Division News

Close up - Andrew Mattioda

The NASA Ames NAI team participates in the Chickasaw Nation Aeronautics and Space Academy (CNASA)

On June 9th and 10th, Dr. Andrew Mattioda, of the NASA Ames NAI (NASA Astrobiology Institute) CAN 7 team, participated in the Chickasaw Nation Aeronautics and Space Academy (CNASA), held in Ada, OK.  The Chickasaw Nation conducts the week-long camp to encourage their Native American youth to consider careers in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. 

New Horizons NASA Social  Web Chat Featuring NASA Ames Scientist

New Horizons NASA Social Web Chat Featuring NASA Ames Scientist

On June 6, 2015 NASA and the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory hosted a NASA social on NASA’s New Horizons mission. New Horizons will fly by Pluto & its moons on July 14, 2015 after a 9.5 year trek across the Solar System.

Farid Salama elected first President of the new IAU Commission for Laboratory Astrophysics

Dr. Farid Salama (SSA) has been elected Founding President of the new Laboratory Astrophysics Commission recently approved by the IAU Executive Committee. The New Commission will be launched at the IAU General Assembly in August.

Resource Prospector NIRVSS/Drill testing in GRC vacuum chamber

The Resource Prospector (RP) team successfully completed testing of the Near InfraRed Volatiles Spectrometer System (NIRVSS) and Drill system in lunar-like conditions.  The test was conducted in the GRC VF-13 vacuum chamber to evaluate/test/assess RP’s method for regolith sample acquisition and sub-surface volatiles quantification.

Nathalie @ TED

Nathalie A. Cabrol gave a talk at the TED Conference in Vancouver, BC, March 17, 2015

Conversations with microbes. Planetary explorer Nathalie Cabrol delves into some of the biggest questions of the universe:

Ames-led FINESSE fieldwork featured on The Science Channel

Each year, the Ames-led FINESSE (Field Investigations to Enable Solar System Science & Exploration) team conducts planetary analog fieldwork in the volcanic landscape in and around Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, Idaho.

2014 Technology Transfer Award Ceremony

The 2014 Technology Transfer Award Ceremony sponsored by Ames Technology Partnerships Division will be held Thursday, January 29, 2015 in the Building 3 Ballroom.  At this ceremony we will honor many members from Code S for their scientific and technical contributions.
MVP Discover - Heldmann

Ames-led Mojave Volatiles Prospector (MVP) field campaign featured on the Discovery Channel

NASA Ames recently led the "Mojave Volatiles Prospector" (MVP) robotic field test to study the use of in-situ prospecting instruments in a real-time robotic surface mission.

KREX Rover

Rover Searches California Desert for Water to Simulate Future Lunar Missions

Ames is currently conducting the "Mojave Volatiles Prospector" (MVP) robotic field test to study the use of in-situ prospecting instruments in a real-time robotic surface mission.

Dr. Elisa Quintana

Dr. Elisa Quintana receives the Lupe Ontiveros Dream Award

Dr. Elisa Quintana, a senior fellow in the NASA Postdoctoral Program at NASA Ames Research Center received the Lupe Ontiveros Dream Award.  Dr. Quintana works with Kepler data to search for and characterize extrasolar planets.  The award was presented to Dr. Quintana at a ceremony at the Los Angeles Theatre Center on October 4, 2014.
Smallest Exoplanet

Neptune-sized orb is smallest alien world known to have water vapour.

For situation awareness, at 10am PT 9/24/14, NATURE published a result on the smallest exoplanet to have molecules detected in its atmosphere. HAT-P-11b, a Neptune-sized planet, is the smallest exoplanet to have molecules of any kind detected in the atmosphere. 
MB Atacama 1

Sampling for Biomarkers in the Atacama Desert

NASA Ames Pathway PhD Candidate, Mary Beth Wilhelm, conducted Mars analog field work in the Atacama Desert in Chile with Senior Research Scientist Dr. Alfonso Davila of the SETI Institute and Civil Servant Dr. Jennifer Eigenbrode of NASA Goddard.

LIDAR scan of FINESSE team members in a lava tube

FINESSE team conducts fieldwork and hosts Media Day at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

The Field Investigations to Enable Solar System Science and Exploration (FINESSE) team's first field campaign occurred in Idaho from July 29 to August 8, 2014. 
The FINESSE team, led by NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, is focused on a science and exploration field-based research program to generate strategic knowledge in preparation for human and robotic exploration of our moon, Mars’ moons Phobos and Deimos, and near-Earth asteroids.

Ames FINESSE Team Presents Science Data at NASA's Exploration Science Forum

The FINESSE (Field Investigations to Enable Solar System Science and Exploration) team participated in the NASA Exploration Science Forum last week at Ames.

FINESSE team completes first field deployment to Craters of the Moon, Idaho

NASA's FINESSE (Field Investigations to Enable Solar System Science & Exploration) completed the project's first field deployment in July 2014.  
Pavilion Lake Outland Second Pass

Paviion Lake Research Project completes field deployment to Pavilion Lake, BC

NASA MMAMA (SMD) funded Pavilion Lake Research Project (PLRP) team completed the project’s first Phase 3 field deployment, which ran from June 12-27, 2014.

Ames Instrument Helps Identify the First Habitable Environment on Mars, Wins Invention Award

June 24, 2014


Ames Instrument Helps Identify the First Habitable Environment on Mars, Wins Invention Award 


Image of Star - Farid Salama

NASA Simulator Successfully Recreates Space Dust

A team of scientists at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., has successfully reproduced, right here on Earth, the processes that occur in the atmosphere of a red giant star and lead to the formation of planet-forming interstellar dust.

Science Magazine

Science Magazine

The March 7th Science magazine had a number of articles on the 100th anniversary of the discovery of X-ray diffraction. There is a 2-page timeline of discoveries that includes CheMin's first diffraction pattern on Mars.

View here: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/343/6175/1092.full.pdf

Organic nano

Need to track organic nano particles across the Universe? NASA's got an app for you!

On Friday, February 21st, a significantly updated version of the NASA Ames PAH IR Spectroscopic database was made public at www.astrochem.org/pahdb/. This is the largest collection of PAH spectra in the world and now contains 700 computational and 75 experimental spectra.

Rock on the Martian Surface

Don’t Eat the Dirt on Mars: the Pros and Cons of Perchlorate

Planetary Systems Branch Pathways Intern's Article about Mars Featured on KQED, San Francisco PBS affiliate


To be successful Mars colonists, future astronauts will need to know both the potential hazard and utility of the soil. Astronauts can use Martian soil to “live off the land” as building material, fuel, or a fertilizer, greatly reducing the cost of a Mars mission, which is one of the biggest barriers to sending humans to the red planet.

CalACademy - Hoehler

Ames Astrobiology Team Partners with California Academy of Sciences in Dark Universe Program

The NASA Ames Astrobiology Team has partnered with the California Academy of Sciences in the “Dark Universe Program,” a new cosmology show that began January 31.

K-Rex rover

Ames Team to Use Robots, Humans to Study Impact Sites and Volcanoes Selected to Join New Virtual Research Institute

The Ames project dubbed “FINESSE,” which stands for Field Investigations to Enable Solar System Science and Exploration, was selected to join a new NASA virtual institute that will focus on questions concerning space science and human space exploration. The team was selected to participate by NASA's Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI), which is based at Ames.

Science January 2014

Exploring Martian Habitability

Curiosity's results from Yellowknife bay were published online in Science Express last month (December 2013), to correspond with the first day of the AGU (American Geophysical Union).

2013 Technology Transfer Award Winners

Honorable Mention in the 2013 NASA Software of the Year Award Competition: Ross A. Beyer (SST)
2013 Patent Award:
  • Rapid Polymer Sequencer: Viktor Stolc (SCR)

Life on Mars still beyond our reach to discover it

San Jose Mercury News - Life on Mars still beyond our reach to discover it. "There may have once been life on Mars, but for now, it is beyond our technological reach to find it. The soil chemistry at the site the rover Curiosity is exploring and radiation from space, combined with the limits of our tools, means it is impossible to detect molecules of organic carbon compounds that are the hallmark of living organisms on Earth, NASA scientists said Monday in San Francisco...


Ames FINESSE Selected As New NASA SSERVI Team

NASA Ames Code SST Scientists were recently selected to lead a new team in NASA's SSERVI (Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute).  

Borucki Honored By President Obama For Work On Kepler

Borucki Honored By President Obama For Work On Kepler. The Mountain View Voice (11/13, DeBolt, 52K) profiles Ames Research Center William Borucki, who was fundamental in getting the Kepler telescope developed. For his work, he was given the Samuel J. Heyman Service of America Medal by President Barack Obama last month. Borucki, according to the article, is “most proud” of his work with the telescope.
DB Chem Engaged Crowd

Ames Astrobiology Team Partners with Lassen Volcanic National Park in Dark Sky Festival

The Ames Research Center Team of the NASA Astrobiology Institute cohosted the 2013 Lassen Volcanic Dark Sky Festival on August 9-11, 2013.  During the three-day festival, over 45 events were held and more than 4200 visitors learned about preserving the dark sky and the study of astrobiology in the park.

President and Borucki

President Barack Obama Recognizes NASA Employees' Public Service


President Barack Obama Recognizes NASA Employees' Public Service - President Obama met with two NASA employees and 32 fellow public servants in the East Room at the White House in Washington to express gratitude and acknowledge their selection as recipients and finalists of the prestigious 2013 Samuel J. Heyman Service of America Medals or Sammies.

Science Benefits from Diverse Landing Area of NASA Mars Rover

NASA's Curiosity rover is revealing a great deal about Mars, from long-ago processes in its interior to the current interaction between the Martian surface and atmosphere.

Examination of loose rocks, sand and dust has provided new understanding of the local and global processes on Mars. Analyses of observations and measurements by the rover's science instruments during the first four months after the August 2012 landing are detailed in five reports in the Sept. 27 edition of the journal Science.

Nathalie Cabrol

Exploring Earth’s alien spaces

When Nathalie Cabrol was little,her grandfather gave her a pair of binoculars he had picked up as a soldier in Germany after the liberation of France. It was her first real glimpse at the wonders of the moon and stars.
WSPV Ames Greenhouse

Wave Selective Photovoltaics for Algal Production Ames-UC Santa Cruz collaboration featured as local cover story and picked up nationally online.

Ames researcher microbiologists (Bebout Exobiology lab) have successfully completed first phase assessment of a UC Santa Cruz developed technology “wave selective photovoltaics.”   Using an led solar simulator and greenhouse rooftop facilities atop B239, tests were run on five commercially important algal strains (which are also of interest for space missions). 

In memorium - Bishun Khare 1933-2013

In memorium - Bishun Khare 1933-2013

Memorial services for Bishun were held on Monday, August 26, 2013 at the SETI Institute colloquium room.
SETI is located at 189 Bernardo Ave. in Mountain View, CA

Pavilion Lake team conducts successful Operational Readiness Test at the Neutral Buoyancy Lab JSC) July 8-12, 2013

The Pavilion Lake Research Project (PLRP) is currently in Phase 3 of its operations, and is preparing for a science-driven field deployment at Pavilion Lake in the summer of 2014.

Rover Zöe in the Atacama desert

Drilling our Way to Life on Mars – Rover-Mounted Drill Autonomously Explores Subsurface Life in the Atacama Desert, Chile

Whether life ever existed on Mars or was capable of surviving profound climate changes is still unknown, and is a central question to the upcoming Mars 2020 mission. Despite large aquifers predicted at depth and surface ice in the polar regions, most of Mars remains extremely arid.

Zoë Robot Returns To Chile's Atacama Desert On NASA Mission To Search For Subsurface Life

Zoë Robot Returns To Chile's Atacama Desert On NASA Mission To Search For Subsurface Life

PITTSBURGH - The autonomous, solar-powered Zoë, which became the first robot to map microbial life during a 2005 field expedition in Chile’s Atacama Desert, is heading back to the world’s driest desert this month on a NASA astrobiology mission led by Carnegie Mellon University and the SETI Institute. This time, Zoë is equipped with a one-meter drill to search for subsurface life.

Cosmic Carbon's Molecular Evolution

NASA Develops Key to Cosmic Carbon's Molecular Evolution

Combining for the first time a blind, algorithm driven analytic approach with authentic PAH spectra, members of the Astrophysics & Astrochemistry Laboratory are now able to systematically track parts of carbon's molecular evolution across the Universe.
Leiden Observatory

Lou Allamandola awarded Oort Professorship for 2013 by Leiden Observatory

Every year, Leiden Observatory selects a distinguished astronomer to be the Oort Professor in memory of Professor Jan Oort, the distinguished Professor of Astronomy at Leiden University who played a pioneering role in many aspects of modern astronomy.

NASA Researchers Strike Scientific Gold With Meteorite

NASA Researchers Strike Scientific Gold With Meteorite

Scientists found treasure when they studied a meteorite that was recovered April 22, 2012 at Sutter's Mill, the gold discovery site that led to the 1849 California Gold Rush.
EDA Rocknest scoop

First results from CheMin Mineralogical Instrument on the Curiosity Rover to be presented at the AGU meeting in San Francisco

Dr. David Blake of the Exobiology Branch will be presenting an invited paper entitled "First results from the CheMin, DAN and SAM instruments on Mars Science Laboratory" at the American Geophysical Meeting in San Francisco on Monday, December 3, 2012.



MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. -- NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has completed initial experiments showing the mineralogy of Martian soil is similar to weathered basaltic soils of volcanic origin in Hawaii.


TUESDAY, OCT. 30, 2012 at 2:30 p.m. EDT: NASA HOSTED A TELECONFERENCE ABOUT MARS CURIOSITY ROVER PROGRESS NASA hosted a media teleconference regarding status of the Curiosity rover's mission to Mars.

Meteorite Discovery

Scientist Retracts Claim About Meteorite In California


The KTVU-TV http://www.ktvu.com/news/news/local/scientist-retracts-claim-rock-found-novato-was-met/nSmMt/  San Francisco (10/24) website reports, "After a fireball streaked across the Bay Area sky last Wednesday evening, scientists and locals alike were on the hunt for pieces of the meteor that was believed to have made landfall in the Bay Area."

Dr. Lou Allamandola

TIME magazine's list of 25 Most Influential Scientists

Congratulations to Dr. Lou Allamandola of the Space Science and Astrobiology Division.






Mars Science Laboratory

Update on CheMin and the MSL Curiosity Rover

Curiosity landed on Mars on 5 August and began a first-use checkout of rover and instrumental systems (called “CAP-1” and “CAP-2”).  CheMin’s first activity on Mars was an “aliveness check” on 9 August in which dark frames (CCD images taken without active cooling and without a powered X-ray source) were collected and sent to ground to test the instrument electronics (all downloaded data were nominal). 
LADEE UVS being integrated onto LADEE SC radiator deck

LADEE UVS flight instrument integrated on spacecraft

The LADEE Ultraviolet-Visible Spectrometer (UVS) was successfully integrated to the LADEE SC on August 23, 2012.  The UVS instrument will use its 3-inch limb viewing telescope and solar occultation viewer to search for atmospheric lunar dust and gasses, including sodium and potassium.

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