NASA Leads In Astrobiology. It Needs To Act That Way.

Keith's note: Yesterday I posted an item "NASA Is Incapable Of Explaining How It Does Astrobiology" about Astrobiology-related news from NASA that made no mention of NASA's Astrobiology program. I sent an email about this to all of the people at NASA who run Astrobiology. No response. But they did update their websites. Lets try again.

Two reports were issued yesterday. One, by the National Academy of Sciences (paid for by NASA ~$1 million) covers the issue of how NASA will collect, store, and analyze samples it returns from across the solar system, many of them with overt Astrobiology significance. The other report has to do with a NASA-funded workshop on how to detect indications of extraterrestrial civilizations via their technologies. There is no mention of this article at the NASA Astrobiology web page or at the NASA Astrobiology Institute webpage.

To be fair, NASA does publish a lot of stuff about Astrobiology. Its not like they are completely asleep at the wheel. Then again, they seem to be behind the curve when it comes to the broader aspects of Astrobiology beyond the quirks of NASA's internal budgetary management. They also seem to miss a lot of the broader impacts of the field Astrobiology extending beyond NASA's funding scope - but done as a result of the field that NASA can claim to have established. They are reactive when they should be proactive. FWIW I was there at the first Astrobiology meetings in 1996/1997. Alas, NASA seems to have lost its mojo when to comes to asserting its leadership in this field. Its time to change that. Google "astrobiology". In the U.S. the 3rd search result is my website Maybe I know something. NASA has decided to reboot their whole Astrobiology thing. Maybe they will take the issue of being cutting edge in terms of discussing research and opinion - everyone's research and opinions.

Here are the reports NASA has not mentioned (yet):

Strategic Investments in Instrumentation and Facilities for Extraterrestrial Sample Curation and Analysis

"NASA's investment in new instruments to analyze extraterrestrial samples is insufficient to provide for replacement of existing instruments, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. If NASA does not invest additional funds into the replacement of current instrumentation and development of new technologies, technical staff support, and training for the next generation of analysts, current capabilities cannot be sustained, and the full scientific impact afforded by returned samples might not be realized."

NASA and the Search for Technosignatures: A Report from the NASA Technosignatures Workshop

"This report is the product of the NASA Technosignatures Workshop held at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas, in September 2018. This workshop was convened by NASA for the organization to learn more about the current field and state of the art of searches for technosignatures, and what role NASA might play in these searches in the future. The report, written by the workshop participants, summarizes the material presented at the workshop and incorporates additional inputs from the participants."

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on December 21, 2018 12:01 AM.

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