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More NASA Astrobiology News That Ignores NASA's Astrobiology Program

By Keith Cowing
November 18, 2019
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More NASA Astrobiology News That Ignores NASA's Astrobiology Program

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

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.