Navigation Links
Penn State receives new NASA astrobiology grant
Date:10/14/2008

Developing strategies for finding life on other planets and in extreme environments on Earth will be the focus of Penn State's new astrobiology initiative under a five-year grant from NASA's Astrobiology Institute for "Signatures of Life from Earth and Beyond."

Christopher H. House, associate professor of geosciences, will lead an interdisciplinary team to develop methods to detect and characterize life, look for biological signatures in relevant ecosystems in ancient rocks and other places on Earth, and evaluate the potential for biological signatures to exist in extraterrestrial settings. He becomes director of the existing Penn State Astrobiology Research Center and will take the Center in a new direction.

PSARC was established in 1998 under the first set of five-year grants by NASA's Astrobiology Institute. Headed by Hiroshi Ohmoto, professor of geochemistry, the Center received a second five-year grant in 2003. Ohmoto remains part of the PSARC.

"Penn State is the only university that has been continuously funded by NASA's Astrobiology Institute," says House. "In many ways this is a continuation of the first two five-year grants, but in other ways, it is a new proposal, a new direction with new people involved in the research."

NASA announced awards averaging $7 million each for 10 teams nationwide to study the origins, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe.

The Penn State team will develop and test possible indicators of the existence of life. These will include innovative approaches for analysis of cells and other organic material, for determining if amounts or ratios of metals and isotopes indicate life, and for using DNA to study present and past life.

In their effort to develop ways to search for extraterrestrial life, the researchers will look to extreme locations on Earth including Israel's Dead Sea, Greenland glacier ice and the methane seeps of the Eel River Basin, California, for microbial life. Another place to look for signs of microbial life is in ancient rocks. Those dating from 3,800 million years ago to 570 million years ago may have geochemical signatures produced by microbial life. Studying the rocks will also show how those signatures are affected by aging.

Looking to the skies, the center will also collaborate with the newly formed Penn State Center for Exoplanets and Habitable Worlds. Team members will look at the abundance of sulfur gases and how these gases evolve on young planets and at the formation of planets.

Other Penn State researchers who are co-principal investigators on the grant are Steinn Sigurdsson, associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics; Michael A. Arthur, professor of geosciences; Matthew Fantle, assistant professor of geosciences; Katherine H. Freeman, professor of geosciences; Lee Kump, professor of geosciences; Mark E. Patzkowski, associate professor of geosciences; James Kasting, distinguished professor of geosciences; Beth A. Shapiro, assistant professor of biology; Blair Hedges, professor of biology; Jean E. Brenchley, professor of microbiology and biotechnology; Jennifer L. Macalady, assistant professor of geosciences; J. Greg Ferry, the Stanley Person Professor of microbiology and molecular biology; and Susan L. Brantley, professor of geosciences.

Other team members are Kevin McKeegan, professor of geochemistry; J. William Schopf, professor of paleobiology, and Jim Lyons, assistant research geochemist, all at UCLA; and Victoria Orphan, assistant professor of geobiology, California Institute of Technology.

The new interdisciplinary teams will become new members of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, located at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. Other university teams are from the University of Hawaii, Honolulu; Arizona State University, Tempe; Carnegie Institution of Washington; Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta; and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, N.Y.


'/>"/>

Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer
aem1@psu.edu
814-865-9481
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. NC State takes lead in crime scene investigation training
2. L-1 Identity Solutions Receives $5.9 Million Drivers License Contract Expansion from the State of Mississippi
3. NC State researchers get to root of parasite genome
4. Iowa State engineer works to clean and improve engine performance
5. Nitrate concentrations of ground water increasing in many areas of the United States
6. K-State professors USDA research shows mad cow disease also caused by genetic mutation
7. Iowa State wins $18.5M grant to create NSF Center for Biorenewable Chemicals
8. Stem cell research puts interstate rivalry on hold
9. NC State first university in nation to offer canine bone marrow transplants
10. Height linked to risk of prostate cancer development and progression
11. Iowa State University researcher shows proteins have controlled motions
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/12/2016)... May 12, 2016 WearablesResearch.com , a ... the overview results from the Q1 wave of its ... wave was consumers, receptivity to a program where they ... a health insurance company. "We were surprised ... says Michael LaColla , CEO of Troubadour Research, ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... 2016 First quarter 2016:   ... with the first quarter of 2015 The gross margin ... (loss: 18.8) and the operating margin was 40% (-13) ... Cash flow from operations was SEK 249.9 M (21.2) , ... unchanged, SEK 7,000-8,500 M. The operating margin for 2016 ...
(Date:4/15/2016)...  A new partnership announced today will help ... in a fraction of the time it takes ... life insurance policies to consumers without requiring inconvenient ... Diagnostics, rapid testing (A1C, Cotinine and HIV) and ... weight, pulse, BMI, and activity data) available at ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 /PRNewswire/ - FACIT has announced the creation ... biotechnology company, Propellon Therapeutics Inc. ("Propellon" or "the ... a portfolio of first-in-class WDR5 inhibitors for the ... WDR5 represent an exciting class of therapies, possessing ... for cancer patients. Substantial advances have been achieved ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Charm Sciences, Inc. is ... has received AOAC Research Institute approval 061601. , “This is another AOAC-RI approval ... Bob Salter, Vice President of Regulatory and Industrial Affairs. “The Peel Plate methods ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... --  EpiBiome , a precision microbiome engineering company, today ... from Silicon Valley Bank (SVB). The financing will allow ... drug development efforts, as well as purchase additional lab ... been an incredible strategic partner to us – one ... provide," said Dr. Aeron Tynes Hammack , EpiBiome,s ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... In a ... Hospital in Denmark detail how a patient who developed lymphedema after being treated for ... The results could change the paradigm for dealing with this debilitating, frequent side effect ...
Breaking Biology Technology: