Astrobiology: July 2006 Archives

Meanwhile, Back on Earth - NASA climate-change research should not suffer because the president wants to go to Mars, Editorial, Washington Post

"NASA is facing a real fiscal crisis. Even though the White House is demanding more, it hasn't given the space agency the funding it needs to build a launcher for the moon mission, pay an unexpectedly large bill for repairing the space shuttle and do everything else it committed to before Mr. Bush's Mars announcement. According to the space agency, NASA is diverting a little over $3 billion from its science research budget over five years."

GeneBox Update

A Closer Look at NASA's GeneBox Payload, SpaceRef

"This first flight of Genesis is primarily a proof of concept mission for larger inflatable modules. However, it also carries some interesting scientific hardware, which could serve as the basis for future small free flying satellites - often referred to as smallsats or nanosats. Named "GeneBox", this small payload was developed by NASA Ames Research Center to test out new ways to perform in-flight genomic analysis of living systems. Indeed, much of what is being flown aboard this satellite is cutting edge biotech - the likes of which have yet to fly aboard the International Space Station. Future versions will be even more capable."

Editor's note: The Space Studies Board has been revising its membership. It is interesting to note that in light of NASA's continued cuts to astrobiology and space life science that the SSB has added Jack Farmer from Arizona State University, an astrobiologist and James Pawelczyk from Pennsylvania State University, a Neurolab astronaut and physiologist. Also, former NASA Administrator Richard Truly has joined and Tom Young is now the vice-chair of the SSB. Of course Lennard A. Fisk retains his chairmanship.

  • What Griffin Thinks - and the Academy Says - About Astrobiology, earlier post
  • What Mike Griffin *Really* Thinks About NRC's Space Station Report, earlier post
  • Editor's note: The Mars Institute's Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse on Devon Island now has two webcams available for public viewing. One camera shows a view of the greenhouse and surroundings from the outside and the other shows some of the internal plant growth trays. Images are updated once a day. Click on image to enlarge

  • The Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse Field Season 2006: Mission Accomplished!
  • Follow The Water

    NASA Mars Picture of the Day: Gullied Recesses

    "This image shows gullies on the wall of a martian south mid-latitude impact crater. The channels in each gully head beneath an eroding overhang of layered rock, providing support for the hypothesis that someif not allmartian gullies result from release of groundwater to the surface."

    Like Mars, but with polar bears, Nunatsiaq News

    "The greenhouse is rigged with gadgets that monitor and water the plants mostly lettuce, with basil, radish and zucchini automatically. "The greenhouse this past winter was visited by polar bears," [Pascal] Lee said as he prepared to board a flight from Iqaluit to Resolute Bay last Thursday. "They knocked a big hole in the side of it." This season they'll give robotic gardening another try, along with other experiments."

    Research Activities in the Arthur Clarke Mars Greenhouse - July 2006 Update

    "Our autonomous greenhouse in the Arctic produces and manages its own power, has its own communications system for command and telemetry, and a robust data acquisition and control system for making measurements and maintaining the environment in the greenhouse. This project began in 2002 and every year we improve the systems and make them more reliable and more robust."

    Bigelow Spacecraft Carries NASA 'GeneBox' for Tests in Orbit, NASA ARC

    "During this mission, we are verifying this new, small spacecraft's systems and our procedures," said John Hines, the GeneBox project manager at NASA Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley, where scientists and engineers designed and built GeneBox. "GeneBox is an example of a low-cost spacecraft model that we hope will provide a short turn-around time for scientists, is responsive to their needs and that we feel will contribute to the Vision for Space Exploration."

    Editor's note: I find it interesting to note that at the same time that NASA is abandoning much of the cutting edge space biology research that was planned for the ISS, that the private sector seems to be developing an interest in this research - aboard a private space station.

    One therapeutic dose of radiation causes 30 percent spongy bone loss in mice, American Physiological Society

    "Astronauts lose 2% of bone mass for each month they are exposed to the effects of microgravity. So far, astronauts have not been exposed to the increased radiation of outer space, but that will change when they undertake a proposed 30-month trip to Mars, Bateman said. NASA has focused on radiation's cancer-causing properties and its ability to compromise the central nervous and immune systems. But the effect on bone health is an unexamined concern."

    Editor's update: I am certain Bob Zubrin will fire out yet another ill-informed rant about how these experts don't know what they are talking about. C'mon Bob, fire away.

    Bob Zubrin Steps In It Again, earlier post



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    This page is an archive of entries in the Astrobiology category from July 2006.

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