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National Research Council Review of the NASA Astrobiology Institute Carl B' Pilcher Director, NAI NA


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Title: National Research Council Review of the NASA Astrobiology Institute Carl B' Pilcher Director, NAI NA

National Research CouncilReview of the NASA
Astrobiology InstituteCarl B. PilcherDirector,
NAINASA Ames Research CenterJuly 25, 2007
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Presentation outline
  • Overview
  • NAIs contributions to science and missions
  • Case studies
  • Mission involvement overview
  • Building the community
  • Training the next generation
  • Creating a community/growing a field
  • Education and public outreach
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Collaborative tools
  • Website
  • Balance
  • Investments and Outcomes
  • NAI and wider community

  • Overview

NAI Mission
  • Carry out, support and catalyze collaborative,
    interdisciplinary research
  • Train the next generation of astrobiology
  • Provide scientific and technical leadership on
    astrobiology investigations for current and
    future space missions
  • Explore new approaches using modern information
    technology to conduct interdisciplinary and
    collaborative research amongst widely-distributed
  • Support outreach by providing scientific content
    for K-12 education programs, teaching
    undergraduate classes, and communicating directly
    with the public

NAI Overview
  • Virtual distributed institute without walls
  • 16 competitively-selected multidisciplinary teams
  • 700 members at 150 participating institutions
  • 450 senior scientists
  • 250 postdocs and students
  • 17 members of the National Academy of Sciences
  • Funded through Cooperative Agreements
  • Managed by a central office at NASA Ames Research
  • 650 papers supported by NAI published in Year 8
    (July 2005 June 2006)
  • 41 publications in Science, Nature, PNAS
  • Website http//

Map of NAI Teams
Alumni Teams Michigan State University Arizona
State UniversityUniversity of Rhode
Island University of Washington Harvard
University Johnson Space Center Jet Propulsion
Laboratory Scripps Research Institute
  • International Associates
  • Centro de Astrobiologia (Spain)
  • Australian Centre for Astrobiology
  • International Affiliates
  • Astrobiology Society of Britain
  • Groupement de Recherche en Exobiologie
  • European Exo/Astrobiology Network Association
  • Russian Astrobiology Center

A Decade of NAI Teams
NAI Executive Council
  • NAI Executive Council consists of
  • NAI Team PIs
  • NAI Director, Deputy Director
  • Executive Council roles
  • Raise, discuss, and provide advice on issues
    such as Institute wide research objectives,
    astrobiology mission opportunities, and
    priorities for technological development
  • Consider and recommend action on proposals to
    form NAI Focus Groups and other similar bodies
  • Consider and provide advice on proposals for
    external partnerships (e.g., international,
    interagency, or corporate)
  • Comment on the conduct of the Institute and
    consider and recommend metrics and evaluative
    approaches aimed at assessing the progress of the
  • Consider and provide advice on other issues at
    the request of the Director.
  • Regular communication via
  • Monthly videoconferences
  • In-person meetings several times per year (held
    at team sites)

NAI Focus Groups
  • NAIs Focus Groups are designed to mobilize
    expertise from across the Institute and the wider
    scientific community towards the rapid
    advancement of a defined area of research,
    mission planning, or other activity of particular
    importance to astrobiology.

Cooperative Agreement Notice (Cycle-4)
Proposals should clearly articulate the
innovative, interdisciplinary, astrobiology
research program to be pursued, its relevance to
the Astrobiology Roadmap, the associated costs
and institutional commitment offered, the
relevance of the Teams research program and
associated approach to the nature of the NAI
consortium, and the specific areas in which the
Teams activities will contribute to supporting
and developing the field of astrobiology.
Evaluation Criteria Science and Technical
Research (50) addresses the scientific and
technical merit of the proposed astrobiology
research program, including innovative and
interdisciplinary approaches to fulfill the
research objectives. Plan to Support Other
Institute Objectives (30) addresses the merits
of the proposed activities, that will contribute
to the objectives of the NAI as a collaborative
consortium with recognized responsibilities to
the astrobiology community. Every Team and every
Member of the NAI is expected to be an active
participant in the Institutes cooperative
endeavors. In evaluating the elements
specifically advanced to address this section,
reviewers will assess the degree to which the
proposers understand the demands of NAI
citizenship and are prepared to meet them.
Relevance (20) of the overall, integrated
proposal to the Astrobiology Roadmap, to the
interdisciplinary and collaborative character of
the NAI, and to the Vision for Space Exploration.
NAI CentralEnabling an integrated organization
  • Unifies the Institute as a community, by
  • Setting long-term strategic directions for the
    Institute, in collaboration with NASA HQs
  • Encouraging and enabling cross-team and external
  • Developing and managing budget and funding
    opportunities including
  • Cooperative Agreements, Director's Discretionary
    Fund, NAI Postdoctoral program, Minority
    Institution Research Support, Lewis and Clark
    Fund, Conference and Workshop Fund
  • Organizing the NAI Director's Seminar Series, NAI
    Annual Reports, NAI General Meetings, Executive
    Council meetings, special planning sessions such
    as the 2007 NAI Strategic Impact Workshop
  • Supporting Focus Groups, conferences and
    workshops, etc.
  • Providing a communications hub for connecting
    people and projects, internal and external to NAI
  • Providing collaborative tools for its members and
    the community
  • Videoconferencing capability, WebEx, NX, secure
    work groups
  • Communicating NAI accomplishments and activities
    to the public and its membership
  • NAI website, newsletter, coordinated press
    releases, research archive
  • Coordinating Education and Public Outreach
    activities across the teams

NAI Budget and Membership History
  • NAI Contributions to
  • Science and Missions

How does the NAI contribute?
  • Scientific Research and Mission Support
  • NAI requires the formation of broad
    interdisciplinary teams to address questions in
    astrobiology requiring collaboration between
    diverse disciplines and resources beyond those
    typical of most grant programs
  • Research ranges, for example, from basic research
    about life on Earth to research focused on
    supporting space flight missions
  • 5-year research plans
  • NAI further integrates these teams with each
    other and the community to address timely issues
    in astrobiology emerging from current research
    and space flight mission planning (complements
    and broadens 5-year research programs)
  • Workshops (at a distance by means of IT and in
  • Focus Groups
  • Directors Discretionary Fund
  • Other collaborative funding opportunities
  • General meeting
  • NAI thereby also creates a broad
    interdisciplinary forum in which individual
    researchers can consider the Big Picture, and
    take this perspective to their individual
    research and mission planning activities

Case Study 1 Microbiology, Extrasolar Planets,
and the Mars Science Orbiter (MSO)
  • MSO is a NASA mission currently planned for
    launch in 2013
  • Mid-late 1990s JPL/Caltech community develops
    concept for studying Mars atmospheric
    photochemistry using ATMOS solar occultation
    FTIR instrument on Mars orbiter
  • Leading member of that community (atmospheric
    chemist Mark Allen of JPL) is also a member of
    both the first NAI JPL team (PI Ken Nealson) and
    the second (Virtual Planetary Laboratory VPL
    PI Vikki Meadows)
  • Allen connects ATMOS FTIR concept for studying
    Martian photochemistry and extrasolar planet
    biosignature search (VPL) with potential for
    detecting extant life on Mars through trace
    atmospheric gas detection
  • Allen develops Mars Scout proposal (Marvel)
    incorporating solar occultation FTIR to focus on
    subsurface active processes and unusual gas
    release to atmosphere 2002
  • Proposal rated Category 1, low risk
  • One of four selected for Phase A study
  • Phoenix lander selected for development and
  • Proposal called attention to value of Mars
    orbiter post-MRO

Fourier Transform Infrared spectrometer flown on
Space Shuttle Mars Volcanic Emission and Life
Case Study 1 (cont)Microbiology, Extrasolar
Planets, and the Mars Science Orbiter (MSO)
  • NAI GSFC team led by PI Mike Mumma, one other
    ground-based astronomical research group, and a
    spacecraft team (Mars Express Planetary Fourier
    Spectrometer) report detection of methane on Mars
  • NAI holds distributed workshop Methane on Mars
    (May 2005) linking teams at ARC and GSFC with
    international partners Australian Center for
    Astrobiology and Centro de Astrobiologia in
  • Sources of methane and methods for distinguishing
    biogenic from abiotic production considered in
  • Report published (M. Allen et al., EOS, Vol. 87,
    No. 41, 10 October 2006)
  • Marvel science objectives (measurements of
    biogeochemical gases) and payload included in
    first Mars Science Orbiter (MSO) MEPAG Science
    Analysis Group (SAG-1) report 2006 Allen and
    NAI VPL PSU member J. Kasting on SAG

Methane on Mars Workshop
Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group formed
Case Study 1 (cont) Microbiology, Extrasolar
Planets, and the Mars Science Orbiter (MSO)
  • Marvel re-proposed to second Mars Scout
    competition 2006
  • Again rated Category 1, low risk
  • Two aeronomy missions (MAVEN team led by NAI PI
    Bruce Jakosky and The Great Escape) chosen for
    Phase A study
  • New SAG formed to reconsider MSO mission
    objectives with aeronomy off the table
  • Allen chairs atmospheric subgroup, advocates
    paradigm challenging science
  • SAG develops 3 options
  • Plan A Atmospheric signatures and near-surface
  • Plan P Polar and climate processes
  • Plan G Geological and geophysical exploration
  • NASA HQ selects Plan A! 2007

Artist's concept of Mars Volcanic Emission and
Life Scout
Case Study 2 Microbial Ecology, Atmospheric
Oxidation, and Extrasolar Planet Biosignatures
  • 1980s study of Guerrero Negro (Baja California)
    hypersaline microbial mats resumed in 1998 under
    NAI auspices
  • NAI funding enables interdisciplinary team field
    expeditions to study microbial mat ecology
  • Links biogeochemical processes, community
    composition (molecular methods), and
  • Study includes gas production and consequences
    for atmospheric composition
  • Surprising net production of reduced gases by
    cyanobacteria dominated mats found
  • H2, CH4 nocturnal fluxes comparable to other
    major terrestrial reduced gas sources
  • Fluxes large enough to have contributed to net
    long-term atmospheric oxidation (Hoehler, Bebout
    and Des Marais, 2001, Nature 412, 324).
  • Mat greenhouse developed at ARC to extend
    measurement capabilities and enable environmental
    simulations, e.g., early Earth
  • ASU team performs molecular analysis
    demonstrating greenhouse mats retain original
    field microbial populations

Case Study 2 (cont)Microbial Ecology,
Atmospheric Oxidation, and Extrasolar Planet
  • Dave Des Marais asked to chair Biomarker Subgroup
    of the Terrestrial Planet Finder Science Working
  • Subgroup develops analysis of planetary
    properties and atmospheric biosignatures on
    extrasolar planets informed by microbial ecology
    studies (Des Marais et al., 2002, Astrobiology 2,
  • Establishes visible-near infrared TPF
    implementation as of equal and complementary
    importance to thermal infrared implementation
  • Subgroup includes NAI member J. Kasting (VPL
  • Culture independent molecular assay of mat
    populations by Univ. Colorado (N. Pace) and MBL
    (PI M. Sogin) teams demonstrates unexpected and
    unprecedented microbial diversity
  • Suggests positive feedback between mat chemical
    complexity and biological diversity
  • Spear et al., 2003, Biol. Bull. 204, 168-173 Ley
    et al., 2006, Appl. Environ. Microbio. 72,
  • Current research Greenhouse mat long-term
    incubation in low-sulfate brines (early Earth
    simulation) to assess impact on populations,
    processes, and products
  • As much as 10 x increase in net methane
    production observed
  • Sulfate reduction reduced only 3-fold for
    350-fold reduction in sulfate concentration
  • Bebout et al., 2004, Geobiology 2, 87-96

(No Transcript)
Case Study 3Marine Biological Laboratory
  • Selection of MBL (PI M. Sogin) as NAI node leads
    to major new directions in team research
  • Characterization of protist populations in Rio
    Tinto and other collaborations with Spanish
    partner Centro de Astrobiologia (Amaral-Zettler
    of MBL with Recardo Amils of CAB)
  • Characterization of protist, bacterial and
    archael populations in hydrothermal heated
    sediments of Guaymas Basin (Edgcomb and Sogin)
  • Use of high throughput sequencing technology to
    explore evolution of genes for ancient
    metabolisms links microbial diversity with
    ecosystem function in Guaymas Basin
  • Jackson Hole Executive Council retreat (Oct. 03)
    leads to identification of Microbial Systems
    Exploration Initiative (MSEI) as one of four
    cross-cutting Institute scientific themes Others
    three themes are Mission to Ancient Earth,
    Terrestrial to Astronomical Biosignatures, and
    Protoplanetary Disk Evolution
  • Sogin proposes formation of MSEI at Boulder (Oct
    04) meeting of the NAI Executive Council
  • MSEI seeks to establish a systems biology
    approach to microbiological investigations that
    will influence NASAs planetary exploration
  • One day meeting of oversight committee (NAI PIs
    Jill Banfield, Berkeley David Des Marais, NASA
    Ames Bruce Jakosky, Boulder Steve D'Hondt
    (URI) Tullis Onstott, Princeton and Mitch
    Sogin, MBL) identified key questions and goals
    for the MSEI.

Case Study 3 (cont)Marine Biological Laboratory
  • MSEI workshop held in Chicago, Nov. 18-20, 2005 -
    Chaired by Jody Deming (University of Washington)
    and Lisa Pratt (Indiana) - 30 attendees.
  • MSEI workshop identified intersections between
    Habitability, Biosignatures, and Microbial
    Ecological Genomics.
  • Developed experimental paradigms for exploring
    how redundancy in community genomes affects
    evolution of microbial community structures
  • Identified experimental programs that could study
    the habitable limits of life in a given
    geochemical context by considering the minimal
    biological requirements for reductants and
    oxidants, and how they flow through the system.
    This gave rise to the concept that in addition to
    the mantra follow the water, future exploration
    missions should follow the energy when seeking
    evidence of past or present life on
    extraterrestrial solar system objects.
  • Established the importance of being able to
    differentiate between biotic and abiotic origins
    of putative biosignatures
  • A key conclusion from the MSEI workshop is that
    episodic events over geological time scales must
    be countered by a microbial communitys ability
    to adapt and survive more hostile environments.
  • Genomics provides a tool to explore how gene flow
    through the community might shape the response of
    individual microbial populations to major
    environmental change.
  • Led to the hypothesis that although low abundance
    organisms may not serve major roles in the
    composite metabolic and biogeochemical activities
    of a community, these organisms have the
    potential to completely reshape the metabolic
    properties of a microbial community.

Case Study 3 (cont)Marine Biological Laboratory
  • The MBL team developed novel technology that
    allows for the detection and enumeration of
    almost all members in a microbial community.
  • Led to the discovery of microbial diversity that
    is at least one or two orders of magnitude
    greater than what has been possible with more
    traditional cloning and sequencing surveys.
  • MBL team discovers the rare biosphere which has
    the potential to reshape microbial community
    structures and metabolic capabilities in response
    to environmental change.
  • Techniques to characterize low abundance
    populations now being applied in areas as diverse
    as gut microbial ecology and planetary

Diverse community of bacteria from a water
sample. (Photo credit Bob Morris. Courtesy of
Case Study 3 (cont)Marine Biological Laboratory
Earths Rare Biosphere
Mitchell L. Sogin, Hilary G. Morrison, Julie A.
Huber, David Mark Welch, Susan M. Huse, Phillip
R. Neal, Jesus M. Arrieta, and Gerhard J. Herndl
(2006) Microbial diversity in the deep sea and
the underexplored rare biosphere. Proceedings
of the National Academy of Sciences, 103
Case Study 3 (cont)Marine Biological Laboratory
Earths Rare Biosphere
Thioploca araucae, found in seven of eight
samples but at very low concentrations
  • Using 454 tag sequencing, which requires only
    small snippets of genetic code to identify an
  • Discovered more than 20,000 types of microbe in
    a single liter of seawater, having expected just
    1,000 to 3,000
  • Rare gene pool could serve as reserve of
    genetic diversity for repopulation of a habitat
    should environmental conditions change (Global
    Climate Change), with connections to NASAs Earth
    Science Program

Marine microbial diversity may be some 10 to 100
times higher than expected, and the vast majority
are previously unknown
Case Study 3 (cont)Marine Biological Laboratory
  • Led to funding from
  • The W.M. Keck Foundation (PI Sogin, MBL) to
    explore the full extent of microbial diversity
    throughout the worlds oceans and its sediments,
    including extreme environments. Many of the
    participants are members of NAI teams.
  • The NSF to study microbial diversity in 14 of the
    LTER sites (PI Amaral-Zettler, MBL)
  • The NSF to study microbial diversity and
    establish ties between microbial populations in
    diverse soil samples (PI Schmidt, MSU, and Co-PI,
    Sogin, MBL)
  • 2007 DDF New Paradigms for Remote Sensing and
    Monitoring of Microbial Ecosystems (Co-PIs, M.L.
    Sogin, MBL N.R. Pace, Boulder M. Mumma,
  • Led to funding by the Planetary Protection Office
    to develop new technology for studying bio-burden
    on spacecraft bound for Europa and Mars.
  • Biogeochemical Forensics of Fe-based Microbial
    Systems Defining Mission Targets and Tactics for
    Life Detection on Mars (PI Eric Roden, UC
    Berkeley, Co-PIs Jill Banfield, UC Berkeley
    Jennifer Eigenbrode, NASA Goddard David Emerson
    (ATCC)-UC Berkeley Marilyn Fogel, CIW George
    Luther, University of Delaware-UC Berkeley
    Mitchell Sogin, MBL
  • Sogins NAI participation leads to membership on
    Europa Science Definition Team and the NRC Study
    Group for Planetary protection study of future
    missions to Mars.

Long Term Ecological Research American Type
Culture Collection
Case Study 4 Virtual Planetary Laboratory
How can we know if this extrasolar planet has
Case Study 4 Virtual Planetary Laboratory
How can we know if this extrasolar planet has
With just one pixel!
Case Study 4 Virtual Planetary Laboratory
Case Study 4 (cont)Virtual Planetary Laboratory
Case Study 4 (cont)Virtual Planetary Laboratory
  • Multidisciplinary team provides integrated
    perspective required for comprehensive models
  • Collaborated with CIW team (Seager) and the NAI
    Astronomy Focus Group to co-organize an NAI
    virtual workshop on Global Biosignatures
    (2004) a successful demonstration of a
    bi-coastal workshop linked by videoconference
    connection and Webex presentations
  • VPL Team has trained several NAI Postdoctoral
    Fellows - Giovanna Tinetti, first detection of
    water vapor in atmosphere of extrasolar planet
  • Co-organized Pale Blue Dot III, in partnership
    with the Adler Planetarium and Brinson Foundation
    (Chicago, Sept., 2006)
  • NAI provides curation of VPL model, providing
    online tools to allow community access to the VPL
    (at Weber State University)
  • Nature July, 2007

Case Study 5 New Strategic Directions
  • Sept. 06 At in-person EC meeting, teams agree
    to 30 budget reduction
  • Team funding reductions necessitated by overall
    NAI budget cut
  • PIs express hope team cuts will free up funds for
    Directors Discretionary Fund and CAN-4
  • Boulder workshop scheduled for January to develop
    strategic (high impact) future directions
  • Oct.- Dec. 06 Concept for Strategic Impact
    Workshop developed with PIs
  • Teams provide short strategic concept write-ups
    (37 total) to initialize workshop
  • Workshop preparation supported by half-day set of
    briefings on SMD missions/programs by senior HQ
  • Virtual meeting linking teams, NAI Central, HQ
  • Briefings archived for later viewing
  • Jan. 07 Strategic Impact Workshop attended by
    45 NAI investigators representing all teams
  • 17 concepts developed into inter-team,
    interdisciplinary white papers
  • White papers used to inform DDF call and identify
    other opportunities for NAI strategic
    contributions (e.g., Earth Science and
    Astrobiology from the Moon contribution to Lunar
    Science Workshop)

2007 DirectorsDiscretionary Fund
  • 1.8M awarded for investments that
  • advance the science of astrobiology
  • demonstrate impact to NASA's space flight
    programs or its broader science activities
  • and/or contribute to NASA's role as a federal RD
    agency through the development of strategic
    partnerships (e.g., with other agencies, the
    private sector, etc.)
  • Proposals were invited ranging from a few x 10K
    for smaller projects (e.g., a workshop) to
    200-300K for large research efforts
  • Proposals involving multiple NAI teams were
  • 18 proposals selected for full or partial funding
  • The Lead Investigator for all proposals had to be
    an NAI member, but proposals could include
    participation by non-members
  • A call for proposals was released on February 2,
  • Proposals Submitted March 1, 2007
  • Awards Announced April 19, 2007

2007 DirectorsDiscretionary Fund
Research projects selected
Workshops, conferences and field trips selected
2007 DirectorsDiscretionary Fund
NAI Mission InvolvementBringing an astrobiology
perspective to missions
Examples of NAI members who are involved in
NAI Mission InvolvementBringing an astrobiology
perspective to mission planning
  • Examples of NAI member involvement in mission
  • Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG)
  • Jack Mustard (MEPAG Chair) MBL team
  • Bruce Jakosky (NAI PI, former MEPAG chair),
    Stephen Mojzsis PI CUB team
  • Dave Des Marais (NAI PI), Chris McKay, Allan
    Treiman ARC team
  • Paul Mahaffy GSFC team
  • Andrew Steele, Nora Noffke CIW team
  • Jeff Taylor UH team
  • Jack Farmer Ron Greeley (former MEPAG chairs),
    Phillip Christensen, Jim Elser, Ferran
    Garcia-Pichel ASU alumni team
  • John Baross University of Arizona team
  • Chris House Penn State University team
  • Ken Nealson MSU team
  • Roger Summons (NAI PI) Massachusetts Institute
    of Technology team
  • Jody Deming UW alumni team
  • Mitch Sogin (NAI PI), James Head MBL team
  • Thomas Kieft JSC alumni team
  • Rocco Mancinelli PI SETI team

NAI Mars Focus Group
  • Developed landing site recommendations for the
    Mars rovers, which were presented by the MFG
    Chair at community-wide landing-site workshops
  • Based on inputs from these workshops, the MER
    Landing Sites Steering Committee developed a
    shortlist of approximately 10 sites (from 40
    presented by the community)
  • About half of the sites short-listed for MER were
    on the NAI MFG list of recommendations, and both
    of the final landing site selections (Meridiani
    Planum/Opportunity and Gusev Crater/Spirit) had
    been given a high priority for astrobiology by
    the NAI MFG
  • As a part of the activities of the MEPAG
    Astrobiology Science Steering Group (SSG), joint
    MEPAG-NAI videocons also provided opportunities
    for NAI input in developing a set of Astrobiology
    SSG recommendations formally presented to the
    MEPAG in 2003
  • On the question of landing site selection,
    interactions between the NAI and MEPAG were
    promoted through several NAI-sponsored
    videoconferences organized by the Mars Focus
    Group Chair.

Since 1999, NAI Members have served as 4 of the 5
Chairs of MEPAG
International Collaboration
  • NAI Expedition to Klyuchevsky Volcano, Kamchatka
    (2006) Jake
    Maule et al., Carnegie Institution of Washington

    Anatoly Pavlov, David Gilichinsky Andrey
    Abramov Russian Astrobiology Center
    Malcolm Walter Roberto Anitori Australian
    Center for Astrobiology
  • Rio Tinto of Southwestern Spain, Analogue Site
    for Habitable Zones on Early Mars MBL Team, JSC
    Alumni Team, Harvard Alumni Team and others in
    collaboration with Ricardo Amils of the Centro de
    Astrobiologia / Universidad Automa de Madrid
  • NAI Astrobiology Drilling Program (Deep Time
    Drilling Project-Pilbara, Archean Biosphere
    Drilling Project)
    Malcolm Walter,
    Australian Center for Astrobiology (Macquarie
    University) Arthur Hickman, Geological
    Survey of Western Australia
  • Josep Comas i Sol! International Summer School in
    Astrobiology, organized jointly with the Spanish
    Centro de Astrobiologia and the Universidad
    Internacional Menéndez Pelayo Palacio de
    Magdalena, Santander (Spain)
  • Establishment of the Federation of Astrobiology
    Organizations - encompassing an ever widening set
    of individual astrobiology networks,
    associations, institutes, research groups, and
    societies linking them together to assist the
    implementation of cooperative international

A closing comment
  • From the Carnegie perspective, and perhaps
    especially the Geophysical Lab perspective, the
    influence of NAI has been profound.
  • Prior to NAI the Geophysical Lab focus was
    primarily mineral physics, with a modest
    biogeochemistry program. We are now dramatically
    more interdisciplinary, with notable staff hires
    in biology (Andrew Steele, James Scott) and new
    productive collaborative ties to biologists and
    biochemists at UW, NASA, Harvard, Princeton,
    Santa Cruz, and other institutions.
  • Our research efforts in origin of life,
    mineral-molecule interactions, deep biosphere,
    molecular and isotopic biomarkers, life detection
    on Mars and more are direct results of the
    support for interdisciplinary research fostered
    by NAI.
  • I could probably list 20 of my own papers from
    the past few years that
  • would not have happened without NAI.
  • Robert Hazen, CIW GRL

  • Building the Community
  • Training the next generation of astrobiologists

Building the communityTraining the next
generationof astrobiologists
  • NAI Central supports a comprehensive suite of
    programs to recruit students into the field of
    astrobiology, train them in the interdisciplinary
    nature of the research, and support them through
    their early professional career
  • NAI Postdoctoral Fellowship Program (41 Fellows
    to date)
  • Competitively selected to work with one or more
    NAI teams on research of mutual interest
  • The 16 teams included 90 postdocs, 140 graduate
    students, and 35 undergraduates in 2005-06
  • Travel support for graduate students
  • Lewis and Clark Fund for Exploration and Field
    Research in Astrobiology
  • Partnership with American Philosophical Society
  • 12 scholars to date
  • NAI Research Scholarship Program for students in
  • Offers research-related travel support to enable
    graduate or postdoctoral students to circulate
    among two or more NAI Teams or participating
    institutions of the NAI
  • NAI Workshop and Conference Fund
  • Funds used, in part, to support student
    attendance at meetings
  • Travel support for student attendance at Focus
    Group meetings (14 students received funds in

Building the communityNAI Postdoctoral Program
41 Postdoctoral Fellows have been funded through
the NAI NPP Program Many more are members of NAI
Building the communityNAI Postdoctoral Program
Building the communityTraining the next
generationof astrobiologists
  • Astrobiology Graduate Student Conferences
  • NAI provided funding for conference, student
    travel, technical support (Webcasting)
  • 2004 Conference at University of Arizona, 76
    participants led by Maggie Turnbull
  • 2005 Conference at Scripps Institution of
    Oceanography, 40 participants led by Brad Bailey
  • 2006 Informal meetings part of AbSciCon in DC,
    led by Sean Raymond
  • 2007 Conference at Bioastronomy in Puerto Rico
    (led by Avi Mandell, Shawn Goldman, Fabia
    Battistuzzi, Melissa Trainer)
  • Josep Comas i Solà International Summer School in
  • Co-sponsored by NAI and CAB Held every summer
    since 2003 in Santander, Spain
  • 40-50 students from around the world each year,
    faculty includes NAI scientists
  • 2003 - Search for Life on Mars
  • 2004 - Planet Mars
  • 2005 - Titan Prebiotic Chemistry Origin of
  • 2006 - Origins Big Bang to Life
  • 2007 - Exploring Mars The Next Ten Years

Building the communityTraining the next
generationof astrobiologists
  • NAI teams have implemented a variety of
    activities toward the goal of training the next
  • Mentoring Undergraduate Students
  • NAI scientists serve as mentors for NSFs
    Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)
  • Several teams have them REU mentors, including
  • SETI Institute team is the first to have an REU
    exclusively in astrobiology
  • NAI Central support expanded SETI program in 2007
    to include 4 additional students
  • Team undergraduate internship programs (CIW,
  • Incorporating Astrobiology into Academic
    Departments and Coursework
  • New academic courses at almost every team
  • PSU Dual Title Ph.D. Program in Astrobiology
  • as of 2006, there are 13 graduate students in the
  • PSU Undergraduate Minor Program in Astrobiology
  • as of 2006, over 1500 students per year are
    enrolled in the 13 classes that are part of the
    Minor program

Building the communityTraining the next
generationof astrobiologists
  • UW Astrobiology Graduate Department
  • Offers Certificate in Astrobiology innovative
    program elements such as research rotation
    quarters, weekly seminars, annual workshops, grad
    students TA for undergraduate, introductory
    course for non-majors
  • 2005 UA/UW Graduate Student Exchange
    implemented the annual workshop as a cross team
  • Working on joint Astrobiology program with the
    International University of Bremen, Germany
  • Graduate textbook called Planets and Life grew
    from UWs 2001 Crystal Mountain Conference on
  • Special Programs
  • Graduate Winter Schools in Astrobiology
  • 2005 - UH team Water on Earth and Space
    getting more info from Mary at UH
  • 2006 - UA team 29 grad students from US, Spain,
    Australia, and the Netherlands
  • Scientific Writing Seminar Death Valley (UH grad
    students produce review article on
    interdisciplinary topic)

  • Building the Community
  • Creating community growing a field

Building the communityDeveloping the field of
  • NAIs solicitations for new teams have included
    an expectation for commitment to the emerging
    field of astrobiology, thus generating strong
    incentive (backed by funding) to contribute to
    the growth of the field
  • In some cases, the writing of an NAI proposal
    alone is an opportunity for collaboration and
    team-building (whether or not the team is
  • The CAN-3 solicitation initiated a required
    proposal element called Strengthening the
  • This element was worth 25 of the total score,
    included Professional Community, Training,
    Teaming with Minority Institutions, Linkage to
    Other Agencies
  • NAI has supported growth of the field
    internationally (International Associates and
  • International travel fund
  • NAI has made available funds to support travel
    associated with collaborations between NAI
    Members and international colleagues in the field
    of astrobiology
  • NAI support of conferences and meetings.
  • Methane on Mars half-day workshop three sites,
    25 participants
  • Astronomy Focus Group two-day meeting three
  • Biomarkers two-day workshop two sites, over 15
  • M-stars in-person
  • Pale Blue Dot 1, 2, and 3
  • Jackson Hole Workshop
  • 2007 Strategic Impact Workshop

Building the communityPromoting
cross-disciplinary exchange
  • Strategic and topical workshops
  • Astrobiology Primer Coursesat NAI General
  • Astrobiology Primerpublication
  • NAI Insight Courses
  • NAI General meetings

NAI Insight Courses
Building the communityNAI General Meetings
  • NAI General Meetings were held in 2001 (at CIW),
    2003 (at ASU), and 2005 (at U. Colorado)
  • General meeting serve to
  • Broaden perspectives of members
  • Provide cross-disciplinary exposure
  • NAI Central organizes the meetings to promote
    cross-disciplinary exchange
  • Use of jargon is discouraged
  • In 2005 few concurrent sessions to avoid
    polarization of audiences
  • Primer sessions held to educate across
  • Student participation
  • 120 students attended in 2005

  • Building the Community
  • Education and public outreach (overview and

NAIs Education andPublic Outreach
  • Structure of NAIs E/PO Program E/PO Leads
    NAI Central
  • Each team has an E/PO Lead
  • each team has a unique E/PO plan, and conducts a
    variety of types of outreach (teachers, museums,
    after school programs, etc.)
  • NAI Central
  • supports the teams by facilitating communication,
    coordinating activities, providing supplemental
    funding for projects, leveraging partnerships
  • provides leadership and direction for the
    program, interfaces with and reports to NASA on
    team activities, serves as main POC for the
    Institute with the broader astrobiology
    community, and external partners
  • Program Goals and Objectives Inspire, Engage,
    and Educate
  • Raise awareness about astrobiology
    develop/distribute educational materials and
    provide training for their effective
    implementation ensure quality by incorporating

Interpretative materials on astrobiology and
microbiology for Yellowstone National Park
E/PO Examples from the Ames Team
  • Produced chapters in the 2004, 2005 and 2006
    editions of the Yellowstone Resources and Issues
    handbook, and financed it as a color publication
  • Eight wayside exhibits (large porcelain signs)
    presenting microbiology and astrobiology
  • Lectures for the formal education program of the
    Yellowstone Association Institute
  • Training lectures to the Interpretive Rangers
  • Park Kids Program (Astrobiology Educator Guide)
  • Content for the YNP web site
  • Consultation regarding the scope and content of
    exhibits for microbiology and astrobiology in the
    new Old Faithful Visitor and Education Center

Wayside SignLocations
  • "Travertine Occupants" and "Living Color" which
    focus on thermophiles at Mammoth Hot Springs
  • "Roaring Mountain Living Landscape" and
    "Fumaroles" in the Roaring Mountain region
  • Living Thermometer near Whirligig at Norris
    Geyser Basin
  • "Buried Alive" at Excelsior Geyser
  • "Making Mud" at Fountain Paint Pot
  • "Life on the Edge" and "Prism of Light, Spectrum
    of Light" at Grand Prismatic Spring

Midway Geyser Basin, Excelsior Crater
new .
(No Transcript)
From the Park to Museums
  • California Academy of Sciences planetarium,
    aquarium, natural history, research. Building
    new museum. Currently temporary exhibits on
    Howard Street.
  • BioForum (lectures for teachers) Astrobiology
    search for life in the universe.
  • 3-hour docent training tours on astrobiology for
    Earth and Space.
  • Planetarium lecture series. Science Now exhibit
    panel on NAI research.
  • Planetarium show.
  • Science Now web page on NAI research.
  • NY Hall of Science New York Citys only hands-on
    science and technology center. The Hall features
    more than 225 hands-on exhibits.
  • Provide content development for the Search for
    Extraterrestrial Life exhibit.
  • Participate in the design of the K-14 Discovery
    Center experience and hands-on activity stations.
  • Develop a manual for investigations related to
    the activity stations that museum staff will use
    with the formal education student groups that
    frequent the museum.

  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Collaborative tools

The Virtual InstituteA suite of toolswith many
  • Combine to run
  • Seminars
  • Workshops
  • Large scale meetings
  • Small group meetings
  • One-to-one interaction
  • Training
  • Remote courses
  • Journal clubs
  • Public talks
  • Collaboration tools
  • Videoconferencing
  • Telecons
  • Email
  • WebEx
  • Shared online communities
  • File sharing through the internet
  • Web sites
  • Discussion forums
  • Blogs
  • Video archives
  • Podcasts

Virtual Seminars and Meetings
Videoconferencing WebEx have emerged as the
most powerful tools for virtual meetings
sometimes augmented by asynchronous tools for
online, shared communities
  • Uses of videoconferencing WebEx
  • Directors seminars
  • Graduate student seminars
  • UW seminars
  • Executive Council meetings
  • E/PO coordination meetings
  • Virtual classrooms
  • Virtual town hall meeting
  • Special sessions (e.g. 06 SMD mission briefing)

WebExOnline meeting tool
  • WebEx functions
  • Display powerpoint
  • OR
  • Display entire desktop (not limited to common
    applications can show custom data for example)
  • Virtual pointer
  • List of attendees
  • Can raise virtual hand to indicate desire to
  • Chat function can chat privately or publicly to
    other participants
  • Polling

Online sharedcommunities
  • Available tools
  • NX (NASA/Xerox)
  • Secure Work Groups
  • Used for
  • File exchange
  • Scheduling (e.g. calendar)
  • Budgeting
  • Proposal planning
  • Mailing lists
  • KM tools work best for small groups with a
    focused purpose (a field expedition, specific
    research project, proposal, etc)

Virtual Classroom
  • Penn State graduate classes
  • Weekly class meetings with participants from 3
  • Presenters/slides accessible via Polycom
    vidoeconferencing and WebEx data sharing
  • Live discussion via Polycom audio connection

NAI Information Management System (NIMS)
The NAI has a history of collecting, archiving,
and publishing information that provides insight
into the workings of the Institute
  • Annual Reports
  • For each project
  • Progress
  • roadmap goals identified
  • cross-team collaborations
  • Highlights
  • field expeditions
  • NASA mission involvement
  • Team members
  • Name, affiliation, email, photos
  • Publications
  • Education and Outreach Reports
  • Focus Groups
  • NAI Central projects reports
  • Surveys
  • Material entered by NAI Central
  • Feature stories, research archive, events
  • Products
  • NAI website content
  • NAI Annual Science Report
  • NAI Photo Directory (Members)
  • NAI email list
  • NAI publications list
  • Reports/presentations
  • resource, e.g.
  • - Projects related to roadmap
  • - Number/type of students
  • - Geographic distribution
  • Interdisciplinarity studies
  • Publications
  • Teams

  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Website

  • NAI Website
  • http//
  • User base
  • Science-interested public
  • Educators/students
  • NAI members and the broader science community

NAI WebsiteSupporting the virtual institute
  • Elements of the virtual institute supported on
    the web
  • Directors seminarslive via videocon/telecon/webe
    x, and archived including podcasts
  • Member directory
  • Annual reportsproject reports, publications,
    team members and more
  • Newsletter
  • NAI Executive Council
  • Meeting support
  • Research archive
  • WebEx online meeting tool
  • Knowledge management tools (such as NX and secure
    work groups)

NAI database website
INPUT from diverse sources
OUTPUTto the community via the web
Feature stories Newsletter Ask an
Astrobiologist RSS feeds Podcasts Research
Archive ...and more . .
Database Publications Feature articles Member
DirectoryProject Reports ...and more . . .
Web Crawler combs the web for stories and news
NAI Central staff posts (via online admin tool)
Annual Reports from NAI teams online, automated,
entry to the database
  • Database helps to
  • -Lower the cost
  • - Keep content up-to-date
  • Enable the submission of input from a variety of
  • Produce a variety of other data summaries as

  • Balance
  • Investments and Outcomes

Are the research, training, and public
educational activities of the NAI appropriately
balanced in terms of investments and outcomes,
services to NAI members and external partners,
and activities that engage and support the wider
astrobiology community and the needs of young
Astrobiology Program Budget History
NAI Budget
2007 survey on interdisciplinarity
  • Survey distributed to 700 NAI current and
    alumni members (CAN 2,3, and 4 teams)
  • 381 responses received
  • Members asked to identify primary, secondary and
    tertiary disciplines

Publications studyon interdisciplinarity
  • Coming Soon

  • Balance
  • NAI and the Wider Community

Engaging the wider community
  • Flexible definition of membership
  • PIs interpret the boundaries for their own
    teams thus membership is bottoms-up, through
    science projects and teams
  • Growing body of alumni members is further
    blurring the distinction between members and
  • Boundaries are permeable through
  • Focus groups, conferences, publication of annual
    reports, newsletters
  • International associates/affiliates
  • Travel support for students/ post docs
  • Focus Groups
  • Conferences

Distributed management
  • Programs for which management is outsourced
  • NAI Postdoctoral Program, managed by Oak Ridge
    Associated Universities (ORAU)
  • Minority Institution Research Support (MIRS)
    managed by Todd Gary at TSU. Because Todd was
    the first MIRS fellow, and his center is situated
    at a Minority Institution, the programs ability
    to reach its goals is enhanced
  • MIAC--Minority Institute Astrobiology
    Collaborative--was formed by Todd Gary MIAC
    develop contacts for MIRS, disseminates
    information to the minority institutions
  • LewisClark is managed by American Philosophical
    Society (APS). The recruiting and management is
    done off-site with APS, and the cachet of the APS
    helps attract high quality applicants
  • Benefits
  • Unique contributions, perspectives, and expertise
    are brought to the programs
  • Program leaders in touch with the needs of those
    whom the programs serve
  • Increased community involvement
  • Smaller NAI Central staff

  • Future Directions

What other activities/roles not currently
undertaken by the NAI might be appropriate in the
NAI future directions
  • NAI can and should continue to broaden its role
    of service to and leadership of the astrobiology
    community as a whole
  • Current activities include
  • Science organization of the 2008 Astrobiology
    Science Conference
  • Development of an integrated web presence and
    data collection/analysis capability for the
    entire NASA Astrobiology Program
  • Astrobiology Drilling Program core sample
  • Enhanced videoconference support to the community
  • E/PO
  • NAI could broaden its E/PO coordination
    activities to include Exobiology, ASTEP, and
    ASTID PIs ( assist in applying for supplemental
    E/PO funds coordinate and integrate their
    activities into existing astrobiology education
    projects and programs)
  • Support mission concept studies
  • NAI could conduct a DDF call for mission concept
    studies to help prepare the astrobiology
    community to propose future astrobiology
    missions, thereby providing more avenues for
    astrobiology to enter flight programs

NAI future directions (cont)
  • One potential future direction for NAI is to
    increase further the strategic component of NAI
    research and related activities
  • Emphasize strategic criterion in CAN-5?
  • Continue 2007 approach in future DDF
  • Another possible future direction is to emphasize
    certain areas of research
  • CAN-2 emphasized areas that were complementary to
    those of the original 11 teams

NAI future directions
  • Information technology future directions
  • Develop stronger ties with local Silicon Valley
  • Current example Dave DesMarais' Google Earth
    project, recently funded by Google
  • NAI Central's proposal to Google for exploring
    virtual environments for science collaboration
    (not selected future proposal calls are
  • Collaboration with local companies on virtual
    world applications for science, social networking
    methods, other
  • Continue "early adopter" role for emerging
    paradigms and tools
  • Explore virtual conferencing using the latest
    tools and updated MCU capability for example,
    could a workshop like the recent Strategic
    Impacts Workshop be conducted online?
  • Continue to develop partnerships
  • Seek out research themes that NAI has in common
    with other funding sources
  • Stimulate dialogues with other agencies to find
    ways to leverage funding

The Virtual InstituteLooking ahead
  • Driving forces
  • Democratization of the web
  • Users are now also content providers.
  • Examples Wikipedia, (shared
    bookmarks), Digg (community-prioritized news)
    and countless other user-driven sites
  • Social networking (Facebook, LinkedIn, Nature
    Network) are ways to connect large communities
  • 3-D online environments virtual and mirror
  • Real-world-based, mirror environments such as
    Google Earth, NASA Worldwind
  • Dave Des Marais recently awarded funds from
    Google competition, for Tracking Sea Level Rise
    and Climate Change
  • Virtual worlds such as Second Life

virtual world International Spaceflight Museum
in Second Life
mirror world Phylogeny of Avian Influenza
The Virtual InstituteIdeas for the future
  • Explore social networking possibilities for NAI
    and the broader astrobiology community
  • customize a social network for astrobiologists (a
    science-focused Facebook or Nature Network)
  • Explore the use of WIKI software for online
  • Explore/exploit the improvements now being made
    in finding, sharing, and integrating information
    semantic technologies, interoperability and
  • Explore data-sharing in mirror worlds.
  • Environmental scientists and sensor-net
    researchers are already feeding live data on
    climate conditions and pollution into Google
    Earth and Microsoft Virtual Earth, where the
    added spatial and geographical dimensions give
    extra context and help reveal hidden
    patterns.Reference Roush, W. (June/July 2007)
    Second Earth, MIT Technology Review,
  • Astrobiology Island in Second Life
  • 8 Million residents currently in Second Life
    growing at a rate of about 1M per month
  • NASA CoLab collaboratory is taking shape
  • Venue for public engagement in astrobiology
  • Explore the combination of new paradigms (social
    networks, virtual and mirror worlds), with
    existing tools (videoconferencing, WebEx) to
    conduct next generation virtual workshops and
    meetings. Could the recently held Strategic
    Impact Workshop, and others like it, be conducted

Backup Slides
Astrobiology Program
  • NASA Astrobiology Institute (1998)
  • Virtual institute central office at NASA Ames
    Research Center
  • Members conduct interdisciplinary research as a
    community, yet are geographically dispersed
  • Currently 16 Member-Institutions, plus NAI
  • Exobiology Evolutionary Biology (1965)
  • Research centered on pathways leading to and from
    the origin of life
  • Focused on the physical and biological forces
    that affect biological evolution and the
    interaction of life with its environment
  • 140 research tasks at US universities, research
    institutions, Federal labs, and NASA Centers.
  • Astrobiology Science Technology Instrument
    Development (1988, 2001)
  • Life-centered instrument and technology
    development, from concept to brass-board
  • Develops both in situ and remote-sensing
    instruments and concepts
  • 49 instrument-development tasks at US
    universities, research institutions, Federal
    labs, and NASA Centers.
  • Astrobiology Science Technology for Exploring
    Planets (2001)
  • Science-driven field campaigns to extreme
    environments develop integrated systems, build
    exploration savvy, and demonstrate astrobiology
    capabilities for space exploration. Humans
    robots, together

2006 NAI Citations from Journals by Impact Factor

Top Journals by Number of Citations in 2006
Alphabetical list of journals with five or more
citations in the 2006 NAI Annual Report.

NAI Astrobiology Drilling Program
  • An international program, managed by the NAI,
    aimed at coordinating continental drilling
    projects of astrobiological significance
  • The goals of the program are to assist in the
    identification of appropriate targets, the
    overseeing of procedures for sample distribution
    and curation, and the promotion of worthwhile
    proposals to potential funding agencies
  • Objective is to access unweathered, unoxidized,
    and uncontaminated samples
  • Targets include Earths oldest sedimentary
    successions, critical intervals in Earth
    history, and times when the biosphere was
    changing on a planetary scale

NAI Astrobiology Drilling Program
Mission to Early Earth Focus Group 1999 - 2003
NAI Astrobiology Drilling Program
  • Archean Biosphere Drilling Project (ABDP)
  • The ABDP, a joint project involving Kagoshima
    University, the Geological Survey of Western
    Australia, the University of Western Australia,
    and the Penn State Team of the NAI, initiated the
    ADP with six holes (total depth 1.4 km) drilled
    in the Archean of Western Australia in 2003.
  • Deep Time Drilling Project (DTDP)
  • The Hamersley Long Hole of the DTDP (University
    of Colorado and University of Washington NAI
    teams) was drilled early in the Austral Winter of
    2004. Two other holes (Coonterunah and Tumbiana)
    were drilled jointly by ABDP and DTDP as well.

NAI Astrobiology Drilling ProgramSample
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