SS Weekly Highlight

Steve Howell (SS) organized and attended the “Know Thy Star, Know Thy Planet” meeting held last week in Pasadena. Sponsored by the NASA Exoplanet Archive, the meeting was attended by 170 astronomers from around the world.
The meeting focus was on understanding the stellar astrophysics and fundamental properties of stars that host exoplanets. One big outcome of the meeting was the need to observe and fully understand the binary fraction of host stars so that their radii, mean density, and formation mechanism can be assessed.A talk given by David Blake on an overview and update on the MapX (Mapping X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometer) instrument development project, which was just funded through a ROSES MATISSE award.  MapX is intended to provide elemental imaging at ≤100 micron spatial resolution of 2.5 X 2.5 centimeter areas, yielding elemental chemistry at or below the scale length where many relict physical, chemical, and biological features can be imaged and interpreted in ancient rocks.

Craig Everroad has been asked to be interviewed by Science freelance reporter  on the current understanding on how certain microbes thrive in space, why others die off quickly, what makes some evolve faster, and what general observations can be made about these often unexpected outcomes. The reporter wants to produce a short 600-word explainer piece (most likely for introducing some of the new, unusual developments in the discipline’s understanding of how microbes (from pathogens, to the human microbiome, to fungi and etc.) respond to things like cosmic radiation and zero-gravity.