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NASA Astrobiology

NAI Announces Selection of New Teams

5 Sep 2012, 19:33 UTC
NAI Announces Selection of New Teams
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Please join the NAI in welcoming five new research teams into the Institute—the University of Washington; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the University of Wisconsin, Madison; the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; and the University of Southern California.

“The intellectual scope of astrobiology is breathtaking, from understanding how our planet went from lifeless to living, to understanding how life has adapted to Earth’s harshest environments, to exploring other worlds with the most advanced technologies to search for signs of life,” said Carl Pilcher, Director of the NAI. “The new teams cover that breadth of astrobiology, and by coming together in the NAI, they will make the connections between disciplines and organizations that stimulate fundamental scientific advances.”

“How would we know if an extrasolar planet were able to support life or had life on it already?” asks the University of Washington’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory (VPL) team, led by Victoria Meadows. Using interdisciplinary computational models, VPL examines life’s observable impact on a planetary environment, considering a variety of metabolisms, planetary compositions, and host stars. The result of this team effort will be a library of astronomical biosignatures against which spectral and photometric data returned by missions such as JWST can be cross-referenced ...

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