Astrobiology: November 2019 Archives

Keith's 18 Nov note: Here we go again. This just appeared online at NASA. "NASA Scientists Confirm Water Vapor on Europa". Look how the article opens: "Forty years ago, a Voyager spacecraft snapped the first closeup images of Europa, one of Jupiter's 79 moons. These revealed brownish cracks slicing the moon's icy surface, which give Europa the look of a veiny eyeball. Missions to the outer solar system in the decades since have amassed enough additional information about Europa to make it a high-priority target of investigation in NASA's search for life . What makes this moon so alluring is the possibility that it may possess all of the ingredients necessary for life. "

NASA has a program that searches for life elsewhere - its called Astrobiology. The program has existed for more than 20 years. Once again there's a NASA press release about research results with blatant, undeniable relevance to Astrobiology - yet no mention is made of NASA's Astrobiology program. Nor is any link made to anything related to NASA's Astrobiology program even though the prospect of finding life on Europa have been among the most prominent examples of what NASA's Astrobiology program is all about. All that talk we now hear of "ocean worlds" - well it started with Astrobiology's interest in Europa.

But its not just other parts of NASA that ignore Astrobiology-related news, NASA's Astrobiology program ignores it too. No mention is made of this at and the @NASAAstroBio Twitter account - with over 747,000 followers - has only been tweeting about one of a NASA staffer and his comic books for the past several weeks.

But wait: there's more: JPL issued this press release "Aquatic Rover Goes for a Drive Under the Ice" today. It also makes no reference or link to NASA's Astrobiology program, is not mentioned by NASA's Astrobiology program yet it is also filled with phrases overtly resonant with NASA's search for life aka Astrobiology.

"BRUIE, or the Buoyant Rover for Under-Ice Exploration, is being developed for underwater exploration in extraterrestrial, icy waters by engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. It will spend the next month testing its endurance at Australia's Casey research station in Antarctica, in preparation for a mission that could one day search for life in ocean worlds beyond Earth. ... these lunar oceans, such as those on Jupiter's moon Europa and Saturn's moon Enceladus, may be the best places to look for life in our solar system. ... The ice shells covering these distant oceans serve as a window into the oceans below, and the chemistry of the ice could help feed life within those oceans ... We've found that life often lives at interfaces, both the sea bottom and the ice-water interface at the top ... BRUIE will carry several science instruments to measure parameters related to life, such as dissolved oxygen, water salinity, pressure and temperature ... we only really know how to detect life similar to that on Earth."

And then there's this release "First Detection of Sugars in Meteorites Gives Clues to Origin of Life" also issued today by NASA GSFC. It also has multiple references to the search for life. It uses the word "astrobiology" at the end of the release and only links GSFC's Astrobiology page (not NASA's main Astrobiology page) and when you arrive at the GSFC Astrobiology page you are welcomed by a giant broken image.

Keith's 21 Nov: NASA updated to add the Europa and sugar in meteorites stories but only did so a day or two after NASA itself released them and news media wrote about them. They have yet to make mention of the BRUIE story. If you check our website you will see a number of Astrobiology stories - most of which represent NASA funded activities - that NASA's Astrobiology program simply ignores. If you go to google and search for "astrobiology" news stories you will see that dominates the search results. It is baffling that NASA is incapable - and apparently unwilling - to promote its own good news.

Thursday's Stealth Astrobiology Event At Ames, earlier posting

Keith's 13 Nov note: Last month the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) tweeted about their mailing list telling people to join. I tried to join only to find out that I was already a member. This list doesn't seem to mail anything. I just stumbled across this Astrobiology event which is happening tomorrow at Ames: "Celebrating the NAI at 20". I never got an email about this. Indeed I am rather certain that NAI has not mailed anything out for months.

If you look at the @NASAAstroBio Twitter account there is no mention whatsoever that this event is happening . But the NAI Twitter account seems to want everyone to know that NASA has an astrobiologist/artist named Aaron at NASA. If you go to there is no mention on the main page. You have to dig down to find it. There is no mention of it on the Ames home page or on the calendar. One would think that a 20th anniversary of the NASA Astrobiology Institute at NASA Ames would be worth a little promotion. This is really baffling. Its almost as if NASA's Astrobiology program simply does not want anyone to know what it is doing.

Keith's 14 Nov update: @NASAAstroBio finally got around to tweeting a link to this event - 2 hours after the event started.

Living Next Door To SETI

NO SIGNAL: Growing Up in Green Bank, West Virginia, Observer (scroll down to page 36)

"I grew up in Green Bank, West Virginia, at the center of the federally mandated National Radio Quiet Zone (NRQZ), where interference like cell phones, wireless internet, and other devices are legally regulated. My hometown feels like another planet, full of opposites and tucked away from the world in a quiet spot. I grew up feeling no different than the average child, but it wasn't until middle school that I realized I lived in a unique area. Green Bank is a special town--the epicenter of the NRQZ, and also a site of fascinating technology used for astronomical research. Green Bank is home to what was, during my childhood, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), and is now the Green Bank Observatory (GBO). At GBO, there are eight telescopes, but the most impressive telescope is the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope, or the GBT."

Going Off Source: Time Away With SETI In West Virginia, (1997)

"For the past several months I had been meaning to get out to Seneca Rocks, West Virginia to check in with the folks at the Gendarme Rock Climbing Shop. You see, I [used to] run their website, and I have been too busy to get out there - or "get vertical'" for quite some time. Just as this particular need to go out to West Virginia was becoming obvious, along came another reason: I needed to catch up with some SETI folks - and they were going to be in nearby Green Bank for a day or so, an hour's drive from Seneca Rocks. Two perfect excuses to escape the Washington DC metro area, and go off source."



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This page is an archive of entries in the Astrobiology category from November 2019.

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