Posts tagged NASA
A quick reminder to everyone that we’re having our December meeting this Monday at noon in Shaffer 302. There will be pizza, drinks, and presentations.
- Veselin Kostov will give a quick presentation entitled “Speckle imaging: causes and (partial) solutions.”
- I will give an as-of-yet unnamed presentation about atmospheric bacteria on Earth and the potential for microbial life in other planets’ atmospheres.
- We’re still working out the details for a third presenter.
We’ll have a lot to talk about, so the presentations will each be roughly 10 minutes long with about 5 minutes for questions and discussion after each presentation. After these, then we’ll probably spend the rest of the time discussion the NASA press conference from Thursday. The initial bubble of excitement has long since popped, and now we’re left discussing how important this really is, what this means for astrobiology, and where we go from here. And in case you missed the whole thing, here’s a link to the paper and to a, uh, sobering discussion of what it’s all about.
Here is more information about Thursday’s announcement. Something to do with arsenic versus phosphorus. Are there any biology people willing to educate us on the differences between the two as far as building organism?
Here are some fun facts: I don’t know what the solar abundance of As is, but the chondritic abundance is roughly 2.29 (from a table in Asplund et al (2006) which shows H solar as 12 and H chondritic as 8.25). The P solar abundance is 5.36 and P chondritic abundance is 5.4. I mention these so you can get an idea of the general P to As abundances before moving to tables 10.2 and 10.3 in in the attached excerpt from Scharf’s “Extrasolar Planets and Astrobiology.” There he does a comparison of P solar, animal, and lithosphere abundances. Does anyone have numbers like this for As? I have a whole series of questions flowering in my mind about how As could end up being used instead of P (abundance-related?) and the trade-offs that come with that. Anybody interested in tackling this in next week’s meeting (Monday, Dec 6th @ noon—free lunch!)?
This looks interesting: NASA has put an embargo on a new Science Journal paper and then scheduled a news conference for Thursday at 2pm to reveal a big astrobiology discovery. The head of NASA doesn’t look to be on the guest list, so this probably isn’t The Big One. Anybody know or care to speculate about this? Did we finally figure out where all that Hydrogen is going on Titan’s surface?
Here’s the list of attendees:
- Mary Voytek, director, Astrobiology Program, NASA Headquarters, Washington
- Felisa Wolfe-Simon, NASA astrobiology research fellow, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, Calif.
- Pamela Conrad, astrobiologist, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
- Steven Benner, distinguished fellow, Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution, Gainesville, Fla.
- James Elser, professor, Arizona State University, Tempe