Choose Your Own Adventure: Multiplicity of Planets among the Kepler M Dwarfs
Life, Jim, but Not as We Know It: Prospects for Life in Titan's Hydrocarbon Seas
From Iceland to Titan and beyond: Using laboratory investigations and analogue field sites to explore the boundaries of prebiotic and biotic
In parallel, an international collaboration inspired by the 2012 NASA Nordic Astrobiology Summer School, successfully completed a field expedition to Iceland to test life detection techniques and decision-making strategies in a Mars-like analogue environment. We discovered that habitability and microbial diversity may vary widely, even in areas that appear to be geologically homogeneous. This has implications for field sampling and analysis of volcanic regions on Mars. Sampling strategies should target as many spatially separated sites as practical to improve the chances of detecting life.
Veteran's Day. No colloquium.
Earliest Earth to the Origin of Life
The present Earth-Moon system formed in the wake of the collision of a Mars-sized and Venus-sized planet. Tides strongly heated the interior of the Earth. A massive C)2 and water atmosphere blanketed the Earth. Choline and sulfur species made it opaque so heat escaped at the runaway greenhouse threshold. After ~10 m.y, the interior froze and water rained out. The surface temperature was ~200C and the CO2 pressures was ~200 bars. The Earth did not become inhabitable unitl the CO2 subducted into the mantle. Arc volcanics formed from CO2-rich oceanic crust. They were K-rich peralkaline and and strongly reducing. Fluids in these rocks tend to stabilize ribose aiding production of RNA. This environment adds to the tradition serpentine environement under the ocean and on land. It may have left tracks in modern life The ocean may well have had K/Na much greater than present, like cellular fluids. BY ~3.8 Ga, the climate was clement and CO2 near modern levels. Subducted material in the mantle may preserve evidence, but none has been found to date.
The origin of microbial species: Peering into microbial genomes to understand microbial adaptation into new ecological niches
Metal and Metalloid Tolerance Mechanisms of Metal Hyperaccumulator Plants and their Applications for Human Extraterrestrial Colonies
Worldwide more than 400 plant species have evolved the extreme ability to hyperaccumulate the following elements in their shoots; metals (nickel, zinc, cadmium, cobalt, or manganese) the metalloids (arsenic and selenium). Of these species, almost one-quarter are Brassicaceae family members, including numerous species that hyperaccumulate metals up to 3% of shoot dry weight. Brassicaceae model species have been developed to study the molecular mechanisms of metal tolerance and hyperaccumulation and our recent findings hold promise for improving plant growth in metal enriched environments which is useful for rhizofiltration of water, phytoremediation of soils and for increasing the mineral nutrition of crop plants. The knowledge gained by researching metal hyperaccumulator plants clearly holds potential value for developing plant based applications for use in the phytoremediation of earth’s polluted environments and also for use in developing bioengineered life support systems required for long term manned space travel and for in situ resource utilization (ISRU), which are required processes for the long term human colonization of extraterrestrial planetary bodies.
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