SPACE SCIENCE & ASTROBIOLOGY DIVISION HIGHLIGHTS

SCIENCE HIGHLIGHTS

Code S Weekly Report

Key Highlights Space Science

 

Planetary Science

  • Dr. Jeffrey Scargle, Research Astrophysicist, Planetary Systems Branch (Code SST) within the Space Science and Astrobiology Division (Code SS), is a 2020 recipient of an International Astrostatistics Association (IAA) prestigious award for “Outstanding Contribution in Astrostatistics”.  Dr Scargle will provide an invited remote talk regarding this award later this year. Further details may be found here http://iaa.mi.oa-brera.inaf.it/IAA/awards.html
·       Darlene Lim (SST) co-chaired (with Dr. Aileen Yingst) the NASA Lunar Surface Science Workshop (LSSW; https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lunarsurface2020/) Session V focused on ‘Science through mobility’. A report of findings from the LSSW Session V activities was completed and submitted to NASA HQ LSSW leadership on January 7, 2021. It is anticipated that this report will be formally released in the coming weeks for community input.

Astrophysics

  • the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has successfully collected material from Asteroid Bennu, much of the mission team is refocusing on efforts to prepare for the Earth reentry and recovery of the OSIRIS-REx Sample Return Capsule (SRC), and curation and analysis of the returned sample and SRC.  On January 13, 2021, Scott Sandford (S/SSA), who is leading the development of the analysis plan to study the returned SRC, participated in an OSIRIS-REx Earth Return / SRC Entry / Curation TIM focused on addressing issues associated with these aspects of the mission.  Scott will also play a role in the SRC recovery after reentry and sample analysis.
  • Link:  https://www.asteroidmission.org/

         Astrobiology

  • The Center for Life Detection (CLD), an ARC/SSX-based collaboration among scientists and technologists from Ames and Goddard, will host a workshop on January 19, 2021, to introduce the Life Detection Knowledge Base (LDKB).  LDKB is an online platform built by CLD to capture and organize the emerging state of knowledge about biosignatures and the technology used to measure them.  The goals of the workshop are to introduce members of the life detection science and technology community to the new platform and engage them in developing its content.  The workshop will include 140+ participants from across a range of disciplines, including heavy participation from the early career community.  The CLD and its work to develop the LDKB platform is supported by the Planetary Science Division’s ISFM program. POC: Tori Hoehler (SSX)

DIVISION HIGHLIGHTS IN FULL SPACE SCIENCE & ASTROBIOLOGY DIVISION HIGHLIGHTS

SS Weekly Report

Date: 15 January 2021

Division: SS

SIGNIFICANT ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • A forthcoming Special Issue (SI) titled “Analog research and comparative planetology related to the scientific exploration of volcanic and hydrothermal systems in our Solar System” is nearing completion for publication by Planetary and Space Science (PSS). This SI will encompass research from the BASALT, FINESSE, and SUBSEA analog research programs, all of which are lead by Ames PI’s, Darlene Lim  ( SST, BASALT, SUBSEA) and Jennifer Heldmann (SST) (FINESSE), and include a wide array of NASA Ames Code S and Code T researchers. The release date for this SI is in the works (estimated for Spring/Early Summer 2021), however, all of the peer-reviewed papers are now accepted and in final editorial phases. The list of articles can be found in the table below; additionally, a preface will be written by Darlene and Jen to introduce the SI articles. This will be the second special issue for the BASALT research program; the first was published by Astrobiology in March 2019: https://www.liebertpub.com/toc/ast/19/3
Table

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  • Darlene Lim (SST) co-chaired (with Dr. Aileen Yingst) the NASA Lunar Surface Science Workshop (LSSW; https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lunarsurface2020/) Session V focused on ‘Science through mobility’. A report of findings from the LSSW Session V activities was completed and submitted to NASA HQ LSSW leadership on January 7, 2021. It is anticipated that this report will be formally released in the coming weeks for community input.

 

Upcoming Meetings / Events/Conferences

  • AAS Winter Meeting Presentations:
  • Sarah Nickerson (SSA) will be presenting a talk titled “The First Mid-Infrared Detections of HNC and H<sup>13</sup>CN in the Interstellar Medium,” on 1/14/2021 12:30:00 PM – 12:40:00 PM. Oral Session— Astrochemistry 1, Presentation Number: 406.04
  • Alejandro Borlaff-Serano (SA)will be presenting a talk titled “Magnetic Chaos hidden in the Whirlpool galaxy” on 1/14/2021 4:10:00 PM – 4:20:00 PM. Oral Session— Spiral Galaxies, Presentation Number: 430.01
  • David Rappeti (SSA)  will be presenting a talk titled “Status of a Pipeline to Extract the Global 21-cm Signal from a Large Foreground and Constrain Model Parameters,” on 1/15/2021 12:00:00PM – 1:30:00 PM. Oral Session – Cosmology 3, Presentation Number: 510.05
  • Kathryn Lester (SSA)  will be presenting an iPoster titled “Stellar Companions of TESS Exoplanet Host Stars” (Exoplanets I, #344.01). 

•     43rd COSPAR Scientific Assembly presentation:

Seamus Thomson (SSX) will present a paper on, “ Electrochemical Life Detection Methods for Ocean World Exploration”. The authors report their adaptation of the Mars Phoenix Wet Chemistry Laboratory (WCL) electroanalytical voltammetry capabilities to assay life critical redox molecules in synthetic seawater representative of a saline alkaline solution. Co-authors are Antonio Ricco, Jessica Koehne, Richard Quinn (SSX).

DateNameWho, What (location), and Time
Postponed TBD8th SS Division Annual JamboreeSS Division Staff,Building 3- Ballroom – Time: 8:00 – 5:00
January 10 – 15, 2021237TH Meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS)Virtually Anywhere Registration and meeting overview: https://aas.org/meetings/aas237 Time: 10:00am —7:00pm (Varies)
January 19,2021The Life Detection Knowledge Base WorkshopRegistration: https://www.nfold.org/ldf-kbworkshop Time 10:00 AM – 12:00 Pacific
January 20 – 21,   2021    Lunar Surface Science Workshop (LSSW)   To solicit input from the community on the potential for new scientific research that could be enabled by human exploration near the lunar south pole. In addition, we want to identify and help to close knowledge gaps associated with crew activities and safety. https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lunarsurface2020/  
January 21, 2021MSR Sample Caching Strategy Workshophttps://forms.gle/gf4rxQ1BjFqdVe9BA 8am-12pm PST
January 28 – 4 February, 202143rd COSPAR Scientific Assemblyhttps://www.cospar2020.org/ – Location:  Sydney Australia
February 22 – 26, 2021The Habitable Worlds 2021 conferencehttps://aas.org/meetings/aastcs8/habitable
March 15- 19, 2021Lunar Planetary Science Conference 52 (LPCS52)https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2021/registration/ Location: Virtual
August 7-12, 2021SmallSat 2021- Mission Operations & Autonomyhttps://smallsat.org/

Awards and Recognitions

  • Jeff Scargle Highlight: Received letter from Alan Heavens, on behalf of Asis Chatopadhyay, Daniela Huppenkothen, IAA Awards Committee 2020: As chair of the International Astrostatistics Association 2020 Awards committee.  It is the intention that IAA Award winners will be invited to give a remote talk as part of a new joint IAA-IAU B3 seminar series.

It would probably not be suitable as a report to the Administrator, but we believe it is worthy of communication to top center management. The scientific content was reported as a highlight to Code S on June 20, 2020, which is enclosed for background information. The highlight reported here is that this paper (Umurhan et al 2020, link and figure in enclosed document) was recognized as one of only 2 papers from PSD, and 6 papers from all of SMD, as justifying NASA’s “Green” rating in one element of the 2020 GPRAMA (Government Performance Results and Modernization Act of 2010). The paper was nominated by NASA’s Planetary Advisory Committee (PAC) to the Astrophysics Advisory committee (APAC) because the APAC has the lead role for assessing the metric in the relevant topic (1.1.2, see enclosed). The paper was commended for its interdisciplinary approach and the significance of the results. We believe Ames can be proud that a complicated theoretical paper published only 4 months before the APAC assessment, that uncovers a significant obstacle to the success of a popular mechanism for explaining one of the biggest remaining puzzles in the planet formation story, and was published without any press clamor but merely in the usual quiet way, was recognized in this way by two of SMD’s highest level advisory committees. POC: Jeff Cuzzi (SST; Jeffrey.Cuzzi@nasa.gov).

Publications

 

  • Title: Oxidation processes diversify the metabolic menu on Enceladus

Authors: Christine Ray, Christopher R. Glein, J. Hunter Waite, Ben Teolis, Tori Hoehler (SSX), Julie Huber, Jonathan Lunine, Frank Postberg — Short Abstract: Tori Hoehler (SSX) is a co-author on a new publication that appeared in the journal Icarus.  The work developed physical and geochemical models to predict rates of production of oxidants in the surface ice of Enceladus and their subsequent flux to the ocean.  Hoehler’s contribution quantified the implications of the associated energy flux for the productivity and size of any biosphere that may exist on Enceladus.   The work was led by Christine Ray, of the Southwest Research Institute, and members of the Cassini mission’s INMS and CDA teams.

·        Title: Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Dust Particle Surface Interactions: Catalytic Hydrogenation of   Polycyclic  Aromatic Hydrocarbon Molecules under Vacuum Conditions

Authors: Gustavo Cruz-Diaz (SST), Alessandra Ricca (SSA) and Andrew Mattioda (SST) — Short Abstract: This work reports experiments on the catalytic interaction occurring between polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) molecules and TiO2 dust grain surfaces under vacuum conditions. The investigation sheds light on the potential catalytic pathways that TiO2 dust surfaces provide in the hydrogenation of PAH molecules and the chemistry that can be driven by PAH-dust interactions under vacuum conditions. Naphthalene, anthracene, and coronene were chosen as the PAH molecules, while titanium dioxide was selected as the dust analog. PAH samples and dust analog mixtures were studied under vacuum for 24 h while monitored via diffuse reflectance infrared Fourier transform spectroscopy (DRIFTS). The acquired spectra show that PAH molecules are hydrogenated when in contact with TiO2 dust particles without the need for external energy or hydrogen sources. Our results suggest that linear PAHs undergo a similar hydrogenation process where the dominant species are fully hydrogenated PAHs. For larger condensed PAHs, the hydrogenation process yields partially hydrogenated molecules. Fully hydrogenated species can be identified by a band around 2960 cm–1, while partially hydrogenated species produce a band around 2825 cm–1. In the case of the production of hydrogenated species, our results suggest that the smaller the PAH, the faster the hydrogenation rate.

Demonstrates PAHs undergo catalytic hydrogenation when exposed to mineral surfaces

Important for understanding the origin of organic molecules in space.

Ames Core Areas of Laboratory Astrophysics and Astrobiology Research

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·       Title: Formation of Complex Organic Molecules (COMs) from Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs): Implications for ISM IR Emission Plateaus and Solar System Organics

     Authors: Andrew L. Mattioda (SST), Gustavo Cruz-Diaz (SST), Andrew Ging (ARC AT), Michael Barnhardt (TSA), Christiaan Boersma (SSA), Louis Allamandola (ARC/BAERI SSA), Todd Schneider (MSFC EM41), Jason Vaughn (MSFC EM41), Brandon Phillips (MSFC EM41) and Alessandra Ricca (SSA/SETI) — Short Abstract:

The presence of complex organic molecules (COMs) in a variety of solar system objects has prompted various theories regarding their origins. This paper reports on a series of proton, electron, and UV radiation experiments, conducted singly and in combination, on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) thin films to determine if PAH-related materials could be related to COMs. Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) and mass spectra reveal that the PAHs are fragmented and altered, producing new infrared features and a mass spectral pattern similar to those from small aliphatic and larger saturated hydrocarbon chain and ring systems. Mass spectra after proton and electron irradiation exhibit significant differences. The proton irradiation products appear to contain more oxygen-related species, possibly the result of higher H2O concentrations in the vacuum chamber, whereas electron irradiation generates a more abundant, larger mass organic species mass spectral pattern. Combined irradiation produces a superposition of the proton and electron results, with some subtle differences. Mass spectral patterns resulting from electron and combined irradiation compare favorably to Cassini ion neutral mass spectrometer (INMS) measurements of particles falling from Saturn’s inner rings into its upper atmosphere. FTIR results are compared to PAH emission from interstellar sources and absorption components in IR spectra observed toward low-mass young stellar objects (YSOs). Notably, some newly reported broad IR features appear very similar in structure to the plateaus underlying the astronomical 3.2−3.6, 6−9, and 10–15 μm emission plateaus and several of the absorption components found in spectra observed toward YSOs. The studies also indicate that the presence of other species, such as H2O, may significantly impact the radiation products. These results point to the fact that a top-down synthesis of solar system COMs is possible via irradiative processing of PAHs.

  • SIF Funded proposal involving ARC and MSFC
  • Enabled the development of the ICEE facility at Ames
  • Cross-discipline work with applications to the IR Emission bands and Planetary Science (Cassini data)
  • Demonstrates complex organics in the Solar System and ISM can form from PAHs (Laboratory Astrophysics, Astrobiology)

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·       Title: The NASA Ames PAH IR Spectroscopic Database: The Laboratory Spectra

Authors: Andrew L. Mattioda (SST), Douglas M. Hudgins (HQ), Christiaan Boersma (SSA/SJSURF), Charles W. Bauschlicher Jr. (TSM), Alessandra Ricca (SSA/SETI), Jan Cami (University Western Ontario), Els Peeters (University Western Ontario), F. Sánchez de Armas, G. Puerta Saborido, Louis J. Allamandola (SSA/BAERI) — Short Abstract:

The astronomical emission features, formerly known as the unidentified infrared bands, are now commonly ascribed to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The laboratory experiments and computational modeling performed at NASA Ames Research Center generated a collection of PAH IR spectra that have been used to test and refine the PAH model. These data have been assembled into the NASA Ames PAH IR Spectroscopic Database (PAHdb). PAHdb’s library of computed spectra, currently at version 3.20, contains data on more than 4000 species and the library of laboratory-measured spectra, currently at version 3.00, contains data on 84 species. The spectra can be perused and are available for download at  www.astrochemistry.org/pahdb/. This paper introduces the library of laboratory-measured spectra. Although it has been part of PAHdb since its inception, the library of laboratory-measured spectra lacked a proper description in the literature. Here, the experimental methods used to obtain the data are described in detail, an overview of the contents of the experimental library is given, and specific tools developed to analyze and interpret astronomical spectra with the laboratory data are discussed. In addition, updates to the website, documentation and software tools since our last reporting are presented. Software tools to work with the spectroscopic libraries are being developed actively and are available at GitHub. Lastly, a comprehensive demonstration showing how the laboratory-measured data can be applied to explore absorption features in observations toward embedded sources is presented. This demonstration suggests that PAHs very likely contribute to interstellar absorption spectra associated with dense clouds and underscores the need for further IR spectroscopic studies of PAHs trapped in water ice.

  • Laboratory Astrophysics core area

·       Title: Growth of Jupiter: Formation in disks of gas and solids and evolution to the present epoch

      Authors: Research funded by Jack Lissauer’s (SST) Emerging Worlds project EW18_2-0060 has led to the following publication (Icarus, 2021)Short Abstract: The formation of Jupiter is modeled via core-nucleated accretion, and the planet’s evolution is simulated up to the present epoch. Throughout the phases when the planet acquires most of its heavy-element content, the calculation of solids’ accretion accounts for interactions with an evolving disk of planetesimals. The phase of growth from an embryo of a few hundred kilometers in radius until the time when the accretion of gas overtakes solids’ accretion was presented by D’Angelo et al. (2014), and the same numerical methods are applied here. Those calculations followed the formation for about 4 ×105 years, until the epoch when the heavy-element and hydrogen/helium masses wereMZ ≈7.3 andMXY ≈0.15 Earth’s masses (M⊕), respectively, and  ̇MXY≈ ̇MZ. Herein, the calculation is continued through the phase when MXYgrows to equalMZ, at which age, about 2.4 ×106 years, the total mass of the planet isMp ≈20M⊕. About 9 ×105 years later,Mpis approximately 60M⊕and MZ ≈16M⊕, three-quarters of which are delivered by planetesimals larger than 10km in radius. Around this epoch, the contraction of the envelope dictates gas accretion rates a few times 10.

·       Title: Estimation of visible, near-, and mid-infrared complex refractive indices of calcite, dolomite, and magnesite

  Authors: Ted L. Roush (SST) — Short Abstract: Icarus 354 (2021) 114056Available online 17 August 20200019-1035/Published by Elsevier Inc.Research Paper Estimation of visible, near-, and mid-infrared complex refractive indices of calcite, dolomite, and magnesite Ted L. Roush* Space Sciences Division, NASA Ames Research Center, Planetary Systems Branch, MS 245-3, Moffett Field, CA 94035-1000, United States of America   ARTICLE INFO  Keywords: Radiative transfer Earth Spectroscopy Mars surface Mineralogy ABSTRACT  The visible, near-, and mid-infrared (≈0.4–6 μm) imaginary indices of refraction (k) are estimated from reflec-tance spectra for three carbonates germane to martian and terrestrial studies. The resulting values are combined with previous data at longer wavelengths and a subtractive Kramers-Konig analysis is used to estimate the real indices of refraction (n)  as a  function of wavelength. This process is  iterated until neither the n or k vary significantly. The results provide estimated complex refractive indices spanning the ≈0.4–400 μm. The estimated visible, near-, and mid-infrared carbonate complex refractive indices are broadly consistent with previous studies, but extend the wavelength coverage and improve the spectral resolution for these materials.

PublicationJournal/Web link
Christine Ray, Christopher R. Glein, J. Hunter Waite, Ben Teolis, Tori Hoehler (SSX), Julie Huber, Jonathan Lunine, Frank Postberg  Title: Oxidation processes diversify the metabolic menu on Enceladus Journal: Icarus, Link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2020.114248 Published Online: December 5, 2020
Gustavo Cruz-Diaz (SST), Alessandra Ricca (SSA) and Andrew Mattioda (SST)  Title: Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Dust Particle Surface Interactions: Catalytic Hydrogenation of  Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Molecules under Vacuum Conditions Journal: ACS Earth Space Chem. 2020, 4, 10, 1730-1742 Link: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acsearthspacechem.0c00145    
Authors: Gustavo Cruz-Diaz (SST), Alessandra Ricca (SSA) and Andrew Mattioda (SST)Title: Formation of Complex Organic Molecules (COMs) from Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs): Implications for ISM IR Emission Plateaus and Solar System Organics Journal: ACS Earth Space Chem. 2020, 4, 12, 2227-2245 Link: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acsearthspacechem.0c00165    
Authors: Andrew L. Mattioda (SST), Douglas M. Hudgins (HQ), Christiaan Boersma (SSA/SJSURF), Charles W. Bauschlicher Jr. (TSM), Alessandra Ricca (SSA/SETI), Jan Cami (University Western Ontario), Els Peeters (University Western Ontario), F. Sánchez de Armas, G. Puerta Saborido, Louis J. Allamandola (SSA/BAERI)Title: The NASA Ames PAH IR Spectroscopic Database: The Laboratory Spectra Journal: The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, Volume 251, Number 2 Link: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/1538-4365/abc2c8/meta    
Authors: Research funded by Jack Lissauer’s (SST) Emerging Worlds project EW18_2-0060 has led to the following publication (Icarus, 2021)  Title: Growth of Jupiter: Formation in disks of gas and solids and evolution to the present epoch journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/icarus   Link:https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0019103520304358?via%3Dihub    
Authors: Ted L. Roush (SST)Title: Estimation of visible, near-, and mid-infrared complex refractive indices of calcite, dolomite, and magnesite journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/icarus   Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2020.114056  

 

Project Milestones

  • Melinda Kahre Hightlight for MCMC:

Members of the Mars Climate Modeling Center (MCMC) virtually hosted the first annual meeting with the MCMC’s Independent Working Group (IWG), which is an advisory group that will strengthen collaborative ties between the MCMC and the community.  Recent progress, current status, and plans for the upcoming Internal Scientist Funding Model (ISFM) funding cycle were presented, and favorable and highly productive feedback was received from members of the IWG.

 

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