Space Science & Astrobiology Division

The Space Science and Astrobiology Division at NASA Ames Research Center conducts research and mission-related activities that are structured around the study of the origins and evolution of stars, the interstellar medium, planetary systems, and life on Earth and (perhaps) elsewhere. These address some of the most fundamental questions pursued by science, involving our place in the universe; questions that have been asked by humans since the dawn of time.

Code SS Highlights

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

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. The planet was previously known by other ground base telescopes. Kepler, Hubble, and Spritzer observations […]

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President Barack Obama Recognizes NASA Employees’ Public Service
President and Borucki

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. […]

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United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.)
Spaceward Bound Visits the UAE

Research in the United Arab Emirates has focused on studying life in this extreme environment. Scientists collected data to correlate microbial life, moisture content, and the presence of nitrates and perchlorate as the surface transitioned from coastal tidal flats in the north, gravel plains near the eastern mountains along the Oman border, and salt marshes, […]

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Spitsbergen (Svalbard)

Spitsbergen (Svalbard) island, located north of Norway, is used as a Mars analog environment. Some of the northernmost springs are found on Spitsbergen and scientists study these systems to understand liquid water flows in ambient subfreezing temperatures. Research is also conducted on the periglacial landscapes by studying the geomorphology of the region to understand past […]

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Rio Tinto, Spain
Rio Tinto, Spain

The Rio Tinto site is ideal for astrobiology research in an extreme acid environment that is a possible analog for the martian subsurface. On both Earth and Mars, water and chemical energy could support (or could have supported) life in an acidic, anoxic environment. Bacteria that are present in the very acidic Rio Tinto play […]

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RESOLVE field campaign, Hawaii
RESOLVE field campaign, Hawaii

NASA’s RESOLVE (Regolith and Environment Science and Oxygen Lunar Volatile Extraction) project is aimed at developing and testing methods and protocols for in situ resource utilization. Ames scientists are providing prospecting instrumentation for the field rover (neutron spectrometer and near-infrared spectrometer) and also developing tools and operational concepts for Science Backroom activities. […]

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Pavilion Lake, Canada
Pavilion Lake, Canada

Pavilion Lake is a fascinating location where underwater explorers are studying unique microbialite structures to understand their formation and evolution through time. This research is important for astrobiology but also the methods and protocols for exploring this remote, extreme environment are used to plan for exploration of the Moon, Mars, and asteroids. […]

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NEEMO (NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations)
NEEMO

The NEEMO (NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations) expeditions take place in an underwater laboratory called the Aquarius module located off Key Largo, Florida. NEEMO tests human and robotic exploration operations simulation and crew training techniques to support space exploration. Ames scientists support NEEMO through Science Backroom activities to help plan, coordinate, and execute scientific investigations […]

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NASA Desert RATS (Research and Technology Studies)
NASA Desert RATS

Desert-RATS is a field campaign which conducts mission rover and extravehicular activity testing in the challenging and remote terrain of Arizona. Ames scientists have participated in Desert RATS as members of the Science Backroom team which is responsible for the strategic and tactical science planning and operations for the field test. This work is aimed […]

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Namibia
Namibia

Research in Namibia has focused on characterizing life found in the extreme desert environment. Scientists discovered microbial life under stones near the coast where moisture was provided by fog and farther inland between sand dunes, where a small amount of rainfall occurs. This work helps researchers understand the connection of life to liquid water since […]

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