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Important Deadlines and News

Upcoming deadlines / important events
Application Closing Date: 2018-10-23
Research Assistant Position within the Exocube-Project: A miniaturised in-situ Space Exposure Platform for the International Space Station – Free University of Berlin

Application deadline: 2018-10-24
Permanent position for Maitre de Conférence (Research/Curation) at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris (MNHN, France); Geobiology of the Precambrian: mineralogy, petrology and traces of Life (starting September 2019)

Deadline for application: 2018-11-11
Bioinformatician at SCK•CEN, in Mol, Belgium

Abstract Submission Deadline: 2018-12-31
Mars Extant Life: What's Next?

Registration Deadline: 2019-02-10
Kepler and K2 Science Conference V

Early Registration Deadline: 2018-11-15
Mars Extant Life: What's Next?

Abstract Submission Deadline: 2018-11-15
Kepler and K2 Science Conference V

Austrian Space Forum seeks new Analog Astronauts to participate in future simulated Moon/Mars Missions
Application Deadline 10th October 2018

The Austrian Space Forum (Österreichisches Weltraum Forum, OeWF) is seeking six volunteers to complete its international analog astronaut corps. Citizens of the European Union, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, who are between 25 and 45 years old and have a background in science or engineering, can submit their application until the 10th of October 2018.
Successful candidates will undergo an extensive training using the Austrian Space Forum's spacesuit prototype. Two of the newly selected analog astronauts will participate in the next Mars analog mission to take place in 2020 involving international institutions from science, industry and academia. The Austrian Space Forum's analog astronauts will also act as ambassadors of science, technology and engineering, interact with the public and media and have access to a wide network of spaceflight experts, industry and politics.

Added 31 Aug 2018
European Astrobiology Institute
Dear Astrobiologists,

In addition to the long-standing “European Astrobiology Network Association (EANA)”, several new European networking initiatives have been launched over the last years, such as the COST Action “Origins and Evolution of Life on Earth in the Universe”, the Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership “European Astrobiology Campus” and the FP7 project “AstRoMap”. The European astrobiology community has thus gained in maturity and coordination. To build on this momentum and take European Research in astrobiology to a higher level the launch of a European Astrobiology Institute was proposed. This entity will be a virtual institute consisting of research and higher education institutions and organisations as well as other stakeholders aiming to carry out research, training, outreach and dissemination activities in astrobiology in a comprehensive and coordinated manner and thereby securing a leading role of the European Research Area in the field.

An Interim Board was formed consisting of members and employees of the main stakeholders in this field in the European Research Area (ESA, ESF, ISSI, German Aerospace Centre, CNRS, CNES, INAF, Europlanet, EANA, Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Centro de Astrobiologia, etc.) to prepare the creation of the EAI. It has elaborated a draft Action Plan mapping out the tasks, structure, governing bodies, activities, funding and administration of the EAI. This Action Plan has been finalised and is now open for discussion with the whole European astrobiology community in summer 2018. Recruitment of institutions is planned to place in autumn and winter 2018/19 and the first General Assembly of the EAI is planned for late spring 2019.

A preliminary website of the European Astrobiology has been set up at:
http://www.europeanastrobiology.eu/

The Interim Board invites all members to discuss the plans for establishment of the European Astrobiology Institute. To facilitate the discussion, we have created a Google Group on the EAI. To join please do the following:
  1. Access the Google Group "European Astrobiology"
    https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/europeanastrobiology
  2. Ask to join
or alternatively write a message to wgeppert (at) hotmail.com and you will be sent an invitation. To join you should be affiliated to a Research and/or Higher Education Institution or research organisation in Europe. The Interim Board, however, reserves the right to refuse participants to the forum if their connection to astrobiology or research in general is unclear. In accordance with general regulations of Google any kind of insult and slander against individual persons or Institutions and groups will result in the sender being removed from the Google Group.

Relevant documents (Action Plan, Executive summary, Communiques of the meetings of the Interim Board, a promotional folder for the EAI and a proposed time plan for the implementation of the institute) can be downloaded at the webpage:
http://europeanastrobiology.eu/documents.html

We are looking forward to reading your viewpoints and discussing the future EAI with you.

Best regards,
Wolf Geppert
in the name of the Interim Board

Added 26 Jul 2018
Mars simulation AMADEE-18 Report
After the 1-month Mars simulation AMADEE-18 in the Sultanate of Oman, the Mission Report was now released. This document is not a scientific paper, but provides a reference overview on the mission. The science behind the 19 experiments will be discussed at the AMADEE18 Science Workshop at the Technical University of Graz. Most of the data have been transferred now to the OeWF Multimission Science Data Archive for future reference and academic work.
200 team members from 25 nations, including research teams from space agencies, academic institutions and space advocacy organisations have comitted to this major mission supported by the AMADEE-18 National Steering Ctte of Oman and our industrial partners. Best regards Gernot Groemer

Added 2 May 2018
MASE - Mars Analogues for Space Exploration
Newsletter March 2018
After 48 months of intense activity, the MASE project ends. Over the past four years, MASE successfully achieved its objectives to advance our understanding of the past habitability of Mars and the signatures of life.

Added 29 Mar 2018
Online Courses in Astrobiology
We are pleased to announce the launch of the first platform of online courses in astrobiology.
Astrobiology is a field in full expansion and in constant renewal. It stimulates great public and media interest, and generates many vocations among students. It is therefore essential that everyone has access to the latest advances in the field and it is in this spirit that we launch today this free online platform.
“Online courses in astrobiology” presents quality courses in astrobiology, given by international specialists, for students working in this field but also for any interested and curious public. Classes are available in French, English and Spanish (additional languages may be added later). They are mainly for students in master`s or PhD programs, but most of them are accessible to a wider audience.

This platform was created in the context of the IAU (International Astronomical Union) working group: "Education and Training in Astrobiology"

Contact:
Muriel Gargaud and Hervé Cottin

Added 22 Nov 2017
Special issue of the journal Space Science Reviews
Planet Earth and Space: Precious and sometimes unexpected tools for astrobiology research

In 1953, Stanley Miller performed an experiment seen as a turning point in the study of the origins of life on Earth: he demonstrated that key molecules considered essential for the appearance of life, namely amino acids, can be "simply" formed in the atmosphere of a planet if it has the right initial ingredients: the appropriate molecules, the right conditions. This historical experiment became a foundational element of what was called "exobiology" in 1960: an interdisciplinary field with the goal of understanding the origins of life on Earth and, by extension, knowing how and where to look for signs of extraterrestrial life.
Today, this discipline is broadly termed astrobiology. Many studies have provided a wealth of results over the past five decades, giving this scientific field in an important place in many academic research programs even as it became a priority for space agencies worldwide. Understanding how life appears and finding its evidence elsewhere have become central questions in science, no longer relegated to science fiction. Several years ago, the European Space Agency, ESA, brought together an international, interdisciplinary team of researchers, the "Astrobiology Topical Team." Its charge was to review and report on the latest advances in the field in order to plan more strategically for the future. The work of these researchers is now published in a series of three scientific articles in a special issue of the journal Space Science Reviews (volume 209).

Added 23 Aug 2017

Monthly research highlight (-> More highlights)

Taubner et al. (2018): Biological methane production under putative Enceladus-like conditions

Nature Communications 2018, 9 (748), 1-11, DOI:10.1038/s41467-018-02876-y

Link to open access paper
The detection of silica-rich dust particles, as an indication for ongoing hydrothermal activity, and the presence of water and organic molecules in the plume of Enceladus, have made Saturn`s icy moon a hot spot in the search for potential extraterrestrial life. Methanogenic archaea are among the organisms that could potentially thrive under the predicted conditions on Enceladus, considering that both molecular hydrogen (H2) and methane (CH4) have been detected in the plume. Here we show that a methanogenic archaeon, Methanothermococcus okinawensis, can produce CH4 under physicochemical conditions extrapolated for Enceladus. Up to 72% carbon dioxide to CH4 conversion is reached at 50bar in the presence of potential inhibitors. Furthermore, kinetic and thermodynamic computations of low-temperature serpentinization indicate that there may be sufficient H2 gas production to serve as a substrate for CH4 production on Enceladus. We conclude that some of the CH4 detected in the plume of Enceladus might, in principle, be produced by methanogens.
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