Planetary Systems Branch
(Astrobiology Group of The Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand)
On Monday, August 2nd, 2010, the Astrophysics & Astrochemistry Laboratory released the NASA Ames PAH IR Spectroscopic Database with accompanying tools on the web at http://www.astrochem.org/pahdb. This is the world's largest collection of PAH infrared (IR) spectra and was created to understand the carriers and molecular physics behind the family of infrared emission bands that were discovered in the 1980's and that now, thanks to the Spitzer Space Telescope, are known to be widespread across the Universe. After nearly twenty years of work at Ames, there are about 700 spectra in the database that span the mid- to far-IR. Besides being of great interest to astronomers working with SOFIA, Herschel and JWST, the value of the database extends far beyond the immediate needs of NASA and astronomy. A PAH spectroscopic database has a large and diverse set of important applications. PAHs are nanoparticles with unusual properties, a major product of combustion, common in the environment and carcinogenic, therefore they are important to scientists, educators, policy makers, and consultants working in the fields of nano-materials, medicine, health, chemistry, fuel composition, engine design, as well as environmental assessment and protection.
The web launch on August 2nd coincided with the appearance of an article in the Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series and a NASA press release describing the database, website and tools. In the past four days the press release was posted on 4,330 websites worldwide, including medicine and environmental sites. The visitor tracker on the database website reports a total of 850 unique visitors, from all over the world, with 150 hits on the first day and peaking at 230 on the third day. The launch was also announced on social networking sites, including the ‘NASA Ames Lab Astro’ Facebook page (1038 ‘friends’) and on Twitter (@AmesLabAstro, 383 followers).