Welcome to Astrobiology at the University of Washington
The Fall 2016 Newsletter is Here!
Early earth's air pressure was less than half of today's
A new study led by UWAB alum Sanjoy Som together with UWAB professors Roger Buick and David Catling and others implies that early Earth's atmospheric pressure 2.7 billion years ago was less than half of modern day. The researchers used gas bubbles trapped in ancient sea-level lava flows as a "paleobarometer". The sizes of the bubbles record the pressure of the atmosphere bearing down on the cooling lava billions of years ago. This low atmospheric pressure suggests that early microbes may have been consuming atmospheric nitrogen, but there was not an efficient process to release that consumed nitrogen back to the atmosphere like there is today. MORE>
UWAB Outreach to Lakewood High School
On May 2, continuing an annual tradiation, UWAB members spoke to students in an astrobiology class at Lakewood High School visiting UW. Professor Rory Barnes led the event, which featured presentations by UWAB students Michael Kipp, Giada Arney, Steven Sholes, and Jacyln Sanders. MORE>
Congratulations to Rory Barnes!
Rory Barnes of the astronomy department has been promoted to an Assistant Professor in astrobiology! Congratulations Rory! MORE>
Congratulations to UWAB members helping select the next NASA flagship mission!
NASA has convened Science and Technology Definitions Teams (STDTs) to study large telescope concepts for future direct imaging of exoplanets. Congratulations to UWAB Chair Vikki Meadows, UWAB PhD graduate Tyler Robinson, and UWAB former postdoc Shawn Domagal-Goldman who have been seletected as members of these teams! Vikki will be a member of the LUVIOR team, and Shawn will be the LUVIOR Deputy Study Scientist. Shawn is also a member of the HabEx STDT, as is Ty Robinson. Congratulations to all! MORE>
Hints from selenium isotopes on the end-Permian mass extinction
UWAB postdoc Eva Stüeken, Professor Roger Buick, and collabors studied isotope ratios of selenium, a trace element. Their results show that biological productivity of macro-organisms collapsed during the Permian-Triassic mass extinction, but the collapse was probably not caused by a shortage of nutrients. Other factors such as ocean acidification or perturbations of food webs may have been more important. MORE>