Tuesday January 22, 2019
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NASA Grants $7 mn For New Life Detection

"We're working to transform how to measure biosignatures, or signs of life, in and outside of our solar system," Graham said

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NASA, Hubble, Keplar, asteroids
Blockchain would address the potential issues of privacy, prevent spoofing, denial of service and other attacks, Reisman said. Flickr

NASA has awarded nearly $7 million for a fresh interdisciplinary project to detect new, non-Earth-like life on Mars, Jupiter and Saturn’s icy moons.

The Laboratory for Agnostic Biosignatures (LAB) will lay the groundwork for characterising potential biosignatures, or signs of life, a statement late on Sunday said.

LAB’s initial research focus is on four features of life that do not assume any specific biochemistry, and will branch out from these concepts to build a framework for looking for life “as we don’t know it”.

These features include: patterns of chemical complexity, surface complexity, chemical disequilibrium with the surrounding environment, and evidence of energy transfer.

These indicators of life were chosen since they can be framed in a way that doesn’t bias observations toward the specific forms of life on Earth and are methods that could be implemented on flight missions, the statement noted.

NASA, gamma-ray collection
“Detecting life in an agnostic fashion means not using characteristics particular to Earth life,” said Heather Graham at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Pixabay

The LAB is a consortium of 15 team members from universities and institutions around the world constituting of planetary scientists, biologists, chemists, computer scientists, mathematicians and veteran instrument scientists.

“Our goal is to go beyond what we currently understand and devise ways to find forms of life we can scarcely imagine,” principal investigator Sarah Stewart Johnson from Georgetown University, said in the statement.

The team of investigators will lay the groundwork for characterising potential biosignatures that do not presuppose any particular molecular framework, as well as design tools for their detection and strategies for interpretation.

Also Read- Astronomers Found Ancient Star Formed By Big Bang

“Detecting life in an agnostic fashion means not using characteristics particular to Earth life,” said Heather Graham at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

“We’re working to transform how to measure biosignatures, or signs of life, in and outside of our solar system,” Graham said. (IANS)

Next Story

Partial Shutdown of US Delays Space Missions, But NASA Not Grounded

Other active space missions includes NASA probes OSIRIS-REx and New Horizons spacecraft that continue to gather data in Earth orbit and the Moon, Mars, Jupiter and beyond, the report said

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USA, Shutdown
People rally to call for an end to the partial government shutdown in Detroit, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. VOA

The partial shutdown of the US federal government has had a serious impact on the country’s space agency NASA and development work on most future space missions has been slowed or suspended.

However, NASA has not been totally grounded by the partial government shutdown that began on December 22, after last-minute negotiations in Congress failed to end a budget standoff.

Over 95 per cent of the space agency’s employees have been furloughed. As a result, various research projects, including the Hubble Space Telescope has been put on hold, the Space.com reported on Wednesday.

Hubble suffered a mechanical problem that only furloughed NASA employees could repair.

Many workers also gathered outside the Johnson Space Center in Houston to protest the shutdown and its deleterious effects on their lives and the nation’s space programmes.

The Telescope facilities that have so far remained open during the shutdown will soon run out of money and cease operations.

This includes the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), a federally funded organization that operates the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), the Green Bank Telescope and the Very Large Array (VLA), the report noted.

The partial shutdown become the longest on record after January 12, overtaking the previous record of the 21-day impasse in 1995-96 under then President Bill Clinton.

NASA, tissue
US shutdown delays space missions but NASA not grounded: Report,

President Donald Trump and the Congress have been at loggerheads over his demand to include in the budget $5.7 billion funding for building a border wall along the Mexico border. Democratic leaders have rejected his call.

NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), also called the “flying telescope” has also ceased operations since the shutdown.

The telescope, which is mounted to the fuselage of a Boeing 747 aircraft, has not flown since the shutdown began, the report said.

However, despite the shutdown some “excepted” employees remained at work, assisting astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and other space missions, the report said.

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Last week, astronauts aboard the ISS conducted a range of scientific experiments and public-outreach work. They engaged in an orbital Q&A with school kids and answered a variety of questions, from the nature of the research performed aboard the ISS to the type of training astronauts receive to whether your ears pop in space.

On January 13, a SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule departed the orbiting lab for Earth, eventually splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. The robotic Dragon brought down important scientific research and hardware for examination here on terra firma.

Other active space missions includes NASA probes OSIRIS-REx and New Horizons spacecraft that continue to gather data in Earth orbit and the Moon, Mars, Jupiter and beyond, the report said.  (IANS)