sample return in a potential future mission. Pursuant to this discussion are the following questions. A) Is there anything to be learned from the laboratory study of a martian chondrite that cannot be learned from indigenous materials; and if so, B) is the science value high enough to justify recovery? If both A and B answer affirmatively, then C) what are the engineering constraints for sample collection for Mars 2020 and potential follow-on missions; and finally D) what is the likelihood of finding a favorable sample? Observations relevant to these questions include: i) Since 2005, 24 candidate and confirmed meteorites have been identified on Mars at three rover landing sites, demonstrating their ubiquity and setting expectations for future finds. All have been heavily altered by a variety of physical and chemical processes. While the majority of these are irons (not suitable for recovery), several are weathered stony meteorites. ii) Exogenic reference materials provide the only chemical/isotope standards on Mars, permitting quantification of alteration rates if residence ages can be attained; and possibly enabling the removal of Late Amazonian weathering overprints from other returned samples. iii) Recent studies have established the habitability of chondritic meteorites with terrestrial microorganisms, recommending their consideration when exploring astrobiological questions. High reactivity, organic content, and permeability show stony meteorites to be more attractive for colonization and subsequent biosignature

  11. Empirical Requirements Analysis for Mars Surface Operations Using the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station

    Science.gov (United States)

    Clancey, William J.; Lee, Pascal; Sierhuis, Maarten; Norvig, Peter (Technical Monitor)

    2001-01-01

    Living and working on Mars will require model-based computer systems for maintaining and controlling complex life support, communication, transportation, and power systems. This technology must work properly on the first three-year mission, augmenting human autonomy, without adding-yet more complexity to be diagnosed and repaired. One design method is to work with scientists in analog (mars-like) setting to understand how they prefer to work, what constrains will be imposed by the Mars environment, and how to ameliorate difficulties. We describe how we are using empirical requirements analysis to prototype model-based tools at a research station in the High Canadian Arctic.

  12. Terrestrial atmosphere, water and astrobiology

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Coradini M.

    2010-12-01

    Full Text Available Primitive life, defined as a chemical system capable to transfer its molecular information via self-replication and also capable to evolve, originated about 4 billion years ago from the processing of organic molecules by liquid water. Terrestrial atmosphere played a key role in the process by allowing the permanent presence of liquid water and by participating in the production of carbon-based molecules. Water molecules exhibit specific properties mainly due to a dense network of hydrogen bonds. The carbon-based molecules were either home made in the atmosphere and/or in submarine hydrothermal systems or delivered by meteorites and micrometeorites. The search for possible places beyond the earth where the trilogy atmosphere/water/life could exist is the main objective of astrobiology. Within the Solar System, exploration missions are dedicated to Mars, Europa, Titan and the icy bodies. The discovery of several hundreds of extrasolar planets opens the quest to the whole Milky Way.

  13. Astrobiology: The Case for Venus

    Science.gov (United States)

    Landis, Geoffrey A.

    2003-01-01

    The scientific discipline of astrobiology addresses one of the most fundamental unanswered questions of science: are we alone? Is there life elsewhere in the universe, or is life unique to Earth? The field of astrobiology includes the study of the chemical precursors for life in the solar system; it also includes the search for both presently existing life and fossil signs of previously existing life elsewhere in our own solar system, as well as the search for life outside the solar system. Two of the promising environments within the solar system being currently considered are the surface of the planet Mars, and the hypothesized oceans underneath the ice covering the moon Europa. Both of these environments differ in several key ways from the environments where life is found on Earth; the Mars environment in most places too cold and at too low pressure for liquid water to be stable, and the sub-ice environment of Europa lacking an abundance of free energy in the form of sunlight. The only place in the solar system where we know that life exists today is the Earth. To look for life elsewhere in the solar system, one promising search strategy would be to find and study the environment in the solar system with conditions that are most similar to the environmental conditions where life thrives on the Earth. Specifically, we would like to study a location in the solar system with atmospheric pressure near one bar; temperature in the range where water is liquid, 0 to 100 C; abundant solar energy; and with the primary materials required for life, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen, present. Other than the surface of the Earth, the only other place where these conditions exist is the atmosphere of Venus, at an altitude of about fifty kilometers above the surface.

  14. Discrimination of Pigments of Microalgae, Bacteria and Yeasts Using Lightweight Handheld Raman Spectrometers: Prospects for Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Jehlicka, J.; Osterrothova, K.; Nedbalova, L.; Gunde-Cimerman, N.; Oren, A.

    2014-06-01

    Handheld Raman instrumentation with 532 nm lasers can be used to distinguish carotenoids of autotrophic microalgae, purple sulfur bacteria, halophilic Archaea and pigmented yeasts. Pigments are proposed as biomarkers for astrobiology of Mars.

  15. Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) 2009 Expedition Crew Perspectives

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cusack, Stacy; Ferrone, Kristine; Garvin, Christy; Kramer, W. Vernon; Palaia, Joseph, IV; Shiro, Brian

    2009-01-01

    The Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS), located on the rim of the Haughton Crater on Devon Island in the Canadian Arctic, is a simulated Mars habitat that provides operational constraints similar to those which will be faced by future human explorers on Mars. In July 2009, a six-member crew inhabited the isolated habitation module and conducted the twelfth FMARS mission. The crew members conducted frequent EVA operations wearing mock space suits to conduct field experiments under realistic Mars-like conditions. Their scientific campaign spanned a wide range of disciplines and included many firsts for Mars analog research. Among these are the first use of a Class IV medical laser during a Mars simulation, helping to relieve crew stress injuries during the mission. Also employed for the first time in a Mars simulation at FMARS, a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) was used by the space-suited explorers, aiding them in their search for mineral resources. Sites identified by the UAV were then visited by geologists who conducted physical geologic sampling. For the first time, explorers in spacesuits deployed passive seismic equipment to monitor earthquake activity and characterize the planet's interior. They also conducted the first geophysical electromagnetic survey as analog Mars pioneers to search for water and characterize geological features under the surface. The crew collected hydrated minerals and attempted to produce drinkable water from the rocks. A variety of equipment was field tested as well, including new cameras that automatically geotag photos, data-recording GPS units, a tele-presence rover (operated from Florida), as well as MIT-developed mission planning software. As plans develop to return to the Moon and go on to Mars, analog facilities like FMARS can provide significant benefit to NASA and other organizations as they prepare for robust human space exploration. The authors will present preliminary results from these studies as well as their

  16. Astrobiology: Discovering New Worlds of Life.

    Science.gov (United States)

    James, Charles C.; Van Dover, Cindy Lee

    2001-01-01

    Emphasizes discoveries at the frontiers of science. Includes an instructional poster illustrating the hydrothermal vent communities on the deep ocean floor. Describes research activities related to the new discipline of astrobiology, a multidisciplinary approach to studying the emergence of life in the universe. Research activities include the…

  17. AstRoMap European Astrobiology Roadmap.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Horneck, Gerda; Walter, Nicolas; Westall, Frances; Grenfell, John Lee; Martin, William F; Gomez, Felipe; Leuko, Stefan; Lee, Natuschka; Onofri, Silvano; Tsiganis, Kleomenis; Saladino, Raffaele; Pilat-Lohinger, Elke; Palomba, Ernesto; Harrison, Jesse; Rull, Fernando; Muller, Christian; Strazzulla, Giovanni; Brucato, John R; Rettberg, Petra; Capria, Maria Teresa

    2016-03-01

    The European AstRoMap project (supported by the European Commission Seventh Framework Programme) surveyed the state of the art of astrobiology in Europe and beyond and produced the first European roadmap for astrobiology research. In the context of this roadmap, astrobiology is understood as the study of the origin, evolution, and distribution of life in the context of cosmic evolution; this includes habitability in the Solar System and beyond. The AstRoMap Roadmap identifies five research topics, specifies several key scientific objectives for each topic, and suggests ways to achieve all the objectives. The five AstRoMap Research Topics are • Research Topic 1: Origin and Evolution of Planetary Systems • Research Topic 2: Origins of Organic Compounds in Space • Research Topic 3: Rock-Water-Carbon Interactions, Organic Synthesis on Earth, and Steps to Life • Research Topic 4: Life and Habitability • Research Topic 5: Biosignatures as Facilitating Life Detection It is strongly recommended that steps be taken towards the definition and implementation of a European Astrobiology Platform (or Institute) to streamline and optimize the scientific return by using a coordinated infrastructure and funding system.

  18. Astrobiology and Microbial Diversity Websites at MBL

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bahr, M.; Bordenstein, S. R.

    2006-12-01

    The NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) mission is to study the origin, evolution and future of life in the Universe. The MBL Astrobiology team explores the evolution and interaction of genomes of diverse organisms that play significant roles in environmental biology over evolutionary time scales. Communication about our research includes the personal contact of teacher workshops, and the development of web-based resources. Microbial Life Educational Resources (MLER) provides an expanding internet resource about the ecology, diversity and evolution for students, K-12 teachers, university faculty, and the general public. MLER includes websites, PowerPoint presentations, teaching activities, data sets, and other useful materials for creating or enhancing courses related to astrobiology. Our second site, micro*scope (http://microscope.mbl.edu), has images of microbes, classification schemes, descriptions of organisms, talks and other educational resources to improve awareness of the biodiversity of our microbial partners.

  19. Neocatastrophism and the milky way astrobiological landscape

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Vukotić B.

    2008-01-01

    Full Text Available The number and distribution of habitable planets in the Milky Way is one of the foremost problems of contemporary astrobiological research. We investigate the effects of applying general neocatastrophic paradigm to the evolution of the Galactic Habitable Zone. In this paper, we investigate the limits of simple, 1-dimensional astrobiological models, and consider the role of regulation mechanisms in shapening the 'astrobiological landscape'. We show that the transition from predominantly gradualist to predominantly (neocatastrophist history of our Galaxy leads to the build-up of large-scale correlations between habitable sites, offering possible keys to such important problems as Carter's 'anthropic' argument and Fermi's paradox. In addition, we consider the possibilities for extending the present class of models into spatially realistic 3-dimensional case via probabilistic cellular automata.

  20. Neocatastrophism and the Milky Way Astrobiological Landscape

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Vukotić, B.

    2008-06-01

    Full Text Available The number and distribution of habitable planets in the Milky Way is one of the foremost problems of contemporary astrobiological research. We investigate the effects of applying general neocatastrophic paradigm to the evolution of the Galactic Habitable Zone. In this paper, we investigate the limits of simple, 1-dimensional astrobiological models, and consider the role of regulation mechanisms in shapening the "astrobiological landscape". We show that the transition from predominantly gradualist to predominantly (neocatastrophist history of our Galaxy leads to the build-up of large-scale correlations between habitable sites, offering possible keys to such important problems as Carter's "anthropic" argument and Fermi's paradox. In addition, we consider the possibilities for extending the present class of models into spatially realistic 3-dimensional case via probabilistic cellular automata.

  1. Astrobiology in the Classroom

    Science.gov (United States)

    Brennan, Tim

    2004-01-01

    Astrobiology is a relatively new field of study in science, one that has found a home in the curriculum of many major universities. It is a multidisciplinary field that draws participants from a range of scientific specialties: geology, physics, chemistry, engineering, computer science, and of course biology and astronomy. At the middle level, it…

  2. The Aouda.X space suit simulator and its applications to astrobiology.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Groemer, Gernot E; Hauth, Stefan; Luger, Ulrich; Bickert, Klaus; Sattler, Birgit; Hauth, Eva; Föger, Daniel; Schildhammer, Daniel; Agerer, Christian; Ragonig, Christoph; Sams, Sebastian; Kaineder, Felix; Knoflach, Martin

    2012-02-01

    We have developed the space suit simulator Aouda.X, which is capable of reproducing the physical and sensory limitations a flight-worthy suit would have on Mars. Based upon a Hard-Upper-Torso design, it has an advanced human-machine interface and a sensory network connected to an On-Board Data Handling system to increase the situational awareness in the field. Although the suit simulator is not pressurized, the physical forces that lead to a reduced working envelope and physical performance are reproduced with a calibrated exoskeleton. This allows us to simulate various pressure regimes from 0.3-1 bar. Aouda.X has been tested in several laboratory and field settings, including sterile sampling at 2800 m altitude inside a glacial ice cave and a cryochamber at -110°C, and subsurface tests in connection with geophysical instrumentation relevant to astrobiology, including ground-penetrating radar, geoacoustics, and drilling. The communication subsystem allows for a direct interaction with remote science teams via telemetry from a mission control center. Aouda.X as such is a versatile experimental platform for studying Mars exploration activities in a high-fidelity Mars analog environment with a focus on astrobiology and operations research that has been optimized to reduce the amount of biological cross contamination. We report on the performance envelope of the Aouda.X system and its operational limitations.

  3. Astrobiology Sample Analysis Program (ASAP) for Advanced Life Detection Instrumentation Development and Calibration

    Science.gov (United States)

    Glavin, Daniel; Brinkerhoff, Will; Dworkin, Jason; Eigenbrode, Jennifer; Franz, Heather; Mahaffy, Paul; Stern, Jen; Blake, Daid; Sandford, Scott; Fries, marc; hide

    2008-01-01

    Scientific ground-truth measurements for near-term Mars missions, such as the 2009 Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission, are essential for validating current in situ flight instrumentation and for the development of advanced instrumentation technologies for life-detection missions over the next decade. The NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) has recently funded a consortium of researchers called the Astrobiology Sample Analysis Program (ASAP) to analyze an identical set of homogenized martian analog materials in a "round-robin" style using both state-of-the-art laboratory techniques as well as in-situ flight instrumentation including the SAM gas chromatograph mass spectrometer and CHEMIN X-ray diffraction/fluorescence instruments on MSL and the Urey and MOMA organic analyzer instruments under development for the 2013 ExoMars missions. The analog samples studied included an Atacama Desert soil from Chile, the Murchison meteorite, a gypsum sample from the 2007 AMASE Mars analog site, jarosite from Panoche Valley, CA, a hydrothermal sample from Rio Tinto, Spain, and a "blind" sample collected during the 2007 MSL slow-motion field test in New Mexico. Each sample was distributed to the team for analysis to: (1) determine the nature and inventory of organic compounds, (2) measure the bulk carbon and nitrogen isotopic composition, (3) investigate elemental abundances, mineralogy and matrix, and (4) search for biological activity. The experimental results obtained from the ASAP Mars analog research consortium will be used to build a framework for understanding the biogeochemistry of martian analogs, help calibrate current spaceflight instrumentation, and enhance the scientific return from upcoming missions.

  4. Mars

    CERN Document Server

    Day, Trevor

    2006-01-01

    Discusses the fundamental facts concerning this mysterious planet, including its mass, size, and atmosphere, as well as the various missions that helped planetary scientists document the geological history of Mars. This volume also describes Mars'' seasons with their surface effects on the planet and how they have changed over time.

  5. Mars

    CERN Document Server

    Payment, Simone

    2017-01-01

    This curriculum-based, fun, and approachable book offers everything young readers need to know to begin their study of the Red Planet. They will learn about the fundamental aspects of the Mars, including its size, mass, surface features, interior, orbit, and spin. Further, they will learn about the history of the missions to Mars, including the Viking spacecraft and the Curiosity and MAVEN rovers. Finally, readers will learn about why scientists think there's a chance that Mars is or was suitable for life. With stunning imagery from NASA itself, readers will have a front seat-view of the missi

  6. Astrobiology, discovery, and societal impact

    CERN Document Server

    Dick, Steven J

    2018-01-01

    The search for life in the universe, once the stuff of science fiction, is now a robust worldwide research program with a well-defined roadmap probing both scientific and societal issues. This volume examines the humanistic aspects of astrobiology, systematically discussing the approaches, critical issues, and implications of discovering life beyond Earth. What do the concepts of life and intelligence, culture and civilization, technology and communication mean in a cosmic context? What are the theological and philosophical implications if we find life - and if we do not? Steven J. Dick argues that given recent scientific findings, the discovery of life in some form beyond Earth is likely and so we need to study the possible impacts of such a discovery and formulate policies to deal with them. The remarkable and often surprising results are presented here in a form accessible to disciplines across the sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

  7. Finding the team for Mars: a psychological and human factors analysis of a Mars Desert Research Station crew.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sawyer, Benjamin D; Hancock, P A; Deaton, John; Suedfeld, Peter

    2012-01-01

    A two-week mission in March and April of 2011 sent six team members to the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS). MDRS, a research facility in the high Utah desert, provides an analogue for the harsh and unusual working conditions that will be faced by men and women who one day explore Mars. During the mission a selection of quantitative and qualitative psychological tests were administered to the international, multidisciplinary team. A selection of the results are presented along with discussion.

  8. An Astrobiology Microbes Exhibit and Education Module

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lindstrom, Marilyn M.; Allen, Jaclyn S.; Stocco, Karen; Tobola, Kay; Olendzenski, Lorraine

    2001-01-01

    Telling the story of NASA-sponsored scientific research to the public in exhibits is best done by partnerships of scientists and museum professionals. Likewise, preparing classroom activities and training teachers to use them should be done by teams of teachers and scientists. Here we describe how we used such partnerships to develop a new astrobiology augmentation to the Microbes! traveling exhibit and a companion education module. "Additional information is contained in the original extended abstract."

  9. Astrobiology of Comets

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hoover, Richard B.; Wickramasinghe, Nalin C.; Wallis, Max K.; Sheldon, Robert B.

    2004-01-01

    We review the current state of knowledge concerning microbial extremophiles and comets and the potential significance of comets to Astrobiology. We model the thermal history of a cometary body, regarded as an assemblage of boulders, dust, ices and organics, as it approaches a perihelion distance of - IAU. The transfer of incident energy from sunlight into the interior leads to the melting of near surface ices, some under stable porous crust, providing possible habitats for a wide range of microorganisms. We provide data concerning new evidence for indigenous microfossils in CI meteorites, which may be the remains of extinct cometary cores. We discuss the dominant microbial communities of polar sea-ice, Antarctic ice sheet, and cryoconite environments as possible analogs for microbial ecosystems that may grow in sub-crustal pools or in ice/water films in comets.

  10. Multispectral Microimager for Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sellar, R. Glenn; Farmer, Jack D.; Kieta, Andrew; Huang, Julie

    2006-01-01

    A primary goal of the astrobiology program is the search for fossil records. The astrobiology exploration strategy calls for the location and return of samples indicative of environments conducive to life, and that best capture and preserve biomarkers. Successfully returning samples from environments conducive to life requires two primary capabilities: (1) in situ mapping of the mineralogy in order to determine whether the desired minerals are present; and (2) nondestructive screening of samples for additional in-situ testing and/or selection for return to laboratories for more in-depth examination. Two of the most powerful identification techniques are micro-imaging and visible/infrared spectroscopy. The design and test results are presented from a compact rugged instrument that combines micro-imaging and spectroscopic capability to provide in-situ analysis, mapping, and sample screening capabilities. Accurate reflectance spectra should be a measure of reflectance as a function of wavelength only. Other compact multispectral microimagers use separate LEDs (light-emitting diodes) for each wavelength and therefore vary the angles of illumination when changing wavelengths. When observing a specularly-reflecting sample, this produces grossly inaccurate spectra due to the variation in the angle of illumination. An advanced design and test results are presented for a multispectral microimager which demonstrates two key advances relative to previous LED-based microimagers: (i) acquisition of actual reflectance spectra in which the flux is a function of wavelength only, rather than a function of both wavelength and illumination geometry; and (ii) increase in the number of spectral bands to eight bands covering a spectral range of 468 to 975 nm.

  11. Cultural Aspects of Astrobiology: A Preliminary Reconnaissance at

    Science.gov (United States)

    Dick, Steven

    NASA's Astrobiology Roadmap, developed in 1998 by an interdisciplinary team of more than 150 individuals, recognizes ten science goals, 17 more specific science objectives, and four broad principles for the Astrobiology Program. Among the four operating principles, which emphasize multidisciplinarity, planetary stewardship and public outreach, is one that also recognizes broad societal interest for the implications of astrobiology, especially its extraterrestrial life component. Although several meetings ahve been convened in the past decade to discuss the implications of extraterrestrial intelligence, including NASA's own CASETI workshops in 1991-1992, none have surveyed the broader implications of astrobiology as now defined at NASA. In this paper we survey these societal questions raised by astrobiology, and then focus on those related to extraterrestrial life, and in particular how they might differ from SETI concerns already discussed. As we enter the new millennium, the necessity for interdisciplinary studies is increasingly recognized in academia, industry and government. Astrobiology provides an unprecedented opportunity to encourage the unity of knowledge, as recently proposed in E. O. Wilson's book Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge. It is incumbent on scientists to support research on the implications of their work, in particular large government-funded scientific projects. The deep insights such study may yield has been amply demonstrated by the Human Genome Project, among others.

  12. The MARS2013 Mars analog mission.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Groemer, Gernot; Soucek, Alexander; Frischauf, Norbert; Stumptner, Willibald; Ragonig, Christoph; Sams, Sebastian; Bartenstein, Thomas; Häuplik-Meusburger, Sandra; Petrova, Polina; Evetts, Simon; Sivenesan, Chan; Bothe, Claudia; Boyd, Andrea; Dinkelaker, Aline; Dissertori, Markus; Fasching, David; Fischer, Monika; Föger, Daniel; Foresta, Luca; Fritsch, Lukas; Fuchs, Harald; Gautsch, Christoph; Gerard, Stephan; Goetzloff, Linda; Gołebiowska, Izabella; Gorur, Paavan; Groemer, Gerhard; Groll, Petra; Haider, Christian; Haider, Olivia; Hauth, Eva; Hauth, Stefan; Hettrich, Sebastian; Jais, Wolfgang; Jones, Natalie; Taj-Eddine, Kamal; Karl, Alexander; Kauerhoff, Tilo; Khan, Muhammad Shadab; Kjeldsen, Andreas; Klauck, Jan; Losiak, Anna; Luger, Markus; Luger, Thomas; Luger, Ulrich; McArthur, Jane; Moser, Linda; Neuner, Julia; Orgel, Csilla; Ori, Gian Gabriele; Paternesi, Roberta; Peschier, Jarno; Pfeil, Isabella; Prock, Silvia; Radinger, Josef; Ramirez, Barbara; Ramo, Wissam; Rampey, Mike; Sams, Arnold; Sams, Elisabeth; Sandu, Oana; Sans, Alejandra; Sansone, Petra; Scheer, Daniela; Schildhammer, Daniel; Scornet, Quentin; Sejkora, Nina; Stadler, Andrea; Stummer, Florian; Taraba, Michael; Tlustos, Reinhard; Toferer, Ernst; Turetschek, Thomas; Winter, Egon; Zanella-Kux, Katja

    2014-05-01

    We report on the MARS2013 mission, a 4-week Mars analog field test in the northern Sahara. Nineteen experiments were conducted by a field crew in Morocco under simulated martian surface exploration conditions, supervised by a Mission Support Center in Innsbruck, Austria. A Remote Science Support team analyzed field data in near real time, providing planning input for the management of a complex system of field assets; two advanced space suit simulators, four robotic vehicles, an emergency shelter, and a stationary sensor platform in a realistic work flow were coordinated by a Flight Control Team. A dedicated flight planning group, external control centers for rover tele-operations, and a biomedical monitoring team supported the field operations. A 10 min satellite communication delay and other limitations pertinent to human planetary surface activities were introduced. The fields of research for the experiments were geology, human factors, astrobiology, robotics, tele-science, exploration, and operations research. This paper provides an overview of the geological context and environmental conditions of the test site and the mission architecture, in particular the communication infrastructure emulating the signal travel time between Earth and Mars. We report on the operational work flows and the experiments conducted, including a deployable shelter prototype for multiple-day extravehicular activities and contingency situations.

  13. Investigation of microbial diversity in a desert Mars-like environment: Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), Utah

    Science.gov (United States)

    Direito, Maria Susana; Staats, Martijn; Foing, Bernard H.; Ehrenfreund, Pascale; Roling, Wilfred

    The Utah Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) harbours geo-morphology and geo-processes analogues to the planet Mars. Soil samples were collected during the EuroGeoMars campaign (from 24 January to 1 March 2009) from different locations and depths [1]. Samples were distributed among scientific collaborator institutes for analysis of microbial diversity, amino acid content and degradation, content of PAH or larger organic molecules, and respective soil properties. Our sample analysis had the objective of characterizing the microbial communities in this Mars analogue: DNA isolation, PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) using primers for DNA amplification of Bacteria, Archaea and Eukarya ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene fragments, DGGE (Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis) and clone library construction with the final aim of sequencing. Results indicate that life is present in all the three domains of life (Archaea, Bacteria and Eukarya), while the most diversity was found in the domain Bacteria. Microorgan-isms are heterogeneously present and their identities are currently investigated. The obtained information will be later related to the other scientific analysis in order to obtain a better understanding of this Mars analogue site, which in turn will provide important information for the search for life on Mars. [1] Foing, B.H. et al . (2009). Exogeolab lander/rover instruments and EuroGeoMars MDRS campaign. LPI, 40, 2567.

  14. Second Annual NASA Ames Space Science and Astrobiology Jamboree

    Science.gov (United States)

    Dotson, Jessie

    2014-01-01

    The Space Science and Astrobiology Division's researchers are pursuing investigations in a variety of fields, including exoplanets, planetary science, astrobiology, and astrophysics. In addition division personnel support a wide variety of NASA missions. With a wide variety of interesting research going on, distributed among the three branches in at least 5 buildings, it can be difficult to stay abreast of what one's fellow researchers are doing. Our goal in organizing this symposium is to facilitate communication and collaboration among the scientist within the division and to give center management and other ARC researchers and Engineers an opportunity to see what scientific missions work is being done in the division.

  15. Vibrational Spectroscopy and Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Chaban, Galina M.; Kwak, D. (Technical Monitor)

    2001-01-01

    Role of vibrational spectroscopy in solving problems related to astrobiology will be discussed. Vibrational (infrared) spectroscopy is a very sensitive tool for identifying molecules. Theoretical approach used in this work is based on direct computation of anharmonic vibrational frequencies and intensities from electronic structure codes. One of the applications of this computational technique is possible identification of biological building blocks (amino acids, small peptides, DNA bases) in the interstellar medium (ISM). Identifying small biological molecules in the ISM is very important from the point of view of origin of life. Hybrid (quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics) theoretical techniques will be discussed that may allow to obtain accurate vibrational spectra of biomolecular building blocks and to create a database of spectroscopic signatures that can assist observations of these molecules in space. Another application of the direct computational spectroscopy technique is to help to design and analyze experimental observations of ice surfaces of one of the Jupiter's moons, Europa, that possibly contains hydrated salts. The presence of hydrated salts on the surface can be an indication of a subsurface ocean and the possible existence of life forms inhabiting such an ocean.

  16. From Astrochemistry to Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Allamandola, L. J.

    2005-01-01

    Tremendous strides have been made in our understanding of interstellar material over the past twenty five years thanks to significant developments in observational astronomy and laboratory astrophysics. Twenty years ago the composition of interstellar dust was largely guessed at, the concept of ices in dense molecular clouds ignored, and the notion of large, abundant, gas phase, carbon-rich molecules widespread throughout the interstellar medium (ISM) considered impossible. Today the composition of interstellar dust is reasonably well understood. In molecular clouds, the birthplace of stars and planets, these cold dust particles are coated with mixed molecular ices whose composition is very well constrained. Lastly, the signature of carbon-rich polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), shockingly large molecules by early interstellar chemistry standards, is widespread throughout the Universe. The first part of this talk will describe how infrared spectroscopic studies of interstellar space, combined with laboratory simulations of interstellar ice chemistry, have revealed the widespread presence of interstellar PAHs and the composition of interstellar ices, the building blocks of comets. The remainder of the presentation will focus on the photochemical evolution of these materials and astrobiology. Within a molecular cloud, and especially the presolar nebula, materials frozen into the ices are photoprocessed by ultraviolet light and produce more complex molecules. As these materials are the building blocks of comets and related to carbonaceous micrometeorites, they are likely to have been important sources of complex materials delivered to the early Earth and their composition may be related to the origin of life.

  17. Astrobiological Studies Plan at UCSD and the University of Buckingham

    Science.gov (United States)

    Gibson, Carl H.; Wickramasinghe, N. Chandra

    2011-10-01

    A UC-HBCU grant is requested to assist undergraduate and masters level HBCU Interns to achieve their professional and academic goals by attending summer school classes at UCSD along with graduate students in the UCSD Astrobiology Studies program, and by also attending a NASA sponsored scientific meeting in San Diego on Astrobiology organized by NASA scientist Richard Hoover (the 14th in a sequence). Hoover has recently published a paper in the Journal of Cosmology claiming extraterrestrial life fossils in three meteorites. Students will attend a workshop to prepare research publications on Astrobiological Science for the Journal of Cosmology or equivalent refereed journal, mentored by UCSD faculty and graduate students as co-authors and referees, all committed to the several months of communication usually required to complete a publishable paper. The program is intended to provide pathways to graduate admissions in the broad range of science and engineering fields, and by exposure to fundamental science and engineering disciplines needed by Astrobiologists. A three year UC-HBCU Astrobiological Studies program is proposed: 2011, 2012 and 2013. Interns would be eligible to enter this program when they become advanced graduate students. A center of excellence in astrobiology is planned for UCSD similar to that Directed by Professor Wickramasinghe for many years with Fred Hoyle at Cardiff University, http://www.astrobiology.cf.ac.uk /chandra1.html. Professor Wickramasinghe's CV is attached as Appendix 1. Figures A2-1,2 of Appendix 2 compare Astrobiology timelines of modern fluid mechanical and astrobiological models of Gibson/Wickramasinghe/Schild of the Journal of Cosmology with standard NASA- CDMHC models. NASA support will be sought to support research and educational aspects of both initiatives. Overload teaching of up to two courses a year by UCSD faculty of key astrobiology courses at either UCSD or at HBCU campuses is authorized by recent guidelines of UCSD

  18. Astrobiology in culture: the search for extraterrestrial life as "science".

    Science.gov (United States)

    Billings, Linda

    2012-10-01

    This analysis examines the social construction of authority, credibility, and legitimacy for exobiology/astrobiology and, in comparison, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), considering English-language conceptions of these endeavors in scientific culture and popular culture primarily in the United States. The questions that define astrobiology as a scientific endeavor are multidisciplinary in nature, and this endeavor is broadly appealing to public audiences as well as to the scientific community. Thus, it is useful to examine astrobiology in culture-in scientific culture, official culture, and popular culture. A researcher may explore science in culture, science as culture, by analyzing its rhetoric, the primary means that people use to construct their social realities-their cultural environment, as it were. This analysis follows this path, considering scientific and public interest in astrobiology and SETI and focusing on scientific and official constructions of the two endeavors. This analysis will also consider whether and how scientific and public conceptions of astrobiology and SETI, which are related but at the same time separate endeavors, converge or diverge and whether and how these convergences or divergences affect the scientific authority, credibility, and legitimacy of these endeavors.

  19. Lunar and Planetary Science XXXV: Astrobiology: Analogs and Applications to the Search for Life

    Science.gov (United States)

    2004-01-01

    The session "Astrobiology: Analogs and Applications to the Search for Life" included the folowing reports:The Search for Life on Mars Using Macroscopically Visible Microbial Mats (Stromatolites) in 3.5/3.3 Ga Cherts from the Pilbara in Australia and Barberton in South Africa as Analogues; Life in a Mars Analog: Microbial Activity Associated with Carbonate Cemented Lava Breccias from NW Spitsbergen; Groundwater-fed Iron-rich Microbial Mats in a Freshwater Creek: Growth Cycles and Fossilization Potential of Microbial Features; Episodic Fossilization of Microorganisms on an Annual Timescale in an Anthropogenically Modified Natural Environment: Geochemical Controls and Implications for Astrobiology; Proterozoic Microfossils and Their Implications for Recognizing Life on Mars; Microbial Alteration of Volcanic Glass in Modern and Ancient Oceanic Crust as a Proxy for Studies of Extraterrestrial Material ; Olivine Alteration on Earth and Mars; Searching for an Acidic Aquifer in the R!o Tinto Basin. First Geobiology Results of MARTE Project; In-Field Testing of Life Detection Instruments and Protocols in a Mars Analogue Arctic Environment; Habitability of the Shallow Subsurface on Mars: Clues from the Meteorites; Mars Analog Rio Tinto Experiment (MARTE): 2003 Drilling Campaign to Search for a Subsurface Biosphere at Rio Tinto Spain; Characterization of the Organic Matter in an Archean Chert (Warrawoona, Australia); and The Solfatara Crater, Italy: Characterization of Hydrothermal Deposits, Biosignatures and Their Astrobiological Implication.

  20. Astrobiology outreach and the nature of science: the role of creativity.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Fergusson, Jennifer; Oliver, Carol; Walter, Malcolm R

    2012-12-01

    There is concern in many developed countries that school students are turning away from science. However, students may be choosing not to study science and dismissing the possibility of a scientific career because, in the junior secondary years, they gain a false view of science and the work of scientists. There is a disparity between science as it is portrayed at school and science as it is practiced. This paper describes a study to explore whether engaging in science through astrobiology outreach activities may improve students' understanding of the nature and processes of science, and how this may influence their interest in a career in science. The results suggest that the students attending these Mars research-related outreach activities are more interested in science than the average student but are lacking in understanding of aspects of the nature of science. A significant difference was detected between pre- and posttest understandings of some concepts of the nature of science.

  1. The Cyborg Astrobiologist: testing a novelty detection algorithm on two mobile exploration systems at Rivas Vaciamadrid in Spain and at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah

    Science.gov (United States)

    McGuire, P. C.; Gross, C.; Wendt, L.; Bonnici, A.; Souza-Egipsy, V.; Ormö, J.; Díaz-Martínez, E.; Foing, B. H.; Bose, R.; Walter, S.; Oesker, M.; Ontrup, J.; Haschke, R.; Ritter, H.

    2010-01-01

    In previous work, a platform was developed for testing computer-vision algorithms for robotic planetary exploration. This platform consisted of a digital video camera connected to a wearable computer for real-time processing of images at geological and astrobiological field sites. The real-time processing included image segmentation and the generation of interest points based upon uncommonness in the segmentation maps. Also in previous work, this platform for testing computer-vision algorithms has been ported to a more ergonomic alternative platform, consisting of a phone camera connected via the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) network to a remote-server computer. The wearable-computer platform has been tested at geological and astrobiological field sites in Spain (Rivas Vaciamadrid and Riba de Santiuste), and the phone camera has been tested at a geological field site in Malta. In this work, we (i) apply a Hopfield neural-network algorithm for novelty detection based upon colour, (ii) integrate a field-capable digital microscope on the wearable computer platform, (iii) test this novelty detection with the digital microscope at Rivas Vaciamadrid, (iv) develop a Bluetooth communication mode for the phone-camera platform, in order to allow access to a mobile processing computer at the field sites, and (v) test the novelty detection on the Bluetooth-enabled phone camera connected to a netbook computer at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah. This systems engineering and field testing have together allowed us to develop a real-time computer-vision system that is capable, for example, of identifying lichens as novel within a series of images acquired in semi-arid desert environments. We acquired sequences of images of geologic outcrops in Utah and Spain consisting of various rock types and colours to test this algorithm. The algorithm robustly recognized previously observed units by their colour, while requiring only a single image or a few images to

  2. Lunar astrobiology: a review and suggested laboratory equipment.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Gronstal, Aaron; Cockell, Charles S; Perino, Maria Antonietta; Bittner, Tobias; Clacey, Erik; Clark, Olathe; Ingold, Olivier; Alves de Oliveira, Catarina; Wathiong, Steven

    2007-10-01

    In October of 2005, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Alcatel Alenia Spazio released a "call to academia for innovative concepts and technologies for lunar exploration." In recent years, interest in lunar exploration has increased in numerous space programs around the globe, and the purpose of our study, in response to the ESA call, was to draw on the expertise of researchers and university students to examine science questions and technologies that could support human astrobiology activity on the Moon. In this mini review, we discuss astrobiology science questions of importance for a human presence on the surface of the Moon and we provide a summary of key instrumentation requirements to support a lunar astrobiology laboratory.

  3. Astrobiology: Life in Extreme Environments

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kaur, Preeti

    2011-01-01

    Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution and distribution of life in the universe. It seeks to answer two important scientific questions: how did we get here and are we alone in the universe? Scientists begin by studying life on Earth and its limits. The discovery of extremophiles on Earth capable of surviving extremes encourages the…

  4. Origins of Life Research: a Bibliometric Approach

    Science.gov (United States)

    Aydinoglu, Arsev Umur; Taşkın, Zehra

    2018-03-01

    This study explores the collaborative nature and interdisciplinarity of the origin(s) of life (OoL) research community. Although OoL research is one of the oldest topics in philosophy, religion, and science; to date there has been no review of the field utilizing bibliometric measures. A dataset of 5647 publications that are tagged as OoL, astrobiology, exobiology, and prebiotic chemistry is analyzed. The most prolific authors (Raulin, Ehrenfreund, McKay, Cleaves, Cockell, Lazcano, etc.), most cited scholars and their articles (Miller 1953, Gilbert 1986, Chyba & Sagan 1992, Wolchtershauser 1988, etc.), and popular journals ( Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres and Astrobiology) for OoL research are identified. Moreover, interdisciplinary research conducted through research networks, institutions (NASA, Caltech, University of Arizona, University of Washington, CNRS, etc.), and keywords & concepts (astrobiology, life, Mars, amino acid, prebiotic chemistry, evolution, RNA) are explored.

  5. The Astrobiology in Secondary Classrooms (ASC) curriculum: focusing upon diverse students and teachers.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Arino de la Rubia, Leigh S

    2012-09-01

    The Minority Institution Astrobiology Collaborative (MIAC) began working with the NASA Goddard Center for Astrobiology in 2003 to develop curriculum materials for high school chemistry and Earth science classes based on astrobiology concepts. The Astrobiology in Secondary Classrooms (ASC) modules emphasize interdisciplinary connections in astronomy, biology, chemistry, geoscience, physics, mathematics, and ethics through hands-on activities that address national educational standards. Field-testing of the Astrobiology in Secondary Classrooms materials occurred over three years in eight U.S. locations, each with populations that are underrepresented in the career fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Analysis of the educational research upon the high school students participating in the ASC project showed statistically significant increases in students' perceived knowledge and science reasoning. The curriculum is in its final stages, preparing for review to become a NASA educational product.

  6. The NASA Astrobiology Institute: early history and organization

    Science.gov (United States)

    Blumberg, Baruch S.

    2003-01-01

    The NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) was established as a means to advance the field of astrobiology by providing a multidisciplinary, multi-institution, science-directed program, executed by universities, research institutes, and NASA and other government laboratories. The scientific community and NASA defined the science content at several workshops as summarized in the NASA Astrobiology Roadmap. Teams were chosen nationwide, following the recommendations of external review groups, and the research program began in 1998. There are now 16 national Teams and five international affiliated and associated astrobiology institutions. The NAI has attracted an outstanding group of scientific groups and individuals. The Institute facilitates the involvement of the scientists in its scientific and management vision. Its goal is to support basic research and allow the scientists the freedom to select their projects and alter them as indicated by new research. Additional missions include the education of the public, the involvement of students who will be the astrobiologists of future generations, and the development of a culture of collaboration in NAI, a "virtual institute," spread across many sites nationally and internationally.

  7. Philosophy of astrobiology: some recent developments

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kolb, Vera M.

    2015-09-01

    We present some recent developments in philosophy of astrobiology which illustrate usefulness of philosophy to astrobiology. We cover applications of Aristotelian views to definition of life, of Priest's dialetheism to the question if viruses are alive, and various thought experiments in regard to these and other astrobiology issues. Thought experiments about the survival of life in the Solar system and about the role of viruses at the beginning and towards the end of life are also described.

  8. Sixth Annual NASA Ames Space Science and Astrobiology Jamboree

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hollingsworth, Jeffery; Howell, Steve; Fonda, Mark; Dateo, Chris; Martinez, Christine M.

    2018-01-01

    Welcome to the Sixth Annual NASA Ames Research Center, Space Science and Astrobiology Jamboree at NASA Ames Research Center (ARC). The Space Science and Astrobiology Division consists of over 60 Civil Servants, with more than 120 Cooperative Agreement Research Scientists, Post-Doctoral Fellows, Science Support Contractors, Visiting Scientists, and many other Research Associates. Within the Division there is engagement in scientific investigations over a breadth of disciplines including Astrobiology, Astrophysics, Exobiology, Exoplanets, Planetary Systems Science, and many more. The Division's personnel support NASA spacecraft missions (current and planned), including SOFIA, K2, MSL, New Horizons, JWST, WFIRST, and others. Our top-notch science research staff is spread amongst three branches in five buildings at ARC. Naturally, it can thus be difficult to remain abreast of what fellow scientific researchers pursue actively, and then what may present and/or offer regarding inter-Branch, intra-Division future collaborative efforts. In organizing this annual jamboree, the goals are to offer a wholesome, one-venue opportunity to sense the active scientific research and spacecraft mission involvement within the Division; and to facilitate communication and collaboration amongst our research scientists. Annually, the Division honors one senior research scientist with a Pollack Lecture, and one early career research scientist with an Outstanding Early Career Space Scientist Lecture. For the Pollack Lecture, the honor is bestowed upon a senior researcher who has made significant contributions within any area of research aligned with space science and/or astrobiology. This year we are pleased to honor Linda Jahnke. With the Early Career Lecture, the honor is bestowed upon an early-career researcher who has substantially demonstrated great promise for significant contributions within space science, astrobiology, and/or, in support of spacecraft missions addressing such

  9. Arsenic, Anaerobes, and Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Stolz, J. F.; Oremland, R. S.; Switzer Blum, J.; Hoeft, S. E.; Baesman, S. M.; Bennett, S.; Miller, L. G.; Kulp, T. R.; Saltikov, C.

    2013-12-01

    Arsenic is an element best known for its highly poisonous nature, so it is not something one would associate with being a well-spring for life. Yet discoveries made over the past two decades have delineated that not only are some microbes resistant to arsenic, but that this element's primary redox states can be exploited to conserve energy and support prokaryotic growth ('arsenotrophy') in the absence of oxygen. Hence, arsenite [As(III)] can serve as an electron donor for chemo- or photo-autotrophy while arsenate [As(V)] will serve as an electron acceptor for chemo-heterotrophs and chemo-autotrophs. The phylogenetic diversity of these microbes is broad, encompassing many individual species from diverse taxonomic groups in the Domain Bacteria, with fewer representatives in the Domain Archaea. Speculation with regard to the evolutionary origins of the key functional genes in anaerobic arsenic transformations (arrA and arxA) and aerobic oxidation (aioB) has led to a disputation as to which gene and function is the most ancient and whether arsenic metabolism extended back into the Archaean. Regardless of its origin, robust arsenic metabolism has been documented in extreme environments that are rich in their arsenic content, such as hot springs and especially hypersaline soda lakes associated with volcanic regions. Searles Lake, CA is an extreme, salt-saturated end member where vigorous arsenic metabolism occurs, but there is no detectable sulfate-reduction or methanogenesis. The latter processes are too weak bio-energetically to survive as compared with arsenotrophy, and are also highly sensitive to the abundance of borate ions present in these locales. These observations have implications with respect to the search for microbial life elsewhere in the Solar System where volcanic-like processes have been operative. Hence, because of the likelihood of encountering dense brines in the regolith of Mars (formed by evapo-concentration) or beneath the ice layers of Europa

  10. Multidisciplinary integrated field campaign to an acidic Martian Earth analogue with astrobiological interest: Rio Tinto

    Czech Academy of Sciences Publication Activity Database

    Gómez, F.; Walter, N.; Amils, R.; Rull, F.; Klingelhöfer, G.; Kvíderová, Jana; Sarrazin, P.; Foing, B.; Behar, A.; Fleischer, I.; Parro, V.; Garcia-Villadangos, M.; Blake, D.; Martin-Ramos, J. D.; Direito, S.; Mahapatra, P.; Stam, C.; Venkateswaran, K.; Voytek, M.

    2011-01-01

    Roč. 10, č. 3 (2011), 291-305 ISSN 1473-5504 Institutional research plan: CEZ:AV0Z60050516 Keywords : astrobiology * extreme environments * Earth analogue Subject RIV: EF - Botanics Impact factor: 1.723, year: 2011

  11. An Astrobiological View on Sustainable Life

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Takeshi Naganuma

    2009-10-01

    Full Text Available Life on a global biosphere basis is substantiated in the form of organics and organisms, and defined as the intermediate forms (briefly expressed as CH2O hovering between the reduced (CH4, methane and (CO2, carbon dioxide ends, different from the classical definition of life as a complex organization maintaining ordered structure and information. Both definitions consider sustenance of life meant as protection of life against chaos through an input of external energy. The CH2O-life connection is maintained as long as the supply of H and O lasts, which is in turn are provided by the splitting of the water molecule H2O. Water is split by electricity, as well-known from school-level experiments, and by solar radiation and geothermal heat on a global scale. In other words, the Sun’s radiation and the Earth’s heat as well as radioactivity split water to supply H and O for continued existence of life on the Earth. These photochemical, radiochemical and geothermal processes have influences on the evolution and current composition of the Earth’s atmosphere, compared with those of Venus and Mars, and influences on the planetary climatology. This view of life may be applicable to the “search-for-life in space” and to sustainability assessment of astrobiological habitats.

  12. An Astrobiological View on Sustainable Life

    Science.gov (United States)

    Naganuma, Takeshi

    2009-10-01

    Life on a global biosphere basis is substantiated in the form of organics and organisms, and defined as the intermediate forms (briefly expressed as CH2O) hovering between the reduced (CH4, methane) and (CO2, carbon dioxide) ends, different from the classical definition of life as a complex organization maintaining ordered structure and information. Both definitions consider sustenance of life meant as protection of life against chaos through an input of external energy. The CH2O-life connection is maintained as long as the supply of H and O lasts, which is in turn are provided by the splitting of the water molecule H2O. Water is split by electricity, as well-known from school-level experiments, and by solar radiation and geothermal heat on a global scale. In other words, the Sun's radiation and the Earth's heat as well as radioactivity split water to supply H and O for continued existence of life on the Earth. These photochemical, radiochemical and geothermal processes have influences on the evolution and current composition of the Earth's atmosphere, compared with those of Venus and Mars, and influences on the planetary climatology. This view of life may be applicable to the "search-for-life in space" and to sustainability assessment of astrobiological habitats.

  13. A half-century of terrestrial analog studies: From craters on the Moon to searching for life on Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Léveillé, Richard

    2010-03-01

    Terrestrial analogs to the Moon and Mars have been used to advance knowledge in planetary science for over a half-century. They are useful in studies of comparative geology of the terrestrial planets and rocky moons, in astronaut training and testing of exploration technologies, and in developing hypotheses and exploration strategies in astrobiology. In fact, the use of terrestrial analogs can be traced back to the origins of comparative geology and astrobiology, and to the early phases of the Apollo astronaut program. Terrestrial analog studies feature prominently throughout the history of both NASA and the USGS' Astrogeology Research Program. In light of current international plans for a return missions to the Moon, and eventually to send sample return and manned missions to Mars, as well as the recent creation of various analog research and development programs, this historical perspective is timely.

  14. Seeking Signs of Life on Mars: The Importance of Sedimentary Suites as Part of Mars Sample Return

    Science.gov (United States)

    iMOST Team; Mangold, N.; McLennan, S. M.; Czaja, A. D.; Ori, G. G.; Tosca, N. J.; Altieri, F.; Amelin, Y.; Ammannito, E.; Anand, M.; Beaty, D. W.; Benning, L. G.; Bishop, J. L.; Borg, L. E.; Boucher, D.; Brucato, J. R.; Busemann, H.; Campbell, K. A.; Carrier, B. L.; Debaille, V.; Des Marais, D. J.; Dixon, M.; Ehlmann, B. L.; Farmer, J. D.; Fernandez-Remolar, D. C.; Fogarty, J.; Glavin, D. P.; Goreva, Y. S.; Grady, M. M.; Hallis, L. J.; Harrington, A. D.; Hausrath, E. M.; Herd, C. D. K.; Horgan, B.; Humayun, M.; Kleine, T.; Kleinhenz, J.; Mackelprang, R.; Mayhew, L. E.; McCubbin, F. M.; McCoy, J. T.; McSween, H. Y.; Moser, D. E.; Moynier, F.; Mustard, J. F.; Niles, P. B.; Raulin, F.; Rettberg, P.; Rucker, M. A.; Schmitz, N.; Sefton-Nash, E.; Sephton, M. A.; Shaheen, R.; Shuster, D. L.; Siljestrom, S.; Smith, C. L.; Spry, J. A.; Steele, A.; Swindle, T. D.; ten Kate, I. L.; Usui, T.; Van Kranendonk, M. J.; Wadhwa, M.; Weiss, B. P.; Werner, S. C.; Westall, F.; Wheeler, R. M.; Zipfel, J.; Zorzano, M. P.

    2018-04-01

    Sedimentary, and especially lacustrine, depositional environments are high-priority geological/astrobiological settings for Mars Sample Return. We review the detailed investigations, measurements, and sample types required to evaluate such settings.

  15. Simulation of Martian EVA at the Mars Society Arctic Research Station

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pletser, V.; Zubrin, R.; Quinn, K.

    The Mars Society has established a Mars Arctic Research Station (M.A.R.S.) on Devon Island, North of Canada, in the middle of the Haughton crater formed by the impact of a large meteorite several million years ago. The site was selected for its similarities with the surface of the Mars planet. During the Summer 2001, the MARS Flashline Research Station supported an extended international simulation campaign of human Mars exploration operations. Six rotations of six person crews spent up to ten days each at the MARS Flashline Research Station. International crews, of mixed gender and professional qualifications, conducted various tasks as a Martian crew would do and performed scientific experiments in several fields (Geophysics, Biology, Psychology). One of the goals of this simulation campaign was to assess the operational and technical feasibility of sustaining a crew in an autonomous habitat, conducting a field scientific research program. Operations were conducted as they would be during a Martian mission, including Extra-Vehicular Activities (EVA) with specially designed unpressurized suits. The second rotation crew conducted seven simulated EVAs for a total of 17 hours, including motorized EVAs with All Terrain Vehicles, to perform field scientific experiments in Biology and Geophysics. Some EVAs were highly successful. For some others, several problems were encountered related to hardware technical failures and to bad weather conditions. The paper will present the experiment programme conducted at the Mars Flashline Research Station, the problems encountered and the lessons learned from an EVA operational point of view. Suggestions to improve foreseen Martian EVA operations will be discussed.

  16. Vanguard: A New Science Mission For Experimental Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ellery, A.; Wynn-Williams, D.; Edwards, H.; Dickensheets, D.; Welch, C.; Curley, A.

    As an alternative to technically and financially problemat ic sample return missions, a rover-mounted laser Raman spectrometer sensitive to biomolecules and their mineral substrata is a promising alternative in the search for evidence of former life on Mars. We presented a new remote in situ analysis package being designed for experimental astrobiology on terrestrial-type planetary surfaces. The science is based on the hypothesis that if life arose on Mars, the selective pressure of solar radiation would have led to the evolution of pigmented systems to harness the energy of sunlight and to protect cells from concurrent UV stress. Microbial communities would have therefore become stratified by the light gradient, and our remote system would penetrate the near-subsurface profile in a vertical transect of horizontal strata in ancient sediments (such as palaeolake beds). The system will include an extensive array of robotic support to translocate and deploy a Raman spectrometer detectors beneath the surface of Mars ­ it will comprise of a base station lander to support communications, a robotic micro-rover to permit well- separated triplicate profiles made by three ground-penetrating moles mounted in a vertical configuration. Each mole will deploy a tether carrying fibre optic cables coupling the Raman spectrometer onboard the rover and the side-scanning sensor head on the mole. The complete system has been named Vanguard, and it represents a close collaboration between a space robotics engineer (Ellery), an astrobiologist (Wynn-Williams), a molecular spectroscopist (Edwards), an opto-electronic technologist (Dickensheets), a spacecraft engineer (Welch) and a robotic vision specialist (Curley). The autonomy requirement for the Vanguard instrument requires that significant scientific competence is imparted to the instrument through an expert system to ensure that quick-look analysis is performed onboard in real-time as the mole penetrates beneath the surface. Onboard

  17. RESEARCH ON THE DIGITAL SIMULATION FOR THE WHOLE PROCESS OF MARS EXPLORATION

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    L. Lyu

    2018-05-01

    Full Text Available China has paid considerable attention to space exploration and made great strides in the field. The first Chinese Mars Exploration Mission will be carried out in 2020. Digital simulation has been proved to be an effective and efficient means for planning and deduction in many fields. Thus, it was introduced for the Mars exploration in this paper and key technologies was researched above three aspects. First of all, complicated time-space benchmark was combed to support the interplanetary simulation. Secondly, the multi-resolution pyramid model and indexing strategy were adopted to preprocess the geographical environment data, which ensured the efficiency of data loading, browsing, and querying. Then, the activity objects were abstracted and modelled based on four aspects, including property, ephemeris, geometry, and behavior. Therefore, a digital simulation system, called Sino-Mars, was developed. The architecture of Sino- Mars consists of five layers, including data collection, data processing, scenario modelling, visualization and application layer. Using the Chinese Mars Exploration Mission slated for 2020 as an example, we demonstrated the capabilities of Sino-Mars for data integration, visualization, process deduction, and auxiliary analysis.

  18. Mars Public Mapping Project: Public Participation in Science Research; Providing Opportunities for Kids of All Ages

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rogers, L. D.; Valderrama Graff, P.; Bandfield, J. L.; Christensen, P. R.; Klug, S. L.; Deva, B.; Capages, C.

    2007-12-01

    The Mars Public Mapping Project is a web-based education and public outreach tool developed by the Mars Space Flight Facility at Arizona State University. This tool allows the general public to identify and map geologic features on Mars, utilizing Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) visible images, allowing public participation in authentic scientific research. In addition, participants are able to rate each image (based on a 1 to 5 star scale) to help build a catalog of some of the more appealing and interesting martian surface features. Once participants have identified observable features in an image, they are able to view a map of the global distribution of the many geologic features they just identified. This automatic feedback, through a global distribution map, allows participants to see how their answers compare to the answers of other participants. Participants check boxes "yes, no, or not sure" for each feature that is listed on the Mars Public Mapping Project web page, including surface geologic features such as gullies, sand dunes, dust devil tracks, wind streaks, lava flows, several types of craters, and layers. Each type of feature has a quick and easily accessible description and example image. When a participant moves their mouse over each example thumbnail image, a window pops up with a picture and a description of the feature. This provides a form of "on the job training" for the participants that can vary with their background level. For users who are more comfortable with Mars geology, there is also an advanced feature identification section accessible by a drop down menu. This includes additional features that may be identified, such as streamlined islands, valley networks, chaotic terrain, yardangs, and dark slope streaks. The Mars Public Mapping Project achieves several goals: 1) It engages the public in a manner that encourages active participation in scientific research and learning about geologic features and processes. 2) It helps to

  19. Life in Ice: Implications to Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hoover, Richard B.

    2009-01-01

    During the 2008 Tawani International Expedition Schirmacher Oasis/Lake Untersee Antarctica Expedition, living and instantly motile bacteria were found in freshly thawed meltwater from ice of the Schirmacher Oasis Lakes, the Anuchin Glacier ice and samples of the that perennial ice sheet above Lake Untersee. This phenomenon of living bacteria encased in ice had previously been observed in the 32,000 year old ice of the Fox Tunnel. The bacteria found in this ice included the strain FTR1T which was isolated and published as valid new species (Carnobacterium pleistocenium) the first validly published living Pleistocene organism still alive today. Living bacteria were also extracted from ancient ice cores from Vostok, Antarctica. The discovery that many strains of bacteria are able to survive and remain alive while frozen in ice sheets for long periods of time may have direct relevance to Astrobiology. The abundance of viable bacteria in the ice sheets of Antarctica suggests that the presence of live bacteria in ice is common, rather than an isolated phenomenon. This paper will discuss the results of recent studies at NSSTC of bacteria cryopreserved in ice. This paper advances the hypothesis that cryopreserved cells, and perhaps even viable bacterial cells, may exist today--frozen in the water-ice of lunar craters, the Polar Caps or craters of Mars; or in the permafrost of Mars; ice and rocks of comets or water bearing asteroids; or in the frozen crusts of the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn. The existence of bacterial life in ice suggests that it may not be necessary to drill through a thick ice crust to reach liquid water seas deep beneath the icy crusts of Europa, Ganymede and Enceladus. The presence of viable bacteria in the ice of the Earth s Polar Caps suggests that the possibility that cryo-panspermia (i.e., the trans-planetary transfer of microbial life by impact ejection/spallation of bacteria-rich polar ice masses) deserves serious consideration and study as a

  20. The O/OREOS Mission - Astrobiology in Low Earth Orbit. [Astrobiology in Low Earth Orbit

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ehrenfreund, P.; Ricco, A. J.; Squires, D.; Kitts, C.; Agasid, E.; Bramall, N.; Bryson, K.; Chittenden, J.; Conley, C.; Cook, A.; hide

    2014-01-01

    The O/OREOS (Organism/Organic Exposure to Orbital Stresses) nanosatellite is the first science demonstration spacecraft and flight mission of the NASA Astrobiology Small- Payloads Program (ASP). O/OREOS was launched successfully on November 19, 2010, to a high-inclination (72 deg), 650-km Earth orbit aboard a US Air Force Minotaur IV rocket from Kodiak, Alaska. O/OREOS consists of 3 conjoined cubesat (each 1000 cu cm) modules: (i) a control bus; (ii) the Space Environment Survivability of Living Organisms (SESLO) experiment; and (iii) the Space Environment Viability of Organics (SEVO) experiment. Among the innovative aspects of the O/OREOS mission are a real-time analysis of the photostability of organics and biomarkers and the collection of data on the survival and metabolic activity for microorganisms at 3 times during the 6-month mission. We report on the spacecraft characteristics, payload capabilities, and present operational phase and flight data from the O/OREOS mission. The science and technology rationale of O/OREOS supports NASA0s scientific exploration program by investigating the local space environment as well as space biology relevant to Moon and Mars missions. It also serves as a precursor for experiments on small satellites, the International Space Station (ISS), future free-flyers and lunar surface exposure facilities.

  1. Astrobiology and the Possibility of Life on Earth and Elsewhere…

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cottin, Hervé; Kotler, Julia Michelle; Bartik, Kristin; Cleaves, H. James; Cockell, Charles S.; de Vera, Jean-Pierre P.; Ehrenfreund, Pascale; Leuko, Stefan; Ten Kate, Inge Loes; Martins, Zita; Pascal, Robert; Quinn, Richard; Rettberg, Petra; Westall, Frances

    2017-07-01

    Astrobiology is an interdisciplinary scientific field not only focused on the search of extraterrestrial life, but also on deciphering the key environmental parameters that have enabled the emergence of life on Earth. Understanding these physical and chemical parameters is fundamental knowledge necessary not only for discovering life or signs of life on other planets, but also for understanding our own terrestrial environment. Therefore, astrobiology pushes us to combine different perspectives such as the conditions on the primitive Earth, the physicochemical limits of life, exploration of habitable environments in the Solar System, and the search for signatures of life in exoplanets. Chemists, biologists, geologists, planetologists and astrophysicists are contributing extensively to this interdisciplinary research field. From 2011 to 2014, the European Space Agency (ESA) had the initiative to gather a Topical Team of interdisciplinary scientists focused on astrobiology to review the profound transformations in the field that have occurred since the beginning of the new century. The present paper is an interdisciplinary review of current research in astrobiology, covering the major advances and main outlooks in the field. The following subjects will be reviewed and most recent discoveries will be highlighted: the new understanding of planetary system formation including the specificity of the Earth among the diversity of planets, the origin of water on Earth and its unique combined properties among solvents for the emergence of life, the idea that the Earth could have been habitable during the Hadean Era, the inventory of endogenous and exogenous sources of organic matter and new concepts about how chemistry could evolve towards biological molecules and biological systems. In addition, many new findings show the remarkable potential life has for adaptation and survival in extreme environments. All those results from different fields of science are guiding our

  2. Critical issues in the history, philosophy, and sociology of astrobiology.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Dick, Steven J

    2012-10-01

    Fifty years after serious scientific research began in the field of exobiology, and forty years after serious historical research began on the subject of extraterrestrial life, this paper identifies and examines some of the most important issues in the history, philosophy, and sociology of what is today known as astrobiology. As in the philosophy of science in general, and in the philosophies of particular sciences, critical issues in the philosophy and sociology of astrobiology are both stimulated and illuminated by history. Among those issues are (1) epistemological issues such as the status of astrobiology as a science, the problematic nature of evidence and inference, and the limits of science; (2) metaphysical/scientific issues, including the question of defining the fundamental concepts of life, mind, intelligence, and culture in a universal context; the role of contingency and necessity in the origin of these fundamental phenomena; and whether or not the universe is in some sense fine-tuned for life and perhaps biocentric; (3) societal issues such as the theological, ethical, and worldview impacts of the discovery of microbial or intelligent life; and the question of whether the search for extraterrestrial life should be pursued at all, and with what precautions; and (4) issues related to the sociology of scientific knowledge, including the diverse attitudes and assumptions of different scientific communities and different cultures to the problem of life beyond Earth, the public "will to believe," and the formation of the discipline of astrobiology. All these overlapping issues are framed by the concept of cosmic evolution-the 13.7 billion year Master Narrative of the Universe-which may result in a physical, biological, or postbiological universe and determine the long-term destiny of humanity.

  3. Astrobiology: guidelines and future missions plan for the international community

    Science.gov (United States)

    French, L.; Miller, D.

    The search for extra-terrestrial life has been going on ever since humans realized there was more to the Universe than just the Earth. These quests have taken many forms including, but not limited to: the quest for understanding the biological origins of life on Earth; the deployment of robotic probes to other planets to look for microbial life; the analysis of meteorites for chemical and fossil remnants of extra - terrestrial life; and the search of the radio spectrum for signs of extra-solar intelligence. These searches so far have yielded hints, but no unambiguous proof of life with origins from off Earth. The emerging field of astrobiology studies the origin, distribution, and future of life in the Universe. Technical advances and new, though not conclusive, evidence of extinct microbial life on Mars have created a new enthusiasm for astrobiology in many nations. However, the next steps to take are not clear, and should a positive result be returned, the follow-on missions are yet to be defined. This paper reports on the results of an eight-week study by the students of the International Space University during the summer of 2002. The study created a source book that can be used by mission designers and policy makers to chart the next steps in astrobiology. In particular, the study addresses the following questions:1.What is the full set of dimensions along which we can search forextra-terrestrial life?2.What activities are currently underway by the internationalcommunity along each of these dimensions?3.What are the most effective next steps that can be taken by theinternational space community in order to further this search (from a policy,sociological and mission point of view)?4.What are the proper steps for eliminating possible contaminationof the Earth's biosphere?5.What are the issues with planetary quarantine with regards tounwanted contamination of other biospheres with terrestrial organisms? Integrating all the considerations affecting the search for

  4. Micro-XRF : Elemental Analysis for In Situ Geology and Astrobiology Exploration

    Science.gov (United States)

    Allwood, Abigail; Hodyss, Robert; Wade, Lawrence

    2012-01-01

    The ability to make close-up measurements of rock chemistry is one of the most fundamental tools for astrobiological exploration of Mars and other rocky bodies of the solar system. When conducting surface-based exploration, lithochemical measurements provide critical data that enable interpretation of the local geology, which in turn is vital for determining habitability and searching for evidence of life. The value of lithochemical measurements for geological interpretations has been repeatedly demonstrated with virtually every landed Mars mission over the past four decades.

  5. ILEWG EuroMoonMars Research, Technology, and Field Simulation Campaigns

    Science.gov (United States)

    Foing, B. H.; Lillo, A.; Evellin, P.; Kołodziejczyk, A.; Heinicke, C.; Harasymczuk, M.; Authier, L.; Blanc, A.; Chahla, C.; Tomic, A.; Mirino, M.; Schlacht, I.; Hettrich, S.; Pacher, T.; Maller, L.; Decadi, A.; Villa-Massone, J.; Preusterink, J.; Neklesa, A.; Barzilay, A.; Volkova, T.

    2017-10-01

    ILEWG developed since 2008, "EuroMoonMars" pilot research with a Robotic Test Bench (ExoGeoLab) and a Mobile Laboratory Habitat (ExoHab) at ESTEC. Field campaigns were e.g. in ESTEC, EAC, at Utah MDRS, Eifel, and LunAres base at Pila Poland in 2017.

  6. What Counts in After School? Findings from the Massachusetts Afterschool Research Study (MARS

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Beth M. Miller

    2007-03-01

    Full Text Available This article discusses the Massachusetts Afterschool Research Study (MARS. Conducted during 2003-2005, MARS took an in-depth look at program structure and quality in 78 varied programs across Massachusetts, using data sources that included interviews with program directors, afterschool program site observations, school district student data, attendance data, and surveys with afterschool program staff, day school teachers, and afterschool program youth. The MARS study offers many useful insights into what afterschool programs look like, approaches to providing high quality experiences for youth, and the connections between high quality and improved outcomes for the young people attending these programs. The results may be useful to programs, policy makers, and others in the field by deepening our understanding of how youth participation leads to a variety of youth outcomes.

  7. 3rd Annual NASA Ames Space Science and Astrobiology Jamboree

    Science.gov (United States)

    Dotson, Jessie

    2015-01-01

    The Space Science and Astrobiology Division at NASA Ames Research Center consists of over 50 civil servants and more than 110 contractors, co-­-ops, post-­-docs and associates. Researchers in the division are pursuing investigations in a variety of fields including exoplanets, planetary science, astrobiology and astrophysics. In addition, division personnel support a wide variety of NASA missions including (but not limited to) Kepler, SOFIA, LADEE, JWST, and New Horizons. With such a wide variety of interesting research going on, distributed among three branches in at least 5 different buildings, it can be difficult to stay abreast of what one's fellow researchers are doing. Our goal in organizing this symposium is to facilitate communication and collaboration among the scientists within the division, and to give center management and other ARC researchers and engineers an opportunity to see what scientific research and science mission work is being done in the division. We are also continuing the tradition within the Space Science and Astrobiology Division to honor one senior and one early career scientist with the Pollack Lecture and the Early Career Lecture, respectively. With the Pollack Lecture, our intent is to select a senior researcher who has made significant contributions to any area of research within the space sciences, and we are pleased to honor Dr. William Borucki this year. With the Early Career Lecture, our intent is to select a young researcher within the division who, by their published scientific papers, shows great promise for the future in any area of space science research, and we are pleased to honor Dr. Melinda Kahre this year

  8. Mars exploration program analysis group goal one: determine if life ever arose on Mars.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hoehler, Tori M; Westall, Frances

    2010-11-01

    The Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG) maintains a standing document that articulates scientific community goals, objectives, and priorities for mission-enabled Mars science. Each of the goals articulated within the document is periodically revisited and updated. The astrobiology-related Goal One, "Determine if life ever arose on Mars," has recently undergone such revision. The finalized revision, which appears in the version of the MEPAG Goals Document posted on September 24, 2010, is presented here.

  9. Heterocyclic anions of astrobiological interest

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Cole, Callie A.; Demarais, Nicholas J.; Bierbaum, Veronica M.; Yang, Zhibo; Snow, Theodore P.

    2013-01-01

    As more complex organic molecules are detected in the interstellar medium, the importance of heterocyclic molecules to astrobiology and the origin of life has become evident. 2-Aminothiazole and 2-aminooxazole have recently been suggested as important nucleotide precursors, highlighting azoles as potential prebiotic molecules. This study explores the gas-phase chemistry of three deprotonated azoles: oxazole, thiazole, and isothiazole. For the first time, their gas-phase acidities are experimentally determined with bracketing and H/D exchange techniques, and their reactivity is characterized with several detected interstellar neutral molecules (N 2 O, O 2 , CO, OCS, CO 2 , and SO 2 ) and other reactive species (CS 2 , CH 3 Cl, (CH 3 ) 3 CCl, and (CH 3 ) 3 CBr). Rate constants and branching fractions for these reactions are experimentally measured using a modified commercial ion trap mass spectrometer whose kinetic data are in good accord with those of a flowing afterglow apparatus reported here. Last, we have examined the fragmentation patterns of these deprotonated azoles to elucidate their destruction mechanisms in high-energy environments. All experimental data are supported and complemented by electronic structure calculations at the B3LYP/6-311++G(d,p) and MP2(full)/aug-cc-pVDZ levels of theory.

  10. Heterocyclic anions of astrobiological interest

    Energy Technology Data Exchange (ETDEWEB)

    Cole, Callie A.; Demarais, Nicholas J.; Bierbaum, Veronica M. [Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, 215 UCB, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309 (United States); Yang, Zhibo [Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK 73019 (United States); Snow, Theodore P., E-mail: Callie.Cole@colorado.edu, E-mail: Nicholas.Demarais@colorado.edu, E-mail: Veronica.Bierbaum@colorado.edu, E-mail: Zhibo.Yang@ou.edu, E-mail: Theodore.Snow@colorado.edu [Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences, 391 UCB, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309 (United States)

    2013-12-20

    As more complex organic molecules are detected in the interstellar medium, the importance of heterocyclic molecules to astrobiology and the origin of life has become evident. 2-Aminothiazole and 2-aminooxazole have recently been suggested as important nucleotide precursors, highlighting azoles as potential prebiotic molecules. This study explores the gas-phase chemistry of three deprotonated azoles: oxazole, thiazole, and isothiazole. For the first time, their gas-phase acidities are experimentally determined with bracketing and H/D exchange techniques, and their reactivity is characterized with several detected interstellar neutral molecules (N{sub 2}O, O{sub 2}, CO, OCS, CO{sub 2}, and SO{sub 2}) and other reactive species (CS{sub 2}, CH{sub 3}Cl, (CH{sub 3}){sub 3}CCl, and (CH{sub 3}){sub 3}CBr). Rate constants and branching fractions for these reactions are experimentally measured using a modified commercial ion trap mass spectrometer whose kinetic data are in good accord with those of a flowing afterglow apparatus reported here. Last, we have examined the fragmentation patterns of these deprotonated azoles to elucidate their destruction mechanisms in high-energy environments. All experimental data are supported and complemented by electronic structure calculations at the B3LYP/6-311++G(d,p) and MP2(full)/aug-cc-pVDZ levels of theory.

  11. Proposal on application of Russian technical facilities for International Mars Research Program for 2009 2015

    Science.gov (United States)

    Polishchuk, Georgy; Pichkhadze, Konstantin; Vorontsov, Victor; Pavel, Kazmerchuk

    2006-07-01

    Recently International Mars Research Program is widely discussed. Well-known initiative of President of the USA, recent progress of American and European scientists and engineers in implementation of “Mars Odyssey” and “Mars-Express” projects and Russian proposals on cooperation and participation in “Phobos Sample Return” mission declare every intention to join efforts in the ambitious Martian Program realization. The final goal of the program for nearly 15 20 years is landing of a man on the Martian surface. Before this event happens another critical stage will be Martian soil sample return. Within the next 10 years, apparently, a major task will be scale research by means of various types of technical facilities. A crucial issue for this research will be creation of research station network which would allow collecting information about planetary conditions at far-remote points. By this time within the frame of “Phobos Sample Return Program” to be launched in 2009 it is planned to deliver some meteorological mini-landers developed by the Russian and Finnish specialists on the Martian surface. From this point view it is also interesting to use balloons capable to cover considerable distance. Such proposals have been made by Russian side for “Scout” mission. European “Aurora” program also anticipates application of wide range of technical means to explore the Martian atmosphere and surface including inflatable devices. Thus, for the International Mars Exploration Program, it seems to be very prospective to use apart from launch vehicles, upper stages etc. such technical means as mini-stations, Mars rovers, penetrators, balloons, etc.

  12. Engineers are from Mars and educators are from Venus: Research ...

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    ... are from Venus: Research supervision in engineering and educational collaboration. ... The projects usually entailed an interdisciplinary thesis that addressed an ... in chemical engineering, the work-readiness of civil engineering students, ...

  13. Galactic Habitable Zone and Astrobiological Complexity

    Science.gov (United States)

    Vukotic, B.

    2012-12-01

    This is a short thesis description and for the sake of brevity most things are left out. For more details, those interested are further directed to the thesis related papers in this article reference list. Thesis itself is available at the University of Belgrade library "Svetozar Markovic" (Serbian version only). In this thesis we study the astrobiological history of the Galactic habitable zone through the means of numerical modeling. First group of simulations are unidimensional (time-axis) toy models examine the influence of global regulation mechanisms (gamma-ray bursts and supernovae) on temporal evolution of Galactic astrobiological complexity. It is shown that under the assumption of global regulation classical anti SETI arguments can be undermined. Second group of simulations are more complex bidimensional probabilistic cellular automata models of the Galactic thin disk. They confirm the findings of the toy models and give some insights into the spatial clustering of astrobiological complexity. As a new emerging multidisciplinary science the basic concepts of astrobiology are poorly understood and although all the simulations present here do not include some basic physics (such as Galactic kinematics and dynamics), the input parameters are somewhat arbitrary and could use a future refinement (such as the boundaries of the Galactic habitable zone). This is the cause for low weight and high uncertainty in the output results of the simulations. However, the probabilistic cellular automata has shown as a highly adaptable modeling platform that can simulate various class of astrobiological models with great ease.

  14. Walk Through Solar System Times: An Exhibit with an Astrobiology Emphasis

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cheung, C. Y.

    2012-01-01

    In this astrobiology outreach project, we attempt to present the research of the Goddard Center for Astrobiology (GCA) in the context of the history of the Solar System. GCA research emphasizes the origin and formation of complex pre-biotic organic materials in extraterrestrial environments and explores whether the delivery of these primordial materials and water to the early Earth enabled the emergence and evolution of life. The content expounds on areas that are usually not touched upon in a timeline of the Earth's formation. The exhibit addresses the questions: How did our solar system form? How is the formation of our solar systems similar or different from others? How did the organic molecules we observe in space get to the Earth? What conditions are most suitable for life? We will address the issues and challenges of designing the exhibit and of explaining advanced astrobiology research topics to the public.

  15. Data management in astrobiology: challenges and opportunities for an interdisciplinary community.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Aydinoglu, Arsev Umur; Suomela, Todd; Malone, Jim

    2014-06-01

    Data management and sharing are growing concerns for scientists and funding organizations throughout the world. Funding organizations are implementing requirements for data management plans, while scientists are establishing new infrastructures for data sharing. One of the difficulties is sharing data among a diverse set of research disciplines. Astrobiology is a unique community of researchers, containing over 110 different disciplines. The current study reports the results of a survey of data management practices among scientists involved in the astrobiology community and the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) in particular. The survey was administered over a 2-month period in the first half of 2013. Fifteen percent of the NAI community responded (n=114), and additional (n=80) responses were collected from members of an astrobiology Listserv. The results of the survey show that the astrobiology community shares many of the same concerns for data sharing as other groups. The benefits of data sharing are acknowledged by many respondents, but barriers to data sharing remain, including lack of acknowledgement, citation, time, and institutional rewards. Overcoming technical, institutional, and social barriers to data sharing will be a challenge into the future.

  16. "Where On Mars?": An Open Planetary Mapping Platform for Researchers, Educators, and the General Public

    Science.gov (United States)

    Manaud, Nicolas; Carter, John; Boix, Oriol

    2016-10-01

    The "Where On Mars?" project is essentially the evolution of an existing outreach product developed in collaboration between ESA and CartoDB; an interactive map visualisation of the ESA's ExoMars Rover candidate landing sites (whereonmars.co). Planetary imagery data and maps are increasingly produced by the scientific community, and shared typically as images, in scientific publications, presentations or public outreach websites. However, this media lacks of interactivity and contextual information available for further exploration, making it difficult for any audience to relate one location-based information to another. We believe that interactive web maps are a powerful way of telling stories, engaging with and educating people who, over the last decade, have become familiar with tools such as Google Maps. A few planetary web maps exist but they are either too complex for non-experts, or are closed-systems that do not allows anyone to publish and share content. The long-term vision for the project is to provide researchers, communicators, educators and a worldwide public with an open planetary mapping and social platform enabling them to create, share, communicate and consume research-based content. We aim for this platform to become the reference website everyone will go to learn about Mars and other planets in our Solar System; just like people head to Google Maps to find their bearings or any location-based information. The driver is clearly to create for people an emotional connection with Mars. The short-term objectives for the project are (1) to produce and curate an open repository of basemaps, geospatial data sets, map visualisations, and story maps; (2) to develop a beautifully crafted and engaging interactive map of Mars. Based on user-generated content, the underlying framework should (3) make it easy to create and share additional interactive maps telling specific stories.

  17. Astrobiology at Arizona State University: An Overview of Accomplishments

    Science.gov (United States)

    Farmer, Jack

    2005-01-01

    During our five years as an NAI charter member, Arizona State University sponsored a broadly-based program of research and training in Astrobiology to address the origin, evolution and distribution of life in the Solar System. With such a large, diverse and active team, it is not possible in a reasonable space, to cover all details of progress made over the entire five years. The following paragraphs provide an overview update of the specific research areas pursued by the Arizona State University (ASU) Astrobiology team at the end of Year 5 and at the end of the 4 month and subsequent no cost month extensions. for a more detailed review, the reader is referred to the individual annual reports (and Executive Summaries) submitted to the NAI at the end of each of our five years of membership. Appended in electronic form is our complete publication record for all five years, plus a tabulation of undergraduates, graduate students and post-docs supported by our program during this time. The overarching theme of ASU s Astrobiology program was "Exploring the Living Universe: Studies of the Origin, Evolution and Distribution of Life in the Solar System". The NAi-funded research effort was organized under three basic sub- themes: 1. Origins of the Basic Building Blocks of Life. 2. Early Biosphere Evolution. and 3. Exploring for Life in the Solar System. These sub-theme areas were in turn, subdivided into Co-lead research modules. In the paragraphs that follow, accomplishments for individual research modules are briefly outlined, and the key participants presented in tabular form. As noted, publications for each module are appended in hard copy and digital formats, under the name(s) of lead co-Is.

  18. Future Mars geophysical observatories for understanding its internal structure, rotation, and evolution

    DEFF Research Database (Denmark)

    Dehant, Veronique; Banerdt, Bruce; Lognonné, Philippe

    2012-01-01

    of Mars, these measurements will provide important constraints for the astrobiology of Mars by helping to understand why Mars failed to sustain a magnetic field, by helping to understand the planet’s climate evolution, and by providing a limit for the energy available to the chemoautotrophic biosphere...

  19. Mineralogical, chemical, organic and microbial properties of subsurface soil cores from Mars Desert Research Station (Utah, USA): Phyllosilicate and sulfate analogues to Mars mission landing sites

    Science.gov (United States)

    Stoker, Carol R.; Clarke, Jonathan; Direito, Susana O. L.; Blake, David; Martin, Kevin R.; Zavaleta, Jhony; Foing, Bernard

    2011-07-01

    We collected and analysed soil cores from four geologic units surrounding Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) Utah, USA, including Mancos Shale, Dakota Sandstone, Morrison formation (Brushy Basin member) and Summerville formation. The area is an important geochemical and morphological analogue to terrains on Mars. Soils were analysed for mineralogy by a Terra X-ray diffractometer (XRD), a field version of the CheMin instrument on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission (2012 landing). Soluble ion chemistry, total organic content and identity and distribution of microbial populations were also determined. The Terra data reveal that Mancos and Morrison soils are rich in phyllosilicates similar to those observed on Mars from orbital measurements (montmorillonite, nontronite and illite). Evaporite minerals observed include gypsum, thenardite, polyhalite and calcite. Soil chemical analysis shows sulfate the dominant anion in all soils and SO4>>CO3, as on Mars. The cation pattern Na>Ca>Mg is seen in all soils except for the Summerville where Ca>Na. In all soils, SO4 correlates with Na, suggesting sodium sulfates are the dominant phase. Oxidizable organics are low in all soils and range from a high of 0.7% in the Mancos samples to undetectable at a detection limit of 0.1% in the Morrison soils. Minerals rich in chromium and vanadium were identified in Morrison soils that result from diagenetic replacement of organic compounds. Depositional environment, geologic history and mineralogy all affect the ability to preserve and detect organic compounds. Subsurface biosphere populations were revealed to contain organisms from all three domains (Archaea, Bacteria and Eukarya) with cell density between 3.0×106 and 1.8×107 cells ml-1 at the deepest depth. These measurements are analogous to data that could be obtained on future robotic or human Mars missions and results are relevant to the MSL mission that will investigate phyllosilicates on Mars.

  20. Mars for Earthlings: an analog approach to Mars in undergraduate education.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Chan, Marjorie; Kahmann-Robinson, Julia

    2014-01-01

    Mars for Earthlings (MFE) is a terrestrial Earth analog pedagogical approach to teaching undergraduate geology, planetary science, and astrobiology. MFE utilizes Earth analogs to teach Mars planetary concepts, with a foundational backbone in Earth science principles. The field of planetary science is rapidly changing with new technologies and higher-resolution data sets. Thus, it is increasingly important to understand geological concepts and processes for interpreting Mars data. MFE curriculum is topically driven to facilitate easy integration of content into new or existing courses. The Earth-Mars systems approach explores planetary origins, Mars missions, rocks and minerals, active driving forces/tectonics, surface sculpting processes, astrobiology, future explorations, and hot topics in an inquiry-driven environment. Curriculum leverages heavily upon multimedia resources, software programs such as Google Mars and JMARS, as well as NASA mission data such as THEMIS, HiRISE, CRISM, and rover images. Two years of MFE class evaluation data suggest that science literacy and general interest in Mars geology and astrobiology topics increased after participation in the MFE curriculum. Students also used newly developed skills to create a Mars mission team presentation. The MFE curriculum, learning modules, and resources are available online at http://serc.carleton.edu/marsforearthlings/index.html.

  1. Astrobiology as an Interdisciplinary Starting Point to Natural Sciences for High-potential Children

    Science.gov (United States)

    Leitner, J. J.; Firneis, M. G.; Hitzenberger, R.

    2013-09-01

    One of the corner stones of the Research Platform on ExoLife, University of Vienna, Austria is public outreach and education with respect to astrobiology, exoplanets, and planetary sciences. Since 2009 several initiatives have been started by the Research Platform to concentrate the interest of students in and outside the University onto natural sciences. Astrobiology as a very interdisciplinary scientific discipline with questions like "Are we alone in the Universe?," "How unique is Earth as a planet?" or "How did life originate?" will fascinate youngsters and junior scientists (see [1]).

  2. The biogeochemical iron cycle and astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Schröder, Christian; Köhler, Inga; Muller, Francois L. L.; Chumakov, Aleksandr I.; Kupenko, Ilya; Rüffer, Rudolf; Kappler, Andreas

    2016-12-01

    Biogeochemistry investigates chemical cycles which influence or are influenced by biological activity. Astrobiology studies the origin, evolution and distribution of life in the universe. The biogeochemical Fe cycle has controlled major nutrient cycles such as the C cycle throughout geological time. Iron sulfide minerals may have provided energy and surfaces for the first pioneer organisms on Earth. Banded iron formations document the evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis. To assess the potential habitability of planets other than Earth one looks for water, an energy source and a C source. On Mars, for example, Fe minerals have provided evidence for the past presence of liquid water on its surface and would provide a viable energy source. Here we present Mössbauer spectroscopy investigations of Fe and C cycle interactions in both ancient and modern environments. Experiments to simulate the diagenesis of banded iron formations indicate that the formation of ferrous minerals depends on the amount of biomass buried with ferric precursors rather than on the atmospheric composition at the time of deposition. Mössbauer spectra further reveal the mutual stabilisation of Fe-organic matter complexes against mineral transformation and decay of organic matter into CO2. This corresponds to observations of a `rusty carbon sink' in modern sediments. The stabilisation of Fe-organic matter complexes may also aid transport of particulate Fe in the water column while having an adverse effect on the bioavailability of Fe. In the modern oxic ocean, Fe is insoluble and particulate Fe represents an important source. Collecting that particulate Fe yields small sample sizes that would pose a challenge for conventional Mössbauer experiments. We demonstrate that the unique properties of the beam used in synchrotron-based Mössbauer applications can be utilized for studying such samples effectively. Reactive Fe species often occur in amorphous or nanoparticulate form in the environment and

  3. The biogeochemical iron cycle and astrobiology

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Schröder, Christian; Köhler, Inga; Muller, Francois L. L.; Chumakov, Aleksandr I.; Kupenko, Ilya; Rüffer, Rudolf; Kappler, Andreas

    2016-01-01

    Biogeochemistry investigates chemical cycles which influence or are influenced by biological activity. Astrobiology studies the origin, evolution and distribution of life in the universe. The biogeochemical Fe cycle has controlled major nutrient cycles such as the C cycle throughout geological time. Iron sulfide minerals may have provided energy and surfaces for the first pioneer organisms on Earth. Banded iron formations document the evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis. To assess the potential habitability of planets other than Earth one looks for water, an energy source and a C source. On Mars, for example, Fe minerals have provided evidence for the past presence of liquid water on its surface and would provide a viable energy source. Here we present Mössbauer spectroscopy investigations of Fe and C cycle interactions in both ancient and modern environments. Experiments to simulate the diagenesis of banded iron formations indicate that the formation of ferrous minerals depends on the amount of biomass buried with ferric precursors rather than on the atmospheric composition at the time of deposition. Mössbauer spectra further reveal the mutual stabilisation of Fe-organic matter complexes against mineral transformation and decay of organic matter into CO 2 . This corresponds to observations of a ‘rusty carbon sink’ in modern sediments. The stabilisation of Fe-organic matter complexes may also aid transport of particulate Fe in the water column while having an adverse effect on the bioavailability of Fe. In the modern oxic ocean, Fe is insoluble and particulate Fe represents an important source. Collecting that particulate Fe yields small sample sizes that would pose a challenge for conventional Mössbauer experiments. We demonstrate that the unique properties of the beam used in synchrotron-based Mössbauer applications can be utilized for studying such samples effectively. Reactive Fe species often occur in amorphous or nanoparticulate form in the

  4. The biogeochemical iron cycle and astrobiology

    Energy Technology Data Exchange (ETDEWEB)

    Schröder, Christian, E-mail: christian.schroeder@stir.ac.uk [University of Stirling, Biological and Environmental Sciences, School of Natural Sciences (United Kingdom); Köhler, Inga [Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, Geomicrobiology, Centre for Applied Geoscience (Germany); Muller, Francois L. L. [Qatar University, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences (Qatar); Chumakov, Aleksandr I.; Kupenko, Ilya; Rüffer, Rudolf [ESRF-The European Synchrotron (France); Kappler, Andreas [Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, Geomicrobiology, Centre for Applied Geoscience (Germany)

    2016-12-15

    Biogeochemistry investigates chemical cycles which influence or are influenced by biological activity. Astrobiology studies the origin, evolution and distribution of life in the universe. The biogeochemical Fe cycle has controlled major nutrient cycles such as the C cycle throughout geological time. Iron sulfide minerals may have provided energy and surfaces for the first pioneer organisms on Earth. Banded iron formations document the evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis. To assess the potential habitability of planets other than Earth one looks for water, an energy source and a C source. On Mars, for example, Fe minerals have provided evidence for the past presence of liquid water on its surface and would provide a viable energy source. Here we present Mössbauer spectroscopy investigations of Fe and C cycle interactions in both ancient and modern environments. Experiments to simulate the diagenesis of banded iron formations indicate that the formation of ferrous minerals depends on the amount of biomass buried with ferric precursors rather than on the atmospheric composition at the time of deposition. Mössbauer spectra further reveal the mutual stabilisation of Fe-organic matter complexes against mineral transformation and decay of organic matter into CO{sub 2}. This corresponds to observations of a ‘rusty carbon sink’ in modern sediments. The stabilisation of Fe-organic matter complexes may also aid transport of particulate Fe in the water column while having an adverse effect on the bioavailability of Fe. In the modern oxic ocean, Fe is insoluble and particulate Fe represents an important source. Collecting that particulate Fe yields small sample sizes that would pose a challenge for conventional Mössbauer experiments. We demonstrate that the unique properties of the beam used in synchrotron-based Mössbauer applications can be utilized for studying such samples effectively. Reactive Fe species often occur in amorphous or nanoparticulate form in the

  5. Mineralogical, chemical, organic and microbial properties of subsurface soil cores from Mars Desert Research Station (Utah, USA): Phyllosilicate and sulfate analogues to Mars mission landing sites

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Stoker, C.R.; Clarke, J.; Oliveira Lebre Direito, M.S.; Martin, K.; Zavaleta, J.; Blake, D.; Foing, B.H.

    2011-01-01

    We collected and analysed soil cores from four geologic units surrounding Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) Utah, USA, including Mancos Shale, Dakota Sandstone, Morrison formation (Brushy Basin member) and Summerville formation. The area is an important geochemical and morphological analogue to

  6. Sample Handling and Processing on Mars for Future Astrobiology Missions

    Science.gov (United States)

    Beegle, Luther; Kirby, James P.; Fisher, Anita; Hodyss, Robert; Saltzman, Alison; Soto, Juancarlos; Lasnik, James; Roark, Shane

    2011-01-01

    In most analytical investigations, there is a need to process complex field samples for the unique detection of analytes especially when detecting low concentration organic molecules that may identify extraterrestrial life. Sample processing for analytical instruments is time, resource and manpower consuming in terrestrial laboratories. Every step in this laborious process will have to be automated for in situ life detection. We have developed, and are currently demonstrating, an automated wet chemistry preparation system that can operate autonomously on Earth and is designed to operate under Martian ambient conditions. This will enable a complete wet chemistry laboratory as part of future missions. Our system, namely the Automated Sample Processing System (ASPS) receives fines, extracts organics through solvent extraction, processes the extract by removing non-organic soluble species and delivers sample to multiple instruments for analysis (including for non-organic soluble species).

  7. Planetary and Space Simulation Facilities PSI at DLR for Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rabbow, E.; Rettberg, P.; Panitz, C.; Reitz, G.

    2008-09-01

    Ground based experiments, conducted in the controlled planetary and space environment simulation facilities PSI at DLR, are used to investigate astrobiological questions and to complement the corresponding experiments in LEO, for example on free flying satellites or on space exposure platforms on the ISS. In-orbit exposure facilities can only accommodate a limited number of experiments for exposure to space parameters like high vacuum, intense radiation of galactic and solar origin and microgravity, sometimes also technically adapted to simulate extraterrestrial planetary conditions like those on Mars. Ground based experiments in carefully equipped and monitored simulation facilities allow the investigation of the effects of simulated single environmental parameters and selected combinations on a much wider variety of samples. In PSI at DLR, international science consortia performed astrobiological investigations and space experiment preparations, exposing organic compounds and a wide range of microorganisms, reaching from bacterial spores to complex microbial communities, lichens and even animals like tardigrades to simulated planetary or space environment parameters in pursuit of exobiological questions on the resistance to extreme environments and the origin and distribution of life. The Planetary and Space Simulation Facilities PSI of the Institute of Aerospace Medicine at DLR in Köln, Germany, providing high vacuum of controlled residual composition, ionizing radiation of a X-ray tube, polychromatic UV radiation in the range of 170-400 nm, VIS and IR or individual monochromatic UV wavelengths, and temperature regulation from -20°C to +80°C at the sample size individually or in selected combinations in 9 modular facilities of varying sizes are presented with selected experiments performed within.

  8. Astrobiology: Life on Earth (and Elsewhere?)

    Science.gov (United States)

    Des Marais, David J.

    2016-01-01

    Astrobiology investigates the origins, evolution and distribution of life in the universe. Scientists study how stellar systems and their planets can create planetary environments that sustain biospheres. They search for biosignatures, which are objects, substances and or patterns that indicate the presence of life. Studies of Earth's early biosphere enhance these search strategies and also provide key insights about our own origins.

  9. Integration of lessons from recent research for "Earth to Mars" life support systems

    Science.gov (United States)

    Nelson, M.; Allen, J. P.; Alling, A.; Dempster, W. F.; Silverstone, S.; van Thillo, M.

    Development of reliable and robust strategies for long-term life support for mbox planetary exploration needs to be built on real-time experimentation to verify and improve system components Also critical is the incorporation of a range of viable options to handle potential short-term life system imbalances This paper revisits some of the conceptual framework for a Mars base prototype previously advanced Mars on Earth in the light of three years of experimentation by the authors in the Laboratory Biosphere further investigation of system alternatives and the advent of other innovative engineering and agri-ecosystem approaches Several experiments with candidate space agriculture crops have demonstrated the higher productivity possible with elevated light levels and improved environmental controls For example crops of sweet potatoes exceeded original Mars base prototype projections by 83 ultradwarf Apogee wheat by 27 pinto bean by 240 and cowpeas slightly exceeded anticipated dry bean yield These production levels although they may be increased with further optimization of lighting regimes environmental parameters crop density etc offer evidence that a soil-based system can be as productive as the hydroponic systems which have dominated space life support scenarios and research Soil also offers several distinct advantages the capability to be created using in-situ space resources reducing reliance on consumables and imported resources and more easily recycling and

  10. Astrobiology Outreach and the Nature of Science: The Role of Creativity

    Science.gov (United States)

    Oliver, Carol; Walter, Malcolm R.

    2012-01-01

    Abstract There is concern in many developed countries that school students are turning away from science. However, students may be choosing not to study science and dismissing the possibility of a scientific career because, in the junior secondary years, they gain a false view of science and the work of scientists. There is a disparity between science as it is portrayed at school and science as it is practiced. This paper describes a study to explore whether engaging in science through astrobiology outreach activities may improve students' understanding of the nature and processes of science, and how this may influence their interest in a career in science. The results suggest that the students attending these Mars research–related outreach activities are more interested in science than the average student but are lacking in understanding of aspects of the nature of science. A significant difference was detected between pre- and posttest understandings of some concepts of the nature of science. Key Words: Science education—School science—Creativity—Nature and processes of science—Attitudes—Astrobiology. Astrobiology 12, 1143–1153. PMID:23134090

  11. Backward Planetary Protection Issues and Possible Solutions for Icy Plume Sample Return Missions from Astrobiological Targets

    Science.gov (United States)

    Yano, Hajime; McKay, Christopher P.; Anbar, Ariel; Tsou, Peter

    The recent report of possible water vapor plumes at Europa and Ceres, together with the well-known Enceladus plume containing water vapor, salt, ammonia, and organic molecules, suggests that sample return missions could evolve into a generic approach for outer Solar System exploration in the near future, especially for the benefit of astrobiology research. Sampling such plumes can be accomplished via fly-through mission designs, modeled after the successful Stardust mission to capture and return material from Comet Wild-2 and multiple, precise trajectory controls of the Cassini mission to fly through Enceladus’ plume. The proposed LIFE (Life Investigation For Enceladus) mission to Enceladus, which would sample organic molecules from the plume of that apparently habitable world, provides one example of the appealing scientific return of such missions. Beyond plumes, the upper atmosphere of Titan could also be sampled in this manner. The SCIM mission to Mars, also inspired by Stardust, would sample and return aerosol dust in the upper atmosphere of Mars and thus extends this concept even to other planetary bodies. Such missions share common design needs. In particular, they require large exposed sampler areas (or sampler arrays) that can be contained to the standards called for by international planetary protection protocols that COSPAR Planetary Protection Policy (PPP) recommends. Containment is also needed because these missions are driven by astrobiologically relevant science - including interest in organic molecules - which argues against heat sterilization that could destroy scientific value of samples. Sample containment is a daunting engineering challenge. Containment systems must be carefully designed to appropriate levels to satisfy the two top requirements: planetary protection policy and the preserving the scientific value of samples. Planning for Mars sample return tends to center on a hermetic seal specification (i.e., gas-tight against helium escape

  12. The AMADEE-15 Mars simulation

    Science.gov (United States)

    Groemer, Gernot; Losiak, Anna; Soucek, Alexander; Plank, Clemens; Zanardini, Laura; Sejkora, Nina; Sams, Sebastian

    2016-12-01

    We report on the AMADEE-15 mission, a 12-day Mars analog field test at the Kaunertal Glacier in Austria. Eleven experiments were conducted by a field crew at the test site under simulated martian surface exploration conditions and coordinated by a Mission Support Center in Innsbruck, Austria. The experiments' research fields encompassed geology, human factors, astrobiology, robotics, tele-science, exploration, and operations research. A Remote Science Support team analyzed field data in near real time, providing planning input for a flight control team to manage a complex system of field assets in a realistic work flow, including: two advanced space suit simulators; and four robotic and aerial vehicles. Field operations were supported by a dedicated flight planning group, an external control center tele-operating the PULI-rover, and a medical team. A 10-min satellite communication delay and other limitations pertinent to human planetary surface activities were introduced. This paper provides an overview of the geological context and environmental conditions of the test site and the mission architecture, with a focus on the mission's communication infrastructure. We report on the operational workflows and the experiments conducted, as well as a novel approach of measuring mission success through the introduction of general analog mission transferrable performance indicators.

  13. The Mojave Desert: A Martian Analog Site for Future Astrobiology Themed Missions

    Science.gov (United States)

    Salas, E.; Abbey, W.; Bhartia, R.; Beegle, L. W.

    2011-01-01

    Astrobiological interest in Mars is highlighted by evidence that Mars was once warm enough to have liquid water present on its surface long enough to create geologic formations that could only exist in the presense of extended fluvial periods. These periods existed at the same time life on Earth arose. If life began on Mars as well during this period, it is reasonable to assume it may have adapted to the subsurface as environments at the surface changed into the inhospitable state we find today. If the next series of Mars missions (Mars Science Laboratory, the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter proposed for launch in 2016, and potential near surface sample return) fail to discover either extinct or extant life on Mars, a subsurface mission would be necessary to attempt to "close the book" on the existence of martian life. Mars is much colder and drier than Earth, with a very low pressure CO2 environment and no obvious habitats. Terrestrial regions with limited precipitation, and hence reduced active biota, are some of the best martian low to mid latitude analogs to be found on Earth, be they the Antarctic dry valleys, the Atacama or Mojave Deserts. The Mojave Desert/Death Valley region is considered a Mars analog site by the Terrestrial Analogs Panel of the NSF-sponsored decadal survey; a field guide was even developed and a workshop was held on its applicability as a Mars analog. This region has received a great deal of attention due to its accessibility and the variety of landforms and processes observed relevant to martian studies.

  14. Space Biology Meets Astrobiology: Critical Synergies and Concerns

    Science.gov (United States)

    Boston, Penelope J.; Kirven-Brooks, Melissa

    2016-01-01

    The broad fields of space biology and astrobiology share much in common in terms of science questions, approaches, and goals. However, historical circumstances and funding agency practices have frequently resulted in a wide separation between the two related areas. Is this a good thing? We believe that it is not, and that much is to be gained in each field from sharing ideas, resources, and perhaps projects between investigators traditionally working in one discipline or the other. Some of the strengths that the Space Biology community offers include sophistication and experience in flying experiments on space missions. In turn, Astrobiology has focused heavily on ground-based and field research. Challenging physical and chemical conditions experienced in space and on other planets partially overlap, and much can be gleaned from the body of work of each community along these topical lines. A combination of these areas of expertise and experience could result in major advances to all involved. When possible, avoiding having to reinvent methods or approaches already used by a sister community can result in greater efficiencies of resource use. We will discuss some case studies where we believe there are significant overlaps including adaptation to a variety of environmental stresses, extremophiles as potential flight organisms, microfluidics as applied to planetary environment simulations, and others.

  15. A Novel Penetration System for in situ Astrobiological Studies

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Yang Gao

    2005-12-01

    Full Text Available Due to ultraviolet flux in the surface layers of most solar bodies, future astrobiological research is increasingly seeking to conduct subsurface penetration and drilling to detect chemical signature for extant or extinct life. To address this issue, we present a micro-penetrator concept (mass < 10 kg that is suited for extraterrestrial planetary deployment and in situ investigation of chemical and physical properties. The instrumentation in this concept is a bio-inspired drill to access material beneath sterile surface layer for biomarker detection. The proposed drill represents a novel concept of two-valve-reciprocating motion, inspired by the working mechanism of wood wasp ovipositors. It is lightweight (0.5 kg, driven at low power (3 W, and able to drill deep (1-2 m. Tests have shown that the reciprocating drill is feasible and has potential of improving drill efficiency without using any external force. The overall penetration system provides a small, light and energy efficient solution to in situ astrobiological studies, which is crucial for space engineering. Such a micro-penetrator can be used for exploration of terrestrial-type planets or other small bodies of the solar system with the minimum of modifications.

  16. A Novel Penetration System for in situ Astrobiological Studies

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Yang Gao

    2008-11-01

    Full Text Available Due to ultraviolet flux in the surface layers of most solar bodies, future astrobiological research is increasingly seeking to conduct subsurface penetration and drilling to detect chemical signature for extant or extinct life. To address this issue, we present a micro-penetrator concept (mass < 10 kg that is suited for extraterrestrial planetary deployment and in situ investigation of chemical and physical properties. The instrumentation in this concept is a bio-inspired drill to access material beneath sterile surface layer for biomarker detection. The proposed drill represents a novel concept of two-valve-reciprocating motion, inspired by the working mechanism of wood wasp ovipositors. It is lightweight (0.5 kg, driven at low power (3 W, and able to drill deep (1-2 m. Tests have shown that the reciprocating drill is feasible and has potential of improving drill efficiency without using any external force. The overall penetration system provides a small, light and energy efficient solution to in situ astrobiological studies, which is crucial for space engineering. Such a micro-penetrator can be used for exploration of terrestrial-type planets or other small bodies of the solar system with the minimum of modifications.

  17. Astrobiology : is humankind ready for the next revolution ?

    Science.gov (United States)

    Arnould, Jacques

    2012-07-01

    The discovery of a first exoplanet, in 1995, did not revolutionize but knocked astronomical sciences over. At the same time, by opening new prospects of research, in particular in the search of planets similar to the Earth and in a possible extraterrestrial life, this discovery, since then abundantly repeated, gave a new breath to the public interest for this scientific field. But is humanity ready to learn the existence from extraterrestrial forms of life or to remain, in spite of its efforts, in ignorance? The question of the plurality of the worlds is one of the oldest interrogations conveyed by the human cultures, as testified by the multiple answers which were brought to it. In the same way, the concept of life is itself an inexhaustible source of philosophical and religious reflexions, with many consequences in moral domains. It is today necessary to accompany the scientific development in the field of astrobiology by attaching the greatest importance to this intellectual patrimony. It constitutes even one of the first stages of an ethical responsibility in astrobiology, as important as that concerning planetary protection.

  18. The AstroBiology Explorer (ABE) Mission Concept

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sandford, Scott A.

    2004-01-01

    Infrared spectroscopy in the 2.5-16 micron range is a principle means by which organic compounds can be detected and identified in space via their vibrational transitions. Ground-based, airborne, and spaceborne IR spectral studies have already demonstrated that a significant fraction of the carbon in the interstellar medium (ISM) resides in the form of complex organic molecular species. Unfortunately, neither the distribution of these materials nor their genetic and evolutionary relationships with each other or their environments are well understood. The Astrobiology Explorer (ABE) is a MIDEX mission concept currently under study by a team of partners: NASA's Ames Research Center, Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. ABE will conduct IR spectroscopic observations to address outstanding important problems in astrobiology, astrochemistry, and astrophysics. The core observational program would make fundamental scientific progress in understanding (1) The evolution of ices and organic matter in dense molecular clouds and young forming stellar systems, (2) The chemical evolution of organic molecules in the ISM as they transition from AGB outflows to planetary nebulae to the general diffuse ISM to HII regions and dense clouds, (3) The distribution of organics in the diffuse ISM, (4) The nature of organics in the Solar System (in comets, asteroids, satellites), and (5) The nature and distribution of organics in local galaxies. The technical considerations of achieving these science objectives in a MIDEX-sized mission will be presented.

  19. Astrobiology Learning Progressions: Linking Astrobiology Concepts with the 3D Learning Paradigm of NGSS

    Science.gov (United States)

    Scalice, D.; Davis, H. B.; Leach, D.; Chambers, N.

    2016-12-01

    The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) introduce a Framework for teaching and learning with three interconnected "dimensions:" Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI's), Cross-cutting Concepts (CCC's), and Science and Engineering Practices (SEP's). This "3D" Framework outlines progressions of learning from K-12 based on the DCI's, detailing which parts of a concept should be taught at each grade band. We used these discipline-based progressions to synthesize interdisciplinary progressions for core concepts in astrobiology, such as the origins of life, what makes a world habitable, biosignatures, and searching for life on other worlds. The final product is an organizing tool for lesson plans, learning media, and other educational materials in astrobiology, as well as a fundamental resource in astrobiology education that serves both educators and scientists as they plan and carry out their programs for learners.

  20. Review of wet environment types on Mars with focus on duration and volumetric issues.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kereszturi, Akos

    2012-06-01

    The astrobiological significance of certain environment types on Mars strongly depends on the temperature, duration, and chemistry of liquid water that was present there in the past. Recent works have focused on the identification of signs of ancient water on Mars, as it is more difficult to estimate the above-mentioned parameters. In this paper, two important factors are reviewed, the duration and the volume of water at different environment types on past and present Mars. Using currently available information, we can only roughly estimate these values, but as environment types show characteristic differences in this respect, it is worth comparing them and the result may have importance for research in astrobiology. Impact-induced and geothermal hydrothermal systems, lakes, and valley networks were in existence on Mars over the course of from 10(2) to 10(6) years, although they would have experienced substantially different temperature regimes. Ancient oceans, as well as water in outflow channels and gullies, and at the microscopic scale as interfacial water layers, would have had inherently different times of duration and overall volume: oceans may have endured from 10(4) to 10(6) years, while interfacial water would have had the smallest volume and residence time of liquid phase on Mars. Martian wet environments with longer residence times of liquid water are believed to have existed for that amount of time necessary for life to develop on Earth between the Late Heavy Bombardment and the age of the earliest fossil record. The results of this review show the necessity for more detailed analysis of conditions within geothermal heat-induced systems to reconstruct the conditions during weathering and mineral alteration, as well as to search for signs of reoccurring wet periods in ancient crater lakes.

  1. Automating X-ray Fluorescence Analysis for Rapid Astrobiology Surveys.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Thompson, David R; Flannery, David T; Lanka, Ravi; Allwood, Abigail C; Bue, Brian D; Clark, Benton C; Elam, W Timothy; Estlin, Tara A; Hodyss, Robert P; Hurowitz, Joel A; Liu, Yang; Wade, Lawrence A

    2015-11-01

    A new generation of planetary rover instruments, such as PIXL (Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry) and SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals) selected for the Mars 2020 mission rover payload, aim to map mineralogical and elemental composition in situ at microscopic scales. These instruments will produce large spectral cubes with thousands of channels acquired over thousands of spatial locations, a large potential science yield limited mainly by the time required to acquire a measurement after placement. A secondary bottleneck also faces mission planners after downlink; analysts must interpret the complex data products quickly to inform tactical planning for the next command cycle. This study demonstrates operational approaches to overcome these bottlenecks by specialized early-stage science data processing. Onboard, simple real-time systems can perform a basic compositional assessment, recognizing specific features of interest and optimizing sensor integration time to characterize anomalies. On the ground, statistically motivated visualization can make raw uncalibrated data products more interpretable for tactical decision making. Techniques such as manifold dimensionality reduction can help operators comprehend large databases at a glance, identifying trends and anomalies in data. These onboard and ground-side analyses can complement a quantitative interpretation. We evaluate system performance for the case study of PIXL, an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer. Experiments on three representative samples demonstrate improved methods for onboard and ground-side automation and illustrate new astrobiological science capabilities unavailable in previous planetary instruments. Dimensionality reduction-Planetary science-Visualization.

  2. Astrobiology, space and the future age of discovery.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Blumberg, Baruch S

    2011-02-13

    Astrobiology is the study of the origins, evolution, distribution and future of life in the Universe, and specifically seeks to understand the origin of life and to test the hypothesis that life exists elsewhere than on Earth. There is a general mathematics, physics and chemistry; that is, scientific laws that obtain on Earth also do so elsewhere. Is there a general biology? Is the Universe life-rich or is Earth an isolated island of biology? Exploration in the Age of Enlightenment required the collection of data in unexplored regions and the use of induction and empiricism to derive models and natural laws. The current search for extra-terrestrial life has a similar goal, but with a much greater amount of data and with computers to help with management, correlations, pattern recognition and analysis. There are 60 active space missions, many of them aiding in the search for life. There is not a universally accepted definition of life, but there are a series of characteristics that can aid in the identification of life elsewhere. The study of locations on Earth with similarities to early Mars and other space objects could provide a model that can be used in the search for extra-terrestrial life.

  3. Applicability of cryoconite consortia of microorganisms and glacier-dwelling animals in astrobiological studies

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Zawierucha Krzysztof

    2017-06-01

    Full Text Available For several years it has been of interest to astrobiologists to focus on Earth’s glaciers as a habitat that can be similar to glaciers on other moons and planets. Microorganisms on glaciers form consortia – cryoconite granules (cryoconites. They are granular/spherical mineral particles connected with archaea, cyanobacteria, heterotrophic bacteria, algae, fungi, and micro animals (mainly Tardigrada and Rotifera. Cryophilic organisms inhabiting glaciers have been studied in different aspects: from taxonomy, ecology and biogeography, to searching of biotechnological potentials and physiological strategies to survive in extreme glacial habitats. However, they have never been used in astrobiological experiments. The main aim of this paper is brief review of literature and supporting assumptions that cryoconite granules and microinvertebrates on glaciers, are promising models in astrobiology for looking for analogies and survival strategies in terms of icy planets and moons. So far, astrobiological research have been conducted on single strains of prokaryotes or microinvertebrates but never on a consortium of them. Due to the hypothetical similarity of glaciers on the Earth to those on other planets these cryoconites consortia of microorganisms and glacier microinvertebrates may be applied in astrobiological experiments instead of the limno-terrestrial ones used currently. Those consortia and animals have qualities to use them in such studies and they may be the key to understanding how organisms are able to survive, reproduce and remain active at low temperatures.

  4. Lunar and Planetary Science XXXV: Astrobiology Stew: Pinch of Microbes, Smidgen of UV, Touch of Organics, and Dash of Meteorites

    Science.gov (United States)

    2004-01-01

    The session Astrobiology Stew: Pinch of Microbes, Smidgen of UV, Touch of Organics, and Dash of Meteorites includes the following topics: 1) Investigating the Impact of UV Radiation on High-Altitude Shallow Lake Habitats, Life Diversity, and Life Survival Strategies: Clues for Mars' Past Habitability Potential? 2) An Analysis of Potential Photosynthetic Life on Mars; 3) Radiation Inactivation of Bacterial spores on Mars; 4) Hydrophobic Surfaces of Spacecraft Components Enhance the Aggregation of Microorganisms and May Lead to Higher Survival Rates of Bacteria on Mars Landers; 5) Optical Detection of Organic Chemical Biosignatures at Hydrothermal Vents; 6) Signs of Life in Meridiani Planum-What Might Opportunity See (or Miss)? 7) Isolation of PUrines and Pyrimidines from the Murchison Meteorite Using Sublimation; and 8) Relative Amino Acid Composition of CM1 Carbonaceous Chondrites.

  5. Understanding the nineteenth century origins of disciplines: lessons for astrobiology today?

    Science.gov (United States)

    Brazelton, William J.; Sullivan, Woodruff T., III

    2009-10-01

    Astrobiology's goal of promoting interdisciplinary research is an attempt to reverse a trend that began two centuries ago with the formation of the first specialized scientific disciplines. We have examined this era of discipline formation in order to make a comparison with the situation today in astrobiology. Will astrobiology remain interdisciplinary or is it becoming yet another specialty? As a case study, we have investigated effects on the scientific literature when a specialized community is formed by analyzing the citations within papers published during 1802-1856 in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (Phil. Trans.), the most important ‘generalist’ journal of its day, and Transactions of the Geological Society of London (Trans. Geol. Soc.), the first important disciplinary journal in the sciences. We find that these two journals rarely cited each other, and papers published in Trans. Geol. Soc. cited fewer interdisciplinary sources than did geology papers in Phil. Trans. After geology had become established as a successful specialized discipline, geologists returned to publishing papers in Phil. Trans., but they wrote in the new, highly specialized style developed in Trans. Geol. Soc. They had succeeded in not only creating a new scientific discipline, but also a new way of doing science with its own modes of research and communication. A similar citation analysis was applied to papers published over the period 2001-2008 in the contemporary journals Astrobiology and the International Journal of Astrobiology to test the hypothesis that astrobiologists are in the early stages of creating their own specialized community. Although still too early to reliably detect any but the largest trends, there is no evidence yet that astrobiologists are drifting into their own isolated discipline. Instead, to date they appear to remain interdisciplinary.

  6. Tumbleweed: Wind-propelled Surficial Measurements for Astrobiology and Planetary Science

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kuhlman, K. R.; Behar, A. E.; Jones, J. A.; Carsey, F.; Coleman, M.; Bearman, G.; Buehler, M.; Boston, P. J.; McKay, C. P.; Rothschild, L.

    2004-01-01

    Tumbleweed is a wind-propelled long-range vehicle based on well-developed and tested technology, instrumented to perform surveys Mars analog environments for habitability and suitable for a variety of missions on Mars. Tumbleweeds are light-weight and relatively inexpensive, making it very attractive for multiple deployments or piggy-backing on a larger mission. Tumbleweeds with rigid structures are also being developed for similar applications. Modeling and testing have shown that a 6 meter diameter Tumbleweed is capable of climbing 25 hills, traveling over 1 meter diameter boulders, and ranging over a thousand kilometers. Tumbleweeds have a potential payload capability of about 10 kilograms with approximately 10-20 Watts of power. Stopping for science investigations can also be accomplished using partial deflation or other braking mechanisms. Surveys for Astrobiology and other applications of tumbleweeds are shown.

  7. EXPOSE-R2: The Astrobiological ESA Mission on Board of the International Space Station

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Elke Rabbow

    2017-08-01

    Full Text Available On July 23, 2014, the Progress cargo spacecraft 56P was launched from Baikonur to the International Space Station (ISS, carrying EXPOSE-R2, the third ESA (European Space Agency EXPOSE facility, the second EXPOSE on the outside platform of the Russian Zvezda module, with four international astrobiological experiments into space. More than 600 biological samples of archaea, bacteria (as biofilms and in planktonic form, lichens, fungi, plant seeds, triops eggs, mosses and 150 samples of organic compounds were exposed to the harsh space environment and to parameters similar to those on the Mars surface. Radiation dosimeters distributed over the whole facility complemented the scientific payload. Three extravehicular activities later the chemical samples were returned to Earth on March 2, 2016, with Soyuz 44S, having spent 588 days in space. The biological samples arrived back later, on June 18, 2016, with 45S, after a total duration in space of 531 days. The exposure of the samples to Low Earth Orbit vacuum lasted for 531 days and was divided in two parts: protected against solar irradiation during the first 62 days, followed by exposure to solar radiation during the subsequent 469 days. In parallel to the space mission, a Mission Ground Reference (MGR experiment with a flight identical Hardware and a complete flight identical set of samples was performed at the premises of DLR (German Aerospace Center in Cologne by MUSC (Microgravity User Support Center, according to the mission data either downloaded from the ISS (temperature data, facility status, inner pressure status or provided by RedShift Design and Engineering BVBA, Belgium (calculated ultra violet radiation fluence data. In this paper, the EXPOSE-R2 facility, the experimental samples, mission parameters, environmental parameters, and the overall mission and MGR sequences are described, building the background for the research papers of the individual experiments, their analysis and results.

  8. Special Exhibit on Meteorites and Minerals Associated with the Origin of Life on Earth or Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bruner, R. B.

    2017-10-01

    This exhibit has been shown at eight conferences: 2014 Gordon Origin of Life, 2014 8th International Mars, 2015 2nd Mars2020 L S, 2016 Gordon Origin of Life, 2016 Biosignature, 2016 European Astrobiology, 2017 Exomars 2020 L S, 2017 AbSciCon.

  9. AstroBiology Explorer Mission Concepts (ABE/ASPIRE)

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sandford, Scott; Ennico, Kimberly A.

    2006-01-01

    The AstroBiology Explorer (ABE) and the Astrobiology Space InfraRed Explorer (ASPIRE) Mission Concepts are two missions designed to address the questions (1) Where do we come from? and (2) Are we alone? as outlined in NASA s Origins Program using infrared spectroscopy to explore the identity, abundance, and distribution of molecules of astrobiological importance throughout the Universe. The ABE mission s observational program is focused on six tasks to: (1) Investigate the evolution of ice and organics in dense clouds and star formation regions, and the young stellar/planetary systems that form in them; (2) Measure the evolution of complex organic molecules in stellar outflows; (3) Study the organic composition of a wide variety of solar system objects including asteroids, comets, and the planets and their satellites; (4) Identify organic compounds in the diffuse interstellar medium and determine their distribution , abundance, and change with environment; (5) Detect and identify organic compounds in other galaxies and determine their dependence on galactic type; and (6) Measure deuterium enrichments in interstellar organics and use them as tracers of chemical processes. The ASPIRE mission s observational program expands upon ABE's core mission and adds tasks that (7) Address the role of silicates in interstellar organic chemistry; and (8) Use different resolution spectra to assess the relative roles and abundances of gas- and solid-state materials. ABE (ASPIRE) achieves these goals using a highly sensitive, cryogenically-cooled telescope in an Earth drift-away heliocentric orbit, armed with a suite of infrared spectrometers that cover the 2.5-20(40) micron spectral region at moderate spectral resolution (R>2000). ASPIRE's spectrometer complement also includes a high-resolution (R>25,000) module over the 4-8 micron spectral region. Both missions target lists are chosen to observe a statistically significant sample of a large number of objects of varied types in

  10. Astrobiology, Evolution, and Society: Public Engagement Insights

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bertka, C. M.

    2009-12-01

    It is unavoidable that the science of astrobiology will intersect with, and inevitably challenge, many deeply held beliefs. Exploration possibilities, particularly those that may include the discovery of extraterrestrial life, will continue to challenge us to reconsider our views of nature and our connection to the rest of the universe. As a scientific discipline, astrobiology works from the assumption that the origin and evolution of life can be accounted for by natural processes, that life could emerge naturally from the physical materials that make up the terrestrial planets. The search for life on other terrestrial planets is focused on “life as we know it.” The only life we currently know of is the life found on Earth, and for the scientific community the shared common ancestry of all Earth life, and its astounding diversity, is explained by the theory of evolution. The work of astrobiology, at its very core, is fueled by the theory of evolution. However, a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life (2005) revealed that 42% of US adults believe that “life has existed in its present form since the beginning of time”. This answer persists nearly 150 years after the publication of Charles Darwin’s "On the Origin of the Species", the landmark work in which Darwin proposed that living things share common ancestors and have “descended with modification” from these ancestors through a process of natural selection . Perhaps even more distressing is the fact that these numbers have not changed in decades, despite the astounding advancements in science that have resulted over this same time period. How will these facts bear on the usefulness of astrobiology as a tool for encouraging a US public to share in the excitement of scientific discovery and be informed participants in a public dialogue concerning next steps? When people were asked “to identify the biggest influence on your thinking about how life developed,” the response chosen most

  11. Capturing Student Interest in Astrobiology through Dilemmas and Paradoxes

    Science.gov (United States)

    Slater, Timothy F.

    2006-01-01

    Astrobiology is an interdisciplinary science course that combines essential questions from life, physical, and Earth sciences. An effective astrobiology course also capitalizes on students' natural curiosity about social science implications of studying the origin of life and the impact of finding life elsewhere in the universe. (Contains 2…

  12. Mars Gardens in the University - Red Thumbs: Growing Vegetables in Martian regolith simulant.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Guinan, Edward Francis

    2018-01-01

    Over the next few decades NASA and private enterprise missions plan to send manned missions to Mars with the ultimate aim to establish a permanent human presence on this planet. For a self-sustaining colony on Mars it will be necessary to provide food by growing plants in sheltered greenhouses on the Martian surface. As part of an undergraduate student project in Astrobiology at Villanova University, experiments are being carried out, testing how various plants grow in Martian regolith. A wide sample of plants are being grown and tested in Mars regolith simulant commercially available from The Martian Garden (TheMartian Garden.com). This Mars regolith simulant is based on Mojave Mars Simulant (MMS) developed by NASA and JPL for the Mars Phoenix mission. The MMS is based on the Mojave Saddleback basalt similar that used by JPL/NASA. Additional reagents were added to this iron rich basalt to bring the chemical content close to actual Mars regolith. The MMS used is an approximately 90% similar to regolith found on the surface of Mars - excluding poisonous perchlorates commonly found on actual Mars surface.The students have selected various vegetables and herbs to grow and test. These include carrots, spinach, dandelions, kale, soy beans, peas, onions, garlic and of course potatoes and sweet potatoes. Plants were tested in various growing conditions, using different fertilizers, and varying light conditions and compared with identical “control plants” grown in Earth soil / humus. The results of the project will be discussed from an education view point as well as from usefulness for fundamental research.We thank The Martian Garden for providing Martian regolith simulant at education discounted prices.

  13. The "Martian" flora: new collections of vascular plants, lichens, fungi, algae, and cyanobacteria from the Mars Desert Research Station, Utah

    Science.gov (United States)

    Freebury, Colin E.; Hamilton, Paul B.; Saarela, Jeffery M.

    2016-01-01

    Abstract The Mars Desert Research Station is a Mars analog research site located in the desert outside of Hanksville, Utah, U.S.A. Here we present a preliminary checklist of the vascular plant and lichen flora for the station, based on collections made primarily during a two-week simulated Mars mission in November, 2014. Additionally, we present notes on the endolithic chlorophytes and cyanobacteria, and the identification of a fungal genus also based on these collections. Altogether, we recorded 38 vascular plant species from 14 families, 13 lichen species from seven families, six algae taxa including both chlorophytes and cyanobacteria, and one fungal genus from the station and surrounding area. We discuss this floristic diversity in the context of the ecology of the nearby San Rafael Swell and the desert areas of Wayne and Emery counties in southeastern Utah. PMID:27350765

  14. Astrobiological Effects of Stellar Radiation in Circumstellar Environments

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cuntz, Manfred; Gurdemir, Levent; Guinan, Edward F.; Kurucz, Robert L.

    2006-10-01

    The centerpiece of all life on Earth is carbon-based biochemistry. Previous scientific research has suggested that biochemistry based on carbon may also play a decisive role in extraterrestrial life forms, i.e., alien life outside of Earth, if existent. In the following, we explore if carbon-based macromolecules (such as DNA) in the environments of stars other than the Sun are able to survive the effects of energetic stellar radiation, such as UV-C in the wavelength band between 200 and 290 nm. We focus on main-sequence stars akin to the Sun, but of hotter (F-type stars) and cooler (K- and M-type stars) surface temperature. Emphasis is placed on investigating the radiative environment in stellar habitable zones (HZs). Stellar habitable zones have an important relevance in astrobiology because they constitute circumstellar regions in which a planet of suitable size can have surface temperatures for water to exist in liquid form.

  15. Astrobiology Education and Outreach: New Interdisciplinary Initiatives

    Science.gov (United States)

    Schultz, Greg

    In 1998, UCLA was selected as one of the 11 initial members (5 of which are universities) of the NASA Astrobiology Institute. Concurrently, UCLA implemented a brand new General Education cluster course, GE 70ABC: ``Evolution of the Cosmos and Life,'' which is unique for several reasons. It is (a) interdisciplinary, introducing students to both the life and physical sciences, (b) team-taught by 4 distinguished professors, and 4 advanced graduate teaching fellows, (c) offered for (150) freshmen students exclusively, and (d) a year-long sequence, incorporating lectures, laboratory/discussion sections, field trips, and in the spring quarter, small satellite seminars led by the individual instructors on topics radiating from the cluster theme. Further information about GE 70ABC can be found at the course website (http://www.ess.ucla.edu/Cluster_TOC.html) and the website for UCLA's GE cluster courses (http://www.college.ucla.edu/ge/clusters.htm). This poster will outline the GE 70 content, and describe some of the course's materials, activities, assessment, and student characteristics. Additionally, focus will be placed on the GE 70C seminar course component called ``Life In the Cosmos,'' designed and offered by the poster author for the Spring 1999 quarter. This seminar features a student-centered approach - with lecturing minimized and active learning a key objective - and addresses the extraterrestrial life debate from historical and cultural perspectives as well as the current scientific approaches in astrobiology/bioastronomy.

  16. Space as a Tool for Astrobiology: Review and Recommendations for Experimentations in Earth Orbit and Beyond

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cottin, Hervé; Kotler, Julia Michelle; Billi, Daniela; Cockell, Charles; Demets, René; Ehrenfreund, Pascale; Elsaesser, Andreas; d'Hendecourt, Louis; van Loon, Jack J. W. A.; Martins, Zita; Onofri, Silvano; Quinn, Richard C.; Rabbow, Elke; Rettberg, Petra; Ricco, Antonio J.; Slenzka, Klaus; de la Torre, Rosa; de Vera, Jean-Pierre; Westall, Frances; Carrasco, Nathalie; Fresneau, Aurélien; Kawaguchi, Yuko; Kebukawa, Yoko; Nguyen, Dara; Poch, Olivier; Saiagh, Kafila; Stalport, Fabien; Yamagishi, Akihiko; Yano, Hajime; Klamm, Benjamin A.

    2017-07-01

    The space environment is regularly used for experiments addressing astrobiology research goals. The specific conditions prevailing in Earth orbit and beyond, notably the radiative environment (photons and energetic particles) and the possibility to conduct long-duration measurements, have been the main motivations for developing experimental concepts to expose chemical or biological samples to outer space, or to use the reentry of a spacecraft on Earth to simulate the fall of a meteorite. This paper represents an overview of past and current research in astrobiology conducted in Earth orbit and beyond, with a special focus on ESA missions such as Biopan, STONE (on Russian FOTON capsules) and EXPOSE facilities (outside the International Space Station). The future of exposure platforms is discussed, notably how they can be improved for better science return, and how to incorporate the use of small satellites such as those built in cubesat format.

  17. Cell biology and biotechnology research for exploration of the Moon and Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pellis, N.; North, R.

    Health risks generated by human long exposure to radiation, microgravity, and unknown factors in the planetary environment are the major unresolved issues for human space exploration. A complete characterization of human and other biological systems adaptation processes to long-duration space missions is necessary for the development of countermeasures. The utilization of cell and engineered tissue cultures in space research and exploration complements research in human, animal, and plant subjects. We can bring a small number of humans, animals, or plants to the ISS, Moon, and Mars. However, we can investigate millions of their cells during these missions. Furthermore, many experiments can not be performed on humans, e.g. radiation exposure, cardiac muscle. Cells from critical tissues and tissue constructs per se are excellent subjects for experiments that address underlying mechanisms important to countermeasures. The development of cell tissue engineered for replacement, implantation of biomaterial to induce tissue regeneration (e.g. absorbable collagen matrix for guiding tissue regeneration in periodontal surgery), and immunoisolation (e.g. biopolymer coating on transplanted tissues to ward off immunological rejection) are good examples of cell research and biotechnology applications. NASA Cell Biology and Biotechnology research include Bone/Muscle and Cardiovascular cell culture and tissue engineering; Environmental Health and Life Support Systems; Immune System; Radiation; Gravity Thresholds ; and Advanced Biotechnology Development to increase the understanding of animal and plant cell adaptive behavior when exposed to space, and to advance technologies that facilitates exploration. Cell systems can be used to investigate processes related to food, microbial proliferation, waste management, biofilms and biomaterials. The NASA Cell Science Program has the advantage of conducting research in microgravity based on significantly small resources, and the ability to

  18. IRON-TOLERANT CYANOBACTERIA: IMPLICATIONS FOR ASTROBIOLOGY

    Science.gov (United States)

    Brown, Igor I.; Allen, Carlton C.; Mummey, Daniel L.; Sarkisova, Svetlana A.; McKay, David S.

    2006-01-01

    The review is dedicated to the new group of extremophiles - iron tolerant cyanobacteria. The authors have analyzed earlier published articles about the ecology of iron tolerant cyanobacteria and their diversity. It was concluded that contemporary iron depositing hot springs might be considered as relative analogs of Precambrian environment. The authors have concluded that the diversity of iron-tolerant cyanobacteria is understudied. The authors also analyzed published data about the physiological peculiarities of iron tolerant cyanobacteria. They made the conclusion that iron tolerant cyanobacteria may oxidize reduced iron through the photosystem of cyanobacteria. The involvement of both Reaction Centers 1 and 2 is also discussed. The conclusion that iron tolerant protocyanobacteria could be involved in banded iron formations generation is also proposed. The possible mechanism of the transition from an oxygenic photosynthesis to an oxygenic one is also discussed. In the final part of the review the authors consider the possible implications of iron tolerant cyanobacteria for astrobiology.

  19. The astrobiology primer: an outline of general knowledge--version 1, 2006.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Billings, L; Cameron, V; Claire, M; Dick, G J; Domagal-Goldman, S D; Javaux, E J; Johnson, O J; Laws, C; Race, M S; Rask, J; Rummel, J D; Schelble, R T; Vance, S

    2006-10-01

    The Astrobiology Primer has been created as a reference tool for those who are interested in the interdisciplinary field of astrobiology. The field incorporates many diverse research endeavors, but it is our hope that this slim volume will present the reader with all he or she needs to know to become involved and to understand, at least at a fundamental level, the state of the art. Each section includes a brief overview of a topic and a short list of readable and important literature for those interested in deeper knowledge. Because of the great diversity of material, each section was written by a different author with a different expertise. Contributors, authors, and editors are listed at the beginning, along with a list of those chapters and sections for which they were responsible. We are deeply indebted to the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI), in particular to Estelle Dodson, David Morrison, Ed Goolish, Krisstina Wilmoth, and Rose Grymes for their continued enthusiasm and support. The Primer came about in large part because of NAI support for graduate student research, collaboration, and inclusion as well as direct funding. We have entitled the Primer version 1 in hope that it will be only the first in a series, whose future volumes will be produced every 3-5 years. This way we can insure that the Primer keeps up with the current state of research. We hope that it will be a great resource for anyone trying to stay abreast of an ever-changing field.

  20. Effects of Perchlorate on Organic Molecules under Simulated Mars Conditions

    Science.gov (United States)

    Carrier, B. L.; Kounaves, S. P.

    2014-12-01

    . 118, p. 1955, 2013 [3] Carrier & Kounaves (2014), Abstract #2570, 45th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, [4] Kerr, Science, Vol. 340, p. 138, 2013 [5] Catling et al., J. Geophys. Res., Vol. 115, p. E00E11, 2010 [6] Martucci (2012), National Conference of Undergraduate Research [7] Quinn et al, Astrobiology, Vol. 13(6) p. 515-20, 2013

  1. Miniature GC: Minicell ion mobility spectrometer (IMS) for astrobiology planetary missions

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kojiro, Daniel R.; Holland, Paul M.; Stimac, Robert M.; Kaye, William J.; Takeuchi, Norishige

    2006-01-01

    Astrobiology flight experiments require highly sensitive instrumentation for in situ analysis of volatile chemical species and minerals present in the atmospheres and surfaces of planets, moons, and asteroids. The complex mixtures encountered place a heavy burden on the analytical instrumentation to detect and identify all species present. The use of land rovers and balloon aero-rovers place additional emphasis on miniaturization of the analytical instrumentation. In addition, smaller instruments, using tiny amounts of consumables, allow the use of more instrumentation and/or longer mission life for stationary landers/laboratories. We describe here the development of a miniature GC - Minicell Ion Mobility Spectrometer (IMS) under development through NASA's Astrobiology Science and Technology Instrument Development (ASTID) Program and NASA's Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Program.

  2. Ethics and the Potential Conflicts between Astrobiology, Planetary Protection, and Commercial Use of Space

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Erik Persson

    2017-05-01

    Full Text Available A high standard of planetary protection is important for astrobiology, though the risk for contamination can never be zero. It is therefore important to find a balance. If extraterrestrial life has a moral standing in its own right, it will also affect what we have to do to protect it. The questions of how far we need to go to protect extraterrestrial life will be even more acute and complicated when the time comes to use habitable worlds for commercial purposes. There will also be conflicts between those who want to set a world aside for more research and those who want to give the green light for development. I believe it is important to be proactive in relation to these issues. The aim of my project is therefore to identify, elucidate, and if possible, suggest solutions to potential conflicts between astrobiology, planetary protection, and commercial use of space.

  3. Psychrophiles and astrobiology: microbial life of frozen worlds

    Science.gov (United States)

    Pikuta, Elena V.; Hoover, Richard B.

    2003-01-01

    consider the Astrobiological significance of the Fox Tunnel with its rich assemblage of frozen microbes as proxy for developing techniques that may help optimize the search for evidence of life in the permafrost of Mars. We provide images of a novel anaerobic, heterotrophic, psychrotrophic bacterium (str.FTR1) isolated in pure culture from the Fox Tunnel. We also describe novel psychrotrophs isolated from guano of the Magellanic penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) from the southern tip of Patagonia. These strains PmagG1 and PPP2) represent new species and genera of anaerobic microbes that grow at very low temperatures. The lowest limit for growth without morphological changes of str.PmagG1 is -4°C.

  4. Miniature GC-Minicell Ion Mobility Spectrometer (IMS) for In Situ Measurements in Astrobiology Planetary Missions

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kojiro, Daniel R.; Stimac, Robert M.; Kaye, William J.; Holland, Paul M.; Takeuchi, Norishige

    2006-01-01

    Astrobiology flight experiments require highly sensitive instrumentation for in situ analysis of volatile chemical species and minerals present in the atmospheres and surfaces of planets, moons, and asteroids. The complex mixtures encountered place a heavy burden on the analytical instrumentation to detect and identify all species present. The use of land rovers and balloon aero-rovers place additional emphasis on miniaturization of the analytical instrumentation. In addition, smaller instruments, using tiny amounts of consumables, allow the use of more instrumentation and/or ionger mission life for stationary landers/laboratories. The miniCometary Ice and Dust Experiment (miniCIDEX), which combined Gas Chromatography (GC) with helium Ion Mobility Spectrometry (IMS), was capable of providing the wide range of analytical information required for Astrobiology missions. The IMS used here was based on the PCP model 111 IMS. A similar system, the Titan Ice and Dust Experiment (TIDE), was proposed as part of the Titan Orbiter Aerorover Mission (TOAM). Newer GC systems employing Micro Electro- Mechanical System (MEMS) based technology have greatly reduced both the size and resource requirements for space GCs. These smaller GCs, as well as the continuing miniaturization of Astrobiology analytical instruments in general, has highlighted the need for smaller, dry helium IMS systems. We describe here the development of a miniature, MEMS GC-IMS system (MEMS GC developed by Thorleaf Research Inc.), employing the MiniCell Ion Mobility Spectrometer (IMS), from Ion Applications Inc., developed through NASA's Astrobiology Science and Technology Instrument Development (ASTID) Program and NASA s Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Program.

  5. Validation Calculations for the Application of MARS Code to the Safety Analysis of Research Reactors

    Energy Technology Data Exchange (ETDEWEB)

    Park, Cheol; Kim, H.; Chae, H. T.; Lim, I. C

    2006-10-15

    In order to investigate the applicability of MARS code to the accident analysis of the HANARO and other RRs, the following test data were simulated. Test data of the HANARO design and operation, Test data of flow instability and void fraction from published documents, IAEA RR transient data in TECDOC-643, Brazilian IEA-R1 experimental data. For the simulation of the HANARO data with finned rod type fuels at low pressure and low temperature conditions, MARS code, developed for the transient analysis of power reactors, was modified. Its prediction capability was assessed against the experimental data for the HANARO. From the assessment results, it can be said that the modified MARS code could be used for analyzing the thermal hydraulic transient of the HANARO. Some other simulations such as flow instability test and reactor transients were also done for the application of MARS code to RRs with plate type fuels. In the simulation for these cases, no modification was made. The results of simulated cases show that the MARS code can be used to the transient analysis of RRs with careful considerations. In particular, it seems that an improvement on a void model may be necessary for dealing with the phenomena in high void conditions.

  6. Validation Calculations for the Application of MARS Code to the Safety Analysis of Research Reactors

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Park, Cheol; Kim, H.; Chae, H. T.; Lim, I. C.

    2006-10-01

    In order to investigate the applicability of MARS code to the accident analysis of the HANARO and other RRs, the following test data were simulated. Test data of the HANARO design and operation, Test data of flow instability and void fraction from published documents, IAEA RR transient data in TECDOC-643, Brazilian IEA-R1 experimental data. For the simulation of the HANARO data with finned rod type fuels at low pressure and low temperature conditions, MARS code, developed for the transient analysis of power reactors, was modified. Its prediction capability was assessed against the experimental data for the HANARO. From the assessment results, it can be said that the modified MARS code could be used for analyzing the thermal hydraulic transient of the HANARO. Some other simulations such as flow instability test and reactor transients were also done for the application of MARS code to RRs with plate type fuels. In the simulation for these cases, no modification was made. The results of simulated cases show that the MARS code can be used to the transient analysis of RRs with careful considerations. In particular, it seems that an improvement on a void model may be necessary for dealing with the phenomena in high void conditions

  7. Developing the critical thinking skills of astrobiology students through creative and scientific inquiry.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Foster, Jamie S; Lemus, Judith D

    2015-01-01

    Scientific inquiry represents a multifaceted approach to explore and understand the natural world. Training students in the principles of scientific inquiry can help promote the scientific learning process as well as help students enhance their understanding of scientific research. Here, we report on the development and implementation of a learning module that introduces astrobiology students to the concepts of creative and scientific inquiry, as well as provide practical exercises to build critical thinking skills. The module contained three distinct components: (1) a creative inquiry activity designed to introduce concepts regarding the role of creativity in scientific inquiry; (2) guidelines to help astrobiology students formulate and self-assess questions regarding various scientific content and imagery; and (3) a practical exercise where students were allowed to watch a scientific presentation and practice their analytical skills. Pre- and post-course surveys were used to assess the students' perceptions regarding creative and scientific inquiry and whether this activity impacted their understanding of the scientific process. Survey results indicate that the exercise helped improve students' science skills by promoting awareness regarding the role of creativity in scientific inquiry and building their confidence in formulating and assessing scientific questions. Together, the module and survey results confirm the need to include such inquiry-based activities into the higher education classroom, thereby helping students hone their critical thinking and question asking skill set and facilitating their professional development in astrobiology.

  8. The Cuatro Ciénegas Basin in Coahuila, Mexico: An Astrobiological Precambrian Park

    Science.gov (United States)

    Siefert, Janet L.; Escalante, Ana E.; Elser, James J.; Eguiarte, Luis E.

    2012-01-01

    Abstract The Cuatro Ciénegas Basin (CCB) is a rare oasis in the Chihuahuan Desert in the state of Coahuila, Mexico. It has a biological endemism similar to that of the Galapagos Islands, and its spring-fed ecosystems have very low nutrient content (nitrogen or phosphorous) and are dominated by diverse microbialites. Thus, it has proven to be a distinctive opportunity for the field of astrobiology, as the CCB can be seen as a proxy for an earlier time in Earth's history, in particular the late Precambrian, the biological frontier when prokaryotic life yielded at least partial dominance to eukaryotes and multicellular life. It is a kind of ecological time machine that provides abundant opportunities for collaborative investigations by geochemists, geologists, ecologists, and population biologists in the study of the evolutionary processes that structured Earth-based life, especially in the microbial realm. The CCB is an object of investigation for the identification of biosignatures of past and present biota that can be used in our search for extraterrestrial life. In this review, we summarize CCB research efforts that began with microbial ecology and population biology projects and have since been expanded into broader efforts that involve biogeochemistry, comparative genomics, and assessments of biosignatures. We also propose that, in the future, the CCB is sanctioned as a “Precambrian Park” for astrobiology. Key Words: Microbial mats—Stromatolites—Early Earth—Extremophilic microorganisms—Microbial ecology. Astrobiology 12, 641–647. PMID:22920514

  9. Assessing the Ecophysiology of Methanogens in the Context of Recent Astrobiological and Planetological Studies

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Ruth-Sophie Taubner

    2015-12-01

    Full Text Available Among all known microbes capable of thriving under extreme and, therefore, potentially extraterrestrial environmental conditions, methanogens from the domain Archaea are intriguing organisms. This is due to their broad metabolic versatility, enormous diversity, and ability to grow under extreme environmental conditions. Several studies revealed that growth conditions of methanogens are compatible with environmental conditions on extraterrestrial bodies throughout the Solar System. Hence, life in the Solar System might not be limited to the classical habitable zone. In this contribution we assess the main ecophysiological characteristics of methanogens and compare these to the environmental conditions of putative habitats in the Solar System, in particular Mars and icy moons. Eventually, we give an outlook on the feasibility and the necessity of future astrobiological studies concerning methanogens.

  10. Searching for Life on Mars Before It Is Too Late.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Fairén, Alberto G; Parro, Victor; Schulze-Makuch, Dirk; Whyte, Lyle

    2017-10-01

    Decades of robotic exploration have confirmed that in the distant past, Mars was warmer and wetter and its surface was habitable. However, none of the spacecraft missions to Mars have included among their scientific objectives the exploration of Special Regions, those places on the planet that could be inhabited by extant martian life or where terrestrial microorganisms might replicate. A major reason for this is because of Planetary Protection constraints, which are implemented to protect Mars from terrestrial biological contamination. At the same time, plans are being drafted to send humans to Mars during the 2030 decade, both from international space agencies and the private sector. We argue here that these two parallel strategies for the exploration of Mars (i.e., delaying any efforts for the biological reconnaissance of Mars during the next two or three decades and then directly sending human missions to the planet) demand reconsideration because once an astronaut sets foot on Mars, Planetary Protection policies as we conceive them today will no longer be valid as human arrival will inevitably increase the introduction of terrestrial and organic contaminants and that could jeopardize the identification of indigenous martian life. In this study, we advocate for reassessment over the relationships between robotic searches, paying increased attention to proactive astrobiological investigation and sampling of areas more likely to host indigenous life, and fundamentally doing this in advance of manned missions. Key Words: Contamination-Earth Mars-Planetary Protection-Search for life (biosignatures). Astrobiology 17, 962-970.

  11. Mars Exploration Student Data Teams: Building Foundations and Influencing Students to Pursue STEM Careers through Experiences with Authentic Research

    Science.gov (United States)

    Turney, D.; Grigsby, B.; Murchie, S. L.; Buczkowski, D.; Seelos, K. D.; Nair, H.; McGovern, A.; Morgan, F.; Viviano, C. E.; Goudge, T. A.; Thompson, D.

    2013-12-01

    The Mars Exploration Student Data Teams (MESDT) immerses diverse teams of high school and undergraduate students in an authentic research Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) based experience and allows students to be direct participants in the scientific process by working with scientists to analyze data sets from NASA's Mars program, specifically from the CRISM instrument. MESDT was created by Arizona State University's Mars Education Program, and is funded through NASA's Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars or CRISM, an instrument onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). Students work with teacher mentors and CRISM team members to analyze data, develop hypotheses, conduct research, submit proposals, critique and revise work. All students begin the program with basic Mars curriculum lessons developed by the MESDT education team. This foundation enables the program to be inclusive of all students. Teachers have reported that populations of students with diverse academic needs and abilities have been successful in this program. The use of technology in the classroom allows the MESDT program to successfully reach a nationwide audience and funding provided by NASA's CRISM instrument allows students to participate free of charge. Recent changes to the program incorporate a partnership with United States Geological Survey (USGS) and a CRISM sponsored competitive scholarship for two teams of students to present their work at the annual USGS Planetary Mappers Meeting. Returning MESDT teachers have attributed an increase in student enrollment and interest to this scholarship opportunity. The 2013 USGS Planetary Mappers Meeting was held in Washington DC which provided an opportunity for the students to meet with their Senators at the US Capitol to explain the science work they had done throughout the year as well as the impact that the program had had on their goals for the future. This opportunity extended to the students by the

  12. Properties of Subsurface Soil Cores from Four Geologic Provinces Surrounding Mars Desert Research Station, Utah: Characterizing Analog Martian Soil in a Human Exploration Scenario

    Science.gov (United States)

    Stoker, C. R.; Clarke, J. D. A.; Direito, S.; Foing, B.

    2011-01-01

    The DOMEX program is a NASA-MMAMA funded project featuring simulations of human crews on Mars focused on science activities that involve collecting samples from the subsurface using both manual and robotic equipment methods and analyzing them in the field and post mission. A crew simulating a human mission to Mars performed activities focused on subsurface science for 2 weeks in November 2009 at Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah --an important chemical and morphological Mars analog site. Activities performed included 1) survey of the area to identify geologic provinces, 2) obtaining soil and rock samples from each province and characterizing their mineralogy, chemistry, and biology; 3) site selection and reconnaissance for a future drilling mission; 4) deployment and testing of Mars Underground Mole, a percussive robotic soil sampling device; and 5) recording and analyzing how crew time was used to accomplish these tasks. This paper summarizes results from analysis of soil cores

  13. Astrobiology: An astronomer's perspective

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Bergin, Edwin A.

    2014-01-01

    In this review we explore aspects of the field of astrobiology from an astronomical viewpoint. We therefore focus on the origin of life in the context of planetary formation, with additional emphasis on tracing the most abundant volatile elements, C, H, O, and N that are used by life on Earth. We first explore the history of life on our planet and outline the current state of our knowledge regarding the delivery of the C, H, O, N elements to the Earth. We then discuss how astronomers track the gaseous and solid molecular carriers of these volatiles throughout the process of star and planet formation. It is now clear that the early stages of star formation fosters the creation of water and simple organic molecules with enrichments of heavy isotopes. These molecules are found as ice coatings on the solid materials that represent microscopic beginnings of terrestrial worlds. Based on the meteoritic and cometary record, the process of planet formation, and the local environment, lead to additional increases in organic complexity. The astronomical connections towards this stage are only now being directly made. Although the exact details are uncertain, it is likely that the birth process of star and planets likely leads to terrestrial worlds being born with abundant water and organics on the surface

  14. Astrobiology: An astronomer's perspective

    Energy Technology Data Exchange (ETDEWEB)

    Bergin, Edwin A. [University of Michigan, Department of Astronomy, 500 Church Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109 (United States)

    2014-12-08

    In this review we explore aspects of the field of astrobiology from an astronomical viewpoint. We therefore focus on the origin of life in the context of planetary formation, with additional emphasis on tracing the most abundant volatile elements, C, H, O, and N that are used by life on Earth. We first explore the history of life on our planet and outline the current state of our knowledge regarding the delivery of the C, H, O, N elements to the Earth. We then discuss how astronomers track the gaseous and solid molecular carriers of these volatiles throughout the process of star and planet formation. It is now clear that the early stages of star formation fosters the creation of water and simple organic molecules with enrichments of heavy isotopes. These molecules are found as ice coatings on the solid materials that represent microscopic beginnings of terrestrial worlds. Based on the meteoritic and cometary record, the process of planet formation, and the local environment, lead to additional increases in organic complexity. The astronomical connections towards this stage are only now being directly made. Although the exact details are uncertain, it is likely that the birth process of star and planets likely leads to terrestrial worlds being born with abundant water and organics on the surface.

  15. Wet Mars, Dry Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Fillingim, M. O.; Brain, D. A.; Peticolas, L. M.; Yan, D.; Fricke, K. W.; Thrall, L.

    2012-12-01

    The magnetic fields of the large terrestrial planets, Venus, Earth, and Mars, are all vastly different from each other. These differences can tell us a lot about the interior structure, interior history, and even give us clues to the atmospheric history of these planets. This poster highlights the third in a series of presentations that target school-age audiences with the overall goal of helping the audience visualize planetary magnetic field and understand how they can impact the climatic evolution of a planet. Our first presentation, "Goldilocks and the Three Planets," targeted to elementary school age audiences, focuses on the differences in the atmospheres of Venus, Earth, and Mars and the causes of the differences. The second presentation, "Lost on Mars (and Venus)," geared toward a middle school age audience, highlights the differences in the magnetic fields of these planets and what we can learn from these differences. Finally, in the third presentation, "Wet Mars, Dry Mars," targeted to high school age audiences and the focus of this poster, the emphasis is on the long term climatic affects of the presence or absence of a magnetic field using the contrasts between Earth and Mars. These presentations are given using visually engaging spherical displays in conjunction with hands-on activities and scientifically accurate 3D models of planetary magnetic fields. We will summarize the content of our presentations, discuss our lessons learned from evaluations, and show (pictures of) our hands-on activities and 3D models.

  16. Tanpopo: Astrobiology Exposure and Micrometeoroid Capture Experiments

    Science.gov (United States)

    Yamagishi, Akihiko; Yano, Hajime; Yamashita, Masamichi; Hashimoto, Hirofumi; Kobayashi, Kensei; Kawai, Hideyuki; Mita, Hajime; Yokobori, Shin-ichi; Tabata, Makoto; Yabuta, Hikaru

    2012-07-01

    There is a long history of the microbe-collection experiments at high altitude (1). Microbes have been collected using balloons, aircraft and meteorological rockets. Spore forming fungi and Bacilli, and Micrococci have been isolated in these experiments (1). It is not clear how high do microbes go up. If the microbes might have been present even at higher altitudes, the fact would endorse the possibility of interplanetary migration of life. Tanpopo, dandelion, is the name of a grass whose seeds with floss are spread by the wind. We propose the analyses of interplanetary migration of microbes, organic compounds and meteoroids on Japan Experimental Module (JEM) of the International Space Station (ISS) (2). Ultra low-density aerogel will be used to capture micrometeoroid and debris. Particles captured by aerogel will be used for several analyses after the initial inspection of the gel and tracks. Careful analysis of the tracks in the aerogel will provide the size and velocity dependence of debris flux. The particles will be analyzed for mineralogical, organic and microbiological characteristics. Aerogels are ready for production in Japan. Aerogels and trays are space proven. All the analytical techniques are ready. In this presentation, we will present the recent results related to the microbiological analyses. The results suggested that the bleaching speeds and the spectra of fluorescence are different between different origins of the fluorescence: whether it is emitted from microbe or not. It is also shown that PCR analysis of the microbe can be used to determine the species. References 1)Yang, Y., Yokobori, S. and Yamagishi, A.: Assessing panspermia hypothesis by microorganisms collected from the high altitude atmosphere. Biol. Sci. Space, 23 (2009), pp. 151-163. 2) Yamagishi, A., H. Yano, K. Kobayashi, K. Kobayashi, S. Yokobori, M. Tabata, H. Kawai, M. Yamashita, H. Hashimoto, H. Naraoka, & H. Mita (2008) TANPOPO: astrobiology exposure and micrometeoroid capture

  17. An Astrobiological Experiment to Explore the Habitability of Tidally Locked M-Dwarf Planets

    Science.gov (United States)

    Angerhausen, Daniel; Sapers, Haley; Simoncini, Eugenio; Lutz, Stefanie; Alexandre, Marcelo da Rosa; Galante, Douglas

    2014-04-01

    We present a summary of a three-year academic research proposal drafted during the Sao Paulo Advanced School of Astrobiology (SPASA) to prepare for upcoming observations of tidally locked planets orbiting M-dwarf stars. The primary experimental goal of the suggested research is to expose extremophiles from analogue environments to a modified space simulation chamber reproducing the environmental parameters of a tidally locked planet in the habitable zone of a late-type star. Here we focus on a description of the astronomical analysis used to define the parameters for this climate simulation.

  18. Applications of Operational Research Techniques in Optimization to Visit Tourist Points of Vina del Mar

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Joao CARDOSO NETO

    2012-01-01

    Full Text Available Chile is a country with great attractions for tourists in South America and the whole world. Among the many tourist Chilean attractions the city of Vina del Mar is one of the highlights, recognized nationally and internationally as one of the most beautiful places for summer. In Vina del Mar tourists have many options for leisure, besides pretty beaches, e.g. playa renaca, the city has beautiful squares and castles, e.g. Castillo Wulff built more than 100 (one hundred years ago. It is noteworthy that already exist over there five (5 tourist itineraries, so this work was developed in order to determine the best routes to these existing itineraries, and create a unique route that includes all the tourist points in Vina del Mar, because in this way, the tourists visiting this city can minimize the time spent in traveling, as well as optimize their moments of leisure, taking the opportunity to know all the city attractions. To determine shorter ways to do it and then propose some suggestions for improvement of the quality of the tourist service offered, it had used the exact method, by solving the mathematical model of the TSP (Traveling Salesman Problem, and the heuristic method, using the most economic insertion algorithm.

  19. A method to evaluate utility for architectural comparisons for a campaign to explore the surface of Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ward, Eric D.; Webb, Ryan R.; deWeck, Olivier L.

    2016-11-01

    There is a general consensus that Mars is the next high priority destination for human space exploration. There has been no lack of analysis and recommendations for human missions to Mars, including, for example, the NASA Design Reference Architectures and the Mars Direct proposal. These studies and others usually employ the traditional approach of selecting a baseline mission architecture and running individual trade studies. However, this can cause blind spots, as not all combinations are explored. An alternative approach is to holistically analyze the entire architectural trade-space such that all of the possible system interactions are identified and measured. In such a framework, an optimal design is sought by minimizing cost for maximal value. While cost is relatively easy to model for manned spaceflight, value is more difficult to define. In our efforts to develop a surface base architecture for the MIT Mars 2040 project, we explored several methods for quantifying value, including technology development benefits, challenge, and various metrics for measuring scientific return. We developed a science multi-score method that combines astrobiology and geologic research goals, which is weighted by the crew-member hours that can be used for scientific research rather than other activities.

  20. Habitability on Early Mars and the Search for Biosignatures with the ExoMars Rover

    Science.gov (United States)

    Westall, Frances; Coates, Andrew J.; Jaumann, Ralf; Korablev, Oleg; Ciarletti, Valérie; Mitrofanov, Igor; Josset, Jean-Luc; De Sanctis, Maria Cristina; Bibring, Jean-Pierre; Goesmann, Fred; Steininger, Harald; Brinckerhoff, William; Szopa, Cyril; Raulin, François; Westall, Frances; Edwards, Howell G. M.; Whyte, Lyle G.; Fairén, Alberto G.; Bibring, Jean-Pierre; Bridges, John; Hauber, Ernst; Ori, Gian Gabriele; Werner, Stephanie; Loizeau, Damien; Kuzmin, Ruslan O.; Williams, Rebecca M. E.; Flahaut, Jessica; Forget, François; Rodionov, Daniel; Korablev, Oleg; Svedhem, Håkan; Sefton-Nash, Elliot; Kminek, Gerhard; Lorenzoni, Leila; Joudrier, Luc; Mikhailov, Viktor; Zashchirinskiy, Alexander; Alexashkin, Sergei; Calantropio, Fabio; Merlo, Andrea; Poulakis, Pantelis; Witasse, Olivier; Bayle, Olivier; Bayón, Silvia; Meierhenrich, Uwe; Carter, John; García-Ruiz, Juan Manuel; Baglioni, Pietro; Haldemann, Albert; Ball, Andrew J.; Debus, André; Lindner, Robert; Haessig, Frédéric; Monteiro, David; Trautner, Roland; Voland, Christoph; Rebeyre, Pierre; Goulty, Duncan; Didot, Frédéric; Durrant, Stephen; Zekri, Eric; Koschny, Detlef; Toni, Andrea; Visentin, Gianfranco; Zwick, Martin; van Winnendael, Michel; Azkarate, Martín; Carreau, Christophe

    2017-01-01

    Abstract The second ExoMars mission will be launched in 2020 to target an ancient location interpreted to have strong potential for past habitability and for preserving physical and chemical biosignatures (as well as abiotic/prebiotic organics). The mission will deliver a lander with instruments for atmospheric and geophysical investigations and a rover tasked with searching for signs of extinct life. The ExoMars rover will be equipped with a drill to collect material from outcrops and at depth down to 2 m. This subsurface sampling capability will provide the best chance yet to gain access to chemical biosignatures. Using the powerful Pasteur payload instruments, the ExoMars science team will conduct a holistic search for traces of life and seek corroborating geological context information. Key Words: Biosignatures—ExoMars—Landing sites—Mars rover—Search for life. Astrobiology 17, 471–510.

  1. Licancabur Volcano, Bolivia and life in the Atacama: Environmental physics and analogies to Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hock, Andrew Nelson

    Although there is no perfect environmental analog to Mars on Earth, quantitative study of relevant terrestrial field sites can serve as the basis for physical models and technology development to aid future exploration. This dissertation describes original field and laboratory research on two terrestrial analog sites: Licancabur Volcano, Bolivia, and the Atacama Desert, Chile. Atop Licancabur, at an elevation of nearly 6,000 meters above sea level, sits the highest volcanic lake on Earth. Prior to this work, little was known about the lake, its waters, the role of volcanism or its potential relationship to locales on Mars. In the first part of this work, I describe observations of the lake resulting from several years of field study, including data on meteorological conditions and solar irradiance. These and other measurements provide the basis for (1) the first quantitative mass and energy balance model of the lake, and (2) the first determination of the altitude effect on solar visible and ultraviolet flux from the high altitude summit. Under the observed conditions, model results indicate: lake waters are primarily meteoric in origin and evaporating rapidly; volcanic input is not required to explain observations of lake water temperature or year-end model results. Nearby, Chile's Atacama Desert is known to be one of the driest, most inhospitable environments on Earth. There, environmental similarities to Mars provide an apt testing ground for new astrobiological exploration technologies. In the latter part of this work, I present results from my work with the Life In The Atacama (LITA) Mars rover field experiment. In particular, I report on the development of a new data analysis tool named the LITA Data Scoring System (DSS). Subject to the user-defined constraints, the DSS was used to facilitate targeting, analysis and mapping of rover science results relevant to potential habitability and evidence for life at three desert field sites. Although experimental in

  2. Nitrogen Concentrations and Isotopic Compositions of Seafloor-Altered Terrestrial Basaltic Glass: Implications for Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Banerjee, N.R.; Izawa, M.R.M.; Kobayashi, K.; Lazzeri, K.; Ranieri, L.A.; Nakamura, E.

    2018-01-01

    Abstract Observed enrichments of N (and the δ15N of this N) in volcanic glasses altered on Earth's modern and ancient seafloor are relevant in considerations of modern global N subduction fluxes and ancient life on Earth, and similarly altered glasses on Mars and other extraterrestrial bodies could serve as valuable tracers of biogeochemical processes. Palagonitized glasses and whole-rock samples of volcanic rocks on the modern seafloor (ODP Site 1256D) contain 3–18 ppm N with δ15Nair values of up to +4.5‰. Variably altered glasses from Mesozoic ophiolites (Troodos, Cyprus; Stonyford volcanics, USA) contain 2–53 ppm N with δ15N of −6.3 to +7‰. All of the more altered glasses have N concentrations higher than those of fresh volcanic glass (for MORB, smectite, illite) in both the palagonitized cracks and the microtubules. These phyllosilicates (particularly illite), and possibly also zeolites, are the likely hosts for N in these glasses. Key Words: Nitrogen—Nitrogen isotope—Palagonite—Volcanic glass—Mars. Astrobiology 18, 330–342. PMID:29106312

  3. Quick trips to Mars

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Hornung, R.

    1991-01-01

    The design of a Mars Mission Vehicle that would have to be launched by two very heavy lift launch vehicles is described along with plans for a mission to Mars. The vehicle has three nuclear engine for rocket vehicle application (NERVA) boosters with a fourth in the center that acts as a dual mode system. The fourth generates electrical power while in route, but it also helps lift the vehicle out of earth orbit. A Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV), a Mars transfer vehicle stage, and a Mars Excursion Vehicle (MEV) are located on the front end of this vehicle. Other aspects of this research including aerobraking, heat shielding, nuclear thermal rocket engines, a mars mission summary, closed Brayton cycle with and without regeneration, liquid hydrogen propellant storage, etc. are addressed

  4. Management Of Competition And Besting Among Crew Members: A Study At The Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) In Utah, USA

    Science.gov (United States)

    Allner, Matthew; Bishop, Sheryl; Gushin, Vadim; McKay, Chris; Rygalov, Vadim; Allner, Matthew

    Introduction: Psychosocial group functioning has become an increased international focus of many space faring nations due to the recent shift in focus of colonizing the Moon and then preparing to travel to Mars and beyond. Purpose: This study investigates the effects of competition and besting among crewmembers in isolated and confined extreme (ICE) environments. Furthermore, the study investigates the effects associated with both preand intra-mission management efforts, which included crewmember assessments at various mission phases (pre-, intra-, and end-mission). Suggestions on how to manage competition and besting within a crew were investigated by implementing preand intra-mission awareness strategies as well as group participation in the development and implementation of countermeasures to manage crewmember tendency towards competition and besting to promote the development of positive group functioning. Methods: A six person heterogeneous American crew conducted a Mars simulation mission at the Mars Society's Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, USA in 2006 as part of a new NASA training program called Spaceward Bound. Participants were administered assessments of personality, personal and group identity/functioning, subjective stress, and subjective motivation. All participants were also provided information (pre-mission) regarding past research findings and tendencies of group functioning, stressors, cognitive functioning, and competition and besting. Results: Anecdotal data obtained from personal interviews with crewmembers strongly showed that pre-mission discussions regarding competition and besting provided awareness that allowed crewmembers to continually self-assess to prevent this tendency from surfacing during the mission. The assessment data results showed support for recorded diary materials which indicated crewmembers felt strongly that continual reminders of the besting concept, along with being allowed to participate in the development and

  5. Astrobiology Science and Technology: A Path to Future Discovery

    Science.gov (United States)

    Meyer, M. A.; Lavaery, D. B.

    2001-01-01

    The Astrobiology Program is described. However, science-driven robotic exploration of extreme environments is needed for a new era of planetary exploration requiring biologically relevant instrumentation and extensive, autonomous operations on planetary surfaces. Additional information is contained in the original extended abstract.

  6. Astrobiology and the Possibility of Life on Earth and Elsewhere…

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Cottin, Hervé; Kotler, Julia Michelle; Bartik, Kristin; Cleaves, H. James; Cockell, Charles S.; de Vera, Jean Pierre P; Ehrenfreund, Pascale; Leuko, Stefan; Ten Kate, Inge Loes|info:eu-repo/dai/nl/292012217; Martins, Zita; Pascal, Robert; Quinn, Richard; Rettberg, Petra; Westall, Frances

    Astrobiology is an interdisciplinary scientific field not only focused on the search of extraterrestrial life, but also on deciphering the key environmental parameters that have enabled the emergence of life on Earth. Understanding these physical and chemical parameters is fundamental knowledge

  7. Astrobiology Courses--A Useful Framework for Teaching Interdisciplinary Science.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sauterer, Roger

    2000-01-01

    Explains astrobiology and indicates the possibility of life on other planets and the interest of humankind in this possibility. Defines topics open to public misconception and their primary reinforcements by television shows. Expresses the need for students to learn the connections between different science majors. (YDS)

  8. Moessbauer spectroscopy as a tool in astrobiology

    Energy Technology Data Exchange (ETDEWEB)

    Schroeder, Christian, E-mail: schroedc@uni-mainz.de; Klingelhoefer, Goestar, E-mail: klingel@mail.uni-mainz.de [Johannes Gutenberg-Universitaet, Institut fuer Anorganische Chemie und Analytische Chemie (Germany); Bailey, Brad E., E-mail: bebailey@ucsd.edu; Staudigel, Hubert, E-mail: hstaudigel@ucsd.edu [University of California San Diego, Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, Scripps Institution of Oceanography (United States)

    2005-11-15

    Two miniaturized Moessbauer spectrometers are part of the Athena instrument package of the NASA Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. The primary objectives of their science investigation are to explore two sites on the surface of Mars where water may once have been present, and to assess past environmental conditions at those sites and their suitability for life. Aqueous minerals - jarosite at Meridiani Planum, Opportunity's landing site, and goethite in the Columbia Hills in Gusev Crater, Spirit's landing site - were identified by Moessbauer spectroscopy, thus providing in situ proof of water being present at those sites in the past. The formation of jarosite in particular puts strong constraints on environmental conditions during the time of formation and hence on the evaluation of potential habitability. On Earth Moessbauer spectroscopy was used to investigate microbially induced changes in Fe oxidation states and mineralogy at the Loihi deep sea mount, a hydrothermal vent system, which might serve as an analogue for potential habitats in the Martian subsurface and the sub-ice ocean of Jupiter's icy moon Europa.

  9. Moessbauer spectroscopy as a tool in astrobiology

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Schroeder, Christian; Klingelhoefer, Goestar; Bailey, Brad E.; Staudigel, Hubert

    2005-01-01

    Two miniaturized Moessbauer spectrometers are part of the Athena instrument package of the NASA Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. The primary objectives of their science investigation are to explore two sites on the surface of Mars where water may once have been present, and to assess past environmental conditions at those sites and their suitability for life. Aqueous minerals - jarosite at Meridiani Planum, Opportunity's landing site, and goethite in the Columbia Hills in Gusev Crater, Spirit's landing site - were identified by Moessbauer spectroscopy, thus providing in situ proof of water being present at those sites in the past. The formation of jarosite in particular puts strong constraints on environmental conditions during the time of formation and hence on the evaluation of potential habitability. On Earth Moessbauer spectroscopy was used to investigate microbially induced changes in Fe oxidation states and mineralogy at the Loihi deep sea mount, a hydrothermal vent system, which might serve as an analogue for potential habitats in the Martian subsurface and the sub-ice ocean of Jupiter's icy moon Europa.

  10. Río Tinto: A Geochemical and Mineralogical Terrestrial Analogue of Mars

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Ricardo Amils

    2014-09-01

    Full Text Available The geomicrobiological characterization of the water column and sediments of Río Tinto (Huelva, Southwestern Spain have proven the importance of the iron and the sulfur cycles, not only in generating the extreme conditions of the habitat (low pH, high concentration of toxic heavy metals, but also in maintaining the high level of microbial diversity detected in the basin. It has been proven that the extreme acidic conditions of Río Tinto basin are not the product of 5000 years of mining activity in the area, but the consequence of an active underground bioreactor that obtains its energy from the massive sulfidic minerals existing in the Iberian Pyrite Belt. Two drilling projects, MARTE (Mars Astrobiology Research and Technology Experiment (2003–2006 and IPBSL (Iberian Pyrite Belt Subsurface Life Detection (2011–2015, were developed and carried out to provide evidence of subsurface microbial activity and the potential resources that support these activities. The reduced substrates and the oxidants that drive the system appear to come from the rock matrix. These resources need only groundwater to launch diverse microbial metabolisms. The similarities between the vast sulfate and iron oxide deposits on Mars and the main sulfide bioleaching products found in the Tinto basin have given Río Tinto the status of a geochemical and mineralogical Mars terrestrial analogue.

  11. Planetary Atmosphere and Surfaces Chamber (PASC: A Platform to Address Various Challenges in Astrobiology

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Eva Mateo-Marti

    2014-08-01

    Full Text Available The study of planetary environments of astrobiological interest has become a major challenge. Because of the obvious technical and economical limitations on in situ planetary exploration, laboratory simulations are one of the most feasible research options to make advances both in planetary science and in developing a consistent description of the origin of life. With this objective in mind, we applied vacuum technology to the design of versatile vacuum chambers devoted to the simulation of planetary atmospheres’ conditions. These vacuum chambers are able to simulate atmospheres and surface temperatures representative of the majority of planetary objects, and they are especially appropriate for studying the physical, chemical and biological changes induced in a particular sample by in situ irradiation or physical parameters in a controlled environment. Vacuum chambers are a promising potential tool in several scientific and technological fields, such as engineering, chemistry, geology and biology. They also offer the possibility of discriminating between the effects of individual physical parameters and selected combinations thereof. The implementation of our vacuum chambers in combination with analytical techniques was specifically developed to make feasible the in situ physico-chemical characterization of samples. Many wide-ranging applications in astrobiology are detailed herein to provide an understanding of the potential and flexibility of these experimental systems. Instruments and engineering technology for space applications could take advantage of our environment-simulation chambers for sensor calibration. Our systems also provide the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the chemical reactivity of molecules on surfaces under different environments, thereby leading to a greater understanding of interface processes in prebiotic chemical reactions and facilitating studies of UV photostability and photochemistry on surfaces

  12. Systems astrobiology for a reliable biomarker on exo-worlds

    Science.gov (United States)

    Chela Flores, Julian

    2013-04-01

    Although astrobiology is a science midway between biology and astrophysics, it has surprisingly remained largely disconnected from recent trends in certain branches of both of these disciplines. Aiming at discovering how systems properties emerge has proved valuable in chemistry and in biology and should also yield insights into astrobiology. This is feasible since new large data banks in the case of astrobiology are of a geophysical/astronomical kind, rather than the also large molecular biology data that are used for questions related firstly, to genetics in a systems context and secondly, to biochemistry. The application of systems biology is illustrated for our own planetary system, where 3 Earth-like planets are within the habitable zone of a G2V star and where the process of photosynthesis has led to a single oxygenic atmosphere that was triggered during the Great Oxidation Event some 2,5 billion years before the present. The significance of the biogenic origin of a considerable fraction of our atmosphere has been discussed earlier (Kiang et al., 2007). Bonding of O2 ensures that it is stable enough to accumulate in a world's atmosphere if triggered by a living process. The reduction of F and Cl deliver energy release per e+-transfer, but unlike O2 the weaker bonding properties inhibit large atmospheric accumulation (Catling et al., 2005). The evolution of O2-producing photosynthesis is very likely on exo-worlds (Wolstencroft and Raven, 2002). With our simplifying assumption of evolutionary convergence, we show how to probe for a reliable biomarker in the exo-atmospheres of planets, or their satellites, orbiting stars of different luminosities and ages (Chela-Flores, 2013). We treat the living process as a system of exo-environments capable of radically modifying their geology and atmospheres, both for exo-planets, and especially for exo-moons, the presence of which can be extracted from the Kepler data (Kipping et al., 2012). What we are learning about the

  13. Mars @ ASDC

    Science.gov (United States)

    Carraro, Francesco

    "Mars @ ASDC" is a project born with the goal of using the new web technologies to assist researches involved in the study of Mars. This project employs Mars map and javascript APIs provided by Google to visualize data acquired by space missions on the planet. So far, visualization of tracks acquired by MARSIS and regions observed by VIRTIS-Rosetta has been implemented. The main reason for the creation of this kind of tool is the difficulty in handling hundreds or thousands of acquisitions, like the ones from MARSIS, and the consequent difficulty in finding observations related to a particular region. This led to the development of a tool which allows to search for acquisitions either by defining the region of interest through a set of geometrical parameters or by manually selecting the region on the map through a few mouse clicks The system allows the visualization of tracks (acquired by MARSIS) or regions (acquired by VIRTIS-Rosetta) which intersect the user defined region. MARSIS tracks can be visualized both in Mercator and polar projections while the regions observed by VIRTIS can presently be visualized only in Mercator projection. The Mercator projection is the standard map provided by Google. The polar projections are provided by NASA and have been developed to be used in combination with APIs provided by Google The whole project has been developed following the "open source" philosophy: the client-side code which handles the functioning of the web page is written in javascript; the server-side code which executes the searches for tracks or regions is written in PHP and the DB which undergoes the system is MySQL.

  14. Research from the NASA Twins Study and Omics in Support of Mars Missions

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kundrot, C.; Shelhamer, M.; Scott, G.

    2015-01-01

    The NASA Twins Study, NASA's first foray into integrated omic studies in humans, illustrates how an integrated omics approach can be brought to bear on the challenges to human health and performance on a Mars mission. The NASA Twins Study involves US Astronaut Scott Kelly and his identical twin brother, Mark Kelly, a retired US Astronaut. No other opportunity to study a twin pair for a prolonged period with one subject in space and one on the ground is available for the foreseeable future. A team of 10 principal investigators are conducting the Twins Study, examining a very broad range of biological functions including the genome, epigenome, transcriptome, proteome, metabolome, gut microbiome, immunological response to vaccinations, indicators of atherosclerosis, physiological fluid shifts, and cognition. A novel aspect of the study is the integrated study of molecular, physiological, cognitive, and microbiological properties. Major sample and data collection from both subjects for this study began approximately six months before Scott Kelly's one year mission on the ISS, continue while Scott Kelly is in flight and will conclude approximately six months after his return to Earth. Mark Kelly will remain on Earth during this study, in a lifestyle unconstrained by this study, thereby providing a measure of normal variation in the properties being studied. An overview of initial results and the future plans will be described as well as the technological and ethical issues raised for spaceflight studies involving omics.

  15. The Coevolution of Life and Environment on Mars: An Ecosystem Perspective on the Robotic Exploration of Biosignatures.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cabrol, Nathalie A

    2018-01-01

    Earth's biological and environmental evolution are intertwined and inseparable. This coevolution has become a fundamental concept in astrobiology and is key to the search for life beyond our planet. In the case of Mars, whether a coevolution took place is unknown, but analyzing the factors at play shows the uniqueness of each planetary experiment regardless of similarities. Early Earth and early Mars shared traits. However, biological processes on Mars, if any, would have had to proceed within the distinctive context of an irreversible atmospheric collapse, greater climate variability, and specific planetary characteristics. In that, Mars is an important test bed for comparing the effects of a unique set of spatiotemporal changes on an Earth-like, yet different, planet. Many questions remain unanswered about Mars' early environment. Nevertheless, existing data sets provide a foundation for an intellectual framework where notional coevolution models can be explored. In this framework, the focus is shifted from planetary-scale habitability to the prospect of habitats, microbial ecotones, pathways to biological dispersal, biomass repositories, and their meaning for exploration. Critically, as we search for biosignatures, this focus demonstrates the importance of starting to think of early Mars as a biosphere and vigorously integrating an ecosystem approach to landing site selection and exploration. Key Words: Astrobiology-Biosignatures-Coevolution of Earth and life-Mars. Astrobiology 18, 1-27.

  16. EXPOSE-E: an ESA astrobiology mission 1.5 years in space.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rabbow, Elke; Rettberg, Petra; Barczyk, Simon; Bohmeier, Maria; Parpart, André; Panitz, Corinna; Horneck, Gerda; von Heise-Rotenburg, Ralf; Hoppenbrouwers, Tom; Willnecker, Rainer; Baglioni, Pietro; Demets, René; Dettmann, Jan; Reitz, Guenther

    2012-05-01

    The multi-user facility EXPOSE-E was designed by the European Space Agency to enable astrobiology research in space (low-Earth orbit). On 7 February 2008, EXPOSE-E was carried to the International Space Station (ISS) on the European Technology Exposure Facility (EuTEF) platform in the cargo bay of Space Shuttle STS-122 Atlantis. The facility was installed at the starboard cone of the Columbus module by extravehicular activity, where it remained in space for 1.5 years. EXPOSE-E was returned to Earth with STS-128 Discovery on 12 September 2009 for subsequent sample analysis. EXPOSE-E provided accommodation in three exposure trays for a variety of astrobiological test samples that were exposed to selected space conditions: either to space vacuum, solar electromagnetic radiation at >110 nm and cosmic radiation (trays 1 and 3) or to simulated martian surface conditions (tray 2). Data on UV radiation, cosmic radiation, and temperature were measured every 10 s and downlinked by telemetry. A parallel mission ground reference (MGR) experiment was performed on ground with a parallel set of hardware and samples under simulated space conditions. EXPOSE-E performed a successful 1.5-year mission in space.

  17. Astrobiology: Water and Life in the Solar System and beyond

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Jorge Alberto Quillfeldt

    2010-03-01

    Full Text Available After some methodological considerations and a brief historical background (SETI, we describe the three main impulses to the present discipline of exo / astrobiology - extremophyles, the discovery of exoplanets, and the data gathered by several unmanned probes in the solar system. An overview of recent findings concerning the presence of frozen or liquid water in our planetary system is presented, and the main trends for the following years, summarized.

  18. Secondary School Students' Knowledge and Opinions on Astrobiology Topics and Related Social Issues

    OpenAIRE

    Oreiro Rey, Raquel; Solbes Matarredona, Jordi

    2017-01-01

    Astrobiology is the study of the origin of life on Earth and the distribution of life in the Universe. Its multidisciplinary approach, social and philosophical implications, and appeal within the discipline and beyond make astrobiology a uniquely qualified subject for general science education. In this study, student knowledge and opinions on astrobiology topics were investigated. Eighty-nine students in their last year of compulsory education (age 15) completed a written questionnaire that c...

  19. Life, the universe, and everything: an education outreach proposal to build a traveling astrobiology exhibit.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Barge, Laura M; Pulschen, André A; Emygdio, Ana Paula Mendes; Congreve, Curtis; Kishimoto, Darío E; Bendia, Amanda G; de Morais M Teles, Antonio; DeMarines, Julia; Stoupin, Daniel

    2013-03-01

    Astrobiology is a transdisciplinary field with extraordinary potential for the scientific community. As such, it is important to educate the community at large about the growing importance of this field to increase awareness and scientific content learning and expose potential future scientists. To this end, we propose the creation of a traveling museum exhibit that focuses exclusively on astrobiology and utilizes modern museum exhibit technology and design. This exhibit (the "Astrobiology Road Show"), organized and evaluated by an international group of astrobiology students and postdocs, is planned to tour throughout the Americas.

  20. Aseptically Sampled Organics in Subsurface Rocks From the Mars Analog Rio Tinto Experiment: An Analog For The Search for Deep Subsurface Life on Mars.}

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bonaccorsi, R.; Stoker, C. R.

    2005-12-01

    The subsurface is the key environment for searching for life on planets lacking surface life. Subsurface ecosystems are of great relevance to astrobiology including the search for past/present life on Mars. The surface of Mars has conditions preventing current life but the subsurface might preserve organics and even host some life [1]. The Mars-Analog-Rio-Tinto-Experiment (MARTE) is performing a simulation of a Mars drilling experiment. This comprises conventional and robotic drilling of cores in a volcanically-hosted-massive-pyrite deposit [2] from the Iberian Pyritic Belt (IBP) and life detection experiments applying anti-contamination protocols (e.g., ATP Luminometry assay). The RT is considered an important analog of the Sinus Meridiani site on Mars and an ideal model analog for a deep subsurface Martian environment. Former results from MARTE suggest the existence of a relatively complex subsurface life including aerobic and anaerobic chemoautotrophs and strict anaerobic methanogens sustained by Fe and S minerals in anoxic conditions. A key requirement for the analysis of a subsurface sample on Mars is a set of simple tests that can help determine if the sample contains organic material of biological origin, and its potential for retaining definitive biosignatures. We report here on the presence of bulk organic matter Corg (0.03-0.05 Wt%), and Ntot (0.01-0.04 Wt%) and amount of measured ATP (Lightning MVP, Biocontrol) in weathered rocks (tuffs, gossan, pyrite stockwork from Borehole #8; >166m). This provides key insight on the type of trophic system sustaining the subsurface biosphere (i.e., heterotrophs vs. autotrophs) at RT. ATP data (Relative-Luminosity-Units, RLU) provide information on possible contamination and distribution of viable biomass with core depth (BH#8, and BH#7, ~3m). Avg. 153 RLU, i.e., surface vs. center of core, suggest that cleaness/sterility can be maintained when using a simple sterile protocol under field conditions. Results from this

  1. Mars bevares

    DEFF Research Database (Denmark)

    Hendricks, Vincent Fella; Hendricks, Elbert

    2009-01-01

    2009 er femåret for Mission Mars. I den anledning opridser de to kronikører, far og søn, hvorfor man bør lade planer om en bemandet tur til Mars forblive i skrivebordsskuffen......2009 er femåret for Mission Mars. I den anledning opridser de to kronikører, far og søn, hvorfor man bør lade planer om en bemandet tur til Mars forblive i skrivebordsskuffen...

  2. Identification and Characterization of Extremophile Microorganisms with Significance to Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bej, Asim K.

    2003-01-01

    It is now well recognized that microorganisms thrive in extreme ecological conditions such as geothermal vents, polar region, acid and alkaline lakes, and the cold pressurized depth of the ocean floor of this planet. Morphological, physiological, biochemical and genetic adaptations to extreme environments by these extremophile microorganisms have generated immense interest amongst astrobiologists who increasingly believe in the existence of extraterrestrial life. The evidence collected by NASA's space probe Galileo suggested the presence of liquid water and volcanic activity on Mars and Jupiter's satellite Europa. Volcanic activity provides some of the heat necessary to keep the water on Europa from freezing that could provide important dissolved chemicals needed by living organisms. The possibility of the existence of hypersaline alkaline lakes and evaporites confined within closed volcanic basins and impact craters on Mars, and a layer of liquid water under the ice on Europa provide sufficient 'raison d'etre' to study microorganisms in similar extreme environments on Earth, which could provide us with a model that would help establish the existence of extraterrestrial life on other planetary bodies. The objectives of the summer research project were as follows: (1) application of molecular approaches to help establish new species of extremophile microorganisms isolated from a hypersaline alkaline lake; and (2) identification of a major cold-shock gene (cspA) homolog from a psychrotolerant microorganism, PmagG1.

  3. Astrobiology: Using Current Research to Invigorate Science Curricula

    Science.gov (United States)

    Nassif, Thomas Harttung; Zeller, Nancy

    2006-01-01

    Humans have long pondered the question of life's origins on Earth and sought to understand their place in the vast expanse of the Universe. Are they alone, in which case the inception of life is a phenomenon unique to planet Earth, or will they find signs of life on other terrestrial bodies? Today, technology allows space probes and rovers to…

  4. From Mars to man - Biomedical research at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory

    Science.gov (United States)

    Beckenbach, E. S.

    1984-01-01

    In the course of the unmanned exploration of the solar system, which the California Institute of Technology's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has managed for NASA, major advances in computerized image processing, materials research, and miniature electronics design have been accomplished. This presentation shows some of the imaging results from space exploration missions, as well as biomedical research tasks based in these technologies. Among other topics, the use of polymeric microspheres in cancer therapy is discussed. Also included are ceramic applications to prosthesis development, laser applications in the treatment of coronary artery disease, multispectral imaging as used in the diagnosis of thermal burn injury, and some examples of telemetry systems as they can be involved in biological systems.

  5. Mars Exploration Study Workshop II. Report of a workshop, Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA (USA), 24 - 25 May 1993.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Duke, M. B.; Budden, N. A.

    1993-11-01

    This report, which summarizes the Mars Exploration Study Workshop II, provides an overview of the status of the Mars Exploration Study, material presented at the workshop, and discussions of open items being addressed by the study team. The workshop assembled three teams of experts to discuss cost, dual-use technology, and international involvement, and to generate a working group white paper addressing these issues.

  6. The Mawrth Vallis region of Mars: A potential landing site for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Michalski, Joseph R; Jean-PierreBibring; Poulet, François; Loizeau, Damien; Mangold, Nicolas; Dobrea, Eldar Noe; Bishop, Janice L; Wray, James J; McKeown, Nancy K; Parente, Mario; Hauber, Ernst; Altieri, Francesca; Carrozzo, F Giacomo; Niles, Paul B

    2010-09-01

    The primary objective of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission, which will launch in 2011, is to characterize the habitability of a site on Mars through detailed analyses of the composition and geological context of surface materials. Within the framework of established mission goals, we have evaluated the value of a possible landing site in the Mawrth Vallis region of Mars that is targeted directly on some of the most geologically and astrobiologically enticing materials in the Solar System. The area around Mawrth Vallis contains a vast (>1 × 10⁶ km²) deposit of phyllosilicate-rich, ancient, layered rocks. A thick (>150 m) stratigraphic section that exhibits spectral evidence for nontronite, montmorillonite, amorphous silica, kaolinite, saponite, other smectite clay minerals, ferrous mica, and sulfate minerals indicates a rich geological history that may have included multiple aqueous environments. Because phyllosilicates are strong indicators of ancient aqueous activity, and the preservation potential of biosignatures within sedimentary clay deposits is high, martian phyllosilicate deposits are desirable astrobiological targets. The proposed MSL landing site at Mawrth Vallis is located directly on the largest and most phyllosilicate-rich deposit on Mars and is therefore an excellent place to explore for evidence of life or habitability.

  7. Emphasizing Astrobiology: Highlighting Communication in an Elective Course for Science Majors

    Science.gov (United States)

    Offerdahl, Erika G.; Prather, Edward E.; Slater, Timothy F.

    2004-01-01

    The project described here involved the design, implementation, and evaluation of an upper level, undergraduate elective course for science majors. Specific course goals were to help students gain an appreciation of the interdisciplinary nature of astrobiology, understand key ideas in astrobiology, and develop the skills necessary to communicate…

  8. Origins of Sinuous and Braided Channels on Ascraeus Mons, Mars - A Keck Geology Consortium Undergraduate Research Project

    Science.gov (United States)

    de Wet, A. P.; Bleacher, J. E.; Garry, W. B.

    2012-01-01

    Water has clearly played an important part in the geological evolution of Mars. There are many features on Mars that were almost certainly formed by fluvial processes -- for example, the channels Kasei Valles and Ares Vallis in the Chryse Planitia area of Mars are almost certainly fluvial features. On the other hand, there are many channel features that are much more difficult to interpret -- and have been variously attributed to volcanic and fluvial processes. Clearly unraveling the details of the role of water on Mars is extremely important, especially in the context of the search of extinct or extant life. In this project we built on our recent work in determining the origin of one channel on the southwest rift apron of Ascraeus Mons. This project, funded by the Keck Geology Consortium and involving 4 undergraduate geology majors took advantage of the recently available datasets to map and analyze similar features on Ascraeus Mons and some other areas of Mars. A clearer understanding of how these particular channel features formed might lead to the development of better criteria to distinguish how other Martian channel features formed. Ultimately this might provide us with a better understanding of the role of volcanic and fluvial processes in the geological evolution of Mars.

  9. Candidate cave entrances on Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cushing, Glen E.

    2012-01-01

    This paper presents newly discovered candidate cave entrances into Martian near-surface lava tubes, volcano-tectonic fracture systems, and pit craters and describes their characteristics and exploration possibilities. These candidates are all collapse features that occur either intermittently along laterally continuous trench-like depressions or in the floors of sheer-walled atypical pit craters. As viewed from orbit, locations of most candidates are visibly consistent with known terrestrial features such as tube-fed lava flows, volcano-tectonic fractures, and pit craters, each of which forms by mechanisms that can produce caves. Although we cannot determine subsurface extents of the Martian features discussed here, some may continue unimpeded for many kilometers if terrestrial examples are indeed analogous. The features presented here were identified in images acquired by the Mars Odyssey's Thermal Emission Imaging System visible-wavelength camera, and by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's Context Camera. Select candidates have since been targeted by the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment. Martian caves are promising potential sites for future human habitation and astrobiology investigations; understanding their characteristics is critical for long-term mission planning and for developing the necessary exploration technologies.

  10. A possible first use of the word astrobiology?

    Science.gov (United States)

    Briot, Danielle

    2012-12-01

    The word astrobiology was possibly first used in 1935, in an article published in a French popular science magazine. The author was Ary J. Sternfeld (1905-1980), a pioneer of astronautics who wrote numerous scientific books and papers. The article is remarkable because his portrayal of the concept is very similar to the way it is used today. Here I review the 1935 article and provide a brief history of Sternfeld's life, which was heavily influenced by the tragic events of 20(th) century history.

  11. Annual report of the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute, Apr. 1987 - Mar. 1988

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    1988-01-01

    In fiscal 1987, the Atomic Energy Commission of Japan revised the 'Long term program for development and utilization of nuclear energy', which is done every five years. It determined the future direction of the research and development in JAERI. Three basic objectives are indicated in it, that is, to qualitatively upgrade nuclear technology, to tackle the frontiers of the technology, and to promote international collaboration. The new 'Long term task plan' of JAERI based on the 'Long term program' was established in August, 1987. The integral experiment on loss of coolant accident, the test on reactivity-initiated accident, the irradiation and post-irradiation examination of fuel, the development of safety analysis codes, the design and safety analysis of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Safety Engineering Research Facility, the treatment and disposal of radioactive wastes, the preparatory work for constructing the High Temperature Engineering Test Reactor, the full scale plasma heating experiment with JT-60, the study on high efficiency confinement mode and current drive, the construction of the new home port for the nuclear ship 'Mutsu', the design of an advanced marine reactor, the reactor physics of FBRs and ATRs and other fundamental studies, and the operation of JRR-2, JRR-4 and JMTR are reported. (K.I.)

  12. From Fossils to Astrobiology Records of Life on Earth and Search for Extraterrestrial Biosignatures

    CERN Document Server

    Seckbach, Joseph

    2008-01-01

    From Fossils to Astrobiology reviews developments in paleontology and geobiology that relate to the rapidly-developing field of Astrobiology, the study of life in the Universe. Many traditional areas of scientific study, including astronomy, chemistry and planetary science, contribute to Astrobiology, but the study of the record of life on planet Earth is critical in guiding investigations in the rest of the cosmos. In this varied book, expert scientists from 15 countries present peer-reviewed, stimulating reviews of paleontological and astrobiological studies. The overviews of established and emerging techniques for studying modern and ancient microorganisms on Earth and beyond, will be valuable guides to evaluating biosignatures which could be found in the extraterrestrial surface or subsurface within the Solar System and beyond. This volume also provides discussion on the controversial reports of "nanobacteria" in the Martian meteorite ALH84001. It is a unique volume among Astrobiology monographs in focusi...

  13. Prototype Software for Future Spaceflight Tested at Mars Desert Research Station

    Science.gov (United States)

    Clancey, William J.; Sierhuis, Maaretn; Alena, Rick; Dowding, John; Garry, Brent; Scott, Mike; Tompkins, Paul; vanHoof, Ron; Verma, Vandi

    2006-01-01

    NASA scientists in MDRS Crew 49 (April 23-May 7, 2006) field tested and significantly extended a prototype monitoring and advising system that integrates power system telemetry with a voice commanding interface. A distributed, wireless network of functionally specialized agents interacted with the crew to provide alerts (e.g., impending shut-down of inverter due to low battery voltage), access md interpret historical data, and display troubleshooting procedures. In practical application during two weeks, the system generated speech over loudspeakers and headsets lo alert the crew about the need to investigate power system problems. The prototype system adapts the Brahms/Mobile Agents toolkit to receive data from the OneMeter (Brand Electronics) electric metering system deployed by Crew 47. A computer on the upper deck was connected to loudspeakers, four others were paired with wireless (Bluetooth) headsets that enabled crew members to interact with their personal agents from anywhere in the hab. Voice commands and inquiries included: 1. What is the {battery | generator} {volts | amps | volts and amps}? 2. What is the status of the {generator | inverter | battery | solar panel}? 3. What is the hab{itat} {power usage | volts | voltage | amps | volts and amps}? 4. What was the average hab{itat} {amps | volts | voltage} since {AM | PM)? 5. When did the {generator | batteries} change status? 6. Tell {me I | everyone} when{ ever} the generator goes offline. 7. Tell {me | | everyone} when the hab{itat} {amps | volts | voltage} {exceeds | drops brelow} . 8. {Send | Take | Record} {a} voice note {(for | to} } {at }. This research demonstrates the principles of design in the context of use, investigating requirements through experimental use of prototype systems in an analog setting, and use of MDRS as a research facility for designing and implementing new systems.

  14. The Biomolecule Sequencer Project: Nanopore Sequencing as a Dual-Use Tool for Crew Health and Astrobiology Investigations

    Science.gov (United States)

    John, K. K.; Botkin, D. S.; Burton, A. S.; Castro-Wallace, S. L.; Chaput, J. D.; Dworkin, J. P.; Lehman, N.; Lupisella, M. L.; Mason, C. E.; Smith, D. J.; hide

    2016-01-01

    Human missions to Mars will fundamentally transform how the planet is explored, enabling new scientific discoveries through more sophisticated sample acquisition and processing than can currently be implemented in robotic exploration. The presence of humans also poses new challenges, including ensuring astronaut safety and health and monitoring contamination. Because the capability to transfer materials to Earth will be extremely limited, there is a strong need for in situ diagnostic capabilities. Nucleotide sequencing is a particularly powerful tool because it can be used to: (1) mitigate microbial risks to crew by allowing identification of microbes in water, in air, and on surfaces; (2) identify optimal treatment strategies for infections that arise in crew members; and (3) track how crew members, microbes, and mission-relevant organisms (e.g., farmed plants) respond to conditions on Mars through transcriptomic and genomic changes. Sequencing would also offer benefits for science investigations occurring on the surface of Mars by permitting identification of Earth-derived contamination in samples. If Mars contains indigenous life, and that life is based on nucleic acids or other closely related molecules, sequencing would serve as a critical tool for the characterization of those molecules. Therefore, spaceflight-compatible nucleic acid sequencing would be an important capability for both crew health and astrobiology exploration. Advances in sequencing technology on Earth have been driven largely by needs for higher throughput and read accuracy. Although some reduction in size has been achieved, nearly all commercially available sequencers are not compatible with spaceflight due to size, power, and operational requirements. Exceptions are nanopore-based sequencers that measure changes in current caused by DNA passing through pores; these devices are inherently much smaller and require significantly less power than sequencers using other detection methods

  15. A proposal to improve the communication of the results of educational research of the UCP "Rafael María de Mendive" publications in other formats

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Débora Mainegra Fernández

    2012-12-01

    Full Text Available The present article presents an analysis of the state of the science of communication at a global level, together with the situation that it presents in the University of Pedagogical Sciences "Rafael María de Mendive" which reflects the proportionality between the scientific level developed by its researchers and the quantity of publications that have been made. In turn, it presents a specific proposal of strategy to improve this aspect.

  16. Might Astrobiological Findings Evoke a Religious Crisis?

    Science.gov (United States)

    Peters, T.; Froehlig, J. L.

    2009-12-01

    What might be the likely impact of confirmed discovery of extraterrestrial life—microbial or intelligent life—on terrestrial religion? Many have speculated that the anthropo-centrism and earth-centrism which allegedly have characterized our religious traditions would be confronted with a crisis. Would new knowledge that we are not alone in the universe lead to a collapse of traditional religious belief? This presentation will summarize the results of the Peters Religious Crisis Survey of 1325 respondents. This survey shows that the majority of adherents to Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism demonstrate little or no anxiety regarding the prospect of contact with extraterrestrial life, even if they express some doubts regarding their respective religious tradition and the traditions of others. This presentation will also show that theological speculation regarding other worlds has sparked lively debate beginning as far back as the middle ages and continuing into our present era. Ted Peters is a research and teaching scholar with the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. He is co-editor of the journal, Theology and Science, and author of the books, The Evolution of Terrestrial and Extraterrestrial Life (Pandora 2008) and Playing God? Genetic Determinism and Human Freedom (Routledge, rev. ed., 2003).

  17. Aliens are us. An innovative course in astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Oliveira, Carlos F.; Barufaldi, James P.

    2009-01-01

    We live in a scientific world; paradoxically, the scientific literacy of the population is minimal at best. Science is an ongoing process, a human endeavour; paradoxically, students tend to believe that science is a finished enterprise. Many non-science major students are not motivated in science classes; paradoxically, there is a public fascination with the possibility of life in the Universe, which is nowadays a scientific endeavour. An astrobiology course was developed at the Center for Science and Mathematics Education at The University of Texas at Austin to address these paradoxes and includes the following objectives: (a) to improve scientific literacy; (b) to demonstrate that science is a work in progress; (c) to enhance the inherent interdisciplinary aspect of science; (d) to demonstrate that science is embedded in society and relates with several social sciences; (e) to improve the content knowledge about the nature of science; (f) to illustrate how engaging learning science can be; and (g) to draw from the intrinsic motivation already incorporated in the general population. The course has been offered, taught and revised for the past three years. The informal course student feedback has been very positive and encouraging. The purpose of this paper is to provide a general overview of the course. In addition, the course's background, content, themes and mode of delivery are outlined, discussed and analysed in this paper. This paper subscribes to an educational philosophy that focuses on the multidisciplinary nature of science and includes critical thinking-based teaching strategies using the dynamic discipline of astrobiology.

  18. Woodpeckers and Diamonds: Some Aspects of Evolutionary Convergence in Astrobiology.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ćirković, Milan M

    2018-05-01

    Jared Diamond's argument against extraterrestrial intelligence from evolutionary contingency is subjected to critical scrutiny. As with the earlier arguments of George Gaylord Simpson, it contains critical loopholes that lead to its unraveling. From the point of view of the contemporary debates about biological evolution, perhaps the most contentious aspect of such arguments is their atemporal and gradualist usage of the space of all possible biological forms (morphospace). Such usage enables the translation of the adaptive value of a trait into the probability of its evolving. This procedure, it is argued, is dangerously misleading. Contra Diamond, there are reasons to believe that convergence not only plays an important role in the history of life, but also profoundly improves the prospects for search for extraterrestrial intelligence success. Some further considerations about the role of observation selection effects and our scaling of complexity in the great debate about contingency and convergence are given. Taken together, these considerations militate against the pessimism of Diamond's conclusion, and suggest that the search for traces and manifestations of extraterrestrial intelligences is far from forlorn. Key Words: Astrobiology-Evolution-Contingency-Convergence-Complex life-SETI-Major evolutionary transitions-Selection effects-Jared Diamond. Astrobiology 18, 491-502.

  19. Mars Pathfinder

    Science.gov (United States)

    Murdin, P.

    2000-11-01

    First of NASA's Discovery missions. Launched in December 1996 and arrived at Mars on 4 July 1997. Mainly intended as a technology demonstration mission. Used airbags to cushion the landing on Mars. The Carl Sagan Memorial station returned images of an ancient flood plain in Ares Vallis. The 10 kg Sojourner rover used an x-ray spectrometer to study the composition of rocks and travelled about 100 ...

  20. Exploring Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Breuil, Stéphanie

    2016-04-01

    Mars is our neighbour planet and has always fascinated humans as it has been seen as a potential abode for life. Knowledge about Mars is huge and was constructed step by step through numerous missions. It could be difficult to describe these missions, the associated technology, the results, the questions they raise, that's why an activity is proposed, that directly interests students. Their production is presented in the poster. Step 1: The main Mars feature and the first Mars explorations using telescope are presented to students. It should be really interesting to present "Mars Canals" from Percival Lowell as it should also warn students against flawed interpretation. Moreover, this study has raised the big question about extra-terrestrial life on Mars for the first time. Using Google Mars is then a good way to show the huge knowledge we have on the planet and to introduce modern missions. Step 2: Students have to choose and describe one of the Mars mission from ESA and NASA. They should work in pairs. Web sites from ESA and NASA are available and the teacher makes sure the main missions will be studied. Step 3: Students have to collect different pieces of information about the mission - When? Which technology? What were the main results? What type of questions does it raise? They prepare an oral presentation in the form they want (role play, academic presentation, using a poster, PowerPoint). They also have to produce playing cards about the mission that could be put on a timeline. Step 4: As a conclusion, the different cards concerning different missions are mixed. Groups of students receive cards and they have to put them on a timeline as fast as possible. It is also possible to play the game "timeline".

  1. Preservation of Reduced Carbon on Mars: Implications for Understanding Habitability

    Science.gov (United States)

    Conrad, Pamela; Fogel, Marilyn; Steele, Andrew; Summons, Roger E.

    2007-01-01

    Upcoming Mars missions (e.g., Mars Science Laboratory, ExoMars, Astrobiology Field Laboratory, and Mars Sample Return) will search for evidence of extant and fossil microbial habitats and the potential for future habitation. Understanding the distribution and composition of reduced carbon (or organic carbon) is critical for unraveling the Martian carbon cycle, potential for life, and possible biosignature record. Reduced carbon may be produced from biological, geochemical, or interstellar processes; however, evidence for reduced carbon on Mars is lacking with the exception of parts per billion of atmospheric methane. In contrast, abundant atmospheric carbon dioxide may reflect surface oxidation of reduced carbon and accumulation over geological timescales. This suggests that there is an undetected or lost pool of reduced carbon - a pool that may host molecular biosignatures, a characteristic of extant or extinct habitability. In this presentation, we will evaluate factors influencing the preservation potential for organic molecules in rocks on Earth and Martian. We,draw examples from organic molecules in sulfates, basalts, and ancient shales from Mars-analog settings to show how the distribution of organics and their structural patterns will aid Mars habitability studies.

  2. Secondary School Students' Knowledge and Opinions on Astrobiology Topics and Related Social Issues.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Oreiro, Raquel; Solbes, Jordi

    2017-01-01

    Astrobiology is the study of the origin of life on Earth and the distribution of life in the Universe. Its multidisciplinary approach, social and philosophical implications, and appeal within the discipline and beyond make astrobiology a uniquely qualified subject for general science education. In this study, student knowledge and opinions on astrobiology topics were investigated. Eighty-nine students in their last year of compulsory education (age 15) completed a written questionnaire that consisted of 10 open questions on the topic of astrobiology. The results indicate that students have significant difficulties understanding the origin of life on Earth, despite exposure to the topic by way of the assigned textbooks. The students were often unaware of past or present achievements in the search for life within the Solar System and beyond, topics that are far less commonly seen in textbooks. Student questionnaire answers also indicated that students had problems in reasoning and critical thinking when asked for their opinions on issues such as the potential for life beyond Earth, the question of whether UFOs exist, or what our place is in the Universe. Astrobiology might help initiate student awareness as to current thinking on these matters and should be considered for general science education. Key Words: Astrobiology-Students' views-Science education. Astrobiology 17, 91-99.

  3. Comparative Planetology of the Terrestrial Inner Planets: Implications for Astrobiology

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Schulze-Makuch, D.; Dohm, J.M.; Fairén, A.G.; Baker, V.R.; Strom, R.G.

    2004-01-01

    Venus and Mars had likely liquid water on their surface for long periods of time during their history from which life could have originated and then adapted to live in ecological niches such as the subsurface for Mars and the atmosphere for Venus.

  4. Development and research program for a soil-based bioregenerative agriculture system to feed a four person crew at a Mars base

    Science.gov (United States)

    Silverstone, S.; Nelson, M.; Alling, A.; Allen, J.

    For humans to survive during long-term missions on the Martian surface, bioregenerative life support systems including food production will decrease requirements for launch of Earth supplies, and increase mission safety. It is proposed that the development of ``modular biospheres''- closed system units that can be air-locked together and which contain soil-based bioregenerative agriculture, horticulture, with a wetland wastewater treatment system is an approach for Mars habitation scenarios. Based on previous work done in long-term life support at Biosphere 2 and other closed ecological systems, this consortium proposes a research and development program called Mars On Earth™ which will simulate a life support system designed for a four person crew. The structure will consist of /6 × 110 square meter modular agricultural units designed to produce a nutritionally adequate diet for 4 people, recycling all air, water and waste, while utilizing a soil created by the organic enrichment and modification of Mars simulant soils. Further research needs are discussed, such as determining optimal light levels for growth of the necessary range of crops, energy trade-offs for agriculture (e.g. light intensity vs. required area), capabilities of Martian soils and their need for enrichment and elimination of oxides, strategies for use of human waste products, and maintaining atmospheric balance between people, plants and soils.

  5. Development and research program for a soil-based bioregenerative agriculture system to feed a four person crew at a Mars base.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Silverstone, S; Nelson, M; Alling, A; Allen, J

    2003-01-01

    For humans to survive during long-term missions on the Martian surface, bioregenerative life support systems including food production will decrease requirements for launch of Earth supplies, and increase mission safety. It is proposed that the development of "modular biospheres"--closed system units that can be air-locked together and which contain soil-based bioregenerative agriculture, horticulture, with a wetland wastewater treatment system is an approach for Mars habitation scenarios. Based on previous work done in long-term life support at Biosphere 2 and other closed ecological systems, this consortium proposes a research and development program called Mars On Earth(TM) which will simulate a life support system designed for a four person crew. The structure will consist of 6 x 110 square meter modular agricultural units designed to produce a nutritionally adequate diet for 4 people, recycling all air, water and waste, while utilizing a soil created by the organic enrichment and modification of Mars simulant soils. Further research needs are discussed, such as determining optimal light levels for growth of the necessary range of crops, energy trade-offs for agriculture (e.g. light intensity vs. required area), capabilities of Martian soils and their need for enrichment and elimination of oxides, strategies for use of human waste products, and maintaining atmospheric balance between people, plants and soils. c2002 COSPAR. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

  6. Hacia una filosofía de la astrobiología

    OpenAIRE

    Roberto Aretxaga-Burgos

    2016-01-01

    Tomando como fundamento la historia y literatura astrobiológicas, exploramos la posibilidad y necesidad de una Filosofía de la Astrobiología, proponemos una definición de Filosofía de la Astrobiología y su consideración como subdisciplina de la Filosofía de la Ciencia, distinta de la Filosofía de la Biología. Incluimos una bibliografía para una Filosofía de la Astrobiología.

  7. Mineralogy of Surface Serpentinite Outcrops in the Coast Range Ophiolite: Implications for the Deep Biosphere and Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mccann, A. R.; Cardace, D.; Carnevale, D.; Ehlmann, B. L.

    2011-12-01

    Range Ophiolite, along with aerial-view maps, which will be compared with imagery and data for recently confirmed serpentinite exposures in the Nili Fossae region of the Martian surface. A summary table of terrestrial microbes (and their metabolisms) detected in serpentinite groundwaters will be provided, to add specificity to candidate subterranean life forms on Mars, be they active presently or in the planet's history. Ehlmann et al. 2010. GRL 37:1-5 Schulte et al. 2006. Astrobiology 6(2):364-376

  8. Research

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    ebutamanya

    2015-03-02

    Mar 2, 2015 ... Joseph Daniels1,&, Ruth Nduati1,2, James Kiarie1,3, Carey Farquhar1,4,5 .... or basic science research career (Socio-Behavioral Research, .... a research environment that supports knowledge sharing to develop research ...

  9. The radiation stability of the RNA base uracil in H2O-ice and CO2-ice: in-situ laboratory measurements with applications to comets, Europa, and Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Gerakines, Perry A.; Frail, Sarah; Hudson, Reggie L.

    2017-10-01

    Planetary bodies of astrobiological interest, such as Mars, are often exposed to harsh incident radiation, which will influence the times that molecules can survive on them. Some or all of these bodies may well contain biologically-important organic molecules, some may even have supported life at some point in their history, and some may support life today. Future searches for organic molecules likely will include sampling the martian subsurface or a cometary surface sample return mission, where organics may be frozen in ices dominated by either H2O or CO2, which provide some protection from ionizing radiation.Recently, our research group has published studies of the radiation stability of amino acids, with a focus on glycine - in both undiluted form and in mixtures with H2O and CO2. Here, we present a similar study that focuses on the radiation-chemical kinetics of the RNA base uracil. We compare results for uracil decay for dilution in both H2O and CO2 ices. Moreover, we compare these new results with those for glycine. For each sample, we measured uracil’s destruction rate constant and half-life dose due to irradiation by 0.9-MeV protons. All measurements were made in situ at the temperature of irradiation using IR spectroscopy. Trends with dilution (up to ~300:1) and temperature (up to ~150 K) are considered, and results are discussed in the context of icy planetary surfaces.Acknowledgment: Our work is supported in part by the NASA Emerging Worlds Program and by the NASA Astrobiology Institute through the Goddard Center for Astrobiology.

  10. Ethical issues in astrobiology: a Christian perspective (Invited)

    Science.gov (United States)

    Randolph, R. O.

    2009-12-01

    With its focus on the origin, extent, and future of life, Astrobiology raises exciting, multidisciplinary questions for science. At the same time, Astrobiology raises important questions for the humanities. For instance, the prospect of discovering extraterrestrial life - either intelligent or unintelligent - raises questions about humans’ place in the universe and our relationship with nature on planet Earth. Fundamentally, such questions are rooted in our understanding of what it means to be human. From a Christian perspective, the foundational claim about human nature is that all persons bear the "imago dei", the image of God. This concept forms the basis for how humans relate to one another (dignity) and how humans relate to nature (stewardship). For many Christians the "imago dei" also suggests that humans are at the center of the universe. The discovery of extraterrestrial life would be another scientific development - similar to evolution - that essentially de-centers humanity. For some Christian perspectives this de-centering may be problematic, but I will argue that the discovery of extraterrestrial life would actually offer a much needed theological corrective for contemporary Christians’ understanding of the "imago dei". I will make this argument by examining two clusters of ethical issues confronting Astrobiology: 1. What ethical obligations would human explorers owe to extraterrestrial life? Are there ethical obligations to protect extraterrestrial ecosystems from harm or exploitation by human explorers? Do our ethical considerations change, if the extraterrestrial life is a “second genesis;” in other words a form of life completely different and independent from the carbon-based life that we know on Earth? 2. Do we have an ethical obligation to promote life as much as we can? If human explorers discover extraterrestrial life and through examination determine that it is struggling to survive, do we have an ethical obligation to assist that

  11. planetaria como de la astrobiología

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Miguel Alcíbar-Cuello

    2007-01-01

    Full Text Available En este artículo se exponen algunos de los recursos didácticos que han sido concebidos para facilitar el aprendizaje de distintos aspectos de la Exploración Planetaria y, en concreto, de la Astrobiología como área transdisciplinar de conocimientos. El interés más evidente que presentan estos materiales didácticos, además de tener una vocación interactiva, es que combinan contenidos científicotecnológicos con cuestiones de índole metodológica, lo que proporciona al estudiante una visión más reflexiva del modus operandi de la investigación científica.

  12. Alien life matters: reflections on cosmopolitanism, otherness, and astrobiology

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Andre Novoa

    2016-03-01

    Full Text Available This is a synaptic paper that invites the reader to take a stroll on the edges of cross-disciplinary knowledge. We will walk the roads of anthropology, history, philosophy, astronomy and biology. It is mainly a theoretical article, where I attempt to provide links between authors and theories that were, at first sight, unrelated. In doing so, this paper is aimed at making one controversial claim: ideologically and politically speaking, cosmopolitanism may never fully transcend itself beyond a debate until and unless humankind encounters alien life forms. The argument is based on a simple equation. Despite all the quarrels and debates around the concept, it seems innocuous to assume that cosmopolitanism is the search for a certain universal identity or, at least, a search for a common culturalia, i.e. the cultural grounds wherein local and global senses of universalism come into being (section 2. In spite of the fact that identities are built in opposition and supported by difference (section 3, cosmopolitanism might only be possible as a political project (cosmopolitics when humankind is faced with life forms that are capable of providing true Otherness. I believe that this may explain why we have been fascinated by the utopias of extra-terrestrials for many centuries now (section 4. These utopias are present in a diverse array of knowledges, ranging from science to art, literature or even religion. They have been around for at least 500 years. Until now, all of them have been trapped in the realm of imagination, but there is one concrete cluster of knowledge that has attempted to transpose these imaginings into reality: the promising discipline of astrobiology. Astrobiology is mainly troubled by the de-naturalisation of Earth in order to create analogues for the study of life elsewhere in the cosmos. Provocatively, I end up this paper stating that this may well be the most cosmopolitical practice available to us (section 5.

  13. Mars Habitability, Biosignature Preservation, and Mission Support

    Science.gov (United States)

    Oehler, Dorothy Z.; Allen, Carlton C.

    2014-01-01

    Our work has elucidated a new analog for the formation of giant polygons on Mars, involving fluid expulsion in a subaqueous environment. That work is based on three-dimensional (3D) seismic data on Earth that illustrate the mud volcanoes and giant polygons that result from sediment compaction in offshore settings. The description of this process has been published in the journal Icarus, where it will be part of a special volume on Martian analogs. These ideas have been carried further to suggest that giant polygons in the Martian lowlands may be the signature of an ancient ocean and, as such, could mark a region of enhanced habitability. A paper describing this hypothesis has been published in the journal Astrobiology.

  14. Slope activity in Gale crater, Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Dundas, Colin M.; McEwen, Alfred S.

    2015-01-01

    High-resolution repeat imaging of Aeolis Mons, the central mound in Gale crater, reveals active slope processes within tens of kilometers of the Curiosity rover. At one location near the base of northeastern Aeolis Mons, dozens of transient narrow lineae were observed, resembling features (Recurring Slope Lineae) that are potentially due to liquid water. However, the lineae faded and have not recurred in subsequent Mars years. Other small-scale slope activity is common, but has different spatial and temporal characteristics. We have not identified confirmed RSL, which Rummel et al. (Rummel, J.D. et al. [2014]. Astrobiology 14, 887–968) recommended be treated as potential special regions for planetary protection. Repeat images acquired as Curiosity approaches the base of Aeolis Mons could detect changes due to active slope processes, which could enable the rover to examine recently exposed material.

  15. SOLID2: an antibody array-based life-detector instrument in a Mars Drilling Simulation Experiment (MARTE).

    Science.gov (United States)

    Parro, Víctor; Fernández-Calvo, Patricia; Rodríguez Manfredi, José A; Moreno-Paz, Mercedes; Rivas, Luis A; García-Villadangos, Miriam; Bonaccorsi, Rosalba; González-Pastor, José Eduardo; Prieto-Ballesteros, Olga; Schuerger, Andrew C; Davidson, Mark; Gómez-Elvira, Javier; Stoker, Carol R

    2008-10-01

    A field prototype of an antibody array-based life-detector instrument, Signs Of LIfe Detector (SOLID2), has been tested in a Mars drilling mission simulation called MARTE (Mars Astrobiology Research and Technology Experiment). As one of the analytical instruments on the MARTE robotic drilling rig, SOLID2 performed automatic sample processing and analysis of ground core samples (0.5 g) with protein microarrays that contained 157 different antibodies. Core samples from different depths (down to 5.5 m) were analyzed, and positive reactions were obtained in antibodies raised against the Gram-negative bacterium Leptospirillum ferrooxidans, a species of the genus Acidithiobacillus (both common microorganisms in the Río Tinto area), and extracts from biofilms and other natural samples from the Río Tinto area. These positive reactions were absent when the samples were previously subjected to a high-temperature treatment, which indicates the biological origin and structural dependency of the antibody-antigen reactions. We conclude that an antibody array-based life-detector instrument like SOLID2 can detect complex biological material, and it should be considered as a potential analytical instrument for future planetary missions that search for life.

  16. Internalizing Null Extraterrestrial "Signals": An Astrobiological App for a Technological Society

    OpenAIRE

    Chaisson, Eric J.

    2014-01-01

    One of the beneficial outcomes of searching for life in the Universe is that it grants greater awareness of our own problems here on Earth. Lack of contact with alien beings to date might actually comprise a null "signal" pointing humankind toward a viable future. Astrobiology has surprising practical applications to human society; within the larger cosmological context of cosmic evolution, astrobiology clarifies the energetic essence of complex systems throughout the Universe, including tech...

  17. Carl Woese, Dick Young, and the roots of astrobiology.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rummel, John D

    2014-01-01

    The beginning of the space age in the late 1950s gave rise to innovative and interdisciplinary research concepts and perspectives, including the concept of "exobiology" as a way to approach the fundamental aspects of biology through a study of life outside of the Earth, if it existed. This concept was embodied by NASA into its formal Exobiology Program and into the philosophy of the program both before and after the Viking missions that were launched to Mars to search for signs of life in 1975. Due to both management flexibility and an acceptance of the interdisciplinary nature of the problem of "life in the universe," NASA program managers, and particularly Richard S Young who ran the Exobiology Program beginning 1967, have made some excellent investments in paradigm altering science of great use both on Earth and on future space missions. The work of Carl Woese is one such example, which has revolutionized our understanding of the microbial world and the relationships of all life on Earth.

  18. The Case for Extant Life on Mars and Its Possible Detection by the Viking Labeled Release Experiment.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Levin, Gilbert V; Straat, Patricia Ann

    2016-10-01

    The 1976 Viking Labeled Release (LR) experiment was positive for extant microbial life on the surface of Mars. Experiments on both Viking landers, 4000 miles apart, yielded similar, repeatable, positive responses. While the authors eventually concluded that the experiment detected martian life, this was and remains a highly controversial conclusion. Many believe that the martian environment is inimical to life and the LR responses were nonbiological, attributed to an as-yet-unidentified oxidant (or oxidants) in the martian soil. Unfortunately, no further metabolic experiments have been conducted on Mars. Instead, follow-on missions have sought to define the martian environment, mostly searching for signs of water. These missions have collected considerable data regarding Mars as a habitat, both past and present. The purpose of this article is to consider recent findings about martian water, methane, and organics that impact the case for extant life on Mars. Further, the biological explanation of the LR and recent nonbiological hypotheses are evaluated. It is concluded that extant life is a strong possibility, that abiotic interpretations of the LR data are not conclusive, and that, even setting our conclusion aside, biology should still be considered as an explanation for the LR experiment. Because of possible contamination of Mars by terrestrial microbes after Viking, we note that the LR data are the only data we will ever have on biologically pristine martian samples. Key Words: Extant life on Mars-Viking Labeled Release experiment-Astrobiology-Extraterrestrial life-Mars. Astrobiology 16, 798-810.

  19. The Coevolution of Life and Environment on Mars: An Ecosystem Perspective on the Robotic Exploration of Biosignatures

    Science.gov (United States)

    2018-01-01

    Abstract Earth's biological and environmental evolution are intertwined and inseparable. This coevolution has become a fundamental concept in astrobiology and is key to the search for life beyond our planet. In the case of Mars, whether a coevolution took place is unknown, but analyzing the factors at play shows the uniqueness of each planetary experiment regardless of similarities. Early Earth and early Mars shared traits. However, biological processes on Mars, if any, would have had to proceed within the distinctive context of an irreversible atmospheric collapse, greater climate variability, and specific planetary characteristics. In that, Mars is an important test bed for comparing the effects of a unique set of spatiotemporal changes on an Earth-like, yet different, planet. Many questions remain unanswered about Mars' early environment. Nevertheless, existing data sets provide a foundation for an intellectual framework where notional coevolution models can be explored. In this framework, the focus is shifted from planetary-scale habitability to the prospect of habitats, microbial ecotones, pathways to biological dispersal, biomass repositories, and their meaning for exploration. Critically, as we search for biosignatures, this focus demonstrates the importance of starting to think of early Mars as a biosphere and vigorously integrating an ecosystem approach to landing site selection and exploration. Key Words: Astrobiology—Biosignatures—Coevolution of Earth and life—Mars. Astrobiology 18, 1–27. PMID:29252008

  20. A Search for Life in the Subsurface At Rio Tinto Spain, An Analog To Searching For Life On Mars.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Stoker, C. R.

    2003-12-01

    Most familiar life forms on Earth live in the surface biosphere where liquid water, sunlight, and the essential chemical elements for life are abundant. However, such environments are not found on Mars or anywhere else in the solar system. On Mars, the surface environmental conditions of pressure and temperature prevent formation of liquid water. Furthermore, conditions at the Martian surface are unfavorable to life due to intense ultraviolet radiation and strong oxidizing compounds that destroy organic compounds. However, subsurface liquid water on Mars has been predicted on theoretical grounds. The recent discovery of near surface ground ice by the Mars Odyssey mission, and the abundant evidence for recent Gully features observed by the Mars Global Surveyor mission strengthen the case for subsurface liquid water on Mars. Thus, the strategy for searching for life on Mars points to drilling to the depth of liquid water, bringing samples to the surface and analyzing them with instrumentation to detect in situ organisms and biomarker compounds. The MARTE (Mars Astrobiology Research and Technology Experiment) project is a field experiment focused on searching for a hypothesized subsurface anaerobic chemoautotrophic biosphere in the region of the Rio Tinto, a river in southwestern Spain while also demonstrating technology relevant to searching for a subsurface biosphere on Mars. The Tinto river is located in the Iberian Pyrite belt, one of the largest deposits of sulfide minerals in the world. The surface (river) system is an acidic extreme environment produced and maintained by microbes that metabolize sulfide minerals and produce sulfuric acid as a byproduct. Evidence suggests that the river is a surface manifestation of an underground biochemical reactor. Organisms found in the river are capable of chemoautotrophic metabolism using sulfide and ferric iron mineral substrates, suggesting these organisms could thrive in groundwater which is the source of the Rio Tinto

  1. Astrobiological Aspects of Radiation Chemistry in Europa's Icy Regolith

    Science.gov (United States)

    Carlson, R. W.; Hand, K. P.

    2006-05-01

    Jupiter's moon Europa, with its likely subsurface ocean and young, active surface, is a promising habitat for life. Europa orbits in the heart of Jupiter's powerful magnetosphere and suffers intense energetic particle bombardment, producing both positive and negative aspects for astrobiology at Europa. Ionizing radiation can produce oxidants that could support a radiation-driven ecology as proposed by Chyba. On the other hand, biomolecular evidence for life that may be upwelled to the surface is rapidly altered by irradiation, complicating astrobiological searches for evidence of life. We present an overview of laboratory work performed at JPL and elsewhere and observational results related to these two aspects. The oxidants hydrogen peroxide and molecular oxygen are known to exist on Europa and the radiolytic production of these species has been studied in the laboratory for both electron and ion irradiation. Laboratory- measured equilibrium concentrations of H2O2, where production and destruction rates are equal, are in general agreement with the observed 0.1% molar abundance on Europa. The shape of Europa's peroxide band is consistent with the line shapes observed in radiolysis and with H2O2 dispersed in water ice rather than occurring as H2O2 aggregates. Surprisingly, molecular oxygen may be even more abundant on Europa even though O2 is extremely volatile ande would be expected to escape from the ice surface. Radiolysis can produce molecular oxygen and appears to simultaneously alter the ice matrix, trapping the O2. Other species observed on Europa are CO2 and SO2, and laboratory radiolysis of these species in H2O ice produces carbonic and sulfuric acid, respectively. We are studying the radiolytic degradation of biomarkers in ice at Europa temperatures by studying both simple organics and more complex biomolecules, including microorganisms. Hydrocarbon radiolysis yields carbon dioxide and methane, which can escape the system and results in loss of carbon. In

  2. Pre-Mission Communication And Awareness Stratgies For Positive Group Functioning And Development: Analysis Of A Crew At The Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) In Utah, USA

    Science.gov (United States)

    Allner, Matthew; Bishop, Sheryl; Gushin, Vadim; McKay, Chris; Rygalov, Vadim; Allner, Matthew

    Introduction: Psychosocial group functioning has become an increased international focus of many space faring nations due to the recent shift in focus of colonizing the Moon and then preparing to travel to Mars and beyond. Purpose: This study investigates the effects of pre-mission communication and awareness strategies for positive group functioning in extreme environments as well as suggestive countermeasures to maintain positive group dynamic development in isolated and confined extreme (ICE) environments. The study is supported by both preand intra-mission management efforts, which included crewmember assessments at various mission phases (pre-, intra-, and end-mission). Methods: A six person heterogeneous American crew conducted a Mars simulation mission at the Mars Society's Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, USA in 2006 as part of a new NASA training program called Spaceward Bound. Participants were administered assessments of personality, personal and group identity/functioning, subjective stress, coping, and subjective motivation. All participants were also provided information (pre-mission) regarding past research and tendencies of group functioning, stressors, cognitive functioning, and mission mistakes from a mission phase analysis approach, to see if this would be a factor in positive group dynamic development. Results: Data collected and obtained by both assessment and journaling methods were both consistent and indicative of positive personalities desirable of expedition crews. Assessment data further indicated positive group cohesion and group interactions, along with supportive and strong leadership, all which led to positive personal and group experiences for crewmembers. Crewmembers all displayed low levels of competition while still reporting high motivation and satisfaction for the group dynamic development and the mission objectives that were completed. Journals kept by the crew psychologist indicated that crewmembers all felt that the pre

  3. Mars: Atmosphere

    Science.gov (United States)

    Moroz, V.; Murdin, P.

    2001-07-01

    The atmosphere of MARS is much thinner than the terrestrial one. However, even the simplest visual telescopic observations show a set of atmospheric events such as seasonal exchange of material between polar caps, temporal appearance of clouds and changes of visibility of dark regions on the disk of the planet. In 1947 the prominent CO2 bands in the near-infrared part of the Martian spectrum were...

  4. First Light from Extrasolar Planets and Implications for Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Richardson, L. Jeremy; Seager, Sara; Harrington, Joseph; Deming, Drake

    2005-01-01

    The first light from an extrasolar planet was recently detected. These results, obtained for two transiting extrasolar planets at different infrared wavelengths, open a new era in the field of extrasolar planet detection and characterization because for the first time we can now detect planets beyond the solar system directly. Using the Spitzer Space Telescope at 24 microns, we observed the modulation of combined light (star plus planet) from the HD 209458 system as the planet disappeared behind the star during secondary eclipse and later re-emerged, thereby isolating the light from the planet. We obtained a planet-to-star ratio of 0.26% at 24 microns, corresponding to a brightness temperature of 1130 + / - 150 K. We will describe this result in detail, explain what it can tell us about the atmosphere of HD 209458 b, and discuss implications for the field of astrobiology. These results represent a significant step on the path to detecting terrestrial planets around other stars and in understanding their atmospheres in terms of composition and temperature.

  5. Life and the Universe: From Astrochemistry to Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Allamandola, Louis J.

    2013-01-01

    Great strides have been made in our understanding of interstellar material thanks to advances in infrared astronomy and laboratory astrophysics. Ionized polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), shockingly large molecules by earlier astrochemical standards, are widespread and very abundant throughout much of the cosmos. In cold molecular clouds, the birthplace of planets and stars, interstellar atoms and molecules freeze onto extremely cold dust and ice particles forming mixed molecular ices dominated by simple species such as water, methanol, ammonia, and carbon monoxide. Within these clouds, and especially in the vicinity of star and planet forming regions, these ices and PAHs are processed by ultraviolet light and cosmic rays forming hundreds of far more complex species, some of biogenic interest. Eventually, these are delivered to primordial planets by comets and meteorites. As these materials are the building blocks of comets and related to carbonaceous micrometeorites, they are likely to be important sources of complex organic materials delivered to habitable planets (including the primordial Earth) and their composition may be related to the origin of life. This talk will focus on the chemical evolution of these cosmic materials and their relevance to astrobiology.

  6. A Micro Fluorescent Activated Cell Sorter for Astrobiology Applications

    Science.gov (United States)

    Platt, Donald W.; Hoover, Richard B.

    2009-01-01

    A micro-scale Fluorescent Activated Cell Sorter (microFACS) for astrobiology applications is under development. This device is designed to have a footprint of 7 cm x 7 cm x 4 cm and allow live-dead counts and sorting of cells that have fluorescent characteristics from staining. The FACS system takes advantage of microfluidics to create a cell sorter that can fit in the palm of the hand. A micron-scale channel allows cells to pass by a blue diode which causes emission of marker-expressed cells which are detected by a filtered photodetector. A small microcontroller then counts cells and operates high speed valves to select which chamber the cell is collected in (a collection chamber or a waste chamber). Cells with the expressed characteristic will be collected in the collection chamber. This system has been built and is currently being tested. We are also designing a system with integrated MEMS-based pumps and valves for a small and compact unit to fly on small satellite-based biology experiments.

  7. Ancient aliens on mars

    CERN Document Server

    Bara, Mike

    2013-01-01

    Best-selling author and Secret Space Program researcher Bara brings us this lavishly illustrated volume on alien structures on Mars. Was there once a vast, technologically advanced civilization on Mars, and did it leave evidence of its existence behind for humans to find eons later? Did these advanced extraterrestrial visitors vanish in a solar system wide cataclysm of their own making, only to make their way to Earth and start anew? Was Mars once as lush and green as the Earth, and teeming with life? Did Mars once orbit a missing member of the solar system, a "Super Earth” that vanished in a disaster that devastated life on Earth and Venus and left us only the asteroid belt as evidence of its once grand existence? Did the survivors of this catastrophe leave monuments and temples behind, arranged in a mathematical precision designed to teach us the Secret of a new physics that could lift us back to the stars? Does the planet have an automated defense shield that swallows up robotic probes if they wander int...

  8. Ionic Strength Is a Barrier to the Habitability of Mars.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Fox-Powell, Mark G; Hallsworth, John E; Cousins, Claire R; Cockell, Charles S

    2016-06-01

    The thermodynamic availability of water (water activity) strictly limits microbial propagation on Earth, particularly in hypersaline environments. A considerable body of evidence indicates the existence of hypersaline surface waters throughout the history of Mars; therefore it is assumed that, as on Earth, water activity is a major limiting factor for martian habitability. However, the differing geological histories of Earth and Mars have driven variations in their respective aqueous geochemistry, with as-yet-unknown implications for habitability. Using a microbial community enrichment approach, we investigated microbial habitability for a suite of simulated martian brines. While the habitability of some martian brines was consistent with predictions made from water activity, others were uninhabitable even when the water activity was biologically permissive. We demonstrate experimentally that high ionic strength, driven to extremes on Mars by the ubiquitous occurrence of multivalent ions, renders these environments uninhabitable despite the presence of biologically available water. These findings show how the respective geological histories of Earth and Mars, which have produced differences in the planets' dominant water chemistries, have resulted in different physicochemical extremes which define the boundary space for microbial habitability. Habitability-Mars-Salts-Water activity-Life in extreme environments. Astrobiology 16, 427-442.

  9. Astrobiology and the Basaltic Plains in Gusev Crater

    Science.gov (United States)

    DesMarais, D. J.; Clark, B. C.; Crumpler, L. S.; Farmer, J. D.; Grotzinger, John P.; Haskin, Larry A.; Knoll, Andrew H.; Landis, Geoffrey A.; Moersch, Jeffrey; Schroeder, Christian

    2005-01-01

    This report assesses the availability of nutrient elements, energy and liquid water on the plains surrounding Columbia Memorial Station by evaluating observations by the MER rover Spirit in the context of previous Mars missions, Earth-based studies of martian meteorites and studies of microbial communities on Earth that represent potential analogs of martian biota.

  10. Secondary School Students' Knowledge and Opinions on Astrobiology Topics and Related Social Issues

    Science.gov (United States)

    Oreiro, Raquel; Solbes, Jordi

    2017-01-01

    Astrobiology is the study of the origin of life on Earth and the distribution of life in the Universe. Its multidisciplinary approach, social and philosophical implications, and appeal within the discipline and beyond make astrobiology a uniquely qualified subject for general science education. In this study, student knowledge and opinions on astrobiology topics were investigated. Eighty-nine students in their last year of compulsory education (age 15) completed a written questionnaire that consisted of 10 open questions on the topic of astrobiology. The results indicate that students have significant difficulties understanding the origin of life on Earth, despite exposure to the topic by way of the assigned textbooks. The students were often unaware of past or present achievements in the search for life within the Solar System and beyond, topics that are far less commonly seen in textbooks. Student questionnaire answers also indicated that students had problems in reasoning and critical thinking when asked for their opinions on issues such as the potential for life beyond Earth, the question of whether UFOs exist, or what our place is in the Universe. Astrobiology might help initiate student awareness as to current thinking on these matters and should be considered for general science education.

  11. NASA Mars Conference

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Reiber, D.B.

    1988-01-01

    Papers about Mars and Mars exploration are presented, covering topics such as Martian history, geology, volcanism, channels, moons, atmosphere, meteorology, water on the planet, and the possibility of life. The unmanned exploration of Mars is discussed, including the Phobos Mission, the Mars Observer, the Mars Aeronomy Observer, the seismic network, Mars sample return missions, and the Mars Ball, an inflatable-sectored-tire rover concept. Issues dealing with manned exploration of Mars are examined, such as the reasons for exploring Mars, mission scenarios, a transportation system for routine visits, technologies for Mars expeditions, the human factors for Mars missions, life support systems, living and working on Mars, and the report of the National Commission on Space

  12. Mars Surface Environmental Issues

    Science.gov (United States)

    Charles, John

    2002-01-01

    Planetary exploration by astronauts will require extended periods of habitation on a planet's surface, under the influence of environmental factors that are different from those of Earth and the spacecraft that delivered the crew to the planet. Human exploration of Mars, a possible near-term planetary objective, can be considered a challenging scenario. Mission scenarios currently under consideration call for surface habitation periods of from 1 to 18 months on even the earliest expeditions. Methods: Environmental issues associated with Mars exploration have been investigated by NASA and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) as part of the Bioastronautics Critical Path Roadmap Project (see http ://criticalpath.jsc.nasa.gov). Results: Arrival on Mars will immediately expose the crew to gravity only 38% of that at Earth's surface in possibly the first prolonged exposure to gravity other than the 1G of Earth's surface and the zero G of weightless space flight, with yet unknown effects on crew physiology. The radiation at Mars' surface is not well documented, although the planet's bulk and even its thin atmosphere may moderate the influx of galactic cosmic radiation and energetic protons from solar flares. Secondary radiation from activated components of the soil must also be considered. Ultrafine and larger respirable and nonrespirable particles in Martian dust introduced into the habitat after surface excursions may induce pulmonary inflammation exacerbated by the additive reactive and oxidizing nature of the dust. Stringent decontamination cannot eliminate mechanical and corrosive effects of the dust on pressure suits and exposed machinery. The biohazard potential of putative indigenous Martian microorganisms may be assessed by comparison with analog environments on Earth. Even in their absence, human microorganisms, if not properly controlled, can be a threat to the crew's health. Conclusions: Mars' surface offers a substantial challenge to the

  13. Infrared Spectroscopy of Parent Volatiles in Comets: Implications for Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    DiSanti, Michael A.

    2010-01-01

    Current cometary orbits provide information on their recent dynamical history. However, determining a given comet's formation region from its current dynamical state alone is complicated by radial migration in the proto-planetary disk and by dynamical interactions with the growing giant planets. Because comets reside for long periods of time in the outer Solar System, the ices contained in their nuclei (native ices) retain a relatively well-preserved footprint of when and where they formed, and this in turn can provide clues to conditions in the formation epoch. As a comet approaches the Sun, sublimation of its native ices releases parent volatiles into the coma where they can be measured spectroscopically. The past to - 15 years have seen the advent of infrared spectrometers with high sensitivity between about 2.8 and 5.0 micron, enabling a taxonomy among comets based on abundances of parent volatiles (e.g., H2O, CO, CH4, C2H6, HCN, CH30H, H2CO, NH3). Such molecules are of keen interest to Astrobiology, as they include important pre-biotic species that likely were required for the emergence of life on Earth and perhaps elsewhere. Approximately 20 comets have thus far been characterized, beginning with C/1996 82 (Hyakutake) in 1996. Molecular production rates are established through comparison of observed emission line intensities with those predicted by quantum mechanical fluorescence models. Abundances of parent volatiles (relative to H2O) vary among even the relatively small number of comets sampled, with the most volatile species (CO and CH4) displaying the largest variations. Techniques developed for measuring parent volatile abundances in comets will be discussed, as will possible implications for their formation.

  14. Analysis of methods for evaluating environmental costs: a view from environmental accounting research. case: construction of highway, vía al mar Cartagena-Barranquilla section 1

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    José Julio Vergara Arrieta

    2016-11-01

    Full Text Available This document is the first breakthrough in the research project entitled “Measurement and assessment of social and environmental costs of Dual Carriageway Vía al Mar Cartagena- Barranquilla section 1 Barrio Crespo – Entrance Villages Tierra Baja and Puerto Rey” funded by the University of San Buenaventura Cartagena. In it the conclusions of the search and theoretical-critical analysis of the different methods, methodologies or techniques that address the issue of valuation of environmental quality in order to develop the first approaches to valuation exercise environmental costs are collected. The position for the present analysis is adopted from an investigative standpoint of accounting field, based on performing and / or environmental reality heterodox approaches.

  15. Mud Volcanoes of Trinidad as Astrobiological Analogs for Martian Environments

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Riad Hosein

    2014-10-01

    Full Text Available Eleven onshore mud volcanoes in the southern region of Trinidad have been studied as analog habitats for possible microbial life on Mars. The profiles of the 11 mud volcanoes are presented in terms of their physical, chemical, mineralogical, and soil properties. The mud volcanoes sampled all emitted methane gas consistently at 3% volume. The average pH for the mud volcanic soil was 7.98. The average Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC was found to be 2.16 kg/mol, and the average Percentage Water Content was 34.5%. Samples from three of the volcanoes, (i Digity; (ii Piparo and (iii Devil’s Woodyard were used to culture bacterial colonies under anaerobic conditions indicating possible presence of methanogenic microorganisms. The Trinidad mud volcanoes can serve as analogs for the Martian environment due to similar geological features found extensively on Mars in Acidalia Planitia and the Arabia Terra region.

  16. Mud Volcanoes of Trinidad as Astrobiological Analogs for Martian Environments

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hosein, Riad; Haque, Shirin; Beckles, Denise M.

    2014-01-01

    Eleven onshore mud volcanoes in the southern region of Trinidad have been studied as analog habitats for possible microbial life on Mars. The profiles of the 11 mud volcanoes are presented in terms of their physical, chemical, mineralogical, and soil properties. The mud volcanoes sampled all emitted methane gas consistently at 3% volume. The average pH for the mud volcanic soil was 7.98. The average Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) was found to be 2.16 kg/mol, and the average Percentage Water Content was 34.5%. Samples from three of the volcanoes, (i) Digity; (ii) Piparo and (iii) Devil’s Woodyard were used to culture bacterial colonies under anaerobic conditions indicating possible presence of methanogenic microorganisms. The Trinidad mud volcanoes can serve as analogs for the Martian environment due to similar geological features found extensively on Mars in Acidalia Planitia and the Arabia Terra region. PMID:25370529

  17. Mud volcanoes of trinidad as astrobiological analogs for martian environments.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hosein, Riad; Haque, Shirin; Beckles, Denise M

    2014-10-13

    Eleven onshore mud volcanoes in the southern region of Trinidad have been studied as analog habitats for possible microbial life on Mars. The profiles of the 11 mud volcanoes are presented in terms of their physical, chemical, mineralogical, and soil properties. The mud volcanoes sampled all emitted methane gas consistently at 3% volume. The average pH for the mud volcanic soil was 7.98. The average Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) was found to be 2.16 kg/mol, and the average Percentage Water Content was 34.5%. Samples from three of the volcanoes, (i) Digity; (ii) Piparo and (iii) Devil's Woodyard were used to culture bacterial colonies under anaerobic conditions indicating possible presence of methanogenic microorganisms. The Trinidad mud volcanoes can serve as analogs for the Martian environment due to similar geological features found extensively on Mars in Acidalia Planitia and the Arabia Terra region.

  18. Extremophiles survival to simulated space conditions: an astrobiology model study.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mastascusa, V; Romano, I; Di Donato, P; Poli, A; Della Corte, V; Rotundi, A; Bussoletti, E; Quarto, M; Pugliese, M; Nicolaus, B

    2014-09-01

    In this work we investigated the ability of four extremophilic bacteria from Archaea and Bacteria domains to resist to space environment by exposing them to extreme conditions of temperature, UV radiation, desiccation coupled to low pressure generated in a Mars' conditions simulator. All the investigated extremophilic strains (namely Sulfolobus solfataricus, Haloterrigena hispanica, Thermotoga neapolitana and Geobacillus thermantarcticus) showed a good resistance to the simulation of the temperature variation in the space; on the other hand irradiation with UV at 254 nm affected only slightly the growth of H. hispanica, G. thermantarcticus and S. solfataricus; finally exposition to Mars simulated condition showed that H. hispanica and G. thermantarcticus were resistant to desiccation and low pressure.

  19. Research

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    2017-03-14

    Mar 14, 2017 ... R Ebrahim,1 MSc (Dent); H Julie,2 MPH, MCur, PhD. 1 Extended ... and research is applied to develop and sustain society.[5]. Methods .... service they want, not the service we want to give whether they want it or. Co math. G.

  20. Research

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    2018-03-20

    Mar 20, 2018 ... student health professionals in various institutions, both in South Africa. (SA) and internationally. ... field include dentists, dental therapists and oral hygienists in training, .... The College of Health Sciences at UKZN has four schools: clinical ..... Journal of Emerging Trends in Educational Research and Policy ...

  1. Linear Ion Traps in Space: The Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer (MOMA) Instrument and Beyond

    Science.gov (United States)

    Arevalo, Ricardo; Brinckerhoff, William; Mahaffy, Paul; van Amerom, Friso; Danell, Ryan; Pinnick, Veronica; Li, Xiang; Hovmand, Lars; Getty, Stephanie; Grubisic, Andrej; Goesmann, Fred; Cottin, Hervé

    2015-11-01

    Historically, quadrupole mass spectrometer (QMS) instruments have been used to explore a wide survey of planetary targets in our solar system, from Venus (Pioneer Venus) to Saturn (Cassini-Huygens). However, linear ion trap (LIT) mass spectrometers have found a niche as smaller, versatile alternatives to traditional quadrupole analyzers.The core astrobiological experiment of ESA’s ExoMars Program is the Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer (MOMA) onboard the ExoMars 2018 rover. The MOMA instrument is centered on a linear (or 2-D) ion trap mass spectrometer. As opposed to 3-D traps, LIT-based instruments accommodate two symmetrical ion injection pathways, enabling two complementary ion sources to be used. In the case of MOMA, these two analytical approaches are laser desorption mass spectrometry (LDMS) at Mars ambient pressures, and traditional gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS). The LIT analyzer employed by MOMA also offers: higher ion capacity compared to a 3-D trap of the same volume; redundant detection subassemblies for extended lifetime; and, a link to heritage QMS designs and assembly logistics. The MOMA engineering test unit (ETU) has demonstrated the detection of organics in the presence of wt.%-levels of perchlorate, effective ion enhancement via stored waveform inverse Fourier transform (SWIFT), and derivation of structural information through tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS).A more progressive linear ion trap mass spectrometer (LITMS), funded by the NASA ROSES MatISSE Program, is being developed at NASA GSFC and promises to augment the capabilities of the MOMA instrument by way of: an expanded mass range (i.e., 20 - 2000 Da); detection of both positive and negative ions; spatially resolved (<1 mm) characterization of individual rock core layers; and, evolved gas analysis and GCMS with pyrolysis up to 1300° C (enabling breakdown of refractory phases). The Advanced Resolution Organic Molecule Analyzer (AROMA) instrument, being developed through NASA

  2. Is Mars Dead and Does it Matter: The Crucial Scientific Importance of a Lifeless Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Fries, M.; Conrad, P. G.; Steele, A.

    2017-12-01

    The quest for signatures of ancient and/or present-day life on Mars is an important driving force in modern Mars science and exploration. The reasons for this have been spelled out in detail elsewhere, such as in the 2013-2022 Planetary Science decadal survey. We do not question the importance of the search for life, but would like to expound on the inverse case. Namely, if Mars is lifeless then it is one of the most astrobiologically important locales in the Solar System and is worthy of detailed and thorough investigation as such. At present we are aware of only one place in the universe that hosts biology, the Earth. Arguably one of the most important aspects of understanding life is the quandary of how life arose, and considerable work has been done on understanding this question. However, progress has been hampered by the fact that the conditions that facilitated the rise of life on Earth are almost completely lost; they have been overprinted by biological activity, altered by our oxygen- and water-rich modern environment, and physically destroyed by crustal recycling. None of these effects are present on a lifeless Mars. Whereas on a "living" Mars any habitable environment would be colonized and altered, a lifeless Mars should retain preserved environments - either planetary-scale or microenvironments - which preserve a record of the original physiochemical conditions suitable for the origin of life on a terrestrial planet. No other world has the same potential to preserve this record; Mercury, the Moon, Phobos and Deimos do not show signs of ever being habitable, Venus has a surface that has been mercilessly thermally altered and is difficult to access, and even the Earth itself has been extensively altered. Ceres is uncertain in this respect as that world is unlikely to ever have hosted a significant atmosphere and its potential status as an early ocean world is still debated. The irony here is that a Mars free of life is a unique and scientifically

  3. The Search for Hesperian Organic Matter on Mars: Pyrolysis Studies of Sediments Rich in Sulfur and Iron.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lewis, James M T; Najorka, Jens; Watson, Jonathan S; Sephton, Mark A

    2018-04-01

    Jarosite on Mars is of significant geological and astrobiological interest, as it forms in acidic aqueous conditions that are potentially habitable for acidophilic organisms. Jarosite can provide environmental context and may host organic matter. The most common extraction technique used to search for organic compounds on the surface of Mars is pyrolysis. However, thermal decomposition of jarosite releases oxygen into pyrolysis ovens, which degrades organic signals. Jarosite has a close association with the iron oxyhydroxide goethite in many depositional/diagenetic environments. Hematite can form by dehydration of goethite or directly from jarosite under certain aqueous conditions. Goethite and hematite are significantly more amenable than jarosite for pyrolysis experiments employed to search for organic matter. Analysis of the mineralogy and organic chemistry of samples from a natural acidic stream revealed a diverse response for organic compounds during pyrolysis of goethite-rich layers but a poor response for jarosite-rich or mixed jarosite-goethite samples. Goethite units that are associated with jarosite, but do not contain jarosite themselves, should be targeted for organic detection pyrolysis experiments on Mars. These findings are extremely timely, as exploration targets for Mars Science Laboratory include Vera Rubin Ridge (formerly known as "Hematite Ridge"), which may have formed from goethite precursors. Key Words: Mars-Pyrolysis-Jarosite-Goethite-Hematite-Biosignatures. Astrobiology 18, 454-464.

  4. EVA Swab Tool to Support Planetary Protection and Astrobiology Evaluations

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rucker, Michelle A.; Hood, Drew; Walker, Mary; Venkateswaran, Kasthuri J.; Schuerger, Andrew C.

    2018-01-01

    various pressure environments. To further minimize cost, the design team acquired extensive ground test experience in a relevant flight environment by piggy-backing onto suited crew training runs. These training runs allowed the project to validate tool interfaces with pressurized EVA gloves and collect user feedback on the tool design and function, as well as characterize baseline microbial data for different types of spacesuits. In general, test subjects found the EVA Swab Kit relatively straightforward to operate, but identified a number of design improvements that will be incorporated into the final design. Although originally intended to help characterize human forward contaminants, this tool has other potential applications, such as for collecting and preserving space-exposed materials to support astrobiology experiments.

  5. Mars exploration study workshop 2

    Science.gov (United States)

    Duke, Michael B.; Budden, Nancy Ann

    1993-11-01

    A year-long NASA-wide study effort has led to the development of an innovative strategy for the human exploration of Mars. The latest Mars Exploration Study Workshop 2 advanced a design reference mission (DRM) that significantly reduces the perceived high costs, complex infrastructure, and long schedules associated with previous Mars scenarios. This surface-oriented philosophy emphasizes the development of high-leveraging surface technologies in lieu of concentrating exclusively on space transportation technologies and development strategies. As a result of the DRM's balanced approach to mission and crew risk, element commonality, and technology development, human missions to Mars can be accomplished without the need for complex assembly operations in low-Earth orbit. This report, which summarizes the Mars Exploration Study Workshop held at the Ames Research Center on May 24-25, 1993, provides an overview of the status of the Mars Exploration Study, material presented at the workshop, and discussions of open items being addressed by the study team. The workshop assembled three teams of experts to discuss cost, dual-use technology, and international involvement, and to generate a working group white paper addressing these issues. The three position papers which were generated are included in section three of this publication.

  6. Definitive Mineralogical Analysis of Mars Analog Rocks Using the CheMin XRD/XRF Instrument

    Science.gov (United States)

    Blake, D. F.; Sarrazin, P.; Bish, D. L.; Feldman, S.; Chipera, S. J.; Vaniman, D. T.; Collins, S.

    2004-01-01

    Mineral identification is a critical component of Mars Astrobiological missions. Chemical or elemental data alone are not definitive because a single elemental or chemical composition or even a single bonding type can represent a range of substances or mineral assemblages. Minerals are defined as unique structural and compositional phases that occur naturally. There are about 15,000 minerals that have been described on Earth, all uniquely identifiable via diffraction methods. There are likely many minerals yet undiscovered on Earth, and likewise on Mars. If an unknown phase is identified on Mars, it can be fully characterized by structural (X-ray Diffraction, XRD) and elemental analysis (X-ray Fluorescence, XRF) without recourse to other data because XRD relies on the principles of atomic arrangement for its determinations. XRD is the principal means of identification and characterization of minerals on Earth.

  7. Detection of Organics at Mars: How Wet Chemistry Onboard SAM Helps

    Science.gov (United States)

    Buch, A.; Freissinet, Caroline; Szopa, C.; Glavin, D.; Coll, P.; Cabane, M.; Eigenbrode, J.; Navarro-Gonzalez, R.; Coscia, D.; Teinturier, S.; hide

    2013-01-01

    For the first time in the history of space exploration, a mission of interest to astrobiology could be able to analyze refractory organic compounds in the soil of Mars. Wet chemistry experiment allow organic components to be altered in such a way that improves there detection either by releasing the compounds from sample matricies or by changing the chemical structure to be amenable to analytical conditions. The latter is particular important when polar compounds are present. Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM), on the Curiosity rover of the Mars Science Laboratory mission, has onboard two wet chemistry experiments: derivatization and thermochemolysis. Here we report on the nature of the MTBSTFA derivatization experiment on SAM, the detection of MTBSTFA in initial SAM results, and the implications of this detection.

  8. Physical Properties and Seasonal Behavior of H2O, HDO, CO2 and Trace Gases on Mars: Quantitative Mapping from Earth-Based Observatories

    Science.gov (United States)

    Novak, Robert E.; Mumma, Michael J.

    2011-01-01

    Since 1997, we have used high-resolution (R greater than 40000) spectrometers on ground based-telescopes to study molecules that have astrobiological significance in Mars' atmosphere. We have used the NASA-IRTF, Keck II, and VLT telescopes in the 1.0-5.0 micron range. The spectrometer is set at a wavelength to detect specific molecules. Spectral/spatial images are produced. Extracts from these images provide column densities centered at latitude/longitude locations (resolution 400km at sub-Earth point). We have mapped the O2 singlet-Delta emission (a proxy for ozone), HDO, and H2O for seasonal dates throughout the Martian year. Previously undiscovered isotopic bands of CO2 have been identified along with isotopic forms of CO. We are searching for other molecules that have astrobiological importance and have successfully measured methane in Mars' atmosphere.

  9. Seepage phenomena on Mars at subzero temperature

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kereszturi, Akos; Möhlmann, Diedrich; Berczi, Szaniszlo; Ganti, Tibor; Horvath, Andras; Kuti, Adrienn; Pocs, Tamas; Sik, Andras; Szathmary, Eors

    At the southern hemisphere of Mars seasonal slope structures emanating from Dark Dune Spots are visible on MGS MOC, and MRO HiRISE images. Based on their analysis two groups of streaks could be identified: diffuse and fan shaped ones forming in an earlier phase of local spring, probably by CO2 gas jets, and confined streaks forming only on steep slopes during a later seasonal phase. The dark color of the streaks may arise from the dark color of the dune grains where surface frost disappeared above them, or caused by the phase change of the water ice to liquid-like water, or even it may be influenced by the solutes of salts in the undercooled interfacial water The second group's morphology (meandering style, ponds at their end), morphometry, and related theoretical modelling suggest they may form by undercooled water that remains in liquid phase in a thin layer around solid grains. We analyzed sequence of images, temperature and topographic data of Russel (54S 12E), Richardson (72S 180E) and an unnamed crater (68S 2E) during southern spring. The dark streaks here show slow motion, with an average speed of meter/day, when the maximal daytime temperature is between 190 and 220 K. Based on thermophysical considerations a thin layer of interfacial water is inevitable on mineral surfaces under the present conditions of Mars. With 10 precipitable micrometer of atmospheric water vapor, liquid phase can be present down about 190 K. Under such conditions dark streaks may form by the movement of grains lubricatred by interfacial water. This possibility have various consequences on chemical, mechanical or even possible astrobiological processes on Mars. Acknowledgment: This work was supported by the ESA ECS-project No. 98004 and the Pro Renovanda Cultura Hungariae Foundation.

  10. Multiple Smaller Missions as a Direct Pathway to Mars Sample Return

    Science.gov (United States)

    Niles, P. B.; Draper, D. S.; Evans, C. A.; Gibson, E. K.; Graham, L. D.; Jones, J. H.; Lederer, S. M.; Ming, D.; Seaman, C. H.; Archer, P. D.; hide

    2012-01-01

    Recent discoveries by the Mars Exploration Rovers, Mars Express, Mars Odyssey, and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft include multiple, tantalizing astrobiological targets representing both past and present environments on Mars. The most desirable path to Mars Sample Return (MSR) would be to collect and return samples from that site which provides the clearest examples of the variety of rock types considered a high priority for sample return (pristine igneous, sedimentary, and hydrothermal). Here we propose an MSR architecture in which the next steps (potentially launched in 2018) would entail a series of smaller missions, including caching, to multiple landing sites to verify the presence of high priority sample return targets through in situ analyses. This alternative architecture to one flagship-class sample caching mission to a single site would preserve a direct path to MSR as stipulated by the Planetary Decadal Survey, while permitting investigation of diverse deposit types and providing comparison of the site of returned samples to other aqueous environments on early Mars

  11. "Everybody Kind of Looked at Me Like I Was from Mars:" Preparing Educators through Qualitative Service-Research Projects

    Science.gov (United States)

    Dorner, Lisa M.; Kim, Sujin; Floros, Alice; Mujanovic, Midheta

    2017-01-01

    Skills developed through qualitative research and community partnerships can be essential for developing education students' cultural competency and understandings about diverse student populations. Toward this end, we developed a qualitative "service-research" project in a teacher education course focused on child development, whereby…

  12. Mineralogy and Astrobiology Detection Using Laser Remote Sensing Instrument

    Science.gov (United States)

    Abedin, M. Nurul; Bradley, Arthur T.; Sharma, Shiv K.; Misra, Anupam K.; Lucey, Paul G.; Mckay, Chistopher P.; Ismail, Syed; Sandford, Stephen P.

    2015-01-01

    A multispectral instrument based on Raman, laser-induced fluorescence (LIF), laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS), and a lidar system provides high-fidelity scientific investigations, scientific input, and science operation constraints in the context of planetary field campaigns with the Jupiter Europa Robotic Lander and Mars Sample Return mission opportunities. This instrument conducts scientific investigations analogous to investigations anticipated for missions to Mars and Jupiter's icy moons. This combined multispectral instrument is capable of performing Raman and fluorescence spectroscopy out to a >100 m target distance from the rover system and provides single-wavelength atmospheric profiling over long ranges (>20 km). In this article, we will reveal integrated remote Raman, LIF, and lidar technologies for use in robotic and lander-based planetary remote sensing applications. Discussions are focused on recently developed Raman, LIF, and lidar systems in addition to emphasizing surface water ice, surface and subsurface minerals, organics, biogenic, biomarker identification, atmospheric aerosols and clouds distributions, i.e., near-field atmospheric thin layers detection for next robotic-lander based instruments to measure all the above-mentioned parameters. OCIS codes: (120.0280) Remote sensing and sensors; (130.0250) Optoelectronics; (280.3640) Lidar; (300.2530) Fluorescence, laser-induced; (300.6450) Spectroscopy, Raman; (300.6365) Spectroscopy, laser induced breakdown

  13. Drilling Automation Demonstrations in Subsurface Exploration for Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Glass, Brian; Cannon, H.; Lee, P.; Hanagud, S.; Davis, K.

    2006-01-01

    This project proposes to study subsurface permafrost microbial habitats at a relevant Arctic Mars-analog site (Haughton Crater, Devon Island, Canada) while developing and maturing the subsurface drilling and drilling automation technologies that will be required by post-2010 missions. It builds on earlier drilling technology projects to add permafrost and ice-drilling capabilities to 5m with a lightweight drill that will be automatically monitored and controlled in-situ. Frozen cores obtained with this drill under sterilized protocols will be used in testing three hypotheses pertaining to near-surface physical geology and ground H2O ice distribution, viewed as a habitat for microbial life in subsurface ice and ice-consolidated sediments. Automation technologies employed will demonstrate hands-off diagnostics and drill control, using novel vibrational dynamical analysis methods and model-based reasoning to monitor and identify drilling fault states before and during faults. Three field deployments, to a Mars-analog site with frozen impact crater fallback breccia, will support science goals, provide a rigorous test of drilling automation and lightweight permafrost drilling, and leverage past experience with the field site s particular logistics.

  14. The humanation of Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    David, L. W.

    Early developments related to human excursions to Mars are examined, taking into account plans considered by von Braun, and the 'ambitious goal of a manned flight to Mars by the end of the century', proposed at the launch of Apollo 11. In response to public reaction, plans for manned flights to Mars in the immediate future were given up, and unmanned reconnaissance of Mars was continued. An investigation is conducted concerning the advantages of manned exploration of Mars in comparison to a study by unmanned space probes, and arguments regarding a justification for interplanetary flight to Mars are discussed. Attention is given to the possibility to consider Mars as a 'back-up' planet for preserving earth life, an international Mars expedition as a world peace project, the role of Mars in connection with resource utilization considerations, and questions of exploration ethics.

  15. A unified metabolism for Mars: A new approach developed from research on extraterrestrial life detection by enzymatically induced exchange of O 18

    Science.gov (United States)

    1972-01-01

    A general graded life detection approach ranging from environmental and in situ observations to specific metabolic experiments on Mars is reported. A zero dead volume leak and computer mediated data acquisition system is also discussed. Soil analyses were also conducted.

  16. Science Driven Human Exploration of Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    McKay, Christopher P.

    2004-01-01

    Mars appears to be cold dry and dead world. However there is good evidence that early in its history it had liquid water, more active volcanism, and a thicker atmosphere. Mars had this earth-like environment over three and a half billion years ago, during the same time that life appeared on Earth. The main question in the exploration of Mars then is the search for a independent origin of life on that planet. Ecosystems in cold, dry locations on Earth - such as the Antarctic - provide examples of how life on Mars might have survived and where to look for fossils. Fossils are not enough. We will want to determine if life on Mars was a separate genesis from life on Earth. For this determination we need to access intact martian life; possibly frozen in the deep old permafrost. Human exploration of Mars will probably begin with a small base manned by a temporary crew, a necessary first start. But exploration of the entire planet will require a continued presence on the Martian surface and the development of a self sustaining community in which humans can live and work for very long periods of time. A permanent Mars research base can be compared to the permanent research bases which several nations maintain in Antarctica at the South Pole, the geomagnetic pole, and elsewhere. In the long run, a continued human presence on Mars will be the most economical way to study that planet in detail. It is possible that at some time in the future we might recreate a habitable climate on Mars, returning it to the life-bearing state it may have enjoyed early in its history. Our studies of Mars are still in a preliminary state but everything we have learned suggests that it may be possible to restore Mars to a habitable climate. Additional information is contained in the original extended abstract.

  17. Widening Perspectives: The Intellectual and Social Benefits of Astrobiology (Regardless of Whether Extraterrestrial Life is Discovered or Not)

    OpenAIRE

    Crawford, Ian A.

    2017-01-01

    Astrobiology is usually defined as the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. As such it is inherently interdisciplinary and cannot help but engender a worldview infused by cosmic and evolutionary perspectives. Both these attributes of the study of astrobiology are, and will increasingly prove to be, beneficial to society regardless of whether extraterrestrial life is discovered or not.

  18. Widening perspectives: the intellectual and social benefits of astrobiology (regardless of whether extraterrestrial life is discovered or not)

    Science.gov (United States)

    Crawford, I. A.

    2018-01-01

    Astrobiology is usually defined as the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the Universe. As such it is inherently interdisciplinary and cannot help but engender a worldview infused by cosmic and evolutionary perspectives. Both these attributes of the study of astrobiology are, and will increasingly prove to be, beneficial to society regardless of whether extraterrestrial life is discovered or not.

  19. Space radiation protection: Destination Mars.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Durante, Marco

    2014-04-01

    National space agencies are planning a human mission to Mars in the XXI century. Space radiation is generally acknowledged as a potential showstopper for this mission for two reasons: a) high uncertainty on the risk of radiation-induced morbidity, and b) lack of simple countermeasures to reduce the exposure. The need for radiation exposure mitigation tools in a mission to Mars is supported by the recent measurements of the radiation field on the Mars Science Laboratory. Shielding is the simplest physical countermeasure, but the current materials provide poor reduction of the dose deposited by high-energy cosmic rays. Accelerator-based tests of new materials can be used to assess additional protection in the spacecraft. Active shielding is very promising, but as yet not applicable in practical cases. Several studies are developing technologies based on superconducting magnetic fields in space. Reducing the transit time to Mars is arguably the best solution but novel nuclear thermal-electric propulsion systems also seem to be far from practical realization. It is likely that the first mission to Mars will employ a combination of these options to reduce radiation exposure. Copyright © 2014 The Committee on Space Research (COSPAR). Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  20. Europe is going to Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    1999-06-01

    The Agency's Science Programme Committee (SPC) approved Mars Express after ESA's Council, meeting at ministerial level in Brussels on 11 and 12 May, had agreed the level of the science budget for the next 4 years, just enough to make the mission affordable. "Mars Express is a mission of opportunity and we felt we just had to jump in and do it. We are convinced it will produce first-rate science", says Hans Balsiger, SPC chairman. As well as being a first for Europe in Mars exploration, Mars Express will pioneer new, cheaper ways of doing space science missions. "With a total cost of just 150 million euros, Mars Express will be the cheapest Mars mission ever undertaken", says Roger Bonnet, ESA's Director of Science. Mars Express will be launched in June 2003. When it arrives at the red planet six months later, it will begin to search for water and life. Seven instruments, provided by space research institutes throughout Europe, will make observations from the main spacecraft as it orbits the planet. Just before the spacecraft arrives, it will release a small lander, provided by research institutes in the UK, that will journey on to the surface to look for signs of life. The lander is called Beagle 2 after the ship in which Charles Darwin sailed round the world in search of evidence supporting his theory of evolution. But just as Darwin had to raise the money for his trip, so the search is on for public and private finance for Beagle 2. "Beagle 2 is an extremely important element of the mission", says Bonnet. Europe's space scientists have envisaged a mission to Mars for over fifteen years. But limited funding has prevented previous proposals from going ahead. The positioning of the planets in 2003, however, offers a particularly favourable passage to the red planet - an opportunity not to be missed. Mars Express will be joined by an international flotilla of spacecraft that will also be using this opportunity to work together on scientific questions and pave the way

  1. Protecting the Planets from Biological Contamination: The Strange Case of Mars Exploration

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rummel, J. D.; Conley, C. A.

    2015-12-01

    Beyond the Earth's Moon, Mars is the most studied and to some the most compelling target in the solar system. Mars has the potential to have its own native life, and it has environments that appear quite capable of supporting Earth life. As such, Mars is subject to policies intended to keep Earth organisms from growing on Mars, and missions to Mars are controlled to ensure that we know that no Mars life gets to Earth onboard a returning spacecraft. It seems odd, then, that Mars is also the planet on which we have crashed the most (the Moon still owns the overall title), and is still the only body that has had positive results from a life-detection experiment soft-landed on its surface. Mars has very little water, yet it snows on Mars and we have seen regular night-time frosts and near-surface ice on more than half of the planet. Despite strong UV insolation, Mars also has regular dust storms and winds that can cover spacecraft surfaces with dust that itself may be poisonous, but also can protect microbial life from death by UV light. In spite of surface features and minerals that provide ample evidence of surface water in the past, on today's Mars only relatively short, thin lines that lengthen and retract with the seasons provide a hint that there may be water near the surface of Mars today, but the subsurface is almost totally unexplored by instruments needed to detect water, itself. In the face of these contradictions, the implementation of planetary protection requirements to prevent cross contamination has to proceed with the best available knowledge, and in spite of sometimes substantial costs to spacecraft development and operations. In this paper we will review the status of Mars as a potential (hopefully not inadvertent) abode for life, and describe the measures taken in the past and the present to safeguard the astrobiological study of Mars, and project the requirements for Mars planetary protection in a possible future that involves both sample return

  2. Geology of Mars

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Soderblom, L.A.

    1988-01-01

    The geology of Mars and the results of the Mariner 4, 6/7, and 9 missions and the Viking mission are reviewed. The Mars chronology and geologic modification are examined, including chronological models for the inactive planet, the active planet, and crater flux. The importance of surface materials is discussed and a multispectral map of Mars is presented. Suggestions are given for further studies of the geology of Mars using the Viking data. 5 references

  3. Spectroscopic Studies of Molecular Systems relevant in Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Fornaro, Teresa

    2016-01-01

    In the Astrobiology context, the study of the physico-chemical interactions involving "building blocks of life" in plausible prebiotic and space-like conditions is fundamental to shed light on the processes that led to emergence of life on Earth as well as to molecular chemical evolution in space. In this PhD Thesis, such issues have been addressed both experimentally and computationally by employing vibrational spectroscopy, which has shown to be an effective tool to investigate the variety of intermolecular interactions that play a key role in self-assembling mechanisms of nucleic acid components and their binding to mineral surfaces. In particular, in order to dissect the contributions of the different interactions to the overall spectroscopic signals and shed light on the intricate experimental data, feasible computational protocols have been developed for the characterization of the spectroscopic properties of such complex systems. This study has been carried out through a multi-step strategy, starting the investigation from the spectroscopic properties of the isolated nucleobases, then studying the perturbation induced by the interaction with another molecule (molecular dimers), towards condensed phases like the molecular solid, up to the case of nucleic acid components adsorbed on minerals. A proper modeling of these weakly bound molecular systems has required, firstly, a validation of dispersion-corrected Density Functional Theory methods for simulating anharmonic vibrational properties. The isolated nucleobases and some of their dimers have been used as benchmark set for identifying a general, reliable and effective computational procedure based on fully anharmonic quantum mechanical computations of the vibrational wavenumbers and infrared intensities within the generalized second order vibrational perturbation theory (GVPT2) approach, combined with the cost-effective dispersion-corrected density functional B3LYP-D3, in conjunction with basis sets of

  4. Mars: The Viking Discoveries.

    Science.gov (United States)

    French, Bevan M.

    This booklet describes the results of NASA's Viking spacecraft on Mars. It is intended to be useful for the teacher of basic courses in earth science, space science, astronomy, physics, or geology, but is also of interest to the well-informed layman. Topics include why we should study Mars, how the Viking spacecraft works, the winds of Mars, the…

  5. Measuring the effect of an astrobiology course on student optimism regarding extraterrestrial life

    Science.gov (United States)

    Morgan, David L.

    2017-07-01

    Students in an introductory undergraduate Astrobiology course were given a pre/post-test based on the Drake Equation in an attempt to measure changes in their perceptions regarding the prevalence of life in the Galaxy after taking the course. The results indicated that, after taking the course, the students were considerably more optimistic, by a 2 to 1 margin or more, about the prospect of habitable planets, the origin of life, and the evolution of intelligence in other planetary systems. The results suggest that, while it may not be the explicit goal of an astrobiology course to change student beliefs about the abundance or rarity of extraterrestrial life, such changes in opinion can and do occur.

  6. Bridging a High School Science Fair Experience with First Year Undergraduate Research: Using the E-SPART Analyzer to Determine Electrostatic Charge Properties of Compositionally Varied Rock Dust Particles as Terrestrial Analogues to Mars Materials

    Science.gov (United States)

    Scott, A. G.; Williams, W. J. W.; Mazumder, M. K.; Biris, A.; Srirama, P. K.

    2005-01-01

    NASA missions to Mars confirm presence of surficial particles, as well as dramatic periods of aeolian reworking. Dust deposition on, or infiltration into, exploration equipment such as spacecraft, robotic explorers, solar panel power supplies, and even spacesuits, can pose significant problems such as diminished power collection, short circuits / discharges, and added weight. We report results conducted initially as a science fair project and a study now part of a first year University undergraduate research experience.

  7. Methane Seepage on Mars: Where to Look and Why.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Oehler, Dorothy Z; Etiope, Giuseppe

    2017-12-01

    Words: Mars-Methane-Seepage-Clathrate-Fischer-Tropsch-Serpentinization. Astrobiology 17, 1233-1264.

  8. Mars At Opposition

    Science.gov (United States)

    1995-01-01

    These NASA Hubble Space Telescope views provide the most detailed complete global coverage of the red planet Mars ever seen from Earth. The pictures were taken on February 25, 1995, when Mars was at a distance of 65 million miles (103 million km).To the surprise of researchers, Mars is cloudier than seen in previous years. This means the planet is cooler and drier, because water vapor in the atmosphere freezes out to form ice-crystal clouds. Hubble resolves Martian surface features with a level of detail only exceeded by planetary probes, such as impact craters and other features as small as 30 miles (50 kilometers) across.[Tharsis region] - A crescent-shaped cloud just right of center identifies the immense shield volcano Olympus Mons, which is 340 miles (550 km) across at its base. Warm afternoon air pushed up over the summit forms ice-crystal clouds downwind from the volcano. Farther to the east (right) a line of clouds forms over a row of three extinct volcanoes which are from north to south: Ascraeus Mons, Pavonis Mons, Arsia Mons. It's part of an unusual, recurring 'W'-shaped cloud formation that once mystified earlier ground-based observers.[Valles Marineris region] - The 16 mile-high volcano Ascraeus Mons pokes through the cloud deck along the western (left) limb of the planet. Other interesting geologic features include (lower left) Valles Marineris, an immense rift valley the length of the continental United States. Near the image center lies the Chryse basin made up of cratered and chaotic terrain. The oval-looking Argyre impact basin (bottom) appears white due to clouds or frost.[Syrtis Major region] - The dark 'shark fin' feature left of center is Syrtis Major. Below it the giant impact basin Hellas. Clouds cover several great volcanos in the Elysium region near the eastern (right) limb. As clearly seen in the Hubble images, past dust storms in Mars' southern hemisphere have scoured the plains of fine light dust and transported the dust northward. This

  9. Role of the observer in the scientific process in astrobiology and in defining life

    Science.gov (United States)

    Kolb, Vera M.

    2010-09-01

    The role of the observer in the scientific process has been studied in various contexts, including philosophical. It is notorious that the experiments are theory-loaded, that the observers pick and choose what they consider important based on their scientific and cultural backgrounds, and that the same phenomenon may be studied by different observers from different angles. In this paper we critically review various authors' views of the role of the observer in the scientific process, as they apply to astrobiology. Astrobiology is especially vulnerable to the role of the observer, since it is an interdisciplinary science. Thus, the backgrounds of the observers in the astrobiology field are even more heterogeneous than in the other sciences. The definition of life is also heavily influenced by the observer of life who injects his/her own prejudices in the process of observing and defining life. Such prejudices are often dictated by the state of science, instrumentation, and the science politics at the time, as well as the educational, scientific, cultural and other background of the observer.

  10. STARLIFE - An International Campaign to Study the Role of Galactic Cosmic Radiation in Astrobiological Model Systems

    Science.gov (United States)

    Moeller, Ralf; Raguse, Marina; Leuko, Stefan; Berger, Thomas; Hellweg, Christine Elisabeth; Fujimori, Akira; Okayasu, Ryuichi; Horneck, Gerda

    2017-02-01

    In-depth knowledge regarding the biological effects of the radiation field in space is required for assessing the radiation risks in space. To obtain this knowledge, a set of different astrobiological model systems has been studied within the STARLIFE radiation campaign during six irradiation campaigns (2013-2015). The STARLIFE group is an international consortium with the aim to investigate the responses of different astrobiological model systems to the different types of ionizing radiation (X-rays, γ rays, heavy ions) representing major parts of the galactic cosmic radiation spectrum. Low- and high-energy charged particle radiation experiments have been conducted at the Heavy Ion Medical Accelerator in Chiba (HIMAC) facility at the National Institute of Radiological Sciences (NIRS) in Chiba, Japan. X-rays or γ rays were used as reference radiation at the German Aerospace Center (DLR, Cologne, Germany) or Beta-Gamma-Service GmbH (BGS, Wiehl, Germany) to derive the biological efficiency of different radiation qualities. All samples were exposed under identical conditions to the same dose and qualities of ionizing radiation (i) allowing a direct comparison between the tested specimens and (ii) providing information on the impact of the space radiation environment on currently used astrobiological model organisms.

  11. Mars Drilling Status

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mandell, Humboldt, C., Jr.

    2002-01-01

    This slide presentation reviews the current status of work to explore Mars beneath the surface of planet. One of the objective of this work is to enable further exploration of Mars by humans. One of the requirements for this is to find water on Mars. The presences of water is critical for Human Exploration and a permanent presence on Mars. If water is present beneath the surface it is the best chance of finding life on Mars. The presentation includes a timeline showing the robotic missions, those that have already been on Mars, and planned missions, an explanation of why do we want to drill on Mars, and some of the challenges, Also include are reviews of a missions that would drill 200 and 4,000 to 6,000 meters into the Martian bedrock, and a overview description of the drill. There is a view of some places where we have hopes of finding water.

  12. Past, present, and future life on Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    McKay, C. P.

    1998-01-01

    Although the Viking results indicated that the surface of Mars is dry and lifeless, there is direct geomorphological evidence that Mars had large amounts of liquid water on its surface in the past. From a biological perspective the existence of liquid water, by itself, motivates the question of the origin of life on Mars. One of the martian meteorites dates back to this early period and may contain evidence consistent with life. The Mars environment 3.5 to 4.0 Gyr ago was comparable to that on the Earth at this time in that both contained liquid water. Life had originated on Earth and reached a fair degree of biological sophistication by 3.5 Gyr ago. To determine if life similarly arose on Mars may require extensive robotic exploration and ultimately human exploration. Intensive exploration of Mars will require a continued presence on the Martian surface and the development of a self sustaining community in which humans can live and work for very long periods of time. A permanent Mars research station can obtain its life support requirements directly from the martian environment enabling a high degree of self-sufficiency. In the longer term, it is possible that in the future we might restore a habitable climate on Mars, returning it to the life-bearing state it may have enjoyed early in its history.

  13. ExoHab Pilot Project & Field Tests for Moon-Mars Human Laboratories

    Science.gov (United States)

    Foing, Bernard

    2010-05-01

    We studied concepts for a minimal Moon-Mars habitat, in focussing on the system aspects and coordinating every different part as part an evolving architecture. We validated experimentally the Habitat and Laboratory ExoHab concept constraints during EuroGeoMars campaign in Utah desert research station (from 24 Jan. to 28 Feb. 2009) and EuroMoonMars/DOMMEX campaigns in Nov 2009 and February-April 2010. We discuss from the ILEWG ExoHab concept studies and field simulations the specifics of human exploration, with focus on habitability and human performance. In the ExoHab pilot concept project (supported by ILEWG, ESA NASA), we justify the case for a scientific and exploration outpost allowing experiments, sample analysis in laboratory (relevant to the origin and evolution of planets and life, geophysical and geo-chemical studies, astrobiology and life sciences, observation sciences, technology demonstration, resource utilisation, human exploration and settlement). In this modular concept, we consider various infra structure elements: core habitat, Extra Vehicular activity (EVA), crew mobility, energy supply, recycling module, communication, green house and food production, operations. We review some studies space agencies' architecture proposals, with landers, orbiters, rovers, habitats, surface operations and protocols. We focus on the easiest and the soonest way in settling a minimal base immediately operational in scientific experimentation and exploration, but not immediately autonomous. Through a modular concept, this outpost will be possibly evolved into a long duration or permanent base. We will analyse the possibilities of settling such a minimal base by means of the current and near term propulsion technology, as a full Ariane 5 ME carrying 1.7 T of gross payload to the surface of the Moon (Integrated Exploration Study, ESA ESTEC [1,2]). The low solar rays incidence may permit having ice in deep craters, which will be beneficial for the evolution of the

  14. Life On Mars: Past, Present and Future

    Science.gov (United States)

    McKay, Christopher P.; DeVincenzi, Donald L. (Technical Monitor)

    2000-01-01

    Mars appears to be cold dry and dead world. However there is good evidence that early in its history it had liquid water, more active volcanism, and a thicker atmosphere. Mars had this earth-like environment over three and a half billion years ago, during the same time that life appeared on Earth. The main question in the exploration of Mars then is the search for a independent origin of life on that planet. Ecosystems in cold, dry locations on Earth - such as the Antarctic - provide examples of how life on Mars might have survived and where to look for fossils. Although the Viking results may indicate that Mars has no life today, there is direct geomorphological evidence that, in the past, Mars had large amounts of liquid water on its surface - possibly due to a thicker atmosphere. From a biological perspective the existence of liquid water, by itself motivates the question of the origin of life on Mars. One of the martian meteorites dates back to this early period and may contain evidence consistent with life. From studies of the Earth's earliest biosphere we know that by 3.5 Cyr. ago, life had originated on Earth and reached a fair degree of biological sophistication. Surface activity and erosion on Earth make it difficult to trace the history of life before the 3.5 Cyr timeframe. Ecosystems in cold, dry locations on Earth - such as the Antarctic - provide examples of how life on Mars might have survived and where to look for fossils. Human exploration of Mars will probably begin with a small base manned by a temporary crew, a necessary first start. But exploration of the entire planet will require a continued presence on the Martian surface and the development of a self sustaining community in which humans can live and work for very long periods of time. A permanent Mars research base can be compared to the permanent research bases which several nations maintain in Antarctica at the South Pole, the geomagnetic pole, and elsewhere. In the long run, a continued

  15. A conspicuous clay ovoid in Nakhla: evidence for subsurface hydrothermal alteration on Mars with implications for astrobiology.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Chatzitheodoridis, Elias; Haigh, Sarah; Lyon, Ian

    2014-08-01

    Abstract A conspicuous biomorphic ovoid structure has been discovered in the Nakhla martian meteorite, made of nanocrystalline iron-rich saponitic clay and amorphous material. The ovoid is indigenous to Nakhla and occurs within a late-formed amorphous mesostasis region of rhyolitic composition that is interstitial to two clinopyroxene grains with Al-rich rims, and contains acicular apatite crystals, olivine, sulfides, Ti-rich magnetite, and a new mineral of the rhoenite group. To infer the origin of the ovoid, a large set of analytical tools was employed, including scanning electron microscopy and backscattered electron imaging, wavelength-dispersive X-ray analysis, X-ray mapping, Raman spectroscopy, time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry analysis, high-resolution transmission electron microscope imaging, and atomic force microscope topographic mapping. The concentric wall of the ovoid surrounds an originally hollow volume and exhibits internal layering of contrasting nanotextures but uniform chemical composition, and likely inherited its overall shape from a preexisting vesicle in the mesostasis glass. A final fibrous layer of Fe-rich phases blankets the interior surfaces of the ovoid wall structure. There is evidence that the parent rock of Nakhla has undergone a shock event from a nearby bolide impact that melted the rims of pyroxene and the interstitial matter and initiated an igneous hydrothermal system of rapidly cooling fluids, which were progressively mixed with fluids from the melted permafrost. Sharp temperature gradients were responsible for the crystallization of Al-rich clinopyroxene rims, rhoenite, acicular apatites, and the quenching of the mesostasis glass and the vesicle. During the formation of the ovoid structure, episodic fluid infiltration events resulted in the precipitation of saponite rinds around the vesicle walls, altered pyrrhotite to marcasite, and then isolated the ovoid wall structure from the rest of the system by depositing a layer of iron oxides/hydroxides. Carbonates, halite, and sulfates were deposited last within interstitial spaces and along fractures. Among three plausible competing hypotheses here, this particular abiotic scenario is considered to be the most reasonable explanation for the formation of the ovoid structure in Nakhla, and although compelling evidence for a biotic origin is lacking, it is evident that the martian subsurface contains niche environments where life could develop.

  16. Formation of Box Canyon, Idaho, by megaflood: implications for seepage erosion on Earth and Mars.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lamb, Michael P; Dietrich, William E; Aciego, Sarah M; Depaolo, Donald J; Manga, Michael

    2008-05-23

    Amphitheater-headed canyons have been used as diagnostic indicators of erosion by groundwater seepage, which has important implications for landscape evolution on Earth and astrobiology on Mars. Of perhaps any canyon studied, Box Canyon, Idaho, most strongly meets the proposed morphologic criteria for groundwater sapping because it is incised into a basaltic plain with no drainage network upstream, and approximately 10 cubic meters per second of seepage emanates from its vertical headwall. However, sediment transport constraints, 4He and 14C dates, plunge pools, and scoured rock indicate that a megaflood (greater than 220 cubic meters per second) carved the canyon about 45,000 years ago. These results add to a growing recognition of Quaternary catastrophic flooding in the American northwest, and may imply that similar features on Mars also formed by floods rather than seepage erosion.

  17. Mars MetNet Mission Payload Overview

    Science.gov (United States)

    Harri, A.-M.; Haukka, H.; Alexashkin, S.; Guerrero, H.; Schmidt, W.; Genzer, M.; Vazquez, L.

    2012-09-01

    A new kind of planetary exploration mission for Mars is being developed in collaboration between the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI), Lavochkin Association (LA), Space Research Institute (IKI) and Institutio Nacional de Tecnica Aerospacial (INTA). The Mars MetNet mission [1] is based on a new semi-hard landing vehicle called MetNet Lander (MNL). The scientific payload of the Mars MetNet Precursor mission is divided into three categories: Atmospheric instruments, Optical devices and Composition and structure devices. Each of the payload instruments will provide crucial scientific data about the Martian atmospheric phenomena.

  18. Cellular Responses of the Lichen Circinaria gyrosa in Mars-Like Conditions

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Rosa de la Torre Noetzel

    2018-03-01

    Full Text Available Lichens are extremely resistant organisms that colonize harsh climatic areas, some of them defined as “Mars-analog sites.” There still remain many unsolved questions as to how lichens survive under such extreme conditions. Several studies have been performed to test the resistance of various lichen species under space and in simulated Mars-like conditions. The results led to the proposal that Circinaria gyrosa (Lecanoromycetes, Ascomycota is one of the most durable astrobiological model lichens. However, although C. gyrosa has been exposed to Mars-like environmental conditions while in a latent state, it has not been exposed in its physiologically active mode. We hypothesize that the astrobiological test system “Circinaria gyrosa,” could be able to be physiologically active and to survive under Mars-like conditions in a simulation chamber, based on previous studies performed at dessicated-dormant stage under simulated Mars-like conditions, that showed a complete recover of the PSII activity (Sánchez et al., 2012. Epifluorescence and confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM showed that living algal cells were more abundant in samples exposed to niche conditions, which simulated the conditions in micro-fissures and micro-caves close to the surface that have limited scattered or time-dependent light exposure, than in samples exposed to full UV radiation. The medulla was not structurally affected, suggesting that the niche exposure conditions did not disturb the lichen thalli structure and morphology as revealed by field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM. In addition, changes in the lichen thalli chemical composition were determined by analytical pyrolysis. The chromatograms resulting from analytical pyrolysis at 500°C revealed that lichen samples exposed to niche conditions and full UV radiation consisted primarily of glycosidic compounds, lipids, and sterols, which are typical constituents of the cell walls. However, specific

  19. Cellular Responses of the Lichen Circinaria gyrosa in Mars-Like Conditions.

    Science.gov (United States)

    de la Torre Noetzel, Rosa; Miller, Ana Z; de la Rosa, José M; Pacelli, Claudia; Onofri, Silvano; García Sancho, Leopoldo; Cubero, Beatriz; Lorek, Andreas; Wolter, David; de Vera, Jean P

    2018-01-01

    Lichens are extremely resistant organisms that colonize harsh climatic areas, some of them defined as "Mars-analog sites." There still remain many unsolved questions as to how lichens survive under such extreme conditions. Several studies have been performed to test the resistance of various lichen species under space and in simulated Mars-like conditions. The results led to the proposal that Circinaria gyrosa (Lecanoromycetes, Ascomycota) is one of the most durable astrobiological model lichens. However, although C . gyrosa has been exposed to Mars-like environmental conditions while in a latent state, it has not been exposed in its physiologically active mode. We hypothesize that the astrobiological test system " Circinaria gyrosa ," could be able to be physiologically active and to survive under Mars-like conditions in a simulation chamber, based on previous studies performed at dessicated-dormant stage under simulated Mars-like conditions, that showed a complete recover of the PSII activity (Sánchez et al., 2012). Epifluorescence and confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) showed that living algal cells were more abundant in samples exposed to niche conditions, which simulated the conditions in micro-fissures and micro-caves close to the surface that have limited scattered or time-dependent light exposure, than in samples exposed to full UV radiation. The medulla was not structurally affected, suggesting that the niche exposure conditions did not disturb the lichen thalli structure and morphology as revealed by field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM). In addition, changes in the lichen thalli chemical composition were determined by analytical pyrolysis. The chromatograms resulting from analytical pyrolysis at 500°C revealed that lichen samples exposed to niche conditions and full UV radiation consisted primarily of glycosidic compounds, lipids, and sterols, which are typical constituents of the cell walls. However, specific differences could be

  20. A Method for Choosing the Best Samples for Mars Sample Return.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Gordon, Peter R; Sephton, Mark A

    2018-05-01

    : Mars-Astrobiology-Search for Mars' organics-Infrared spectroscopy-Planetary habitability and biosignatures. Astrobiology 18, 556-570.

  1. Cars on Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Landis, Geoffrey A.

    2002-01-01

    Mars is one of the most fascinating planets in the solar system, featuring an atmosphere, water, and enormous volcanoes and canyons. The Mars Pathfinder, Global Surveyor, and Odyssey missions mark the first wave of the Planet Earth's coming invasion of the red planet, changing our views of the past and future of the planet and the possibilities of life. Scientist and science-fiction writer Geoffrey A. Landis will present experiences on the Pathfinder mission, the challenges of using solar power on the surface of Mars, and present future missions to Mars such as the upcoming Mars Twin Rovers, which will launch two highly-capable vehicles in 2003 to explore the surface of Mars.

  2. Maghemite Formation via Organics and the Prospect for Maghemite as a Biomarker Mineral on Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bishop, Janice; Mancinelli, R. L.; Madsen, M. B.; Zent, A. P.

    2000-01-01

    One of the major questions on Mars is the origin of the magnetic component in the surface material. Our work on maghemite formation suggests that alteration of femhydrite in the presence of organics would provide a plausible formation scenario for this magnetic soil component and further suggests that maghemite might be an important biomarker mineral on Mars. Identification of biomarker minerals is an important aspect of Astrobiology . The iron oxide mineral maghemite is thought to be one of the magnetic components in the Martian surface material; however, it is a rare mineral on the Earth and requires a reducing agent for synthesis. Organic material serves as a reductant in maghemite formation during forest fires on Earth and may play an important role in maghemite formation on Mars through low-temperature heating (e.g., volcanism, impacts). This study involves analysis of magnetite, maghemite and hematite formation under Martian environmental conditions from femhydrite in the presence and absence of organics. A dehydrated version of the mineral femhydrite is thought to be present in Martian soil/dust grains and could have formed at an earlier time on Mars when water was present. Our work indicates that low-temperature alteration of femhydrite in the presence of organic material could be an important mechanism on Mars.

  3. Mars at Opposition

    Science.gov (United States)

    Riddle, Bob

    2010-01-01

    On January 29, Mars will reach opposition, a point along its orbit around the Sun where Mars will be directly opposite from the Sun in a two-planet and Sun line-up with the Earth in between. At this opposition, the Earth and Mars will be separated by nearly 100 million km. An opposition is similar to a full Moon in that the planet at opposition…

  4. Assessing Group Dynamics in a Mars Simulation

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bishop, S. L.

    2007-10-01

    International interest in psychosocial functioning generally and issues of group and inter-group function for space crews has increased as focus has shifted towards longer duration spaceflight and, particularly, the issues involved in sending a human crew to Mars (Kanas, et al., 2001; Dawson, 2002). Planning documents for a human mission to Mars such as the NASA Design Reference Mission (DRM 1.0) emphasize the need for adaptability of crewmembers and autonomy in the crew as a whole (Hoffman and Kaplan, 1997). Similarly a major study by the International Space University (ISU, 1991) emphasized the need for autonomy and initiative for a Mars crew given that many of the scenarios that will be encountered on Mars cannot be rehearsed on earth and given the lack of any realistic possibility for rescue of the crew. This research project was only one subset of data collected during the larger AustroMars Expedition at the Mars Desert Research Facility (MDRS) in 2006. The participating crew comprises part of a multi-year investigation on teams utilizing the MDRS facility. The program of research has included numerous researchers since 2002 with a progressive evolution of key foci addressing stress, personality, coping, adaptation, cognitive functioning, and group identity assessed across the duration period of the individual missions.

  5. Experimental Demonstration of the Formation of Liquid Brines under Martian Polar Conditions in the Michigan Mars Environmental Chamber

    Science.gov (United States)

    Fischer, Erik; Martinez, German; Elliott, Harvey; Borlina, Caue; Renno, Nilton

    2014-05-01

    observed within the Martian diurnal cycle. This greatly diminishes the possibility of liquid brine formation without water ice contact and has strong implications on future robotic and manned missions searching for liquid water on Mars. Acknowledgement: This research is supported by a grant from the NASA Astrobiology Program: Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology. Award #09-EXOB09-0050. References: [1] Martínez, G. M. and Renno, N. O. (2013), Water and Brines on Mars: Current Evidence and Implications for MSL, Space Sci. Rev., 175, 29-51. [2] Rennó, N. O., et al. (2009), Possible physical and thermodynamical evidence for liquid water at the Phoenix landing site, J. Geophys. Res., 114, E00E03. [3] Zorzano, M.-P., et al., Stability of liquid saline water on present day Mars, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L20201. [4] Hanley, J. et al. (2009), Low Temperature Aqueous Perchlorate Solutions on the Surface of Mars, Proceedings 40th Lunar and Planetary Sciences Conference, The Woodlands, TX, USA. [5] Marion, G. M. et al. (2010), Modeling Aqueous Perchlorate Chemistries with Applications to Mars, Icarus, 207, 675-685.

  6. History of Mars

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Lewis, J.S.

    1988-01-01

    The origin and early history of Mars and the relationship between Mars and the other planets are reviewed. The solar system formation and planetary differentiation are examined using data from planetary missions. Different views of Mars are presented, showing how ideas about the planet have changed as the amount of available observational data has increased. Viking aerography and surface characterization are discussed, including the nature of specific atmospheric components and the implications of surface phenomena. Models for the planetary formation and accretion processes are considered. The value of future missions to Mars is stressed

  7. Mars Stratigraphy Mission

    Science.gov (United States)

    Budney, C. J.; Miller, S. L.; Cutts, J. A.

    2000-01-01

    The Mars Stratigraphy Mission lands a rover on the surface of Mars which descends down a cliff in Valles Marineris to study the stratigraphy. The rover carries a unique complement of instruments to analyze and age-date materials encountered during descent past 2 km of strata. The science objective for the Mars Stratigraphy Mission is to identify the geologic history of the layered deposits in the Valles Marineris region of Mars. This includes constraining the time interval for formation of these deposits by measuring the ages of various layers and determining the origin of the deposits (volcanic or sedimentary) by measuring their composition and imaging their morphology.

  8. MARS-OZ - A Design for a Simulated Mars Base in the Australian Outback

    Science.gov (United States)

    Willson, D.; Clarke, J. D. A.; Murphy, G.

    Mars Society Australia has developed the design of a simulated Mars base, MARS-OZ, for deployment in outback Australia. MARS-OZ will provide a platform for a diverse range of Mars analogue research in Australia. The simulated base consists of two mobile modules whose dimensions and shape approximate those of horizontally landed bent biconic spacecraft described in an earlier paper. The modules are designed to support field engineering, robotics, architectural, geological, biological and human factors research at varying levels of simulation fidelity. Non-Mars related research can also be accommodated, for example general field geology and biology, and engineering research associated with sustainable, low impact architecture. Crews of up to eight can be accommodated. In addition to its research function, the base also will serve as a centre of space education and outreach activities. The prime site for the MARS-OZ simulated base is located in the northern Flinders Ranges near Arkaroola in South Australia. This region contains many features that provide useful scientific analogues to known or possible past and present conditions on Mars from both a geological and biological perspective. The features will provide a wealth of study opportunities for crews. The very diverse terrain and regolith materials will provide ideal opportunities to field trial a range of equipment, sensors and exploration strategies. If needed, the prime site can be secured from casual visitors, allowing research into human interaction in isolation. Despite its relative isolation, the site is readily accessible by road and air from major Australian centres. This paper provides description of the configuration, design and construction of the proposed facility, its interior layout, equipment and systems fitouts, a detailed cost estimate, and its deployment. We estimate that the deployment of MARS-OZ could occur within nine months of securing funding.

  9. Mars Recent Climate Change Workshop

    Science.gov (United States)

    Haberle, Robert M.; Owen, Sandra J.

    2012-11-01

    Mars Recent Climate Change Workshop NASA/Ames Research Center May 15-17, 2012 Climate change on Mars has been a subject of great interest to planetary scientists since the 1970's when orbiting spacecraft first discovered fluvial landforms on its ancient surfaces and layered terrains in its polar regions. By far most of the attention has been directed toward understanding how "Early Mars" (i.e., Mars >~3.5 Gya) could have produced environmental conditions favorable for the flow of liquid water on its surface. Unfortunately, in spite of the considerable body of work performed on this subject, no clear consensus has emerged on the nature of the early Martian climate system because of the difficulty in distinguishing between competing ideas given the ambiguities in the available geological, mineralogical, and isotopic records. For several reasons, however, the situation is more tractable for "Recent Mars" (i.e., Mars during past 20 My or so). First, the geologic record is better preserved and evidence for climate change on this time scale has been building since the rejuvenation of the Mars Exploration Program in the late 1990's. The increasing coverage of the planet from orbit and the surface, coupled with accurate measurements of surface topography, increasing spatial resolution of imaging cameras, improved spectral resolution of infrared sensors, and the ability to probe the subsurface with radar, gamma rays, and neutron spectroscopy, has not only improved the characterization of previously known climate features such as polar layered terrains and glacier-related landforms, but has also revealed the existence of many new features related to recent climate change such as polygons, gullies, concentric crater fill, and a latitude dependent mantle. Second, the likely cause of climate change - spin axis/orbital variations - is more pronounced on Mars compared to Earth. Spin axis/orbital variations alter the seasonal and latitudinal distribution of sunlight, which can

  10. Lunar Radio Telescopes: A Staged Approach for Lunar Science, Heliophysics, Astrobiology, Cosmology, and Exploration

    Science.gov (United States)

    Lazio, Joseph; Bowman, Judd D.; Burns, Jack O.; Farrell, W. M.; Jones, D. L.; Kasper, J. C.; MacDowall, R. J.; Stewart, K. P.; Weiler, K.

    2012-01-01

    Observations with radio telescopes address key problems in cosmology, astrobiology, heliophysics, and planetary science including the first light in the Universe (Cosmic Dawn), magnetic fields of extrasolar planets, particle acceleration mechanisms, and the lunar ionosphere. The Moon is a unique science platform because it allows access to radio frequencies that do not penetrate the Earth's ionosphere and because its far side is shielded from intense terrestrial emissions. The instrument packages and infrastructure needed for radio telescopes can be transported and deployed as part of Exploration activities, and the resulting science measurements may inform Exploration (e.g., measurements of lunar surface charging). An illustrative roadmap for the staged deployment of lunar radio telescopes

  11. Report on a NASA astrobiology institute-funded workshop without walls: stellar stoichiometry.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Desch, Steven J; Young, Patrick A; Anbar, Ariel D; Hinkel, Natalie; Pagano, Michael; Truitt, Amanda; Turnbull, Margaret

    2014-04-01

    We report on the NASA Astrobiology Institute-funded Workshop Without Walls entitled "Stellar Stoichiometry," hosted by the "Follow the Elements" team at Arizona State University in April 2013. We describe several innovative practices we adopted that made effective use of the Workshop Without Walls videoconferencing format, including use of information technologies, assignment of scientific tasks before the workshop, and placement of graduate students in positions of authority. A companion article will describe the scientific results arising from the workshop. Our intention here is to suggest best practices for future Workshops Without Walls.

  12. Radiation chemistry in exploration of Mars

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Zagorski, Z.P.

    2005-01-01

    Problems of exploration of Mars are seldom connected with radiation research. Improvements in such approach, more and more visible, are reported in this paper, written by the present author working on prebiotic chemistry and origins of life on Earth. Objects on Mars subjected to radiation are very different from those on Earth. Density of the Martian atmosphere is by two orders smaller than over Earth and does not protect the surface of Mars from ionizing radiations, contrary to the case of Earth, shielded by the equivalent of ca. 3 meters of concrete. High energy protons from the Sun are diverted magnetically around Earth, and Mars is deprived of that protection. The radiolysis of martian '' air '' (95.3% of carbon dioxide) starts with the formation of CO 2 + , whereas the primary product over Earth is N 2 + ion radical. The lack of water vapor over Mars prevents the formation of many secondary products. The important feature of Martian regolith is the possibility of the presence of hydrated minerals, which could have been formed milliards years ago, when (probably) water was present on Mars. The interface of the atmosphere and the regolith can be the site of many chemical reactions, induced also by intensive UV, which includes part of the vacuum UV. Minerals like sodalite, discovered on Mars can contribute as reagents in many reactions. Conclusions are dedicated to questions of the live organisms connected with exploration of Mars; from microorganisms, comparatively resistant to ionizing radiation, to human beings, considered not to be fit to manned flight, survival on Mars and return to Earth. Pharmaceuticals proposed as radiobiological protection cannot improve the situation. Exploration over the distance of millions of kilometers performed successfully without presence of man, withstands more easily the presence of ionizing radiation. (author)

  13. The overprotection of Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Fairén, Alberto G.; Schulze-Makuch, Dirk

    2013-07-01

    Planetary protection policies aim to guard Solar System bodies from biological contamination from spacecraft. Costly efforts to sterilize Mars spacecraft need to be re-evaluated, as they are unnecessarily inhibiting a more ambitious agenda to search for extant life on Mars.

  14. Building Virtual Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Abercrombie, S. P.; Menzies, A.; Goddard, C.

    2017-12-01

    Virtual and augmented reality enable scientists to visualize environments that are very difficult, or even impossible to visit, such as the surface of Mars. A useful immersive visualization begins with a high quality reconstruction of the environment under study. This presentation will discuss a photogrammetry pipeline developed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to reconstruct 3D models of the surface of Mars using stereo images sent back to Earth by the Curiosity Mars rover. The resulting models are used to support a virtual reality tool (OnSight) that allows scientists and engineers to visualize the surface of Mars as if they were standing on the red planet. Images of Mars present challenges to existing scene reconstruction solutions. Surface images of Mars are sparse with minimal overlap, and are often taken from extremely different viewpoints. In addition, the specialized cameras used by Mars rovers are significantly different than consumer cameras, and GPS localization data is not available on Mars. This presentation will discuss scene reconstruction with an emphasis on coping with limited input data, and on creating models suitable for rendering in virtual reality at high frame rate.

  15. Microscope on Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    2004-01-01

    This image taken at Meridiani Planum, Mars by the panoramic camera on the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity shows the rover's microscopic imager (circular device in center), located on its instrument deployment device, or 'arm.' The image was acquired on the ninth martian day or sol of the rover's mission.

  16. Mars Sample Handling Functionality

    Science.gov (United States)

    Meyer, M. A.; Mattingly, R. L.

    2018-04-01

    The final leg of a Mars Sample Return campaign would be an entity that we have referred to as Mars Returned Sample Handling (MRSH.) This talk will address our current view of the functional requirements on MRSH, focused on the Sample Receiving Facility (SRF).

  17. IJslandse inzichten op Mars

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    de Vet, S.

    2013-01-01

    Vulkaanuitbarstingen onder gletsjers, zoals de vliegverkeer-verlammende uitbarsting van de vulkaan Eyjafjallajökull in IJsland in 2010, lijken in veel opzichten op vulkaanuitbarstingen die ooit op Mars voorkwamen. Dankzij de landschappelijke gelijkenissen tussen onze aarde en Mars is het mogelijk om

  18. Aperture Valve for the Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer (MOMA)

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hakun, Claef F.; Engler, Charles D.; Barber, Willie E.; Canham, John S.

    2014-01-01

    NASA's participation in the multi-nation ExoMars 2018 Rover mission includes a critical astrobiology Mass Spectrometer Instrument on the Rover called the Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer (MOMA). The Aperture Valve is a critical electromechanical valve used by the Mass Spectrometer to facilitate the transfer of ions from Martian soil to the Mass Spectrometer for analysis. The MOMA Aperture Valve development program will be discussed in terms of the Initial valve design and subsequent improvements that resulted from prototype testing. The Initial Aperture Valve concept seemed promising, based on calculations and perceived merits. However, performance results of this design were disappointing, due to delamination of TiN and DLC coatings applied to the Titanium base metals, causing debris from the coatings to seize the valve. While peer reviews and design trade studies are important forums to vet a concept design, results from testing should not be underestimated.Despite the lack of development progress to meet requirements, valuable information from weakness discovered in the Initial Valve design was used to develop a second, more robust Aperture valve. Based on a check-ball design, the ETU flight valve design resulted in significantly less surface area to create the seal. Moreover, PVD coatings were eliminated in favor of hardened, nonmagnetic corrosion resistant alloys. Test results were impressive, with the valve achieving five orders of magnitude better sealing leak rate over end of life requirements. Cycle life was equally impressive, achieving 280,000 cycles without failure.

  19. MARS and its applications at Northeast Utilities

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Khalil, Y.F.; Raines, J.C.

    1992-01-01

    The MAAP Accident Response System (MARS) for Northeast Utilities Millstone Unit 1 (MP-1) has been jointly developed by Northeast Utilities (NU) and Fauske ampersand Associates, Inc. (FAI). Millstone Unit 1 is a 2011-MW(thermal) boiling water reactor (BWR)/3 with a Mark-I containment. MARS/MP1 is user-friendly computer software that is structured to provide Northeast Utilities management and engineering staff with key insights during actual or simulated accidents. Times to core uncovery, vessel failure, and containment failure are among the figures of merit that can be obtained from this system. MARS/MP1 can predict future conditions of the MP-1 plant based on current plant data and their trends (time-dependent plant data). The objective of this paper is to present the research and development effort of the MARS/MP1 software at Northeast Utilities

  20. The Coevolution of Life and Environment on Mars: An Ecosystem Perspective on the Robotic Exploration of Biosignatures

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cabrol, Nathalie A.

    2018-01-01

    Earth's biological and environmental evolution are intertwined and inseparable. This coevolution has become a fundamental concept in astrobiology and is key to the search for life beyond our planet. In the case of Mars, whether a coevolution took place is unknown, but analyzing the factors at play shows the uniqueness of each planetary experiment regardless of similarities. Early Earth and early Mars shared traits. However, biological processes on Mars, if any, would have had to proceed within the distinctive context of an irreversible atmospheric collapse, greater climate variability, and specific planetary characteristics. In that, Mars is an important test bed for comparing the effects of a unique set of spatiotemporal changes on an Earth-like, yet different, planet. Many questions remain unanswered about Mars' early environment. Nevertheless, existing data sets provide a foundation for an intellectual framework where notional coevolution models can be explored. In this framework, the focus is shifted from planetary-scale habitability to the prospect of habitats, microbial ecotones, pathways to biological dispersal, biomass repositories, and their meaning for exploration. Critically, as we search for biosignatures, this focus demonstrates the importance of starting to think of early Mars as a biosphere and vigorously integrating an ecosystem approach to landing site selection and exploration.

  1. How relevant is heterogeneous chemistry on Mars? Strong tests via global mapping of water and ozone (sampled via O2 dayglow)

    Science.gov (United States)

    Villanueva, Geronimo Luis; Mumma, Michael J.; Novak, Robert E.

    2015-11-01

    Ozone and water are powerful tracers of photochemical processes on Mars. Considering that water is a condensable with a multifaceted hydrological cycle and ozone is continuously being produced / destroyed on short-time scales, their maps can test the validity of current 3D photochemical and dynamical models. Comparisons of modern GCM models (e.g., Lefèvre et al. 2004) with certain datasets (e.g., Clancy et al. 2012; Bertaux et al. 2012) point to significant disagreement, which in some cases have been related to heterogeneous (gas-dust) chemistry beyond the classical gas-gas homogeneous reactions.We address these concerns by acquiring full 2D maps of water and ozone (via O2 dayglow) on Mars, employing high spectral infrared spectrometers at ground-based telescopes (CRIRES/VLT and CSHELL/NASA-IRTF). By performing a rotational analysis on the O2 lines, we derive molecular temperature maps that we use to derive the vertical level of the emission (e.g., Novak et al. 2002). Our maps sample the full observable disk of Mars on March/25/2008 (Ls=50°, northern winter) and on Jan/29/2014 (Ls=83°, northern spring). The maps reveal a strong dependence of the O2 emission and water burden on local orography, while the temperature maps are in strong disagreement with current models. Could this be the signature of heterogeneous chemistry? We will present the global maps and will discuss possible scenarios to explain the observations.This work was partially funded by grants from NASA's Planetary Astronomy Program (344-32-51-96), NASA’s Mars Fundamental Research Program (203959.02.02.20.29), NASA’s Astrobiology Program (344-53-51), and the NSF-RUI Program (AST-805540). We thank the administration and staff of the European Southern Observatory/VLT and NASA-IRTF for awarding observing time and coordinating our observations.Bertaux, J.-L., Gondet, B., Lefèvre, F., et al. 2012. J. Geophys. Res. Pl. 117. pp. 1-9.Clancy, R.T., Sandor, B.J., Wolff, M.J., et al. 2012. J. Geophys. Res

  2. SGTR assessment using MARS

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Raines, J.C.; Dawson, S.M.; Deitke, B.; Henry, R.E.

    1996-01-01

    During the course of a plant accident, a consistent understanding of the plant response is vital to support an accident manager's decision making process. One tool that can provide assistance to the plant staff in assessing conditions in the plant during accident conditions is the MAAP Accident Response System (MARS) software. During an accident, MARS utilizes the on-line data from the plant instrumentation to initialize the Modular Accident Analysis Program (MAAP) code. Once initialized, MARS tracks and characterizes the plant behavior through the use of integrated logic modules. These logic modules provide the user with important information about the status of systems and the possible cause of the accident. The MARS logic modules evaluate relevant available plant instrumentation and the observations of the operating staff using fuzzy logic. The fuzzy logic is applied to provide a transition between areas where one is absolutely sure that a situation has not occurred to a condition where one is absolutely certain that a situation has occurred. One example of the use of logic modules in MARS is illustrated by that used to assess if a steam generator tube rupture (SGTR) event has occurred. Each piece of relevant plant data is evaluated to determine if it is consistent with the symptoms of a SGTR. Each of the evaluations for the individual plant instruments and the operating staff observations are assembled to determine an overall confidence which characterizes the likelihood that a SGTR is occurring. Additional MARS logic modules are used to determine confidence levels for other types of accident events. The conclusions arrived at by each individual logic module are expressed as confidence levels. The logic module confidence levels can be graphically displayed using the MARS Graphical Users Interface (GUI), to indicate the confidence level MARS has assessed for each accident type. The GUI shows the identification of the possible accident types, but is not limited

  3. Astrobiological neurosystems rise and fall of intelligent life forms in the universe

    CERN Document Server

    Cranford, Jerry L

    2015-01-01

    This book explains why scientists believe that life may be more common in the Universe than previously considered possible. It presents the tools and strategies astronomers and astrobiologists are using in their formal search for habitable exoplanets as well as more advanced forms of life in other parts of our galaxy. The author then summarizes what is currently known about how and where organic molecules critical to our form of carbon-based life are manufactured. The core of the book explains (and presents educated guesses) how nervous systems evolved on Earth, how they work, and how they might work on other worlds. Combining his knowledge of neuroscience, computers, and astrobiology the author jumps into the discussion whether biological nervous systems are just the first step in the rise of intelligence in the Universe. The book ends with a description from both the psychologist’s and the neuroscientist’s viewpoints, exactly what it is about the fields of astrobiology and astronomy that “boggles...

  4. Life Out There: An Astrobiological Multimedia Experience for the Digital Planetarium

    Science.gov (United States)

    Yu, K. C.; Grinspoon, D.

    2013-04-01

    Planetariums have a long history of experimentation with audio and visuals to create new multimedia experiences. We report on a series of innovative experiences in the Gates Planetarium at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science in 2009-2011 combining live performances of music and navigation through scientific visualizations. The Life Out There productions featured a story showcasing astrobiology concepts at scales ranging from galactic to molecular, and told using VJ-ing of immersive visualizations and musical performances from the House Band to the Universe. Funded by the NASA Astrobiology Institute's JPL-Titan Team, these hour-long shows were broken into four separate themed musical movements, with an improvisatory mix of music, dome visuals, and spoken science narrative which resulted in no two performances being exactly alike. Post-performance dissemination is continuing via a recorded version of the performance available as a DVD and online streaming video. Written evaluations from visitors who were present at the live shows reveal high satisfaction, while one of the Life Out There concerts was used to inaugurate a new evening program to draw in a younger audience demographic to DMNS.

  5. From Extremophiles to Star Trek, The Use of Synthetic Biology in Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rothschild, Lynn J.; Fujishima, Kosuke; Lima, Ivan Paulino; Gentry, Diana; Phan, Samson; Navarette, Jesica; Palmer, Jesse; Burnier, Andre

    2012-01-01

    Synthetic biology – the design and construction of new biological parts and systems and the redesign of existing ones for useful purposes – has the potential to transform fields from pharmaceuticals to fuels. Our lab has focused on the potential of synthetic biology to revolutionize all three major parts of astrobiology: Where do we come from? Where are we going? and Are we alone? For the first and third, synthetic biology is allowing us to answer whether the evolutionary narrative that has played out on planet earth is likely to have been unique or universal. For example, in our lab we are re-evolving biotic functions using only the most thermodynamically stable amino acids in order to understand potential capabilities of an early organism with a limited repertoire of amino acids. In the future synthetic biology will play an increasing role in human activities both on earth, in fields as diverse as bio-mining, human health and the industrial production of novel bio-composites. Beyond earth, we will rely increasingly on biologically-provided life support, as we have throughout our evolutionary history. In order to do this, the field will build on two of the great contributions of astrobiology: studies of the origin of life and life in extreme environments.

  6. Nucleic Acid Extraction from Synthetic Mars Analog Soils for in situ Life Detection.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mojarro, Angel; Ruvkun, Gary; Zuber, Maria T; Carr, Christopher E

    2017-08-01

    Biological informational polymers such as nucleic acids have the potential to provide unambiguous evidence of life beyond Earth. To this end, we are developing an automated in situ life-detection instrument that integrates nucleic acid extraction and nanopore sequencing: the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Genomes (SETG) instrument. Our goal is to isolate and determine the sequence of nucleic acids from extant or preserved life on Mars, if, for example, there is common ancestry to life on Mars and Earth. As is true of metagenomic analysis of terrestrial environmental samples, the SETG instrument must isolate nucleic acids from crude samples and then determine the DNA sequence of the unknown nucleic acids. Our initial DNA extraction experiments resulted in low to undetectable amounts of DNA due to soil chemistry-dependent soil-DNA interactions, namely adsorption to mineral surfaces, binding to divalent/trivalent cations, destruction by iron redox cycling, and acidic conditions. Subsequently, we developed soil-specific extraction protocols that increase DNA yields through a combination of desalting, utilization of competitive binders, and promotion of anaerobic conditions. Our results suggest that a combination of desalting and utilizing competitive binders may establish a "universal" nucleic acid extraction protocol suitable for analyzing samples from diverse soils on Mars. Key Words: Life-detection instruments-Nucleic acids-Mars-Panspermia. Astrobiology 17, 747-760.

  7. MARS CODE MANUAL VOLUME III - Programmer's Manual

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Chung, Bub Dong; Hwang, Moon Kyu; Jeong, Jae Jun; Kim, Kyung Doo; Bae, Sung Won; Lee, Young Jin; Lee, Won Jae

    2010-02-01

    Korea Advanced Energy Research Institute (KAERI) conceived and started the development of MARS code with the main objective of producing a state-of-the-art realistic thermal hydraulic systems analysis code with multi-dimensional analysis capability. MARS achieves this objective by very tightly integrating the one dimensional RELAP5/MOD3 with the multi-dimensional COBRA-TF codes. The method of integration of the two codes is based on the dynamic link library techniques, and the system pressure equation matrices of both codes are implicitly integrated and solved simultaneously. In addition, the Equation-Of-State (EOS) for the light water was unified by replacing the EOS of COBRA-TF by that of the RELAP5. This programmer's manual provides a complete list of overall information of code structure and input/output function of MARS. In addition, brief descriptions for each subroutine and major variables used in MARS are also included in this report, so that this report would be very useful for the code maintenance. The overall structure of the manual is modeled on the structure of the RELAP5 and as such the layout of the manual is very similar to that of the RELAP. This similitude to RELAP5 input is intentional as this input scheme will allow minimum modification between the inputs of RELAP5 and MARS3.1. MARS3.1 development team would like to express its appreciation to the RELAP5 Development Team and the USNRC for making this manual possible

  8. Scientific results and lessons learned from an integrated crewed Mars exploration simulation at the Rio Tinto Mars analogue site

    Science.gov (United States)

    Orgel, Csilla; Kereszturi, Ákos; Váczi, Tamás; Groemer, Gernot; Sattler, Birgit

    2014-02-01

    Between 15 and 25 April 2011 in the framework of the PolAres programme of the Austrian Space Forum, a five-day field test of the Aouda.X spacesuit simulator was conducted at the Rio Tinto Mars-analogue site in southern Spain. The field crew was supported by a full-scale Mission Control Center (MCC) in Innsbruck, Austria. The field telemetry data were relayed to the MCC, enabling a Remote Science Support (RSS) team to study field data in near-real-time and adjust the flight planning in a flexible manner. We report on the experiences in the field of robotics, geophysics (Ground Penetrating Radar) and geology as well as life sciences in a simulated spaceflight operational environment. Extravehicular Activity (EVA) maps had been prepared using Google Earth and aerial images. The Rio Tinto mining area offers an excellent location for Mars analogue simulations. It is recognised as a terrestrial Mars analogue site because of the presence of jarosite and related sulphates, which have been identified by the NASA Mars Exploration Rover "Opportunity" in the El Capitan region of Meridiani Planum on Mars. The acidic, high ferric-sulphate content water of Rio Tinto is also considered as a possible analogue in astrobiology regarding the analysis of ferric sulphate related biochemical pathways and produced biomarkers. During our Mars simulation, 18 different types of soil and rock samples were collected by the spacesuit tester. The Raman results confirm the presence of minerals expected, such as jarosite, different Fe oxides and oxi-hydroxides, pyrite and complex Mg and Ca sulphates. Eight science experiments were conducted in the field. In this contribution first we list the important findings during the management and realisation of tests, and also a first summary of the scientific results. Based on these experiences suggestions for future analogue work are also summarised. We finish with recommendations for future field missions, including the preparation of the experiments

  9. Mars Technology Project

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration — NASA’s Mars Exploration Program (MEP) calls for a series of highly ambitious missions over the next decade and beyond. The overall goals of the MEP must be...

  10. Mars Electric Reusable Flyer

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration — One of the main issues with a Mars flight vehicle concept that can be reused and cover long distances for maximum surface data gathering is its ability to take off,...

  11. Environment of Mars, 1988

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Kaplan, D.I.

    1988-10-01

    A compilation of scientific knowledge about the planet Mars is provided. Information is divided into three categories: atmospheric data, surface data, and astrodynamic data. The discussion of atmospheric data includes the presentation of nine different models of the Mars atmosphere. Also discussed are Martian atmospheric constituents, winds, clouds, and solar irradiance. The great dust storms of Mars are presented. The section on Mars surface data provides an in-depth examination of the physical and chemical properties observed at the two Viking landing sites. Bulk densities, dielectric constants, and thermal inertias across the planet are then described and related back to those specific features found at the Viking landing sites. The astrodynamic materials provide the astronomical constants, time scales, and reference coordinate frames necessary to perform flightpath analysis, navigation design, and science observation design

  12. In situ NIR reflectance and LIBS measurements in lava tubes in preparation for future Mars missions

    Science.gov (United States)

    Leveille, R.; Sobron, P.

    2017-12-01

    The ATiLT (Astrobiology Training in Lava Tubes) program addresses Mars astrobiology exploration objectives by performing field work and instrumental analyses in lava tubes as high fidelity analog environments to putative lava tubes on Mars. The main field location for ATiLT is the Lava Beds National Monument (LABE) in Northern California. LABE is situated on the lower north flank of the Medicine Lake Volcano of the Cascade arc. This location features hundreds of caves, most of which are relatively shallow, typically well above the water table, reaching 20-45m below land surface at their maximum depth. Some LABE caves feature `cold sinks' where cold air sinks and becomes trapped in deeper cave passages, thus allowing perennial ice to accumulate despite above freezing surface temperatures. Several lava tube caves in LABE also contain seasonal or perennial ice accumulations, which makes them excellent analogs to Mars lava tubes where the presence of ice has been predicted. While lava tubes are very attractive systems to test hypotheses related to habitability and the possibility for life on Mars, at present there are no comprehensive in-situ instrument-driven characterizations of the mineralogy and geochemistry of lava tubes. ATiLT fills this gap by providing detailed, in-situ investigations with scientific instruments relevant to Mars exploration. Our aim is to help constrain future exploration targets on Mars and define future mission operations and requirements. For this purpose, in May 2017 we carried out a field campaign in several lava tubes at LABE. We deployed two miniature spectroscopic sensors suitable for dark, humid, cave conditions: NIR reflectance (1-5 μm) and LIBS (300-900 nm). The advantages of combining NIR reflectance and LIBS are evident: LIBS can reveal the relative concentration of major (and often trace) elements present in a bulk sample, whereas NIR reflectance yields information on the individual mineral species and their chemical and

  13. MARS software package status

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Azhgirej, I.L.; Talanov, V.V.

    2000-01-01

    The MARS software package is intended for simulating the nuclear-electromagnetic cascades and the secondary neutrons and muons transport in the heterogeneous medium of arbitrary complexity in the magnetic fields presence. The inclusive approach to describing the particle production in the nuclear and electromagnetic interactions and by the unstable particles decay is realized in the package. The MARS software package was actively applied for solving various radiation physical problems [ru

  14. Status of MARS Code

    Energy Technology Data Exchange (ETDEWEB)

    N.V. Mokhov

    2003-04-09

    Status and recent developments of the MARS 14 Monte Carlo code system for simulation of hadronic and electromagnetic cascades in shielding, accelerator and detector components in the energy range from a fraction of an electronvolt up to 100 TeV are described. these include physics models both in strong and electromagnetic interaction sectors, variance reduction techniques, residual dose, geometry, tracking, histograming. MAD-MARS Beam Line Build and Graphical-User Interface.

  15. Mars manned fusion spaceship

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Hedrick, J.; Buchholtz, B.; Ward, P.; Freuh, J.; Jensen, E.

    1991-01-01

    Fusion Propulsion has an enormous potential for space exploration in the near future. In the twenty-first century, a usable and efficient fusion rocket will be developed and in use. Because of the great distance between other planets and Earth, efficient use of time, fuel, and payload is essential. A nuclear spaceship would provide greater fuel efficiency, less travel time, and a larger payload. Extended missions would give more time for research, experiments, and data acquisition. With the extended mission time, a need for an artificial environment exists. The topics of magnetic fusion propulsion, living modules, artificial gravity, mass distribution, space connection, and orbital transfer to Mars are discussed. The propulsion system is a magnetic fusion reactor based on a tandem mirror design. This allows a faster, shorter trip time and a large thrust to weight ratio. The fuel proposed is a mixture of deuterium and helium. Helium can be obtained from lunar mining. There will be minimal external radiation from the reactor resulting in a safe, efficient propulsion system

  16. Precautionary Principle and Mars Sample Return

    Science.gov (United States)

    Arnould, Jacques

    Many space missions have today as an aim the exploration and the knowledge of the planet Mars; consequently, the return of Martian samples seems one of the next possible stages, at the horizon of about fifteen years. Devoted in the search of traces of life, passed or presents, such a mission presents a true stake not only from the scientific point of view but also from the ethical. Right now, the COSPAR specified the precautions to be taken to avoid or, at the very least, to limit the risk of contamination of the terrestrial biosphere by pathogenic the hitherto unknown ones. Are these recommendations sufficient? Do they concern only the scientific prudence or take truly counts of the good of humanity and the life on Earth? In the final analysis, is the incurred risk, even weak, to endanger this life worth the sorrow of it? Hitherto confined with the scientific circles of astronomy and astrobiology, this questioning could move the public opinion and this one would undoubtedly call some with the principle of precaution. In what this recourse would be relevant? The precaution aims indeed the hypothetical risks, not yet confirmed scientifically, but of which the possibility can be identified starting from empirical and scientific knowledge; such is well the case. But is it for as much possible to apply this principle to the case of the Martian samples, insofar as the objective of such a mission remains for the strictly scientific moment? Is it possible to manage the risks in the same manner when it is a question of appropriation and exploitation of the natural resources and energy (GMO, nuclear energy, etc.) and when it acts, in the case of Mars, that only search of the knowledge? How to manage the fundamental difference between the risks voluntarily taken and arbitrarily imposed, clarified and keep silent? The case of the return of the samples leads to the borders of the contemporary interrogations on the stakes and the benefits of science, on the share of risk

  17. Terrestrial Analogs to Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Farr, T. G.; Arcone, S.; Arvidson, R. W.; Baker, V.; Barlow, N. G.; Beaty, D.; Bell, M. S.; Blankenship, D. D.; Bridges, N.; Briggs, G.; Bulmer, M.; Carsey, F.; Clifford, S. M.; Craddock, R. A.; Dickerson, P. W.; Duxbury, N.; Galford, G. L.; Garvin, J.; Grant, J.; Green, J. R.; Gregg, T. K. P.; Guinness, E.; Hansen, V. L.; Hecht, M. H.; Holt, J.; Howard, A.; Keszthelyi, L. P.; Lee, P.; Lanagan, P. D.; Lentz, R. C. F.; Leverington, D. W.; Marinangeli, L.; Moersch, J. E.; Morris-Smith, P. A.; Mouginis-Mark, P.; Olhoeft, G. R.; Ori, G. G.; Paillou, P.; Reilly, J. F., II; Rice, J. W., Jr.; Robinson, C. A.; Sheridan, M.; Snook, K.; Thomson, B. J.; Watson, K.; Williams, K.; Yoshikawa, K.

    2002-08-01

    It is well recognized that interpretations of Mars must begin with the Earth as a reference. The most successful comparisons have focused on understanding geologic processes on the Earth well enough to extrapolate to Mars' environment. Several facets of terrestrial analog studies have been pursued and are continuing. These studies include field workshops, characterization of terrestrial analog sites, instrument tests, laboratory measurements (including analysis of Martian meteorites), and computer and laboratory modeling. The combination of all these activities allows scientists to constrain the processes operating in specific terrestrial environments and extrapolate how similar processes could affect Mars. The Terrestrial Analogs for Mars Community Panel has considered the following two key questions: (1) How do terrestrial analog studies tie in to the Mars Exploration Payload Assessment Group science questions about life, past climate, and geologic evolution of Mars, and (2) How can future instrumentation be used to address these questions. The panel has considered the issues of data collection, value of field workshops, data archiving, laboratory measurements and modeling, human exploration issues, association with other areas of solar system exploration, and education and public outreach activities.

  18. Life on Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    McKay, Christopher P.; Cuzzi, Jeffrey (Technical Monitor)

    1996-01-01

    Although the Viking results may indicate that Mars has no life today, the possibility exists that Mars may hold the best record of the events that led to the origin of life. There is direct geomorphological evidence that in the past Mars had large amounts of liquid water on its surface. Atmospheric models would suggest that this early period of hydrological activity was due to the presence of a thick atmosphere and the resulting warmer temperatures. From a biological perspective the existence of liquid water, by itself motivates the question of the origin of life on Mars. From studies of the Earth's earliest biosphere we know that by 3.5 Gyr. ago, life had originated on Earth and reached a fair degree of biological sophistication. Surface activity and erosion on Earth make it difficult to trace the history of life before the 3.5 Gyr timeframe. If Mars did maintain a clement environment for longer than it took for life to originate on Earth, then the question of the origin of life on Mars follows naturally.

  19. Automation &robotics for future Mars exploration

    Science.gov (United States)

    Schulte, W.; von Richter, A.; Bertrand, R.

    2003-04-01

    Automation and Robotics (A&R) are currently considered as a key technology for Mars exploration. initiatives in this field aim at developing new A&R systems and technologies for planetary surface exploration. Kayser-Threde led the study AROMA (Automation &Robotics for Human Mars Exploration) under ESA contract in order to define a reference architecture of A&R elements in support of a human Mars exploration program. One of the goals was to define new developments and to maintain the competitiveness of European industry within this field. We present a summary of the A&R study in respect to a particular system: The Autonomous Research Island (ARI). In the Mars exploration scenario initially a robotic outpost system lands at pre-selected sites in order to search for life forms and water and to analyze the surface, geology and atmosphere. A&R systems, i.e. rovers and autonomous instrument packages, perform a number of missions with scientific and technology development objectives on the surface of Mars as part of preparations for a human exploration mission. In the Robotic Outpost Phase ARI is conceived as an automated lander which can perform in-situ analysis. It consists of a service module and a micro-rover system for local investigations. Such a system is already under investigation and development in other TRP activities. The micro-rover system provides local mobility for in-situ scientific investigations at a given landing or deployment site. In the long run ARI supports also human Mars missions. An astronaut crew would travel larger distances in a pressurized rover on Mars. Whenever interesting features on the surface are identified, the crew would interrupt the travel and perform local investigations. In order to save crew time ARI could be deployed by the astronauts to perform time-consuming investigations as for example in-situ geochemistry analysis of rocks/soil. Later, the crew could recover the research island for refurbishment and deployment at another

  20. Assessing Student Attitudes Towards Science in an Adaptive Online Astrobiology Course: Comparing Online and On-Campus Undergraduates

    Science.gov (United States)

    Buxner, S.; Perera, V.; Mead, C.; Horodyskyj, L.; Semken, S. C.; Lopatto, D.; Anbar, A. D.

    2016-12-01

    General-education Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) courses are considered essential to a college education, in part, to train students to think critically and to make informed decisions about complex scientific issues such as climate change and public health. Therefore, the goals of these STEM courses go beyond content knowledge to include generating positive attitudes towards science, developing competence in evaluating scientific information in everyday life, and understanding the nature of science. The Classroom Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) survey is frequently used to measure these attitudes, but it has not previously been used in an online, general education course. In this work, we administered the CURE survey for three semesters (N = 774) before and after completion of an online astrobiology course called Habitable Worlds. We compare students taking this course as part of fully-online degree programs (o-course) with those taking it as part of traditional undergraduate programs (i-course). More females and older students were among the o-course group, while overall the course had more white students than the Arizona State University average. Mean course grades were similar between the two groups but attitudes toward science differred significantly. O-course students began the course with more positive attitudes than i-course students, and o-course students also showed more positive changes at the end of the course. These differences suggest lesser intrinsic motivation among the i-course students. Additionally, pre-course attitudes correlated with final course grade for o-course students, but not for i-course students, which implies that success among o-course students is influenced by different factors than i-course students. Thus, effective student support strategies may differ for online-only students. Future work will include student interviews to better calibrate the CURE survey to online science courses.

  1. Assessing Attitudes Towards Science During an Adaptive Online Astrobiology Course: Comparing Online and On-Campus Undergraduates

    Science.gov (United States)

    Perera, Viranga; Mead, Chris; Buxner, Sanlyn; Horodyskyj, Lev; Semken, Steven; Lopatto, David; Anbar, Ariel

    2016-10-01

    General-education Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) courses are accepted as essential to a college education. An often cited reason is to train a scientifically literate populace who can think critically and make informed decisions about complex issues such as climate change, health care, and atomic energy. Goals of these STEM courses, therefore, go beyond content knowledge to include generating positive attitudes towards science, developing competence in evaluating scientific information in everyday life and understanding the nature of science. To gauge if such non-content learning outcomes are being met in our course, an online astrobiology course called Habitable Worlds, we administered the Classroom Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) survey to students. The survey was administered before and after completion of the course for three semesters starting with the Fall 2014 semester and ending with the Fall 2015 semester (N = 774). A factor analysis indicated three factors on attitudes: toward science education, toward the interconnectedness of science with non-science fields, and toward the nature of science. Here we present some differences between students enrolled in online degree programs (o-course) and those enrolled in traditional undergraduate programs (i-course). While mean course grades were similar, changes in attitudes toward science differ significantly between o-course and i-course students. The o-course students began the course with more positive attitudes across all three factors than the i-course students. Their attitudes toward science education improved during the course, while the i-course students showed no change. Attitudes toward the other two factors declined in both populations during the course, but declines were smaller among o-course students. These differences may indicate lesser intrinsic motivation among the i-course students. The CURE survey has not been used before in an online course; therefore, we will

  2. Prospects for nasa s astrobiology mission Leonid Mac and ground-based observations during the upcoming 2002 Leonid storms

    Science.gov (United States)

    Jenniskens, P.; Schmidt, G.

    Meteors represent a unique pathway from organic matter in space to prebiotic molecules on Earth. In the process, the organic material is changed in ways that are not easily simulated in the laboratory. An essential step to knowing what molecules may have been delivered from space at the time of the origin of life is understanding the physical conditions in the meteor phenomenon and to trace the fate of organic compounds in real-live meteors. This was the objective of the NASA and USAF sponsored Leonid Multi-Instrument Aircraft Campaign, wth successful missionsi during the strong Leonid showers of November 1998, 1999 and 2001. The research aircraft offer an international team of observers the opportunity to be above clouds and scattered Moon light and to be at the right place, at the right time. One further campaign is being prepared for a mission on November 19, 2002, when the Leonid meteor shower is expected to peak twice in succession, at rates of around ZHR = 4000/hr and 5000/hr, which will be best seen over western Europe and the America's, respectively. This presentation serves to encourage ground-based observations for observers at those locations. To that purpose, a summary will be given of the results to date, with emphasis on the progress made during the spectacular storms of 2001. We will briefly outline the new meteor model that has evolved and our new understanding of persistent emissions and the fate of meteoric matter after deposition. The new data have answered some questions, but also raised numerous issues that need to be addressed further. Finally, past Leonid storms have proven ideal to involve the public in astrobiology and provided a trilling experience, examples of which will be given. The 2002 Leonid storms are expected to be the last until 2099.

  3. Examining Mars with SPICE

    Science.gov (United States)

    Acton, Charles H.; Bachman, Nathaniel J.; Bytof, Jeff A.; Semenov, Boris V.; Taber, William; Turner, F. Scott; Wright, Edward D.

    1999-01-01

    The International Mars Conference highlights the wealth of scientific data now and soon to be acquired from an international armada of Mars-bound robotic spacecraft. Underlying the planning and interpretation of these scientific observations around and upon Mars are ancillary data and associated software needed to deal with trajectories or locations, instrument pointing, timing and Mars cartographic models. The NASA planetary community has adopted the SPICE system of ancillary data standards and allied tools to fill the need for consistent, reliable access to these basic data and a near limitless range of derived parameters. After substantial rapid growth in its formative years, the SPICE system continues to evolve today to meet new needs and improve ease of use. Adaptations to handle landers and rovers were prototyped on the Mars pathfinder mission and will next be used on Mars '01-'05. Incorporation of new methods to readily handle non-inertial reference frames has vastly extended the capability and simplified many computations. A translation of the SPICE Toolkit software suite to the C language has just been announced. To further support cartographic calculations associated with Mars exploration the SPICE developers at JPL have recently been asked by NASA to work with cartographers to develop standards and allied software for storing and accessing control net and shape model data sets; these will be highly integrated with existing SPICE components. NASA specifically supports the widest possible utilization of SPICE capabilities throughout the international space science community. With NASA backing the Russian Space Agency and Russian Academy of Science adopted the SPICE standards for the Mars 96 mission. The SPICE ephemeris component will shortly become the international standard for agencies using the Deep Space Network. U.S. and European scientists hope that ESA will employ SPICE standards on the Mars Express mission. SPICE is an open set of standards, and

  4. Field Exploration and Life Detection Sampling for Planetary Analogue Research (FELDSPAR): Variability and Correlation in Biomarker and Mineralogy Measurements from Icelandic Mars Analogues

    Science.gov (United States)

    Gentry, D.; Amador, E.; Cable, M. L.; Cantrell, T.; Chaudry, N.; Cullen, T.; Duca, Z.; Jacobsen, M.; Kirby, J.; McCaig, H.; hide

    2018-01-01

    In situ exploration of planetary environments allows biochemical analysis of sub-centimeter-scale samples; however, landing sites are selected a priori based on measurable meter- to kilometer-scale geological features. Optimizing life detection mission science return requires both understanding the expected biomarker distributions across sample sites at different scales and efficiently using first-stage in situ geochemical instruments to justify later-stage biological or chemical analysis. Icelandic volcanic regions have an extensive history as Mars analogue sites due to desiccation, low nutrient availability, and temperature extremes, in addition to the advantages of geological youth and isolation from anthropogenic contamination. Many Icelandic analogue sites are also rugged and remote enough to create the same type of instrumentation and sampling constraints typically faced by robotic exploration.

  5. Mars rover local navigation and hazard avoidance

    Science.gov (United States)

    Wilcox, B. H.; Gennery, D. B.; Mishkin, A. H.

    1989-01-01

    A Mars rover sample return mission has been proposed for the late 1990's. Due to the long speed-of-light delays between earth and Mars, some autonomy on the rover is highly desirable. JPL has been conducting research in two possible modes of rover operation, Computer-Aided Remote Driving and Semiautonomous Navigation. A recently-completed research program used a half-scale testbed vehicle to explore several of the concepts in semiautonomous navigation. A new, full-scale vehicle with all computational and power resources on-board will be used in the coming year to demonstrate relatively fast semiautonomous navigation. The computational and power requirements for Mars rover local navigation and hazard avoidance are discussed.

  6. Astrobiology, history, and society life beyond earth and the impact of discovery

    CERN Document Server

    2013-01-01

    This book addresses important current and historical topics in astrobiology and the search for life beyond Earth, including the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). The first section covers the plurality of worlds debate from antiquity through the nineteenth century, while section two covers the extraterrestrial life debate from the twentieth century to the present. The final section examines the societal impact of discovering life beyond Earth, including both cultural and religious dimensions. Throughout the book, authors draw links between their own chapters and those of other contributors, emphasizing the interconnections between the various strands of the history and societal impact of the search for extraterrestrial life. The chapters are all written by internationally recognized experts and are carefully edited by Douglas Vakoch, professor of clinical psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies and Director of Interstellar Message Composition at the SETI Institute. This interd...

  7. The Formation of Organic Compounds of Astrobiological Interest by the Irradiation Processing of Astrophysical Ices

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sandford, Scott A.

    2015-01-01

    Many environments in space contain very low temperature mixed molecular ices that are exposed to ionizing radiation in the form of cosmic rays and high-energy photons. While traditional chemistry would not be expected to occur at the temperatures typical of these ices (T compounds. Many of these new products are of direct interest to astrobiology. For example, the irradiation of mixed molecular ices has been shown to produce amino acids, amphiphiles, quinones, sugars, heterocyclic compounds, and nucleobases, all molecular building blocks used by terrestrial life. Insofar as the presence of these materials plays a role in the origin of life on planets, this has profound implications for the potential abundance of life in the universe since these experiments simulate universal conditions that are expected to be found wherever new stars and planets form.

  8. Pulsed neutron generator system for astrobiological and geochemical exploration of planetary bodies

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Akkurt, Hatice; Groves, Joel L.; Trombka, Jacob; Starr, Richard; Evans, Larry; Floyd, Samuel; Hoover, Richard; Lim, Lucy; McClanahan, Timothy; James, Ralph; McCoy, Timothy; Schweitzer, Jeffrey

    2005-01-01

    A pulsed neutron/gamma-ray detection system for use on rovers to survey the elemental concentrations of Martian and Lunar surface and subsurface materials is evaluated. A robotic survey system combining a pulsed neutron generator (PNG) and detectors (gamma ray and neutron) can measure the major constituents to a depth of about 30 cm. Scanning mode measurements can give the major elemental concentrations while the rover is moving; analyzing mode measurements can give a detailed elemental analysis of the adjacent material when the rover is stationary. A detailed map of the subsurface elemental concentrations will provide invaluable information relevant to some of the most fundamental astrobiological questions including the presence of water, biogenic activity, life habitability and deposition processes

  9. The Formation of Complex Organic Compounds in Astrophysical Ices and their Implications for Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sandford, Scott A.

    2015-01-01

    Ices in astrophysical environments are generally dominated by very simple molecules like H2O, CH3OH, CH4, NH3, CO, CO2, etc, although they likely contain PAHs as well. These molecules, particularly H2O, are of direct interest to astrobiology in-and-of themselves since they represent some of the main carriers of the biogenic elements C, H, O, and N. In addition, these compounds are present in the dense interstellar clouds in which new stars and planetary systems are formed and may play a large role in the delivery of volatiles and organics to the surfaces of new planets. However, these molecules are all far simpler than the more complex organic compounds found in living systems.

  10. Mars and Venus: unequal planets.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Zimmerman, T S; Haddock, S A; McGeorge, C R

    2001-01-01

    Self-help books, a pervasive and influential aspect of society, can have a beneficial or detrimental effect on the therapeutic process. This article describes a thematic analysis and feminist critique of the best-selling self-help book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. This analysis revealed that the author's materials are inconsistent with significant family therapy research findings and key principles of feminist theories. His descriptions of each gender and his recommendations for improving relationships serve to endorse and encourage power differentials between women and men.

  11. Solar and wind exergy potentials for Mars

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Delgado-Bonal, Alfonso; Martín-Torres, F. Javier; Vázquez-Martín, Sandra; Zorzano, María-Paz

    2016-01-01

    The energy requirements of the planetary exploration spacecrafts constrain the lifetime of the missions, their mobility and capabilities, and the number of instruments onboard. They are limiting factors in planetary exploration. Several missions to the surface of Mars have proven the feasibility and success of solar panels as energy source. The analysis of the exergy efficiency of the solar radiation has been carried out successfully on Earth, however, to date, there is not an extensive research regarding the thermodynamic exergy efficiency of in-situ renewable energy sources on Mars. In this paper, we analyse the obtainable energy (exergy) from solar radiation under Martian conditions. For this analysis we have used the surface environmental variables on Mars measured in-situ by the Rover Environmental Monitoring Station onboard the Curiosity rover and from satellite by the Thermal Emission Spectrometer instrument onboard the Mars Global Surveyor satellite mission. We evaluate the exergy efficiency from solar radiation on a global spatial scale using orbital data for a Martian year; and in a one single location in Mars (the Gale crater) but with an appreciable temporal resolution (1 h). Also, we analyse the wind energy as an alternative source of energy for Mars exploration and compare the results with those obtained on Earth. We study the viability of solar and wind energy station for the future exploration of Mars, showing that a small square solar cell of 0.30 m length could maintain a meteorological station on Mars. We conclude that the low density of the atmosphere of Mars is responsible of the low thermal exergy efficiency of solar panels. It also makes the use of wind energy uneffective. Finally, we provide insights for the development of new solar cells on Mars. - Highlights: • We analyse the exergy of solar radiation under Martian environment • Real data from in-situ instruments is used to determine the maximum efficiency of radiation • Wind

  12. MMPM - Mars MetNet Precursor Mission

    Science.gov (United States)

    Harri, A.-M.; Schmidt, W.; Pichkhadze, K.; Linkin, V.; Vazquez, L.; Uspensky, M.; Polkko, J.; Genzer, M.; Lipatov, A.; Guerrero, H.; Alexashkin, S.; Haukka, H.; Savijarvi, H.; Kauhanen, J.

    2008-09-01

    We are developing a new kind of planetary exploration mission for Mars - MetNet in situ observation network based on a new semi-hard landing vehicle called the Met-Net Lander (MNL). The eventual scope of the MetNet Mission is to deploy some 20 MNLs on the Martian surface using inflatable descent system structures, which will be supported by observations from the orbit around Mars. Currently we are working on the MetNet Mars Precursor Mission (MMPM) to deploy one MetNet Lander to Mars in the 2009/2011 launch window as a technology and science demonstration mission. The MNL will have a versatile science payload focused on the atmospheric science of Mars. Detailed characterization of the Martian atmospheric circulation patterns, boundary layer phenomena, and climatology cycles, require simultaneous in-situ measurements by a network of observation posts on the Martian surface. The scientific payload of the MetNet Mission encompasses separate instrument packages for the atmospheric entry and descent phase and for the surface operation phase. The MetNet mission concept and key probe technologies have been developed and the critical subsystems have been qualified to meet the Martian environmental and functional conditions. Prototyping of the payload instrumentation with final dimensions was carried out in 2003-2006.This huge development effort has been fulfilled in collaboration between the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI), the Russian Lavoschkin Association (LA) and the Russian Space Research Institute (IKI) since August 2001. Currently the INTA (Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial) from Spain is also participating in the MetNet payload development. To understand the behavior and dynamics of the Martian atmosphere, a wealth of simultaneous in situ observations are needed on varying types of Martian orography, terrain and altitude spanning all latitudes and longitudes. This will be performed by the Mars MetNet Mission. In addition to the science aspects the

  13. Guidelines for 2008 MARS exercise

    CERN Multimedia

    HR Department

    2008-01-01

    Full details of the Merit Appraisal and Recognition Scheme (MARS) are available via the HR Department’s homepage or directly on the Department’s MARS web page: https://cern.ch/hr-dept/ https://cern.ch/hr-eguide/mars/mars.asp You will find on these pages: MARS procedures including the MARS timetable for proposals and decisions; Regulations with links to the scheme’s statutory basis; Frequently Asked Questions; Useful documents with links to relevant documentation; e.g. mandate of the Senior Staff Advisory Committee (SSAC); Related links and contacts. HR Department Tel. 73566

  14. Habitability: Where to look for life? Halophilic habitats: Earth analogs to study Mars habitability

    Science.gov (United States)

    Gómez, F.; Rodríguez-Manfredi, J. A.; Rodríguez, N.; Fernández-Sampedro, M.; Caballero-Castrejón, F. J.; Amils, R.

    2012-08-01

    Oxidative stress, high radiation doses, low temperature and pressure are parameters which made Mars's surface adverse for life. Those conditions found on Mars surface are harsh conditions for life to deal with. Life, as we know it on Earth, needs several requirements for its establishment but, the only "sine qua nom" element is water. Extremophilic microorganisms widened the window of possibilities for life to develop in the universe, and as a consequence on Mars. Recently reported results in extreme environments indicate the possibility of presence of "oasys" for life in microniches due to water deliquescence in salts deposits. The compilation of data produced by the ongoing missions (Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey, Mars Express and Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity) offers a completely different view from that reported by Viking missions: signs of an early wet Mars and rather recent volcanic activity. The discovery of important accumulations of sulfates, and the existence of iron minerals like jarosite, goethite and hematite in rocks of sedimentary origin has allowed specific terrestrial models related with this type of mineralogy to come into focus. Río Tinto (Southwestern Spain, Iberian Pyritic Belt) is an extreme acidic environment, product of the chemolithotrophic activity of microorganisms that thrive in the massive pyrite-rich deposits of the Iberian Pyritic Belt. The high concentration of ferric iron and sulfates, products of the metabolism of pyrite, generate a collection of minerals, mainly gypsum, jarosite, goethite and hematites, all of which have been detected in different regions of Mars. Some particular protective environments or elements could house organic molecules or the first bacterial life forms on Mars surface. Terrestrial analogs could help us to afford its comprehension. We are reporting here some preliminary studies about endolithic niches inside salt deposits used by phototrophs for taking advantage of sheltering particular light

  15. The Effects of Perchlorate and its Precursors on Organic Molecules under Simulated Mars Conditions

    Science.gov (United States)

    Carrier, B. L.; Beegle, L. W.; Bhartia, R.; Abbey, W. J.

    2016-12-01

    Perchlorate (ClO4-) was first detected on Mars by the Phoenix Lander in 2008 [1] and has subsequently been detected by Curiosity in Gale Crater [2], in Mars meteorite EETA79001 [3], and has been proposed as a possible explanation for results obtained by Viking [4]. Perchlorate has also been shown to be formed under current Mars conditions via the oxidation of mineral chlorides, further supporting the theory that perchlorate is present globally on Mars [5]. The discovery of perchlorate on Mars has raised important questions about its effects on the survival and detection of organic molecules. Although it has been shown that pyrolysis in the presence of perchlorate results in the alteration or destruction of organic molecules [2, 4], few studies have been conducted on the potential effects of perchlorate and its precursors on organic molecules prior to analysis. Perchlorate is typically inert under Mars temperatures and pressures, but it has been shown to decompose to form reactive oxychlorine species such as chlorite (ClO2-), hypochlorite (ClO-) and chlorine dioxide (ClO2) when exposed to Mars conditions including ionizing radiation [6]. The oxidation of chloride to perchlorate also results in the formation of reactive oxychlorine species such as chlorate (ClO3-) [5]. Here we investigate the effects of perchlorate and its oxychlorine precursors on organic molecules. Experiments are performed in a Mars Simulation Chamber (MSC) capable of reproducing the temperature, pressure, atmospheric composition and UV flux found on Mars. Soil simulants are prepared consisting of Mojave Mars Simulant (MMS) [7] and each organic, as well as varying concentrations of perchlorate and/or chloride salts, and exposed in the MSC. Subsequent to exposure in the MSC samples are leached and the leachate analyzed by HPLC and LC-MS to determine the degree of degradation of the original organic and the identity of any potential decomposition products formed by oxidation or chlorination

  16. Research

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    abp

    2016-03-31

    Mar 31, 2016 ... Key words: Non-communicable diseases, epidemiology, Pakistan, life style diseases, health ... including poverty reduction, human security, economic stability and ..... demographic determinants of hypertension disease.

  17. Halophilic-Psychrophilic Bacteria from Tirich Mir Glacier, Pakistan, as Potential Candidate for Astrobiological Studies

    Science.gov (United States)

    Rafiq, M. R.; Anesio, A. M. A.; Hayat, M. H.; Zada, S. Z.; Sajjad, W. S.; Shah, A. A. S.; Hasan, F. H.

    2016-09-01

    Hindu Kush, Karakoram, and Himalaya region is referred to as 'third pole' and could be suitable as a terrestrial analog of Mars and increased possibility of finding polyextremophiles. Study is focused on halophilic psychrophiles.

  18. Remanent magnetism at Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Curtis, S. A.; Ness, N. F.

    1988-01-01

    It is shown that a strong case can be made for an intrinsic magnetic field of dynamo origin for Mars earlier in its history. The typical equatorial magnetic field intensity would have been equal to about 0.01-0.1 gauss. The earlier dynamo activity is no longer extant, but a significant remanent magnetic field may exist. A highly non-dipole magnetic field could result from the remanent magnetization of the surface. Remanent magnetization may thus play an important role in the Mars solar wind interactions, in contrast to Venus with its surface temperatures above the Curie point. The anomalous characteristics of Mars'solar wind interaction compared to that of Venus may be explicable on this basis.

  19. Spiders from Mars?

    Science.gov (United States)

    2003-01-01

    MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-426, 19 July 2003No, this is not a picture of a giant, martian spider web. This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows a plethora of polygonal features on the floor of a northern hemisphere impact crater near 65.6oN, 327.7oW. The picture was acquired during spring, after the seasonal carbon dioxide frost cap had largely migrated through the region. At the time the picture was taken, remnants of seasonal frost remained on the crater rim and on the edges of the troughs that bound each of the polygons. Frost often provides a helpful hint as to where polygons and patterned ground occur. The polygons, if they were on Earth, would indicate the presence of freeze-thaw cycles in ground ice. Although uncertain, the same might be true of Mars. Sunlight illuminates the scene from the lower left.

  20. Mars Gashopper Airplane, Phase I

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration — The Mars Gas Hopper Airplane, or "gashopper" is a novel concept for propulsion of a robust Mars flight and surface exploration vehicle that utilizes indigenous CO2...

  1. Frost on Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    2008-01-01

    This image shows bluish-white frost seen on the Martian surface near NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander. The image was taken by the lander's Surface Stereo Imager on the 131st Martian day, or sol, of the mission (Oct. 7, 2008). Frost is expected to continue to appear in images as fall, then winter approach Mars' northern plains. The Phoenix Mission is led by the University of Arizona, Tucson, on behalf of NASA. Project management of the mission is by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. Spacecraft development is by Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver.

  2. The stratigraphy of Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Tanaka, Kenneth L.

    1986-01-01

    A global stratigraphy of Mars was developed from a global geologic map series derived from Viking images; the stratigraphy is composed of three maps. A new chronostratigraphic classification system which consists of lower, middle, and upper Noachian, Hesperian, and Amazonian systems is described. The crater-density boundaries of the chronostratigraphic units and the absolute ages of the Martian epochs aer estimated. The relative ages of major geologic units and featues are calculated and analyzed. The geologic history of Mars is summarized on the maps in terms of epochs.

  3. Lakes on Mars

    CERN Document Server

    Cabrol, Nathalie A

    2014-01-01

    On Earth, lakes provide favorable environments for the development of life and its preservation as fossils. They are extremely sensitive to climate fluctuations and to conditions within their watersheds. As such, lakes are unique markers of the impact of environmental changes. Past and current missions have now demonstrated that water once flowed at the surface of Mars early in its history. Evidence of ancient ponding has been uncovered at scales ranging from a few kilometers to possibly that of the Arctic ocean. Whether life existed on Mars is still unknown; upcoming missions may find critic

  4. Development of new experimental platform 'MARS'-Multiple Artificial-gravity Research System-to elucidate the impacts of micro/partial gravity on mice.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Shiba, Dai; Mizuno, Hiroyasu; Yumoto, Akane; Shimomura, Michihiko; Kobayashi, Hiroe; Morita, Hironobu; Shimbo, Miki; Hamada, Michito; Kudo, Takashi; Shinohara, Masahiro; Asahara, Hiroshi; Shirakawa, Masaki; Takahashi, Satoru

    2017-09-07

    This Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency project focused on elucidating the impacts of partial gravity (partial g) and microgravity (μg) on mice using newly developed mouse habitat cage units (HCU) that can be installed in the Centrifuge-equipped Biological Experiment Facility in the International Space Station. In the first mission, 12 C57BL/6 J male mice were housed under μg or artificial earth-gravity (1 g). Mouse activity was monitored daily via downlinked videos; μg mice floated inside the HCU, whereas artificial 1 g mice were on their feet on the floor. After 35 days of habitation, all mice were returned to the Earth and processed. Significant decreases were evident in femur bone density and the soleus/gastrocnemius muscle weights of μg mice, whereas artificial 1 g mice maintained the same bone density and muscle weight as mice in the ground control experiment, in which housing conditions in the flight experiment were replicated. These data indicate that these changes were particularly because of gravity. They also present the first evidence that the addition of gravity can prevent decreases in bone density and muscle mass, and that the new platform 'MARS' may provide novel insights on the molecular-mechanisms regulating biological processes controlled by partial g/μg.

  5. Mars MetNet Mission Status

    Science.gov (United States)

    Harri, A.-M.; Aleksashkin, S.; Arruego, I.; Schmidt, W.; Genzer, M.; Vazquez, L.; Haukka, H.; Palin, M.; Nikkanen, T.

    2015-10-01

    New kind of planetary exploration mission for Mars is under development in collaboration between the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI), Lavochkin Association (LA), Space Research Institute (IKI) and Institutio Nacional de Tecnica Aerospacial (INTA). The Mars MetNet mission is based on a new semihard landing vehicle called MetNet Lander (MNL). The scientific payload of the Mars MetNet Precursor [1] mission is divided into three categories: Atmospheric instruments, Optical devices and Composition and structure devices. Each of the payload instruments will provide significant insights in to the Martian atmospheric behavior. The key technologies of the MetNet Lander have been qualified and the electrical qualification model (EQM) of the payload bay has been built and successfully tested.

  6. Mars MetNet Precursor Mission Status

    Science.gov (United States)

    Harri, A.-M.; Aleksashkin, S.; Guerrero, H.; Schmidt, W.; Genzer, M.; Vazquez, L.; Haukka, H.

    2013-09-01

    We are developing a new kind of planetary exploration mission for Mars in collaboration between the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI), Lavochkin Association (LA), Space Research Institute (IKI) and Institutio Nacional de Tecnica Aerospacial (INTA). The Mars MetNet mission is based on a new semi-hard landing vehicle called MetNet Lander (MNL). The scientific payload of the Mars MetNet Precursor [1] mission is divided into three categories: Atmospheric instruments, Optical devices and Composition and structure devices. Each of the payload instruments will provide significant insights in to the Martian atmospheric behavior. The key technologies of the MetNet Lander have been qualified and the electrical qualification model (EQM) of the payload bay has been built and successfully tested.

  7. 'Mars-shine'

    Science.gov (United States)

    2005-01-01

    [figure removed for brevity, see original site] 'Mars-shine' Composite NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit continues to take advantage of favorable solar power conditions to conduct occasional nighttime astronomical observations from the summit region of 'Husband Hill.' Spirit has been observing the martian moons Phobos and Deimos to learn more about their orbits and surface properties. This has included observing eclipses. On Earth, a solar eclipse occurs when the Moon's orbit takes it exactly between the Sun and Earth, casting parts of Earth into shadow. A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth is exactly between the Sun and the Moon, casting the Moon into shadow and often giving it a ghostly orange-reddish color. This color is created by sunlight reflected through Earth's atmosphere into the shadowed region. The primary difference between terrestrial and martian eclipses is that Mars' moons are too small to completely block the Sun from view during solar eclipses. Recently, Spirit observed a 'lunar' eclipse on Mars. Phobos, the larger of the two martian moons, was photographed while slipping into the shadow of Mars. Jim Bell, the astronomer in charge of the rover's panoramic camera (Pancam), suggested calling it a 'Phobal' eclipse rather than a lunar eclipse as a way of identifying which of the dozens of moons in our solar system was being cast into shadow. With the help of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's navigation team, the Pancam team planned instructions to Spirit for acquiring the views shown here of Phobos as it entered into a lunar eclipse on the evening of the rover's 639th martian day, or sol (Oct. 20, 2005) on Mars. This image is a time-lapse composite of eight Pancam images of Phobos moving across the martian sky. The entire eclipse lasted more than 26 minutes, but Spirit was able to observe only in the first 15 minutes. During the time closest to the shadow crossing, Spirit's cameras were programmed to take images every 10 seconds. In the first three

  8. Biogenic iron mineralization at Iron Mountain, CA with implications for detection with the Mars Curiosity rover

    Science.gov (United States)

    Williams, Amy J.; Sumner, Dawn Y.; Alpers, Charles N.; Campbell, Kate M.; Nordstrom, D. Kirk

    2014-01-01

    (Introduction) Microbe-mineral interactions and biosignature preservation in oxidized sulfidic ore bodies (gossans) are prime candidates for astrobiological study. Such oxidized iron systems have been proposed as analogs for some Martian environments. Recent studies identified microbial fossils preserved as mineral-coated filaments. This study documents microbially-mediated mineral biosignatures in hydrous ferric oxide (HFO) and ferric oxyhydroxysulfates (FOHS) in three environments at Iron Mountain, CA. We investigated microbial community preservation via HFO and FOHS precipitation and the formation of filamentous mineral biosignatures. These environments included 1) actively precipitating (1000's yrs), naturally weathered HFO from in situ gossan, and 3) remobilized iron deposits, which contained lithified clastics and zones of HFO precipitate. We used published biogenicity criteria as guidelines to characterize the biogenicity of mineral filaments. These criteria included A) an actively precipitating environment where microbes are known to be coated in minerals, B) presence of extant microbial communities with carbon signatures, C) structures observable as a part of the host rock, and D) biological morphology, including cellular lumina, multiple member population, numerous taxa, variable and 3-D preservation, biological size ranges, uniform diameter, and evidence of flexibility. This study explores the relevance and detection of these biosignatures to possible Martian biosignatures. Similar filamentous biosignatures are resolvable by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) onboard the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover, Curiosity, and may be identifiable as biogenic if present on Mars.

  9. Palmer Quest: A Feasible Nuclear Fission "Vision Mission" to the Mars Polar Caps

    Science.gov (United States)

    Carsey, F. D.; Beegle, L. W.; Nakagawa, R.; Elliott, J. O.; Matthews, J. B.; Coleman, M. L.; Hecht, M. H.; Ivaniov, A. B.; Head, J. W.; Milkovich, S.

    2005-01-01

    We are engaged in a NASA Vision Mission study, called Palmer Quest after the American Antarctic explorer Nathaniel Palmer, to assess the presence of life and evaluate the habitability of the basal domain of the Mars polar caps. We address this goal through four objectives: 1. Determine the presence of amino acids, nutrients, and geochemical heterogeneity in the ice sheet. 2. Quantify and characterize the provenance of the amino acids in Mars ice. 3. Assess the stratification of outcropped units for indications of habitable zones. 4. Determine the accumulation of ice, mineralogic material, and amino acids in Mars ice caps over the present epoch. Because of the defined scientific goal for the vision mission, the Palmer Quest focus is astrobiological; however, the results of the study make us optimistic that aggressive multi-platform in-situ missions that address a wide range of objectives, such as climate change, can be supported by variations of the approach used on this mission. Mission Overview: The Palmer Quest baseline

  10. The case for a modern multiwavelength, polarization-sensitive LIDAR in orbit around Mars

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Brown, Adrian J.; Michaels, Timothy I.; Byrne, Shane; Sun, Wenbo; Titus, Timothy N.; Colaprete, Anthony; Wolff, Michael J.; Videen, Gorden; Grund, Christian J.

    2015-01-01

    We present the scientific case to build a multiple-wavelength, active, near-infrared (NIR) instrument to measure the reflected intensity and polarization characteristics of backscattered radiation from planetary surfaces and atmospheres. We focus on the ability of such an instrument to enhance, potentially revolutionize, our understanding of climate, volatiles and astrobiological potential of modern-day Mars. Such an instrument will address the following three major science themes, which we address in this paper: Science Theme 1. Surface. This would include global, night and day mapping of H 2 O and CO 2 surface ice properties. Science Theme 2. Ice Clouds. This would including unambiguous discrimination and seasonal mapping of CO 2 and H 2 O ice clouds. Science Theme 3. Dust Aerosols. This theme would include multiwavelength polarization measurements to infer dust grain shapes and size distributions. - Highlights: • We present the scientific rationale for a multi-wavelength, polarization sensitive lidar to be placed in orbit around Mars. • Scientific questions focus on the Martian climate and modern-day interactions between surface, ice clouds and dust aerosols. • What we would learn about volatile transport and deposition has implications for past, present and future life on Mars

  11. Mars Pathfinder and Mars Global Surveyor Outreach Compilation

    Science.gov (United States)

    1999-09-01

    This videotape is a compilation of the best NASA JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) videos of the Mars Pathfinder and Mars Global Surveyor missions. The mission is described using animation and narration as well as some actual footage of the entire sequence of mission events. Included within these animations are the spacecraft orbit insertion; descent to the Mars surface; deployment of the airbags and instruments; and exploration by Sojourner, the Mars rover. JPL activities at spacecraft control during significant mission events are also included at the end. The spacecraft cameras pan the surrounding Mars terrain and film Sojourner traversing the surface and inspecting rocks. A single, brief, processed image of the Cydonia region (Mars face) at an oblique angle from the Mars Global Surveyor is presented. A description of the Mars Pathfinder mission, instruments, landing and deployment process, Mars approach, spacecraft orbit insertion, rover operation are all described using computer animation. Actual color footage of Sojourner as well as a 360 deg pan of the Mars terrain surrounding the spacecraft is provided. Lower quality black and white photography depicting Sojourner traversing the Mars surface and inspecting Martian rocks also is included.

  12. Mars at war

    Science.gov (United States)

    2018-04-01

    Whether the climate of early Mars was warm and wet or cold and dry remains unclear, but the debate is overheated. With a growing toolbox and increasing data to tackle the open questions, progress is possible if there is openness to bridging the divide.

  13. Watersporen op Mars

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Seijmonsbergen, A.C.; Cammeraat, L.H.; Jansen, B.

    2005-01-01

    SAMENVATTING De discussie over het voorkomen van water op Mars, in vaste of vloeibare vorm, nu en in het verleden, is nog steeds in volle gang. Dat geldt ook voor het effect van mogelijk aanwezig water op de landschapsontwikkeling van de Rode Planeet. Met het vrijkomen van steeds meer nieuwe

  14. Mars Mission Specialist

    Science.gov (United States)

    Burton, Bill; Ogden, Kate; Walker, Becky; Bledsoe, Leslie; Hardage, Lauren

    2018-01-01

    For the last several years, the authors have implemented an integrated Mars Colony project for their third-grade classes. Students explored several considerations related to colonizing and inhabiting a new world, including food sources, types of citizens, transportation, and housing design. Nearly everything about the project was open-ended, full…

  15. Advanced Communication and Networking Technologies for Mars Exploration

    Science.gov (United States)

    Bhasin, Kul; Hayden, Jeff; Agre, Jonathan R.; Clare, Loren P.; Yan, Tsun-Yee

    2001-01-01

    Next-generation Mars communications networks will provide communications and navigation services to a wide variety of Mars science vehicles including: spacecraft that are arriving at Mars, spacecraft that are entering and descending in the Mars atmosphere, scientific orbiter spacecraft, spacecraft that return Mars samples to Earth, landers, rovers, aerobots, airplanes, and sensing pods. In the current architecture plans, the communication services will be provided using capabilities deployed on the science vehicles as well as dedicated communication satellites that will together make up the Mars network. This network will evolve as additional vehicles arrive, depart or end their useful missions. Cost savings and increased reliability will result from the ability to share communication services between missions. This paper discusses the basic architecture that is needed to support the Mars Communications Network part of NASA's Space Science Enterprise (SSE) communications architecture. The network may use various networking technologies such as those employed in the terrestrial Internet, as well as special purpose deep-space protocols to move data and commands autonomously between vehicles, at disparate Mars vicinity sites (on the surface or in near-Mars space) and between Mars vehicles and earthbound users. The architecture of the spacecraft on-board local communications is being reconsidered in light of these new networking requirements. The trend towards increasingly autonomous operation of the spacecraft is aimed at reducing the dependence on resource scheduling provided by Earth-based operators and increasing system fault tolerance. However, these benefits will result in increased communication and software development requirements. As a result, the envisioned Mars communications infrastructure requires both hardware and protocol technology advancements. This paper will describe a number of the critical technology needs and some of the ongoing research

  16. The Small Mars System

    Science.gov (United States)

    Fantino, E.; Grassi, M.; Pasolini, P.; Causa, F.; Molfese, C.; Aurigemma, R.; Cimminiello, N.; de la Torre, D.; Dell'Aversana, P.; Esposito, F.; Gramiccia, L.; Paudice, F.; Punzo, F.; Roma, I.; Savino, R.; Zuppardi, G.

    2017-08-01

    The Small Mars System is a proposed mission to Mars. Funded by the European Space Agency, the project has successfully completed Phase 0. The contractor is ALI S.c.a.r.l., and the study team includes the University of Naples ;Federico II;, the Astronomical Observatory of Capodimonte and the Space Studies Institute of Catalonia. The objectives of the mission are both technological and scientific, and will be achieved by delivering a small Mars lander carrying a dust particle analyser and an aerial drone. The former shall perform in situ measurements of the size distribution and abundance of dust particles suspended in the Martian atmosphere, whereas the latter shall demonstrate low-altitude flight in the rarefied planetary environment. The mission-enabling technology is an innovative umbrella-like heat shield, known as IRENE, developed and patented by ALI. The mission is also a technological demonstration of the shield in the upper atmosphere of Mars. The core characteristics of SMS are the low cost (120 M€) and the small size (320 kg of wet mass at launch, 110 kg at landing), features which stand out with respect to previous Mars landers. To comply with them is extremely challenging at all levels, and sets strict requirements on the choice of the materials, the sizing of payloads and subsystems, their arrangement inside the spacecraft and the launcher's selection. In this contribution, the mission and system concept and design are illustrated and discussed. Special emphasis is given to the innovative features and to the challenges faced in the development of the work.

  17. Biosignatures of Hypersaline Environments (Salt Crusts) an Analog for Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Smith, H. D.; Duncan, A. G.; Davilla, A. F.; McKay, C. P.

    2016-05-01

    Halophilic ecosystems are models for life in extreme environments including planetary surfaces such as Mars. Our research focuses on biosignatures in a salt crusts and the detection of these biomarkers by ground and orbital assests.

  18. CO2 Removal from Mars EMU, Phase II

    Data.gov (United States)

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration — A practical CO2 control system for ExtraVehicular Activity (EVA) on Mars have not yet been developed. TDA Research, Inc. proposes to develop a durable,...

  19. Finding Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) Destinations for Human Exploration: Implications for Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Landis, Rob; Abell, Paul; Barbee, Brent; Johnson, Lindley

    2012-01-01

    The current number of known potential NEA targets for HSF is limited to those objects whose orbital characteristics are similar to that of the Earth. This is due to the projected capabilities of the exploration systems currently under consideration and development at NASA. However, NEAs with such orbital characteristics often have viewing geometries that place them at low solar elongations and thus are difficult to detect from the vicinity of Earth. While ongoing ground-based surveys and data archives maintained by the NEO Program Observation Program Office and the Minor Planet Center (MPC) have provided a solid basis upon which to build, a more complete catalog of the NEO population is required to inform a robust and sustainable HSF exploration program. Since all the present NEO observing assets are currently confined to the vicinity of the Earth, additional effort must be made to provide capabilities for detection of additional HSF targets via assets beyond Earth orbit. A space-based NEO survey telescope located beyond the vicinity of the Earth, has considerable implications for planetary science and astrobiology. Such a telescope will provide foundational knowledge of our Solar System small body population and detect targets of interest for both the HSF and scientific communities. Data from this asset will yield basic characterization data on the NEOs observed (i.e., albedo, size determination, potential for volatiles and organics, etc.) and help down select targets for future HSF missions. Ideally, the most attractive targets from both HSF and astrobiology perspectives are those NEAs that may contain organic and volatile materials, and which could be effectively sampled at a variety of locations and depths. Presented here is an overview of four space-based survey concepts; any one of which after just a few years of operation will discover many highly accessible NEO targets suitable for robotic and human exploration. Such a space-based survey mission will reveal

  20. Reviews in Modern Astronomy 28: From the First Quasars to Life-Bearing Planets - From Accretion Physics to Astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Berlepsch, Regina v.

    2016-07-01

    The current issue of AN is Volume 28 of the Reviews in Modern Astronomy and presents the Karl Schwarzschild Award Lecture, the Ludwig Bierman n Award Lecture and the Doctoral Thesis Award Lecture given at the 88th Annual International Scientific Meeting of the Astronomische Gesellschaft held in Kiel, Germany, September 14-18, 2015. It was the fifth time that Kiel hosted a meeting of the AG, the first one was in 1887. In 2015 the fall meeting was a part of the celebrations of the 350th anniversary of the Christiana Albertina University Kiel in 1665. For astronomers around the globe, the astrophysical group is well known for the Kieler Schule and its fundamental contributions to the physics of stellar atmospheres. Based on the work by Albrecht Unsöld during his tenure of 41 years as active researcher and lecturer (and many more after becoming emeritus), the quantitative analysis of stellar atmospheres and the reliable determination of chemical abundances is nowadays a cornerstone of modern astrophysics. Even more, it is of ground-laying importance for the whole field, from the characterization of exoplanets and their host stars to the properties of galaxies at cosmic dawn. The meeting was guided by the theme "From the First Quasars to Life-Bearing Planets -- From Accretion Physics to Astrobiology". The meeting was attended by almost 300 participants from around the world. The Karl Schwarzschild Medal 2015 of the Astronomische Gesellschaft was awarded to Professor Immo Appenzeller, Heidelberg. His lecture with the title "Astronomical technology -- the past and the future" opened the meeting. The talk presented by the Ludwig Biermann Award winner 2015, Dr. Ivan Minchev, Potsdam, dealt with the topic "Constraining the Milky Way assembly history with Galactic Archaeology". The Doctoral Thesis Award 2015 was awarded to Dr. Cornelia Müller (Würzburg). In her lecture she discussed the subject "Multiwavelength and parsec-scale properties of extragalactic Jets". The AG

  1. Resistance of Microorganisms to Extreme Environmental Conditions and Its Contribution to Astrobiology

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Pabulo Henrique Rampelotto

    2010-06-01

    Full Text Available In the last decades, substantial changes have occurred regarding what scientists consider the limits of habitable environmental conditions. For every extreme environmental condition investigated, a variety of microorganisms have shown that not only can they tolerate these conditions, but that they also often require these extreme conditions for survival. Microbes can return to life even after hundreds of millions of years. Furthermore, a variety of studies demonstrate that microorganisms can survive under extreme conditions, such as ultracentrifugation, hypervelocity, shock pressure, high temperature variations, vacuums, and different ultraviolet and ionizing radiation intensities, which simulate the conditions that microbes could experience during the ejection from one planet, the journey through space, as well as the impact in another planet. With these discoveries, our knowledge about the biosphere has grown and the putative boundaries of life have expanded. The present work examines the recent discoveries and the principal advances concerning the resistance of microorganisms to extreme environmental conditions, and analyzes its contributions to the development of the main themes of astrobiology: the origins of life, the search for extraterrestrial life, and the dispersion of life in the Universe.

  2. NASA-ESA Joint Mission to Explore Two Worlds of Great Astrobiological Interest - Titan and Enceladus

    Science.gov (United States)

    Reh, K.; Coustenis, A.; Lunine, J.; Matson, D.; Lebreton, J.-P.; Erd, C.; Beauchamp, P.

    2009-04-01

    Rugged shorelines, laced with canyons, leading to ethane/methane seas glimpsed through an organic haze, vast fields of dunes shaped by alien sciroccos… An icy moon festooned with plumes of water-ice and organics, whose warm watery source might be glimpsed through surface cracks that glow in the infrared… The revelations by Cassini-Huygens about Saturn's crown jewels, Titan and Enceladus, have rocked the public with glimpses of new worlds unimagined a decade before. The time is at hand to capitalize on those discoveries with a broad mission of exploration that combines the widest range of planetary science disciplines—Geology, Geophysics, Atmospheres, Astrobiology,Chemistry, Magnetospheres—in a single NASA/ESA collaboration. The Titan Saturn System Mission will explore these exciting new environments, flying through Enceladus' plumes and plunging deep into Titan's atmosphere with instruments tuned to find what Cassini could only hint at. Exploring Titan with an international fleet of vehicles; from orbit, from the surface of a great polar sea, and from the air with the first hot air balloon to ride an extraterrestrial breeze, TSSM will turn our snapshot gaze of these worlds into an epic film. This paper will describe a collaborative NASA-ESA Titan Saturn System Mission that will open a new phase of planetary exploration by projecting robotic presence on the land, on the sea, and in the air of an active, organic-rich world.

  3. The importance of the Maillard-metal complexes and their silicates in astrobiology

    Science.gov (United States)

    Liesch, Patrick J.; Kolb, Vera M.

    2007-09-01

    The Maillard reaction occurs when sugars and amino acids are mixed together in the solid state or in the aqueous solution. Since both amino acids and sugar-like compounds are found on meteorites, we hypothesized that they would also undergo the Maillard reaction. Our recent work supports this idea. We have shown previously that the water-insoluble Maillard products have substantial similarities with the insoluble organic materials from the meteorites. The Maillard organic materials are also part of the desert varnish on Earth, which is a dark, shiny, hard rock coating that contains iron and manganese and is glazed in silicate. Rocks that are similar in appearance to the desert varnish have been observed on the Martian surface. They may also contain the organic materials. We have undertaken study of the interactions between the Maillard products, iron and other metals, and silicates, to elucidate the role of the Maillard products in the chemistry of desert varnish and meteorites. Specifically, we have synthesized a series of the Maillard-metal complexes, and have tested their reactivity towards silicates. We have studied the properties of these Maillard-metal-silicate products by the IR spectroscopy. The astrobiological potential of the Maillard-metal complexes is assessed.

  4. A Statistical Approach to Illustrate the Challenge of Astrobiology for Public Outreach

    Directory of Open Access Journals (Sweden)

    Frédéric Foucher

    2017-10-01

    Full Text Available In this study, we attempt to illustrate the competition that constitutes the main challenge of astrobiology, namely the competition between the probability of extraterrestrial life and its detectability. To illustrate this fact, we propose a simple statistical approach based on our knowledge of the Universe and the Milky Way, the Solar System, and the evolution of life on Earth permitting us to obtain the order of magnitude of the distance between Earth and bodies inhabited by more or less evolved past or present life forms, and the consequences of this probability for the detection of associated biosignatures. We thus show that the probability of the existence of evolved extraterrestrial forms of life increases with distance from the Earth while, at the same time, the number of detectable biosignatures decreases due to technical and physical limitations. This approach allows us to easily explain to the general public why it is very improbable to detect a signal of extraterrestrial intelligence while it is justified to launch space probes dedicated to the search for microbial life in the Solar System.

  5. Reduced and oxidised scytonemin: theoretical protocol for Raman spectroscopic identification of potential key biomolecules for astrobiology.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Varnali, Tereza; Edwards, Howell G M

    2014-01-03

    Scytonemin is an important UV-radiation protective biomolecule synthesised by extremophilic cyanobacteria in stressed terrestrial environments. Scytonemin and its reduced form have been both isolated experimentally and the Raman spectrum for scytonemin has been assigned and characterised experimentally both in extracts and in living extremophilic cyanobacterial colonies. Scytonemin is recognised as a key biomarker molecule for terrestrial organisms in stressed environments. We propose a new, theoretically plausible structure for oxidised scytonemin which has not been mentioned in the literature hitherto. DFT calculations for scytonemin, reduced scytonemin and the new structure modelled and proposed for oxidised scytonemin are reported along with their Raman spectroscopic data and λmax UV-absorption data obtained theoretically. Comparison of the vibrational spectroscopic assignments allows the three forms of scytonemin to be detected and identified and assist not only in the clarification of the major features in the experimentally observed Raman spectral data for the parent scytonemin but also support a protocol proposed for their analytical discrimination. The results of this study provide a basis for the search for molecules of this type in future astrobiological missions of exploration and the search for extinct and extant life terrestrially. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

  6. EquiMar

    DEFF Research Database (Denmark)

    Johnstone, C. M.; McCombes, T.; Bahaj, A. S.

    2011-01-01

    the performance evaluation of such systems in order to address this deficiency. This paper reports the development of a set of ‘Best Practices’ within the ECFPVII EquiMar project to be adopted for the performance quantification of wave and tidal energy converters as they evolve from an engineering concept......At the present time there are no approved standards or recognised best practices being implemented for the performance appraisal and benchmarking of wave and tidal energy converters. As such, this develops considerable misunderstanding between device developers, testing centres, investors....../ financiers etc when attempting to quantify the performance of a device since it makes it very difficult to reference and benchmark the performance of a marine energy converter. The EC Framework Programme VII EquiMar project has set out to develop a suite of Best Practices to be adopted when undertaking...

  7. The politics of Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Schmitt, Harrison H.

    1986-01-01

    A discussion is presented comparing past and present major accomplishments of the U.S. and the Soviet Union in space. It concludes that the Soviets are presently well ahead of the U.S. in several specific aspects of space accomplishment and speculates that the Soviet strategy is directed towards sending a man to the vicinity of Mars by the end of this century. A major successful multinational space endeavor, INTELSAT, is reviewed and it is suggested that the manned exploration of Mars offers a unique opportunity for another such major international cooperative effort. The current attitude of U.S. leadership and the general public is assessed as uniformed or ambivalent about the perceived threat of Soviet dominance in space.

  8. Fossil life on Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Walter, M. R.

    1989-01-01

    Three major problems beset paleontologists searching for morphological evidence of life on early Earth: selecting a prospective site; finding biogenic structures; and distinguishing biogenic from abiogenic structures. The same problems arise on Mars. Terrestrial experience suggests that, with the techniques that can be employed remotely, ancient springs, including hot springs, are more prospective than lake deposits. If, on the other hand, the search is for chemical evidence, the strategy can be very different, and lake deposits are attractive targets. Lakes and springs frequenly occur in close proximity, and therefore a strategy that combines the two would seem to maximize the chance of success. The strategy for a search for stromatolite on Mars is discussed.

  9. Magnetic storms on Mars

    DEFF Research Database (Denmark)

    Vennerstrøm, Susanne

    2011-01-01

    and typical time profile of such periods is investigated and compared to solar wind measurements at Earth. Typical durations of the events are 20–40h, and there is a tendency for large events to last longer, but a large spread in duration and intensity are found. The large and medium intensity events at Mars......Based on data from the Mars Global Surveyor magnetometer we examine periods of significantly enhanced magnetic disturbances in the martian space environment. Using almost seven years of observations during the maximum and early declining phase of the previous solar cycle the occurrence pattern...... are found to occur predominantly in association with interplanetary sector boundaries, with solar wind dynamic pressure enhancements being the most likely interplanetary driver. In addition it is found that, on time scales of months to several years, the dominant cause of global variability of the magnetic...

  10. Artificial structures on Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Van Flandern, T.

    2002-05-01

    Approximately 70,000 images of the surface of Mars at a resolution of up to 1.4 meters per pixel, taken by the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft, are now in public archives. Approximately 1% of those images show features that can be broadly described as `special shapes', `tracks, trails, and possible vegetation', `spots, stripes, and tubes', `artistic imagery', and `patterns and symbols'. Rather than optical illusions and tricks of light and shadow, most of these have the character that, if photographed on Earth, no one would doubt that they were the products of large biology and intelligence. In a few cases, relationships, context, and fulfillment of a priori predictions provide objective evidence of artificiality that is exempt from the influence of experimenter biases. Only controlled test results can be trusted because biases are strong and operate both for and against artificiality.

  11. Future Mars geophysical observatories for understanding its internal structure, rotation, and evolution

    Science.gov (United States)

    Dehant, Veronique; Banerdt, Bruce; Lognonné, Philippe; Grott, Matthias; Asmar, Sami; Biele, Jens; Breuer, Doris; Forget, François; Jaumann, Ralf; Johnson, Catherine; Knapmeyer, Martin; Langlais, Benoit; Le Feuvre, Mathieu; Mimoun, David; Mocquet, Antoine; Read, Peter; Rivoldini, Attilio; Romberg, Oliver; Schubert, Gerald; Smrekar, Sue; Spohn, Tilman; Tortora, Paolo; Ulamec, Stephan; Vennerstrøm, Susanne

    2012-08-01

    Our fundamental understanding of the interior of the Earth comes from seismology, geodesy, geochemistry, geomagnetism, geothermal studies, and petrology. For the Earth, measurements in those disciplines of geophysics have revealed the basic internal layering of the Earth, its dynamical regime, its thermal structure, its gross compositional stratification, as well as significant lateral variations in these quantities. Planetary interiors not only record evidence of conditions of planetary accretion and differentiation, they exert significant control on surface environments. We present recent advances in possible in-situ investigations of the interior of Mars, experiments and strategies that can provide unique and critical information about the fundamental processes of terrestrial planet formation and evolution. Such investigations applied on Mars have been ranked as a high priority in virtually every set of European, US and international high-level planetary science recommendations for the past 30 years. New seismological methods and approaches based on the cross-correlation of seismic noise by two seismic stations/landers on the surface of Mars and on joint seismic/orbiter detection of meteorite impacts, as well as the improvement of the performance of Very Broad-Band (VBB) seismometers have made it possible to secure a rich scientific return with only two simultaneously recording stations. In parallel, use of interferometric methods based on two Earth-Mars radio links simultaneously from landers tracked from Earth has increased the precision of radio science experiments by one order of magnitude. Magnetometer and heat flow measurements will complement seismic and geodetic data in order to obtain the best information on the interior of Mars. In addition to studying the present structure and dynamics of Mars, these measurements will provide important constraints for the astrobiology of Mars by helping to understand why Mars failed to sustain a magnetic field, by

  12. Sustainable Mars Sample Return

    Science.gov (United States)

    Alston, Christie; Hancock, Sean; Laub, Joshua; Perry, Christopher; Ash, Robert

    2011-01-01

    The proposed Mars sample return mission will be completed using natural Martian resources for the majority of its operations. The system uses the following technologies: In-Situ Propellant Production (ISPP), a methane-oxygen propelled Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV), a carbon dioxide powered hopper, and a hydrogen fueled balloon system (large balloons and small weather balloons). The ISPP system will produce the hydrogen, methane, and oxygen using a Sabatier reactor. a water electrolysis cell, water extracted from the Martian surface, and carbon dioxide extracted from the Martian atmosphere. Indigenous hydrogen will fuel the balloon systems and locally-derived methane and oxygen will fuel the MAV for the return of a 50 kg sample to Earth. The ISPP system will have a production cycle of 800 days and the estimated overall mission length is 1355 days from Earth departure to return to low Earth orbit. Combining these advanced technologies will enable the proposed sample return mission to be executed with reduced initial launch mass and thus be more cost efficient. The successful completion of this mission will serve as the next step in the advancement of Mars exploration technology.

  13. Research

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    abp

    2016-03-30

    Mar 30, 2016 ... 1School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, 2Aga Khan .... “Focus on Opportunity, Ability and Motivation” (FOAM) framework ... children (-28%), before eating (-4%), and after attending to a child.

  14. Research

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    abp

    2016-03-11

    Mar 11, 2016 ... &Corresponding author: Nyengidiki Tamunomie Kennedy, Department of ... Introduction: Human papilloma virus(HPV) accounts for most cases of cervical .... prevalence and the contribution of other socio-demographic factors.

  15. Research

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    ebutamanya

    2016-03-10

    Mar 10, 2016 ... Introduction. Teenage sexual activity is increasing globally with a trend towards .... of EC including indication, time frame for use, and side effects like nausea ... hospitals. This was followed by the mass media (Television and.

  16. Research

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    abp

    2013-03-11

    Mar 11, 2013 ... From a practical point of view, apart from the data on age that are easily obtained from recorded ..... Washington D.C. : Academy for Educational Development 2003. ... learning: data mining, inference and prediction. New York:.

  17. Research

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    ebutamanya

    2016-03-17

    Mar 17, 2016 ... Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and .... Pipetting and plate preparation were done ... analyzed by performing BLAST search in the GenBank (NCBI).

  18. Research

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    ebutamanya

    2016-03-09

    Mar 9, 2016 ... Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits ... definition, we conducted active case search in the community to .... haemolytic golden yellow colonies on blood agar plate, which had.

  19. Research

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    abp

    2015-03-06

    Mar 6, 2015 ... Introduction: Several studies in Sub- Saharan Africa have documented high and ... Methods: A Descriptive cross sectional survey was employed and three hundred twenty ... In addition, unwanted pregnancy among female.

  20. Research

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    ebutamanya

    2016-03-03

    Mar 3, 2016 ... The profile of patients with obstructive uropathy in Cameroon: case of the Douala. General ... Symptoms at presentation: asthenia (57%), anorexia. (55%), loin .... This study on the clinical profile and outcome of patients with.

  1. Research

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    abp

    2016-03-16

    Mar 16, 2016 ... Introduction: Symptom-free human immunodeficiency virus antibody-negative Zambian adults (51 ..... cytomegalovirus or Epstein-Barr virus, which could have affected the .... responses to HIV infection and vaccination.

  2. Research

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    raoul

    2011-03-11

    Mar 11, 2011 ... The prevalence and pattern of HPV-16 immunostaining in uterine cervical carcinomas .... irregular vaginal bleeding or post coital bleeding. .... Dr MR and Dr AB equally contributed to the study, both are pathologists. Dr. AB ...

  3. Research

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    2018-03-14

    Mar 14, 2018 ... Furthermore, physiotherapists promote quality of life through ... Methods. .... Transcribed data were entered into NVivo 9 software (NVivo, USA) and ..... management,[31] but also integral for effective team collaboration and a.

  4. Research

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    abp

    2016-03-03

    Mar 3, 2016 ... differences with western world authors suggest a geographical variability of salivary gland tumors. .... Especially, the longer life expectancy, the development of means of prevention and the better quality of life in the western ...

  5. Research

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    Kamadjeur

    2012-03-14

    Mar 14, 2012 ... shown that health workers in some countries can perform neonatal resuscitation ... (wiping the eyes with sterile gauze before applying eye drops and not wiping ..... Sheybani C. Portrait géographique du personnel infirmier à ...

  6. Research

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    abp

    2014-03-21

    Mar 21, 2014 ... governments of Cross River State have strived to improve the health of Nigerians, through a ... Other issues included the role of gender, minority ... The National policy on health has primary health care playing a pivotal role.

  7. Research

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    abp

    2016-03-25

    Mar 25, 2016 ... Key words: Health insurance, antenatal care, insurance uptake ... Information generated from this study if utilized will bring a better understanding ..... the questions were prone to recall bias. ... cleared picture of the situation.

  8. Research

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    abp

    2014-03-19

    Mar 19, 2014 ... management among teaching hospital staff in south east Nigeria: an intervention study ... Published in partnership with the African Field Epidemiology Network ... and specifically the infection prevention and control team in the.

  9. Research

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    Raoul

    2012-03-29

    Mar 29, 2012 ... Exposure to blood among mortuary workers in teaching hospitals in south-west ... Key words: Exposure, blood, mortuary workers, infection control, Nigeria ... Published in partnership with the African Field Epidemiology ...

  10. Atacama Rover Astrobiology Drilling Studies: Roving to Find Subsurface Preserved Biomarkers

    Science.gov (United States)

    Glass, B.; Davila, A.; Parro, V.; Quinn, R.; Willis, P.; Brinckerhoff, W.; DiRuggiero, J.; Williams, M.; Bergman, D.; Stoker, C.

    2016-05-01

    The ARADS project is a NASA PSTAR that will drill into a Mars analog site in search of biomarkers. Leading to a field test of an integrated rover-drill system with four prototype in-situ instruments for biomarker detection and analysis.

  11. Multidisciplinary integrated field campaign to an acidic Martian Earth analogue with astrobiological interest: Rio Tinto

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Gomez, F.; Walter, N.; Amils, R.; Rull, F.; Klingelhofer, A.K.; Kviderova, J.; Sarrazin, P.; Foing, B.H.; Behar, A.; Fleischer, I.; Parro, V.; Garcia-Villadangos, M.; Blake, D.; Martin Ramos, J.D.; Direito, S.; Mahapatra, P.; Stam, C.; Venkateswaran, K.; Voytek, M.

    2011-01-01

    Recently reported results from latest Mars Orbiters and Rovers missions are transforming our opinion about the red planet. That dry and inhospitable planet reported in the past is becoming a wetter planet with high probabilities of water existence in the past. Nowadays, some results seem to indicate

  12. Multidisciplinary integrated field campaign to an acidic Martian Earth analogue with astrobiological interest : Rio Tinto

    NARCIS (Netherlands)

    Gómez, F.; Walter, N.; Amils, R.; Rull, F.; Klingelhöfer, A.K.; Kviderova, J.; Sarrazin, P.; Foing, B.; Behar, A.; Fleischer, I.; Parro, V.; Garcia-Villadangos, M.; Balke, D.; Martin Ramos, J.D.; Direito, S.; Mahapatra, P.

    2011-01-01

    Recently reported results from latest Mars Orbiters and Rovers missions are transforming our opinion about the red planet. That dry and inhospitable planet reported in the past is becoming a wetter planet with high probabilities of water existence in the past. Nowadays, some results seem to indicate

  13. Mars Aqueous Processing System

    Science.gov (United States)

    Berggren, Mark; Wilson, Cherie; Carrera, Stacy; Rose, Heather; Muscatello, Anthony; Kilgore, James; Zubrin, Robert

    2012-01-01

    The goal of the Mars Aqueous Processing System (MAPS) is to establish a flexible process that generates multiple products that are useful for human habitation. Selectively extracting useful components into an aqueous solution, and then sequentially recovering individual constituents, can obtain a suite of refined or semi-refined products. Similarities in the bulk composition (although not necessarily of the mineralogy) of Martian and Lunar soils potentially make MAPS widely applicable. Similar process steps can be conducted on both Mars and Lunar soils while tailoring the reaction extents and recoveries to the specifics of each location. The MAPS closed-loop process selectively extracts, and then recovers, constituents from soils using acids and bases. The emphasis on Mars involves the production of useful materials such as iron, silica, alumina, magnesia, and concrete with recovery of oxygen as a byproduct. On the Moon, similar chemistry is applied with emphasis on oxygen production. This innovation has been demonstrated to produce high-grade materials, such as metallic iron, aluminum oxide, magnesium oxide, and calcium oxide, from lunar and Martian soil simulants. Most of the target products exhibited purities of 80 to 90 percent or more, allowing direct use for many potential applications. Up to one-fourth of the feed soil mass was converted to metal, metal oxide, and oxygen products. The soil residue contained elevated silica content, allowing for potential additional refining and extraction for recovery of materials needed for photovoltaic, semiconductor, and glass applications. A high-grade iron oxide concentrate derived from lunar soil simulant was used to produce a metallic iron component using a novel, combined hydrogen reduction/metal sintering technique. The part was subsequently machined and found to be structurally sound. The behavior of the lunar-simulant-derived iron product was very similar to that produced using the same methods on a Michigan iron

  14. Mars MetNet Mission Pressure and Humidity Devices

    Science.gov (United States)

    Haukka, H.; Harri, A.-M.; Schmidt, W.; Genzer, M.; Polkko, J.; Kemppinen, O.; Leinonen, J.

    2012-09-01

    A new kind of planetary exploration mission for Mars is being developed in collaboration between the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI), Lavochkin Association (LA), Space Research Institute (IKI) and Institutio Nacional de Tecnica Aerospacial (INTA). The Mars MetNet mission [1] is based on a new semi-hard landing vehicle called MetNet Lander (MNL). MetBaro and MetHumi are part of the scientific payload of the MNL. Main scientific goal of both devices is to measure the meteorological phenomena (pressure and humidity) of the Martian atmosphere and complement the previous Mars mission atmospheric measurements (Viking and Phoenix) for better understanding of the Martian atmospheric conditions.

  15. Deixis in Bruno Mars's Doo-wops & Hooligans Album

    OpenAIRE

    Sortha Silitonga, Ika Sapitriani and

    2016-01-01

    This study deals with the English. The objectives of this study are to analyze type of deixis and to find out the most dominant type of deixis in Bruno Mars's Doo-Wops & Hooligans Album. This study was conducted by using descriptive qualitative method. The data of this research were taken from Bruno Mars's song lyrics in the Doo-Wops & Hooligans album and 10 titles songs lyrics as the samples. The findings showed that there are five types of deixis found in Bruno Mars in the ‘Doo-Wops & Hooli...

  16. Electrical power systems for Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Giudici, Robert J.

    1986-01-01

    Electrical power system options for Mars Manned Modules and Mars Surface Bases were evaluated for both near-term and advanced performance potential. The power system options investigated for the Mission Modules include photovoltaics, solar thermal, nuclear reactor, and isotope power systems. Options discussed for Mars Bases include the above options with the addition of a brief discussion of open loop energy conversion of Mars resources, including utilization of wind, subsurface thermal gradients, and super oxides. Electrical power requirements for Mission Modules were estimated for three basic approaches: as a function of crew size; as a function of electric propulsion; and as a function of transmission of power from an orbiter to the surface of Mars via laser or radio frequency. Mars Base power requirements were assumed to be determined by production facilities that make resources available for follow-on missions leading to the establishment of a permanently manned Base. Requirements include the production of buffer gas and propellant production plants.

  17. Guidelines for 2007 MARS exercise

    CERN Multimedia

    HR Department

    2007-01-01

    Following the introduction of the new Merit Appraisal and Recognition Scheme (MARS), full details of the scheme are now available via the HR Department's homepage or directly on the Department's MARS web page: in English: http://humanresources.web.cern.ch/HumanResources/internal/personnel/pmd/cr/MARS.asp or French: http://humanresources.web.cern.ch/humanresources/internal/personnel/pmd/cr/mars_fr.asp You will find on this page: 'Introduction to MARS' with detailed information presented in Frequently Asked Questions; these include the MARS timetable for proposals and decisions; 'Regulations' with links to the scheme's statutory documents; 'Procedures and Forms' and 'Useful Information' with links to all the relevant documentation; these include the mandates of the Senior Staff Advisory Committee (SSAC) and the Technical Engineers and Administrative Careers Committee (TEACC). HR Department Tel. 73566

  18. The Topography of Mars: Understanding the Surface of Mars Through the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter

    Science.gov (United States)

    Derby, C. A.; Neumann, G. A.; Sakimoto, S. E.

    2001-12-01

    The Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter has been orbiting Mars since 1997 and has measured the topography of Mars with a meter of vertical accuracy. This new information has improved our understanding of both the surface and the interior of Mars. The topographic globe and the labeled topographic map of Mars illustrate these new data in a format that can be used in a classroom setting. The map is color shaded to show differences in elevation on Mars, presenting Mars with a different perspective than traditional geological and geographic maps. Through the differences in color, students can see Mars as a three-dimensional surface and will be able to recognize features that are invisible in imagery. The accompanying lesson plans are designed for middle school science students and can be used both to teach information about Mars as a planet and Mars in comparison to Earth, fitting both the solar system unit and the Earth science unit in a middle school curriculum. The lessons are referenced to the National Benchmark standards for students in grades 6-8 and cover topics such as Mars exploration, the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter, resolution and powers of 10, gravity, craters, seismic waves and the interior structure of a planet, isostasy, and volcanoes. Each lesson is written in the 5 E format and includes a student content activity and an extension showing current applications of Mars and MOLA data. These activities can be found at http://ltpwww.gsfc.nasa.gov/education/resources.html. Funding for this project was provided by the Maryland Space Grant Consortium and the MOLA Science Team, Goddard Space Flight Center.

  19. Measurements of the neutron spectrum in transit to Mars on the Mars Science Laboratory.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Köhler, J; Ehresmann, B; Zeitlin, C; Wimmer-Schweingruber, R F; Hassler, D M; Reitz, G; Brinza, D E; Appel, J; Böttcher, S; Böhm, E; Burmeister, S; Guo, J; Lohf, H; Martin, C; Posner, A; Rafkin, S

    2015-04-01

    The Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft, containing the Curiosity rover, was launched to Mars on 26 November 2011. Although designed for measuring the radiation on the surface of Mars, the Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) measured the radiation environment inside the spacecraft during most of the 253-day, 560-million-kilometer cruise to Mars. An important factor for determining the biological impact of the radiation environment inside the spacecraft is the specific contribution of neutrons with their high biological effectiveness. We apply an inversion method (based on a maximum-likelihood estimation) to calculate the neutron and gamma spectra from the RAD neutral particle measurements. The measured neutron spectrum (12-436 MeV) translates into a radiation dose rate of 3.8±1.2 μGy/day and a dose equivalent of 19±5 μSv/day. Extrapolating the measured spectrum (0.1-1000 MeV), we find that the total neutron-induced dose rate is 6±2 μGy/day and the dose equivalent rate is 30±10 μSv/day. For a 360 day round-trip from Earth to Mars with comparable shielding, this translates into a neutron induced dose equivalent of about 11±4 mSv. Copyright © 2015 The Committee on Space Research (COSPAR). Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  20. Clays and Carbonates in a Groundwater-Fed 3.8 Ga Martian Lake: Insights to Subsurface Habitability on Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Michalski, Joseph; Niles, Paul

    2015-01-01

    On Earth, the deep biosphere remains a largely unexplored, but clearly important carbon reservoir. Results from some uplifted central peaks in craters on Mars indicate that substantial carbon was also present at depth and might have helped sustain a deep biosphere. In fact, many factors relevant to deep biosphere habitability are more favorable on Mars than on Earth (e.g. porosity of the crust, geothermal gradient). Future exploration of Mars should include landing sites where materials have been exhumed from depth by meteor impact or basins where subsurface fluids have emerged, carrying clues to subsurface habitability. One of the most astrobiologically interesting sites on Mars McLaughlin Crater, a 93 km-diameter impact crater that formed approximately 4 b.y. ago. On the floor of the crater is a stratigraphic section of subhorizontal, layered sedimentary rocks with strong spectroscopic evidence for Fe-rich clay minerals and Mg-rich carbonates, which we interpret as ancient lacustrine deposits. The fluids that formed these materials likely originated in the subsurface, based on the paucity of channels leading into the crater basin and the fact that this is one of the deepest basins on Mars - a good candidate to have experienced upwelling of subsurface fluids. Therefore, the deposits within McLaughlin crater provide insight into subsurface processes on Mars. In this presentation, we will discuss the habitability of the martian subsurface as well as the geology of McLaughlin Crater and the possibility to detect biomarkers at that site with a future landed mission.

  1. Mars Array Technology Experiment Developed to Test Solar Arrays on Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Landis, Geoffrey A.

    2001-01-01

    and two different solar cell strings, to qualify advanced solar cell types for future Mars missions. The MATE instrument, designed for the Mars-2001 Surveyor Lander mission, contains a capable suite of sensors that will provide both scientific information as well as important engineering data on the operation of solar power systems on Mars. MATE will characterize the intensity and spectrum of the solar radiation on Mars and measure the performance of solar arrays in the Mars environment. MATE flight hardware was built and tested at the NASA Glenn Research Center and is ready for flight.

  2. The Effect of Gamma Radiation on Mars Mineral Matrices: Implications for Perchlorate Formation on Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Fox, A. C.; Eigenbrode, J. L.; Pavlov, A.; Lewis, J.

    2017-12-01

    Observations by the Phoenix Wet Chemistry Lab of the Martian surface indicate the presence of perchlorate in high concentrations. Additional observations by the Sample Analysis at Mars and the Viking Landers indirectly support the presence of perchlorate at other localities on Mars. The evidence for perchlorate at several localities on Mars coupled with its detection in Martian meteorite EETA79001 suggests that perchlorate is present globally on Mars. The presence of perchlorate on Mars further complicates the search for organic molecules indicative of past life. While perchlorate is kinetically limited in Martian conditions, the intermediate species associated with its formation or decomposition, such as chlorate or chlorite, could oxidize Martian organic species. As a result, it is vital to understand the mechanism of perchlorate formation on Mars in order to determine its role in the degradation of organics. Here, we explore an alternate mechanism of formation of perchlorate by bombarding Cl-salts and Mars-relevant mineral mixtures with gamma radiation both with and without the presence of liquid water, under vacuum. Previous work has shown that OClO can form from both UV radiation and energetic electrons bombardment of Cl-ices or Cl-salts, which then reacts with either OH- or O-radicals to produce perchlorate. Past research has suggested that liquid water or ice is the source of these hydroxyl and oxygen radicals, which limits the location of perchlorate formation on Mars. We demonstrate that trace amounts of perchlorate are potentially formed in samples containing silica dioxide or iron oxide and Cl-salts both with and without liquid water. Perchlorate was also detected in a portion of samples that were not irradiated, suggesting possible contamination. We did not detect perchlorate in samples that contained sulfate minerals. If perchlorate was formed without liquid water, it is possible that oxide minerals could be a potential source of oxygen radicals

  3. Biosignatures on Mars: What, Where, and How? Implications for the Search for Martian Life.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Westall, Frances; Foucher, Frédéric; Bost, Nicolas; Bertrand, Marylène; Loizeau, Damien; Vago, Jorge L; Kminek, Gerhard; Gaboyer, Frédéric; Campbell, Kathleen A; Bréhéret, Jean-Gabriel; Gautret, Pascale; Cockell, Charles S

    2015-11-01

    The search for traces of life is one of the principal objectives of Mars exploration. Central to this objective is the concept of habitability, the set of conditions that allows the appearance of life and successful establishment of microorganisms in any one location. While environmental conditions may have been conducive to the appearance of life early in martian history, habitable conditions were always heterogeneous on a spatial scale and in a geological time frame. This "punctuated" scenario of habitability would have had important consequences for the evolution of martian life, as well as for the presence and preservation of traces of life at a specific landing site. We hypothesize that, given the lack of long-term, continuous habitability, if martian life developed, it was (and may still be) chemotrophic and anaerobic. Obtaining nutrition from the same kinds of sources as early terrestrial chemotrophic life and living in the same kinds of environments, the fossilized traces of the latter serve as useful proxies for understanding the potential distribution of martian chemotrophs and their fossilized traces. Thus, comparison with analog, anaerobic, volcanic terrestrial environments (Early Archean >3.5-3.33 Ga) shows that the fossil remains of chemotrophs in such environments were common, although sparsely distributed, except in the vicinity of hydrothermal activity where nutrients were readily available. Moreover, the traces of these kinds of microorganisms can be well preserved, provided that they are rapidly mineralized and that the sediments in which they occur are rapidly cemented. We evaluate the biogenicity of these signatures by comparing them to possible abiotic features. Finally, we discuss the implications of different scenarios for life on Mars for detection by in situ exploration, ranging from its non-appearance, through preserved traces of life, to the presence of living microorganisms. Mars-Early Earth-Anaerobic chemotrophs-Biosignatures-Astrobiology

  4. Atypical pit craters on Mars: new insights from THEMIS, CTX and HiRISE observations

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cushing, Glen; Okubo, Chris H.; Titus, Timothy N.

    2015-01-01

    More than 100 pit craters in the Tharsis region of Mars exhibit morphologies, diameters and thermal behaviors that diverge from the much larger bowl-shaped pit craters that occur in most regions across Mars. These Atypical Pit Craters (APCs) generally have sharp and distinct rims, vertical or overhanging walls that extend down to their floors, surface diameters of ~50-350 m, and high depth-to-diameter (d/D) ratios that are usually greater than 0.3 (which is an upper-range value for impacts and bowl-shaped pit craters), and can exceed values of 1.8. Observations by the Mars Odyssey THermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) show that APC floor temperatures are warmer at night, and fluctuate with much lower diurnal amplitudes than nearby surfaces or adjacent bowl-shaped pit craters. Kīlauea volcano, Hawai'i, hosts pit craters that formed through subsurface collapse into active volcanic dikes, resulting in pits that can appear morphologically analogous to either APCs or bowl-shaped pit craters. Partially-drained dikes are sometimes exposed within the lower walls and floors of these terrestrial APC analogs and can form extensive cave systems with unique microclimates. Similar caves in martian pit craters are of great interest for astrobiology. This study uses new observations by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) and Context Camera (CTX) to refine previous work where seven APCs were described from lower-resolution THEMIS visible-wavelength (VIS) observations. Here, we identify locations of 115 APCs, map their distribution across the Tharsis region, characterize their internal morphologies with high-resolution observations, and discuss possible formation mechanisms.

  5. Laboratory Investigations on the Survival of Bacillus subtilis Spores in Deliquescent Salt Mars Analog Environments.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Nuding, Danielle L; Gough, Raina V; Venkateswaran, Kasthuri J; Spry, James A; Tolbert, Margaret A

    2017-10-01

    Observed features such as recurring slope lineae suggest that liquid water may exist on the surface and near-subsurface of Mars today. The presence of this liquid water, likely in the form of a brine, has important implications for the present-day water cycle, habitability, and planetary protection policies. It is possible that this water is formed, at least partially, by deliquescence of salts, a process during which hygroscopic salts absorb water vapor from the atmosphere and form a saturated liquid brine. We performed laboratory experiments to examine the ability of Bacillus subtilis (B-168) spores, alone or mixed with calcium perchlorate salt (Ca(ClO 4 ) 2 ), to form liquid water via deliquescence under Mars-relevant conditions. Spore survival after exposure to these conditions was examined. An environmental chamber was used to expose the samples to temperature and relative humidity (RH) values similar to those found on Mars, and Raman microscopy was used to identify the phases of water and salt that were present and to confirm the presence of spores. We found that B-168 spores did not condense any detectable water vapor on their own during the diurnal cycle, even at 100% RH. However, when spores were mixed with perchlorate salt, the entire sample deliquesced at low RH values, immersing the spores in a brine solution during the majority of the simulated martian temperature and humidity cycle. After exposure to the simulated diurnal cycles and, in some cases, perchlorate brine, the impact of each environmental scenario on spore survival was estimated by standard plate assay. We found that, if there are deliquescent salts in contact with spores, there is a mechanism for the spores to acquire liquid water starting with only atmospheric water vapor as the H 2 O source. Also, neither crystalline nor liquid Ca(ClO 4 ) 2 is sporicidal despite the low water activity. Key Words: Raman microscopy-Mars-Planetary protection-Salts-Water activity. Astrobiology 17, 997-1008.

  6. International cooperation for Mars exploration and sample return

    Science.gov (United States)

    Levy, Eugene H.; Boynton, William V.; Cameron, A. G. W.; Carr, Michael H.; Kitchell, Jennifer H.; Mazur, Peter; Pace, Norman R.; Prinn, Ronald G.; Solomon, Sean C.; Wasserburg, Gerald J.

    1990-01-01

    The National Research Council's Space Studies Board has previously recommended that the next major phase of Mars exploration for the United States involve detailed in situ investigations of the surface of Mars and the return to earth for laboratory analysis of selected Martian surface samples. More recently, the European space science community has expressed general interest in the concept of cooperative Mars exploration and sample return. The USSR has now announced plans for a program of Mars exploration incorporating international cooperation. If the opportunity becomes available to participate in Mars exploration, interest is likely to emerge on the part of a number of other countries, such as Japan and Canada. The Space Studies Board's Committee on Cooperative Mars Exploration and Sample Return was asked by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to examine and report on the question of how Mars sample return missions might best be structured for effective implementation by NASA along with international partners. The committee examined alternatives ranging from scientific missions in which the United States would take a substantial lead, with international participation playing only an ancillary role, to missions in which international cooperation would be a basic part of the approach, with the international partners taking on comparably large mission responsibilities. On the basis of scientific strategies developed earlier by the Space Studies Board, the committee considered the scientific and technical basis of such collaboration and the most mutually beneficial arrangements for constructing successful cooperative missions, particularly with the USSR.

  7. Writing the History of Space Missions: Rosetta and Mars Express

    Science.gov (United States)

    Coradini, M.; Russo, A.

    2011-10-01

    Mars Express is the first planetary mission accomplished by the European Space Agency (ESA). Launched in early June 2003, the spacecraft entered Mars's orbit on Christmas day of that year, demonstrating the new European commitment to planetary exploration. Following a failed attempt in the mid-­-1980s, two valid proposals for a European mission to Mars were submitted to ESA's decision-­-making bodies in the early 1990s, in step with renewed international interest in Mars exploration. Both were rejected, however, in the competitive selection process for the agency's Science Programme. Eventually, the Mars Express proposal emerged during a severe budgetary crisis in the mid-­-1990s as an exemplar of a "flexible mission" that could reduce project costs and development time. Its successful maneuvering through financial difficulties and conflicting scientific interests was due to the new management approach as well as to the public appeal of Mars exploration. In addition to providing a case study in the functioning of the ESA's Science Programme, the story of Mars Express discussed in this paper provides a case study in the functioning of the European Space Agency's Science Programme and suggests some general considerations on the peculiar position of space research in the general field of the history of science and technology.

  8. Mars Technologies Spawn Durable Wind Turbines

    Science.gov (United States)

    2014-01-01

    To develop and test wind power technology for use on Mars, Ames Research Center turned to Northern Power Systems (NPS), based in Barre, Vermont. Ames awarded NPS an SBIR contract so the company could enhance their turbine’s function. Today, over 200 NASA-derived Northern Power 100s are in operation on Earth and have reduced carbon emissions by 50,000 tons annually.

  9. MARS code manual volume II: input requirements

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Chung, Bub Dong; Kim, Kyung Doo; Bae, Sung Won; Jeong, Jae Jun; Lee, Seung Wook; Hwang, Moon Kyu

    2010-02-01

    Korea Advanced Energy Research Institute (KAERI) conceived and started the development of MARS code with the main objective of producing a state-of-the-art realistic thermal hydraulic systems analysis code with multi-dimensional analysis capability. MARS achieves this objective by very tightly integrating the one dimensional RELAP5/MOD3 with the multi-dimensional COBRA-TF codes. The method of integration of the two codes is based on the dynamic link library techniques, and the system pressure equation matrices of both codes are implicitly integrated and solved simultaneously. In addition, the Equation-Of-State (EOS) for the light water was unified by replacing the EOS of COBRA-TF by that of the RELAP5. This input manual provides a complete list of input required to run MARS. The manual is divided largely into two parts, namely, the one-dimensional part and the multi-dimensional part. The inputs for auxiliary parts such as minor edit requests and graph formatting inputs are shared by the two parts and as such mixed input is possible. The overall structure of the input is modeled on the structure of the RELAP5 and as such the layout of the manual is very similar to that of the RELAP. This similitude to RELAP5 input is intentional as this input scheme will allow minimum modification between the inputs of RELAP5 and MARS3.1. MARS3.1 development team would like to express its appreciation to the RELAP5 Development Team and the USNRC for making this manual possible

  10. Mars Thermal Inertia

    Science.gov (United States)

    2001-01-01

    This image shows the global thermal inertia of the Martian surface as measured by the Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) instrument on the Mars Global Surveyor. The data were acquired during the first 5000 orbits of the MGS mapping mission. The pattern of inertia variations observed by TES agrees well with the thermal inertia maps made by the Viking Infrared Thermal Mapper experiment, but the TES data shown here are at significantly higher spatial resolution (15 km versus 60 km).The TES instrument was built by Santa Barbara Remote Sensing and is operated by Philip R. Christensen, of Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ.

  11. Testing a Mars science outpost in the Antarctic dry valleys

    Science.gov (United States)

    Andersen, D. T.; Mckay, C. P.; Wharton, R. A.; Rummel, J. D.

    1992-01-01

    Field research conducted in the Antarctic has been providing insights about the nature of Mars in the science disciplines of exobiology and geology. Located in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of southern Victoria Land (160 deg and 164 deg E longitude and 76 deg 30 min and 78 deg 30 min S latitude), research outposts are inhabited by teams of 4-6 scientists. It is proposed that the design of these outposts be expanded to enable meaningful tests of many of the systems that will be needed for the successful conduct of exploration activities on Mars. Although there are some important differences between the environment in the Antarctic dry valleys and on Mars, the many similarities and particularly the field science activities, make the dry valleys a useful terrestrial analog to conditions on Mars. Three areas have been identified for testing at a small science outpost in the dry valleys: (1) studying human factors and physiology in an isolated environment; (2) testing emerging technologies (e.g. innovative power management systems, advanced life support facilities including partial bioregenerative life support systems for water recycling and food growth, telerobotics, etc.); and (3) conducting basic scientific research that will enhance understanding of Mars while contributing to the planning for human exploration. It is suggested that an important early result of a Mars habitat program will be the experience gained by interfacing humans and their supporting technology in a remote and stressful environment.

  12. Astronomía y Astrobiología con internet : recursos informáticos y material multimedia interactivo

    OpenAIRE

    Ruiz Rey, Francisco José

    2006-01-01

    El artículo de Francisco José Ruiz Rey presenta información sobre diversos recursos didácticos de Astronomía y Astrobiología disponibles en Internet. Previamente, el autor hace una reflexión sobre Internet como un elemento que favorece el aprendizaje significativo constructivo y que modifica el patrón de escuela tradicional que requiere la presencia física del profesor y de los alumnos. Partiendo de esta reflexión, Francisco José Ruiz ofrece una selección amplia de sitios Web comentados divid...

  13. Exploring the potential of MAR

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Vanderzalm, Joanne

    2014-01-01

    Despite numerous benefits, the full potential for uptake of MAR for use of treated wastewater and urban stormwater has not been realised. CSIRO is currently leading research to address some of the major impediments to uptake of MAR. These include the clogging of the soil or aquifer matrix, leading to reduced infiltration rates; water quality impacts on the receiving aquifer; and uncertainty regarding the economics of MAR schemes. Field-scale application of MAR through national demonstration projects aims to reduce the uncertainty associated with technical and economic feasibility and facilitate water recycling via the aquifer. Current research in the Managed Aquifer Recharge and Recycling Options (MARRO) project provides two case studies using novel infiltration techniques, soil aquifer treatment (SAT) and infiltration galleries, to recharge treated wastewater for non-potable use. SAT at Alice Springs supplements existing groundwater resources for future irrigation supplies, while an infiltration gallery at Floreat (Western Australia) is evaluating the potential of MAR to sustain groundwater-fed wetlands. These infiltration techniques provide an opportunity to optimise the passive treatment processes and minimise water quality impacts on the receiving groundwater. SAT uses open infiltration basins operated intermittently to create alternate wet and dry cycles and optimise natural treatment processes within the subsurface. Power and Water Corporation's Alice Springs SAT scheme has been in operation since 2008 to prevent overflow of treated wastewater to surface water systems and augment the groundwater resource. Wastewater for recharge to a Quaternary sand and gravel aquifer is treated by stabilisation ponds and dissolved air flotation, with filtration added to the treatment train in late 2013. The scheme commenced as four basins with a total recharge area of 7,640 sq.m, but was increased to allow 600,000 m 3 /year recharge to the current, larger capacity of

  14. 'Endurance' Courtesy of Mars Express

    Science.gov (United States)

    2004-01-01

    NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity used its panoramic camera to capture this false-color image of the interior of 'Endurance Crater' on the rover's 188th martian day (Aug. 4, 2004). The image data were relayed to Earth by the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter. The image was generated from separate frames using the cameras 750-, 530- and 480-nanometer filters.

  15. Mars oxygen production system design

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cotton, Charles E.; Pillow, Linda K.; Perkinson, Robert C.; Brownlie, R. P.; Chwalowski, P.; Carmona, M. F.; Coopersmith, J. P.; Goff, J. C.; Harvey, L. L.; Kovacs, L. A.

    1989-01-01

    The design and construction phase is summarized of the Mars oxygen demonstration project. The basic hardware required to produce oxygen from simulated Mars atmosphere was assembled and tested. Some design problems still remain with the sample collection and storage system. In addition, design and development of computer compatible data acquisition and control instrumentation is ongoing.

  16. Life sciences and Mars exploration

    Science.gov (United States)

    Sulzman, Frank M.; Rummel, John D.; Leveton, Lauren B.; Teeter, Ron

    1990-01-01

    The major life science considerations for Mars exploration missions are discussed. Radiation protection and countermeasures for zero gravity are discussed. Considerations of crew psychological health considerations and life support systems are addressed. Scientific opportunities presented by manned Mars missions are examined.

  17. Water and Life on Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    McKay, Christopher P.; DeVincenzi, Donald (Technical Monitor)

    2000-01-01

    Mars appears to be cold dry and dead world. However there is good evidence that early in its history it had liquid water, more active volcanism, and a thicker atmosphere. Mars had this earth-like environment over three and a half billion years ago, during the same time that life appeared on Earth. The main question in the exploration of Mars then is the search for a independent origin of life on that planet. Ecosystems in cold, dry locations on Earth - such as the Antarctic - provide examples of how life on Mars might have survived and where to look for fossils. Although the Viking results may indicate that Mars has no life today, there is direct geomorphological evidence that, in the past, Mars had large amounts of liquid water on its surface - possibly due to a thicker atmosphere. From a biological perspective the existence of liquid water, by itself motivates the question of the origin of life on Mars. One of the martian meteorites dates back to this early period and may contain evidence consistent with life. From studies of the Earth's earliest biosphere we know that by 3.5 Gyr. ago, life had originated on Earth and reached a fair degree of biological sophistication. Surface activity and erosion on Earth make it difficult to trace the history of life before the 3.5 Gyr timeframe. Ecosystems in cold, dry locations on Earth - such as the Antarctic - provide examples of how life on Mars might have survived and where to look for fossils.

  18. Mars Sample Return Architecture Overview

    Science.gov (United States)

    Edwards, C. D.; Vijendran, S.

    2018-04-01

    NASA and ESA are exploring potential concepts for a Sample Retrieval Lander and Earth Return Orbiter that could return samples planned to be collected and cached by the Mars 2020 rover mission. We provide an overview of the Mars Sample Return architecture.

  19. Tectonic evolution of Mars

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Wise, D.U.; Golombek, M.P.; McGill, G.E.

    1979-01-01

    Any model for the tectonic evolution of Mars must account for two major crustal elements: the Tharsis bulge and the topographically low and lightly crated northern third of the planet. Ages determined by crater density indicate that both of these elements came into existence very early in Martian history, a conclusion that holds no matter which of the current crater density versus age curves is used. The size of these two major crustal elements and their sequential development suggest that both may be related to a global-scale internal process. It is proposed that the resurfacing of the northern third of Mars is related to subcrustal erosion and isostatic foundering during the life of a first-order convection cell. With the demise of the cell, denser segregations of metallic materials began to coalesce as a gravitatively unstable layer which finally overturned to form the core. In the overturn, lighter crustal materials was shifted laterally and underplated beneath Tharsis to cause rapid and permanent isostatic rise. This was followed by a long-lived thermal phase produced by the hot underplate and by the gravitative energy of core formation slowly making its way to the surface to produce the Tharsis volcanics

  20. Life on Mars

    Energy Technology Data Exchange (ETDEWEB)

    Venkatavaradan, V S [Tata Inst. of Fundamental Research, Bombay (India)

    1976-10-01

    The miniature biological laboratory of the Viking-1 lander had three experiments to determine, whether the micro-organisms of the Martian soil has: (1) photo-synthetic activity (2) metabolic process activity (utilisation of nutrients) and (3) respiration. The Martian soil was warmed in an incubator and exposed to carbon dioxide (containing C/sup 14/) in presence of xenon arc lamp to simulate the Sun. If the Martian organisms of the expected type are present in the soil, the gas released during the heating would be radio-active which can be detected by a radiation counter. The three experiments had given positive signals denoting the presence of micro-organisms on the surface of Mars. The presence of superoxide in the soil would be poisonous to life but it is likely that organisms may survive deeper below the soil, where the chemicals would not be formed. The Viking-2 results also offered similar results. However, the basic question whether there is life on Mars still remains unanswered.

  1. Life on Mars

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Venkatavaradan, V.S.

    1976-01-01

    The miniature biological laboratory of the Viking-1 lander had three experiments to determine, whether the micro-organisms of the Martian soil has: (1) photo-synthetic activity (2) metabolic process activity (utilisation of nutrients) and (3) respiration. The Martian soil was warmed in an incubator and exposed to carbon dioxide (containing C 14 ) in presence of xenon arc lamp to simulate the Sun. If the Martian organisms of the expected type are present in the soil, the gas released during the heating would be radio-active which can be detected by a radiation counter. The three experiments had given positive signals denoting the presence of micro-organisms on the surface of Mars. The presence of superoxide in the soil would be poisonous to life but it is likely that organisms may survive deeper below the soil, where the chemicals would not be formed. The Viking-2 results also offered similar results. However, the basic question whether there is life on Mars still remains unanswered. (K.M.)

  2. Safety during MARS exercise

    CERN Multimedia

    2015-01-01

    It is MARS(1) time again! All employed members of the CERN personnel are currently undergoing the annual MARS evaluations.   This is also a good occasion for supervisors and their supervisees to fill in or update the OHS-0-0-3 form(2) “Identification of occupational hazards”. Filling in the OHS-0-0-3 form is an opportunity to assess any safety issues related to the supervisee's activities.  Each of us should, together with our supervisor, regularly identify and assess the hazards we may be exposed to in the course of our professional activities and reflect on how to control and mitigate them. When filling in the OHS form for the first time, it is important to determine any potential hazards as well as the corresponding preventive measures, in particular training and protective equipment. When updating the form, please review the available information to ensure that it still corresponds to the current activities. The form should be updated w...

  3. Laboratory Equipment for Investigation of Coring Under Mars-like Conditions

    Science.gov (United States)

    Zacny, K.; Cooper, G.

    2004-12-01

    rotating bit, sublimed and released water vapor. The volumetric expansion of ice turning into a vapor was over 150 000 times. This continuously generated volume of gas effectively cleared the freeze-dried rock cuttings from the bottom of the hole. In addition, the subliming ice provided a powerful cooling effect that kept the bit cold and preserved the core in its original state. Keeping the rock core below freezing also reduced drastically the chances of cross contamination. To keep the bit cool in near vacuum conditions where convective cooling is poor, some intermittent stops would have to be made. Under virtually the same drilling conditions, coring under Martian low temperature and pressure conditions consumed only half the power while doubling the rate of penetration as compared to drilling under Earth atmospheric conditions. However, the rate of bit wear was much higher under Martian conditions (Zacny and Cooper, 2004) References Zacny, K. A., M. C. Quayle, and G. A. Cooper (2004), Laboratory drilling under Martian conditions yields unexpected results, J. Geophys. Res., 109, E07S16, doi:10.1029/2003JE002203. Zacny, K. A., and G. A. Cooper (2004), Investigation of diamond-impregnated drill bit wear while drilling under Earth and Mars conditions, J. Geophys. Res., 109, E07S10, doi:10.1029/2003JE002204. Acknowledgments The research supported by the NASA Astrobiology, Science and Technology Instrument Development (ASTID) program.

  4. The Laser Ablation Ion Funnel: Sampling for in situ Mass Spectrometry on Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Johnson, Paul V.; Hodyss, Robert; Tang, Keqi; Brinckerhoff, William B.; Smith, Richard D.

    2011-01-01

    A considerable investment has been made by NASA and other space agencies to develop instrumentation suitable for in situ analytical investigation of extra terrestrial bodies including various mass spectrometers (time-of-flight, quadrupole ion trap, quadrupole mass filters, etc.). However, the front-end sample handling that is needed to collect and prepare samples for interrogation by such instrumentation remains underdeveloped. Here we describe a novel approach tailored to the exploration of Mars where ions are created in the ambient atmosphere via laser ablation and then efficiently transported into a mass spectrometer for in situ analysis using an electrodynamic ion funnel. This concept would enable elemental and isotopic analysis of geological samples with the analysis of desorbed organic material a possibility as well. Such an instrument would be suitable for inclusion on all potential missions currently being considered such as the Mid-Range Rover, the Astrobiology Field Laboratory, and Mars Sample Return (i.e., as a sample pre-selection triage instrument), among others.

  5. Austere Human Missions to Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Price, Hoppy; Hawkins, Alisa M.; Tadcliffe, Torrey O.

    2009-01-01

    The Design Reference Architecture 5 (DRA 5) is the most recent concept developed by NASA to send humans to Mars in the 2030 time frame using Constellation Program elements. DRA 5 is optimized to meet a specific set of requirements that would provide for a robust exploration program to deliver a new six-person crew at each biennial Mars opportunity and provide for power and infrastructure to maintain a highly capable continuing human presence on Mars. This paper examines an alternate architecture that is scaled back from DRA 5 and might offer lower development cost, lower flight cost, and lower development risk. It is recognized that a mission set using this approach would not meet all the current Constellation Mars mission requirements; however, this 'austere' architecture may represent a minimum mission set that would be acceptable from a science and exploration standpoint. The austere approach is driven by a philosophy of minimizing high risk or high cost technology development and maximizing development and production commonality in order to achieve a program that could be sustained in a flat-funded budget environment. Key features that would enable a lower technology implementation are as follows: using a blunt-body entry vehicle having no deployable decelerators, utilizing aerobraking rather than aerocapture for placing the crewed element into low Mars orbit, avoiding the use of liquid hydrogen with its low temperature and large volume issues, using standard bipropellant propulsion for the landers and ascent vehicle, and using radioisotope surface power systems rather than a nuclear reactor or large area deployable solar arrays. Flat funding within the expected NASA budget for a sustained program could be facilitated by alternating cargo and crew launches for the biennial Mars opportunities. This would result in two assembled vehicles leaving Earth orbit for Mars per Mars opportunity. The first opportunity would send two cargo landers to the Mars surface to

  6. Distribution of water on Mars: Implications from SNC meteorites

    Science.gov (United States)

    Jones, J. H.

    1992-01-01

    There has been much speculation about the abundance of water and other volatiles on Mars. Attempts to calculate abundances of water on Mars indicate that Mars contains approx. 10-100 m of water. Numerous models have been put forth to determine the amount of water on Mars more closely. Some researchers infer that Chassigny parent magma contained greater than 1.5 percent water by weight and that the Martian mantle contained greater than 1000 parts per million water. This is too much water for a depleted region. Perhaps some of the water in Chassigny was assimilated at shallow depths, either in a crustal magma chamber or by interaction with superficial permafrost. Either is possible and provides an alternative to the dilemma of water-rich to depleted regions.

  7. Seasonal Water Transport in the Atmosphere of Mars: Applications of a Mars General Circulation Model Using Mars Global Surveyor Data

    Science.gov (United States)

    Hollingsworth, Jeffery L.; Bridger, Alison F. C.; Haberle, Robert M.

    1999-01-01

    This is a Final Report for a Joint Research Interchange (JRI) between NASA Ames Research Center and San Jose State University, Department of Meteorology. We present below a summary of progress made during the duration of this JRI. The focus of this JRI has been to investigate seasonal water vapor transport in the atmosphere of Mars and its effects on the planet's present climate. To this end, the primary task has been to adapt a new dynamical processor for the adiabatic tendencies of the atmospheric circulation into the NASA Ames Mars general circulation model (MGCM). Using identical boundary and initial conditions, several comparative tests between the new and old MGCMs have been performed and the nature of the simulated circulations have been diagnosed. With confidence that the updated version of the Ames MGCM produces quite similar mean and eddy circulation statistics, the new climate model is well poised as a tool to pursue fundamental questions related to the spatial and seasonal variations of atmospheric water vapor on Mars, and to explore exchanges of water with non-atmospheric reservoirs and transport within its atmosphere. In particular, the role of surface sources and sinks can be explored, the range of water-vapor saturation altitudes can be investigated, and plausible precipitation mechanisms can be studied, for a range of atmospheric dust loadings. Such future investigations can contribute to a comprehensive study of surface inventories, exchange mechanisms, and the relative importance of atmospheric transport Mars' water cycle. A listing of presentations made and manuscripts submitted during the course of this project is provided.

  8. Observations of Crew Dynamics during Mars Analog Simulations

    Science.gov (United States)

    Cusack, Stacy L.

    2010-01-01

    This presentation reviews the crew dynamics during two simulations of Mars Missions. Using an analog of a Mars habitat in two locations, Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) which is located on Devon Island at 75 deg North in the Canadian Arctic, and the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) which is located in the south of Utah, the presentation examines the crew dynamics in relation to the leadership style of the commander of the mission. The difference in the interaction of the two crews were shown to be related to the leadership style and the age group in the crew. As much as possible the habitats and environment was to resemble a Mars outpost. The difference between the International Space Station and a Mars missions is reviewed. The leadership styles are reviewed and the contrast between the FMARS and the MDRS leadership styles were related to crew productivity, and the personal interactions between the crew members. It became evident that leadership styles and interpersonal skill had more affect on mission success and crew dynamics than other characteristics.

  9. Radio Wave Propagation Handbook for Communication on and Around Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Ho, Christian; Golshan, Nasser; Kliore, Arvydas

    2002-01-01

    This handbook examines the effects of the Martian environment on radio wave propagation on Mars and in the space near the planet. The environmental effects include these from the Martian atmosphere, ionosphere, global dust storms, aerosols, clouds, and geomorphologic features. Relevant Martian environmental parameters were extracted from the measurements of Mars missions during the past 30 years, especially from Mars Pathfinder and Mars Global Surveyor. The results derived from measurements and analyses have been reviewed through an extensive literature search. The updated parameters have been theoretically analyzed to study their effects on radio propagation. This handbook also provides basic information about the entire telecommunications environment on and around Mars for propagation researchers, system engineers, and link analysts. Based on these original analyses, some important recommendations have been made, including the use of the Martian ionosphere as a reflector for Mars global or trans-horizon communication between future Martian colonies, reducing dust storm scattering effects, etc. These results have extended our wave propagation knowledge to a planet other than Earth; and the tables, models, and graphics included in this handbook will benefit telecommunication system engineers and scientific researchers.

  10. A radar-echo model for Mars

    International Nuclear Information System (INIS)

    Thompson, T.W.; Moore, H.J.

    1990-01-01

    Researchers developed a radar-echo model for Mars based on 12.6 cm continuous wave radio transmissions backscattered from the planet. The model broadly matches the variations in depolarized and polarized total radar cross sections with longitude observed by Goldstone in 1986 along 7 degrees S. and yields echo spectra that are generally similiar to the observed spectra. Radar map units in the model include an extensive cratered uplands unit with weak depolarized echo cross sections, average thermal inertias, moderate normal refelectivities, and moderate rms slopes; the volcanic units of Tharsis, Elysium, and Amazonis regions with strong depolarized echo cross sections, low thermal inertia, low normal reflectivities, and large rms slopes; and the northern planes units with moderate to strong depolarized echo cross sections, moderate to very high thermal inertias, moderate to large normal reflectivities, and moderate rms slopes. The relevance of the model to the interpretation of radar echoes from Mars is discussed

  11. The atmosphere and climate of Mars

    CERN Document Server

    Clancy, R Todd; Forget, François; Smith, Michael D; Zurek, Richard W

    2017-01-01

    Humanity has long been fascinated by the planet Mars. Was its climate ever conducive to life? What is the atmosphere like today and why did it change so dramatically over time? Eleven spacecraft have successfully flown to Mars since the Viking mission of the 1970s and early 1980s. These orbiters, landers and rovers have generated vast amounts of data that now span a Martian decade (roughly eighteen years). This new volume brings together the many new ideas about the atmosphere and climate system that have emerged, including the complex interplay of the volatile and dust cycles, the atmosphere-surface interactions that connect them over time, and the diversity of the planet's environment and its complex history. Including tutorials and explanations of complicated ideas, students, researchers and non-specialists alike are able to use this resource to gain a thorough and up-to-date understanding of this most Earth-like of planetary neighbours.

  12. Establishment of a rearing system of the extremotolerant tardigrade Ramazzottius varieornatus: a new model animal for astrobiology.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Horikawa, Daiki D; Kunieda, Takekazu; Abe, Wataru; Watanabe, Masahiko; Nakahara, Yuichi; Yukuhiro, Fumiko; Sakashita, Tetsuya; Hamada, Nobuyuki; Wada, Seiichi; Funayama, Tomoo; Katagiri, Chihiro; Kobayashi, Yasuhiko; Higashi, Seigo; Okuda, Takashi

    2008-06-01

    Studies on the ability of multicellular organisms to tolerate specific environmental extremes are relatively rare compared to those of unicellular microorganisms in extreme environments. Tardigrades are extremotolerant animals that can enter an ametabolic dry state called anhydrobiosis and have high tolerance to a variety of extreme environmental conditions, particularly while in anhydrobiosis. Although tardigrades have been expected to be a potential model animal for astrobiological studies due to their excellent anhydrobiotic and extremotolerant abilities, few studies of tolerance with cultured tardigrades have been reported, possibly due to the absence of a model species that can be easily maintained under rearing conditions. We report the successful rearing of the herbivorous tardigrade, Ramazzottius varieornatus, by supplying the green alga Chlorella vulgaris as food. The life span was 35 +/- 16.4 d, deposited eggs required 5.7 +/- 1.1 d to hatch, and animals began to deposit eggs 9 d after hatching. The reared individuals of this species had an anhydrobiotic capacity throughout their life cycle in egg, juvenile, and adult stages. Furthermore, the reared adults in an anhydrobiotic state were tolerant of temperatures of 90 degrees C and -196 degrees C, and exposure to 99.8% acetonitrile or irradiation with 4000 Gy (4)He ions. Based on their life history traits and tolerance to extreme stresses, R. varieornatus may be a suitable model for astrobiological studies of multicellular organisms.

  13. Polygon on Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    2008-01-01

    This image shows a small-scale polygonal pattern in the ground near NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander. This pattern is similar in appearance to polygonal structures in icy ground in the arctic regions of Earth. Phoenix touched down on the Red Planet at 4:53 p.m. Pacific Time (7:53 p.m. Eastern Time), May 25, 2008, in an arctic region called Vastitas Borealis, at 68 degrees north latitude, 234 degrees east longitude. This image was acquired by the Surface Stereo Imager shortly after landing. On the Phoenix mission calendar, landing day is known as Sol 0, the first Martian day of the mission. The Phoenix Mission is led by the University of Arizona, Tucson, on behalf of NASA. Project management of the mission is by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. Spacecraft development is by Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver.

  14. The Mars water cycle

    Science.gov (United States)

    Davies, D. W.

    1981-01-01

    A model has been developed to test the hypothesis that the observed seasonal and latitudinal distribution of water on Mars is controlled by the sublimation and condensation of surface ice deposits in the Arctic and Antarctic, and the meridional transport of water vapor. Besides reproducing the observed water vapor distribution, the model correctly reproduces the presence of a large permanent ice cap in the Arctic and not in the Antarctic. No permanent ice reservoirs are predicted in the temperate or equatorial zones. Wintertime ice deposits in the Arctic are shown to be the source of the large water vapor abundances observed in the Arctic summertime, and the moderate water vapor abundances in the northern temperate region. Model calculations suggest that a year without dust storms results in very little change in the water vapor distribution. The current water distribution appears to be the equilibrium distribution for present atmospheric conditions.

  15. The Importance of Sample Return in Establishing Chemical Evidence for Life on Mars or Other Solar System Bodies

    Science.gov (United States)

    Glavin, D. P.; Conrad, P.; Dworkin, J. P.; Eigenbrode, J.; Mahaffy, P. R.

    2011-01-01

    The search for evidence of life on Mars and elsewhere will continue to be one of the primary goals of NASA s robotic exploration program over the next decade. NASA and ESA are currently planning a series of robotic missions to Mars with the goal of understanding its climate, resources, and potential for harboring past or present life. One key goal will be the search for chemical biomarkers including complex organic compounds important in life on Earth. These include amino acids, the monomer building blocks of proteins and enzymes, nucleobases and sugars which form the backbone of DNA and RNA, and lipids, the structural components of cell membranes. Many of these organic compounds can also be formed abiotically as demonstrated by their prevalence in carbonaceous meteorites [1], though, their molecular characteristics may distinguish a biological source [2]. It is possible that in situ instruments may reveal such characteristics, however, return of the right sample (i.e. one with biosignatures or having a high probability of biosignatures) to Earth would allow for more intensive laboratory studies using a broad array of powerful instrumentation for bulk characterization, molecular detection, isotopic and enantiomeric compositions, and spatially resolved chemistry that may be required for confirmation of extant or extinct Martian life. Here we will discuss the current analytical capabilities and strategies for the detection of organics on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) using the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite and how sample return missions from Mars and other targets of astrobiological interest will help advance our understanding of chemical biosignatures in the solar system.

  16. Evaluation of the Tindouf Basin Region in Southern Morocco as an Analog Site for Soil Geochemistry on Noachian Mars.

    Science.gov (United States)

    Oberlin, Elizabeth A; Claire, Mark W; Kounaves, Samuel P

    2018-02-09

    Locations on Earth that provide insights into processes that may be occurring or may have occurred throughout martian history are often broadly deemed "Mars analog environments." As no single locale can precisely represent a past or present martian environment, it is important to focus on characterization of terrestrial processes that produce analogous features to those observed in specific regions of Mars or, if possible, specific time periods during martian history. Here, we report on the preservation of ionic species in soil samples collected from the Tindouf region of Morocco and compare them with the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica, the Atacama Desert in Chile, the martian meteorite EETA79001, and the in situ Mars analyses from the Phoenix Wet Chemistry Laboratory (WCL). The Moroccan samples show the greatest similarity with those from Victoria Valley, Beacon Valley, and the Atacama, while being consistently depleted compared to University Valley and enriched compared to Taylor Valley. The NO 3 /Cl ratios are most similar to Victoria Valley and Atacama, while the SO 4 /Cl ratios are similar to those from Beacon Valley, Victoria Valley, and the Atacama. While perchlorate concentrations in the Moroccan samples are typically lower than those found in samples of other analog sites, conditions in the region are sufficiently arid to retain oxychlorines at detectable levels. Our results suggest that the Tindouf Basin in Morocco can serve as a suitable analogue for the soil geochemistry and subsequent aridification of the Noachian epoch on Mars. Key Words: Mars analogues-Antarctica-Morocco-Oxyanions-Perchlorate-Nitrate. Astrobiology 18, xxx-xxx.

  17. Small-Scale Polygons and the History of Ground Ice on Mars

    Science.gov (United States)

    Mellon, Michael T.

    2000-01-01

    This research has laid a foundation for continued study of permafrost polygons on Mars using the models and understanding discussed here. Further study of polygonal patterns on Mars is proceeding (under new funding) which is expected to reveal more results about the origin of observed martian polygons and what information they contain regarding the recent history of tile martian climate and of water ice on Mars.

  18. Research

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    ebutamanya

    2016-03-10

    Mar 10, 2016 ... Angeles, California. &Corresponding author: Anna Maria Doro Altan, DREAM programme, Community of Sant'Egidio, Rome, Italy ... Methods: HIV-positive pregnant women attending the DREAM Centre of Dschang, Cameroon for prenatal care were enrolled in a ..... MR_narrative_report_2014.pdf. Google ...

  19. Research

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    2017-03-24

    Mar 24, 2017 ... academic and departmental leadership at major universities, new chal- ... approaches to learning, with the use of small-group learning (SGL), ... increased with years of clinical experience (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.16 - 0.62, ... reinforces learner-teacher relationships correlated with seniority within ...

  20. Research

    African Journals Online (AJOL)

    abp

    2016-04-26

    Apr 26, 2016 ... 2001 [11,12]: Risk factors weighting 5 points (stroke < 1 month), 3 points (age of 75 years or ... Thereafter, a general clinical exam was conducted, taking in symptoms and .... Cameroun (à propos de 18 cas). Med Trop (Mars).