NASA's Astrobiology Program and Planetary Exploration by zhouwenjuan


									  NASA’s Astrobiology Program
and Planetary Exploration

Mary A Voytek, NASA HQ
Washington, DC
2 March 2011

The study of life in the context of the
Universe, focusing on three fundamental
  • How does life begin and evolve?
  • Does life exist elsewhere in the
  • What is the future for life on Earth and
    Astrobiology is guided by a Roadmap
     There are 7 goals, each multi-decadal in scope:
         Habitable Planets
         Life in our Solar System
         Origins of Life
         Earth’s Early Biosphere and its Environment
         Evolution, Environment and the Limits of Life
         Life’s Future on Earth and Beyond
         Signatures of Life
     18 objectives, multi-year in scope, measurable.

                                                             11 Jan 07
What can we learn
about searching for
life, by studying
the Earth?

1.   Life is tough
3.   Life is tenacious
        (long survival times)
5.   Life is metabolically diverse
        (it eats anything, it breaths anything !!)
         Astrobiology Program Taxonomy

Exobiology & Evolutionary Biology (1960)

Astrobiology Science & Technology Instrument Development
(ASTID; 1988, 2001)

Astrobiology Science & Technology for Exploring Planets
(ASTEP; 2001)

NASA Astrobiology Institute (1998)

Astrobiology Small Payloads (2008)
       Exobiology & Evolutionary Biology
    Currently funding 17 (90) tasks on biology in
    extreme environments.
    Environments include:
       Ice-covered lakes in Antarctica
       Various hypersaline environments (Guerro
       Negro, Mono Lake)
       Glacial ice
       Basaltic acid-weathering terranes
       Silica- and carbonate-rich hot springs
       Simulated Mars conditions
       Topics include:
    Dessication resistance in algae (“leap to land”)
    Methanogenesis in hypersaline environments
    (Guerro Negro) Dessication & radiation
    Community structure and diversity in microbialites
    and microbial mats under a variety of conditions
    (perennially ice-covered lakes in Antarctica)
    Arsenic-respiring bugs in volcanic, hypersaline
    environments (Mono Lake)
    D-amino acid accumulation in endolithic
    communities (Negev, etc.)
More Topics include:
    Cold adaptation in extreme halophiles
    Microbial communities in the Atacama
    Life in surface glacier ice (Svalbard)
    Microbial diversity in a basaltic acid-weathering
    environment (Cerro Negro volcano)
    Community diversity in silica-rich hot springs
    Analyses of anoxygenic phototrophic bacteria in
    hot spring mats (YNP)
Signatures of Life in Ice
(SLIce): A
investigation of organic
signatures and habitat
of life in surface glacial
                                  Dr. Karyn Rogers collecting
                                  sediments at an active vent
                                  at Cerro Negro.

Bryan Hynek condensing steam
at Cerro Negro in a novel
approach to microbial analysis.
Cryptoendolithic communities from 3 desert environments ,
seem to accumulate D-amino acids!
    Diverse set of environments in the hot springs at YNP
                                                 Great Fountain
                Canary Spring

            Grand Prismatic
                                ** *
                                        Silica encrustation of tightly packed, vertically
                                        growing Calothrix filaments at Fountain Paint Pots,

    Lithifying Phormidium mat.

cyanobacterial filaments (upper left)
coating surface clay; acid percolates
from muddy potholes
    Astrobiology Science & Technology
    for Instrument Development (ASTID)
    Funds development of a variety of instruments
    focused on astrobiology goals.
    Instruments intended to be flown in space to
    planets such as Mars, Titan, and Europa
    In FY2010, total of $7.3M invested.
    Most instruments are for in situ analysis,
    especially of organics and inorganic biosignatures
         Sample acquisition, processing and handling
         Chemical separation (mostly chromatographies)
         Chemical analysis (MS, IR, LIBS, XRD/XRF)
         Nano- and micro-fluidic analysis systems
                ASTID goes to Mars
    Of the instruments selected for Mars Science
    Laboratory, both analytical instruments have ASTID
    and ASTEP heritage:
       CheMin: x-ray diffraction/x-ray fluorescence for
       definitive mineralogy
       SAM: GC/MS + TLS for isotopes (H2, CH4, CO,
       CO2, OCS, H2O2)

     Mini/Micro Reflectron Time of Flight M/S
             Paul Mahaffy, Goddard Space Flight Center


Assembled 50g (!) TOF MS Microscale patterned CNT       Micro-leak valves for front
prototype ready for testing. Field emitter substrate    end processor

            Integrated MEMS ion lens       Multi-channel plate ion
                  Planetary Drills
2009 Field Test Results:

ASTID development of automated low-

power/low-mass rotary-percussive
sampling drill for astrobiology missions,
1-4m class, 30kg
NASA Ames, Honeybee Robotics team

Analog field tests on impact breccia
permafrost, Haughton Crater; Mars
chamber at Honeybee

Ultra-low-power (10W total drill)
Total depth 8.55m, over 7 boreholes at
same site, July 22-30, 2009
        Astrobiology Science and Technology
            for Exploring Planets (ASTEP)
    Promotes scientifically-driven robotic exploration of extreme
    environments that are analogous to suspected habitable
    environments on other planetary bodies

    Goals: expand the known limits to life on Earth, develop
    methodologies for detecting past and present life, and learn
    how to explore a rugged, novel environment while meeting
    astrobiology science objectives

    22 science-driven field campaigns and/or advanced
    instrument projects based at US research institutions,
    universities, and NASA Centers.
    7 activities receiving PY10 fund, ~4 FY11
                Some ASTEP Attributes
    Instrument suites for in situ identification and analysis of
    biomarkers (prove them in the field!);
    Long-term and in-depth characterization of life-supporting
    environments, as well as non-life-supporting environments
    (compare with space environments);
    Integration of science instrument suites with mobile platforms
    (rovers & humans);
    Autonomous instrument deployment and placement (does it really
    Autonomous recognition of unexpected science phenomena
    (always difficult even with humans in-the-loop);
    Self-contained mobile science systems (develop, test, apply);
    Mobile science platforms (develop, test, trust); and
    Sample acquisition systems (work? clean enough?)
             ASTEP ENDURANCE x –
     Peter Doran, University of Illinois, Chicago
Lake Bonney has two chemically stratified lobes
The water beneath the chemoclines of both lobes
 is cold (below zero centigrade) and saline (more
than 3 times seawater). The lake is 130 feet deep.
Ice thickness is 3.5 - 4.5 m.
ASTEP Environmental Sample Processor –
           Chris Scholin, MBARI
In situ detection of marine bacterioplankton
German, WHOI)

            Gulf of Mexico dissolved methane
            distribution within the water
            column (3 meters above the         Plot identifying biochemical
            seafloor) and at the sediment      activity of a marine organism
            water interface.                   (barrel sponge) based on
                                               changes in concentrations of
                                               carbon dioxide, oxygen, and
                                               nitrogen gas isotopes.
(Arctic Mars Analogue Svalbard Expedition) –
PI: Andrew Steele, GL, Carnegie Institution
AMASE Conducts Research &
Tests instruments,
technologies and protocols
Protein Microarrays
Panoramic Camera (PanCam)
Ground Penetrating Radar (WISDOM)
Infra-Red Spectrometer (MIMA)
Microscopic Imager
Life Marker Chip (SMILE)
CheMin (MSL)
Cliff Climbing Robot (CliffBot)
Sample Prep and Handling
Sample Caching System
Aseptic Liquid Sample Handling
           Astrobiology Small Payloads
         Develop and fly small astrobiology payloads to address
     fundamental astrobiology objectives, using a variety of launch
     opportunities from small free flyers to suitcase-sized payloads
1.       Define high-payoff experiments that can be accommodated in
     payloads for 1) low-Earth-orbit, 2) high-Earth-orbit or beyond (L1,
     lunar orbit, etc.), and 3) for the lunar surface.
2.        Identify common-carrier capabilities that will accommodate the
     greatest number of the defined experiments on the greatest variety
     of launch opportunities.

3.       Fly payloads, accomplish experiments, publish results.
                    O/OREOS Nanosat
                    Organism/ORganic Exposure to Orbital Stresses

      Launch: Nov. 19, 2010, Minotaur IV, Kodiak Launch
      Complex, Alaska
           5.5 kg nanosat deployed from PPOD @ 650 km, 72°, 98-min
           1st science nanosatellite above the thermosphere

      P/L 1: Space Environment Survival of Living Organisms
    Biology Payload (SESLO)
              2 different biological specimens
              3 growth initiation times (test periods)
              optical measurement of growth, metabolic activity

                                                                     Data from orbit

    Organics Payload (SEVO)
              4 different organic molecules as thin films
      P/L 2: Space Environment Viability of Organics
              4 reaction-cell-supported environments
              UV-visible spectroscopic characterization

                                                                     Data from orbit
                              NAI Overview
    ‘Virtual’ distributed institute ‘without walls’
    NAI requires the formation of broad interdisciplinary teams to
    address questions in astrobiology requiring collaboration between
    diverse disciplines and resources beyond those typical of most grant
    14 competitively-selected interdisciplinary teams
    ~600 members at ~130 participating institutions
~400 “senior” scientists
~200 post-docs and students
    Funded through Cooperative Agreements
    Managed by a central office at NASA Ames Research Center
    Budget $18M funds teams and $7M “overhead”

          Other NAI Programs
    Focus Groups
    Postdoctoral Fellowship Program
    Minority Institution Research Support
    The Lewis and Clark Fund for Exploration
    and Field Research in Astrobiology
    Research Scholarship Program
    Conference and Workshop Fund
    Education and Public Outreach
              NAI Team Research

Field Environments:

    Deep sea sediments-ODP
    Deep terrestrial subsurface (African Gold Mines)
    Acidic Environments (Iron Mountain)
    Dark life (le Grotte di Frasassi, SW caves)
    Atacama Desert
    Serpentinizing systems (terrestrial, Cedars and deep
    sea, Lost City)
    Yellowstone Hot Springs




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