News Highlights

Diaries of Mars 160 Mission

By Anushree Srivastava                                                                                   Crew Biologist – Mars 160 Twin Desert-Arctic Analog Mission                          Executive Officer and Crew Biologist – Crew 172

Hi Everyone!

Here I am with some selected pieces from my diaries written over a period of three months as part of MARS 160 Twin Desert-Arctic Analog Mission and Crew 172. Mars 160 mission recently culminated its first phase at Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in the Utah Desert. The second and final phase of this Mars simulation mission will take place at Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) in the High Arctic this summer. Both FMARS and MDRS, founded and administered by The Mars Society, are unique Mars analog habitats, established in 2000 and 2001 respectively. MDRS is located on the San Rafael Swell of southern Utah and FMARS is located near Haughton Impact Crater formed approx. 39 million years ago during the Eocene.

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Apply Now! Young Scientist Program

Astrobiology India has announced a project for college students to join the Young Scientist Program (YSP) of Blue Marble Space Institute of Science (BMSIS)

Project Title – “Astrobiology and Space Science in India”

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An Evolutionary Biologists’ Weekend Out at Science Hack Day

On October 23-24 2015, the 6th annual Science Hack Day took place at the GitHub headquarters in San Francisco. I was very fortunate to have been invited to attend as a science ambassador. Being a part of this accomplished group of folks was incredible! As an ambassador, I was to participate in the event, give an optional science hack related talk and later share my experience online. I am writing this blog as a collection of my impressions of this must-attend, amazingly geeky fun event.

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Blue Marble Symposium, 2015: Sustained Exploration of the Inner Solar System

Should we go to the Moon again? What are some of the most feasible and attractive destinations in the inner solar system for humans to explore and what all goes into developing a successful strategy for sustained exploration of the inner-solar system? What are the reasons why we should explore, and what we will gain from such expeditions? Here is a summary of the roundtable discussion on the Sustained Exploration of the Inner Solar System, at this year’s Blue Marble Science Symposium held in Chicago. 

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Astrobiologist Dr. Preeti Nema on All India Radio

Are we alone? Is there life elsewhere in the Universe? Astrobiology attempts to answer such questions.To explain what Astrobiology is, and comment on its status as a research topic in India and India’s first interplanetary mission ‘Mangalyan’, or the Mars Orbiter Mission, Dr. Preeti Nema was invited to the All India Radio Science Magazine program.

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Celebrating Success: Happy One-Year of Anniversary NZAI!!

The New Zealand Astrobiology Initiative (NZAI) of the Royal Astronomical Society, New Zealand (RASNZ), is dedicated to encouraging, assisting, and promoting astrobiology research, education and outreach in New Zealand. The lead of the group, Haritina Mogosanu is an astrobiologist (life sciences) who is also trained in public relations, international security and outreach. She loves to travel and share her passion for astronomy, astrobiology and space. She believes that scientific education is a gatekeeper of peace. It makes humankind a better place for all of us. She is a founding and board member of KiwiSpace Foundation and Mars Society New Zealand, and executive member of the World Space Week Association.

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Three major ISRO Centers have new Directors from today (June 01, 2015)

Three major centers of ISRO will have new Directors from June 01, 2015. Dr K Sivan, Distinguished Scientist and currently Director of Liquid Propulsion Systems Center (LPSC), Thiruvananthapuram, will take over as the Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), also at Thiruvananthapuram. He will take over as Director, VSSC from Mr M Chandradathan, who will superannuate by end May 2015. Mr S Somanath, Outstanding Scientist and currently Associate Director (Projects), VSSC, will assume the office of Director, LPSC. He will take over as Director, LPSC, from Dr K Sivan. Mr P Kunhikrishnan, Deputy Director (Mechanisms and Vehicle Integration), VSSC will take over as Director, Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota. He will take over as Director, SDSC SHAR from Dr M Y S Prasad, who will superannuate by end May 2015.

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 India joins an international initiative to build world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope, the Square Kilometer Array (SKA)

Transmission of radio waves or optical light is the most plausible mechanism of communication between us and any intelligent civilization, if existent in the Milky Way. Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is largely dependent on tapping the radio signals coming from other worlds which are several light years away from us. International community of scientists involved in SETI research have been employing huge radio telescopes like the Arecibo radio telescope, the National Radio Astronomy 140 foot radio telescope, the Big Ear telescope and others, to search for radio signals from extraterrestrial civilizations since 1960s. Indian astrophysicists are now all set to make significant contributions in establishment of the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope – the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

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Australian Centre for Astrobiology “Grand Tour” 15 – 25 July 2015 

Following the success of the first Grand Tour during 2013 we will repeat the exercise on 15-25 July 2015. As a contribution to the astrobiology community the Australian Centre for Astrobiology will run a field trip to sites that every astrobiologist or geobiologist should see at least once in their lives. It will be a high level educational experience that will enrich the research and teaching programs of the participants. 

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Niraja Bapat and Dr. Sudha Rajamani  win the Best Poster Award at ‘Origins 2014’, Nara, Japan

Niraja Bapat and Dr. Sudha Rajamani from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune, Maharashtra, India, received the Best Poster Award at Origins 2014’, the second joint international conference of ISSOL (The International Astrobiology Society) and Bioastronomy (Commission 51 of the International Astronomical Union) held in Nara, Japan, during 6-11th July, 2014. The award winning poster was titled “Plausible Prebiotic Role of Molecular Crowding in Template Directed Nonenzymatic Replication of Nucleic Acids”.

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