"Whether or not you remember the winter of 2011 as unusually cold or snowy, an adventurous team of experts will remember its intense heat, as they searched for microbial life between sand dunes in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). They were searching for simple life forms that also may exist on other planets. The United States team consisted of teachers Mike Wing and Lucinda Land, NASA space scientists Chris McKay and Jon Rask, and education specialist Matthew Reyes. Together, they embarked on a high adventure desert expedition from Feb. 18 - Mar. 4 with UAE students and teachers as part of a NASA education program, called Spaceward Bound."
Astrobiology: March 2011 Archives
The Occurrence Rate of Earth Analog Planets Orbiting Sunlike Stars, NASA JPL via arXiv.org
"Kepler is a space telescope that searches Sun-like stars for planets. Its major goal is to determine nEarth, the fraction of Sunlike stars that have planets like Earth. When a planet 'transits' or moves in front of a star, Kepler can measure the concomitant dimming of the starlight. From analysis of the first four months of those measurements for over 150,000 stars, Kepler's science team has determined sizes, surface temperatures, orbit sizes and periods for over a thousand new planet candidates. Here, we show that 1.4% to 2.7% of stars like the Sun are expected to have Earth analog planets, based on the Kepler data release of Feb 2011."
Keith's 7:00 pm EST update: The following response from Dwayne Brown NASA SMD PAO was received by NASA Watch in quick response to questions asked this afternoon:
"1. How long has he worked at NASA, and at Marshall? Answer: 45 years, he started in February 28, 1966
2. Which division does he work for now? Answer: Hoover works in the Space Science Office at Marshall Space Flight Center
3. What is his title? Answer: NASA Scientist. He does not have a Ph.D.
4. Who funds him? Answer: Richard Hoover's salary is funded out of the Marshall Space Science Office and the Center Management and Operations budget. While the funding was not based on a proposal, the Marshall folks tell me they need more time to research funding specifics. Current management was not in place at the time. NASA's Astrobiology Program provided NO support for this work.
5. Did Hoover fill out NASA Standard Form 1676 or get internal review or permission at NASA MSFC to publish this paper? Answer: No. A SF-1676 was not submitted before submission of the paper to the Journal of Cosmology. Submission of a SF-1676 is standard. The SF-1676 on file is for a revised version of the 2007 article that was submitted to the International Journal of Astrobiology. The SF-1676 was approved by Marshall's science management chain for re-submission of the revised article to the International Journal of Astrobiology. Hoover took the advice from a colleague in the astrobiology field to submit the paper to the Journal of Cosmology. No SF-1676 was submitted to or approved by MSFC management for submission of the revised article to the Journal of Cosmology. NASA policies state that papers on topics of this magnitude should be published in scientific journals that conduct rigorous peer review prior to publication. "
Keith's 7:00 pm EST update: How is it that NASA MSFC continued to refer to Hoover as "Dr." Hoover for decades when in fact Hoover does not even have a Ph.D.? Curiously, Hoover overtly claims to have a Ph.D. in the article in the Journal of Cosmology.
"NASA is a scientific and technical agency committed to a culture of openness with the media and public. While we value the free exchange of ideas, data, and information as part of scientific and technical inquiry, NASA cannot stand behind or support a scientific claim unless it has been peer-reviewed or thoroughly examined by other qualified experts. This paper was submitted in 2007 to the International Journal of Astrobiology. However, the peer review process was not completed for that submission. NASA also was unaware of the recent submission of the paper to the Journal of Cosmology or of the paper's subsequent publication. Additional questions should be directed to the author of the paper." - Dr. Paul Hertz, chief scientist of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington
Keith's 4:25 pm EST update: Just posted on NASA Watch in the comments section: "The statement "This paper was submitted in 2007 to the International Journal of Astrobiology. However, the peer review process was not completed for that submission."Is not true, The paper was rejected, after peer review. Rocco Mancinelli, Ph.D., Editor, International Journal of Astrobiology."
"Many scientists have examined thousands of meteorites in detail over the past 50 years without finding any evidence of fossil life," David Morrison, senior scientist at the NASA Astrobiology Institute at Ames Research Center, told me in an e-mail. "Further, we know a great deal about the conditions on the parent objects of the meteorites, which (not counting the few meteorites from the moon and Mars) were rather small, not at all like planets. "I would therefore invoke Carl Sagan's famous advice that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. At a bare minimum this would require publication in a prestigious peer-refereed scientific journal -- which this is not. Cyanobacteria on a small airless world sounds like a joke. Perhaps the publication came out too soon; more appropriate would have been on April 1," Morrison said."