January 2013 Issue

In this issue:

Conferences, Field Trips and Workshops

Student and Early Career Opportunities

Conferences, Field Trips and Workshops

Astrobiology and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life - 5 week course

Location: Scotland

This 5 week course beginning January 28th, 2013 at the University of Edinburgh will explore what we know about life’s ability to live in extreme environments on the Earth. We will look at some of the missions to search for life in our own Solar System and on planets orbiting distant stars. We will discuss some of the extreme environments on the Earth that help us understand the limits of life and how life has adapted to cope with extremes. We will explore the possibility of intelligent alien life and some of the implications of its detection. The course will provide a foundation in astrobiology and introduce students to concepts in a diversity of scientific fields.

Visit: https://www.coursera.org/course/astrobio for all the course information.

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MARS2013 - Morocco Mars Analog Field Simulation

Location: Marrakech, Morocco
Proposal Deadline: closed - 15 June 2012

In February 2013, the Austrian Space Forum, in cooperation with the Ibn-Battuta Center at the University of Marrakesh will conduct a one-month Mars Analog mission in the Northern Sahara of Morocco within the framework of the PolAres research programme. A small field crew will conduct experiments preparing for future human Mars missions mainly in the fields of engineering, planetary surface operations, astrobiology, geophysics/geology, life sciences and other. The announcement of the successful experiments will be
released on 15 July 2013. Please see the attached pdf for all the details.

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The Present-Day Habitability of Mars Workshop

Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

The UCLA Institute for Planets and Exoplanets, The UK Center for Astrobiology and the NASA Astrobiology Institute invite you to to participate in a two-day conference in February 2013 that will examine the present-day habitability of Mars.

Major topics to be considered include:
Mars Salts and Perchlorates
Current Mars Liquid Water Activity
Early MSL Results
Redox Potentials for Martian Life
Active Martian Geochemical Cycles
Implications for Mars Planetary Protection Policies

The conference will be held in historic Royce Hall on the UCLA campus. The first two days of the conference will consist of a set of 30-minute invited and contributed talks interspersed with discussions. The entire conference will be open to remote participation via a NASA Astrobiology Institute “Workshop Without Walls” webcast. On February 6th, there will be an optional field trip to JPL, which will include a tour of the Mars Science Laboratory facilities.

For more meeting information, visit http://planets.ucla.edu/meetings/mars-habitability-2013/.

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Experimental Laboratory Astrophysics

Location: Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii
Abstract Submission Deadline: closed - 1 December 2012

During the last decade, significant new experimental techniques have been developed to investigate the interaction of ionizing radiation (UV, VUV, gamma rays, charged particles) and of neutrals (atoms, radicals, molecules, grains) with surfaces of solids (ices, minerals, carbonaceous compounds) in the Solar System and in the Interstellar Medium (ISM). These processes provide new fun­damental insights – sometimes on the molecular level – into the processes that are critical to the chemistry in the ISM, star and planet forming regions, and on/in icy objects in the Solar Sys­tem from the formation of the simplest molecule (molecular hydrogen) to astrobiologically important species such as amino acids and sugars. There is an increasing convergence of interests of these fields, so a ‘united’, bi-annual workshop is highly desired.

The first workshop features invited (40 min) as well as contributed talks (20 min) focusing on the interaction of ionizing radiation (UV, VUV, gamma rays, charged particles) and neutrals (atoms, radicals, molecules, grains) with low temperature solids (ices, minerals, organics). The talks can be extended to observations, modeling, and electronic structure calculations, but only if these topics can be directly linked – as evident from the abstract – to laboratory experiments. Poster submissions are highly encouraged; this will allow a broad participation of newcomers to the field (Ph.D. students, postdocs).

For more information visit: http://www.chem.hawaii.edu/Bil301/Ice2013.html

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RNAs Never Stop

Location: Paris, France

This one day symposium organized by Marie-Christine Maurel and Anne-Lise Haenni will discuss a variety of topics centered around RNA.

For more information visit: http://anbiophy.snv.jussieu.fr/I_accueil_I.html

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UK Astrobiology Conference 2013

Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

The 5th UK Astrobiology Conference – Molecules and Life in Extremes – will be hosted by the UK Centre for Astrobiology at the University of Edinburgh. The focus is to understand the origin of life, how life has persisted on the Earth for over 3.5 billion years and whether we might find it elsewhere. This requires that we understand how molecules and life evolve and adapt to extreme environments. The 5th UK astrobiology conference, supported by the UK Space Agency, will explore molecules and life in extremes. The conference welcomes astronomers, biologists, chemists, physicists and other disciplines that intersect with astrobiology. The conference marks the 10th anniversary since the founding of the Astrobiology Society of Britain. Sessions will include: Mars science and exploration, astrobiology outreach, icy bodies research, life in extreme environments, molecules in extreme environments. Keynote speakers include Lynn Rothschild, Synthetic Biology in Space (NASA Ames), Andrew Spry, Planetary Protection (JPL), Lorna Dougan, Single molecules under extremes (Leeds). Social events will include a Ceilidh, whisky tasting and a conference dinner, giving delegates a true taste of Scotland. ASB5 is supported by the UK Centre for Astrobiology, the Centre for Science at Extreme Conditions, the UK Space Agency, and the Royal Astronomical Society. Travel grants are available. The conference is preceded by an informal opening of the UK Centre for Astrobiology on the evening of April 16th with a public lecture on ‘The Search for Life in the Universe’ by Christopher McKay, NASA Ames Research Centre. Conference delegates are also welcome to sign up. It is limited to 50 people.

Visit: http://www.astrobiology.ac.uk/events/asb5/ for all the details.

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From Outer Space to Mining: Technology Transfer from Extraterrestrial Extreme Environments to the Earth

Location: Cleveland, UK
Deadline for registering interest: February 28th 2013

This is a one day workshop on the application of space technology to the mining environment, hosted by the UK Centre for Astrobiology, the Boulby International Subsurface Astrobiology Laboratory (BISAL) and Cleveland Potash Ltd. Technology originally designed for space applications is likely to find use in mining safety and mineral exploitation. As ores and minerals become of increasing low grade and more challenging to extract, there is an urgent need to find high technology ways to enhance mining efficiency and safety. For example, spectroscopic technologies to detect pockets of explosive gas in the mining walls, robotic assisted exploration, enhanced miniaturised mineral characterisation equipment and improved communication equipment, are just some examples of where space exploration overlaps with mining. This technology might ultimately end up back in space, being used in space (e.g. asteroid) mining. This workshop aims to bring leading space technology experts together with mining companies in order to establish a discourse between the two and promote collaborations. Space technology specialists may gain the opportunity to apply their work to new areas whilst acquiring commercial support, whilst mining companies may discover new ways to resolve safety issues, increase efficiency and maintain competitiveness. This is an informal workshop with no fees at Boulby Mine. It sits under one of the UK Centre for Astrobiology’s www.astrobiology.ac.uk stated objectives to enhance astrobiology technology transfer from space to Earth based problems. We aim to have a relaxed atmosphere to facilitate communication between our guests. The day will consist of some planned lectures from guest speakers (to be announced) and general discussions. If you would like to attend/present or have any questions, please contact S.J.Payler@ed.ac.uk.

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First International Workshop on Education in Astrobiology

Location: Hoor, Sweden
Deadline for registration, accommodation booking and abstract submission: 15 April 2013

The meeting aims to bring together scientists and teachers engaged in astrobiology education in universities and other training institutions to

  • discuss new teaching and assessment forms in astrobiology
  • foster international cooperation in astrobiology teaching
  • give the attendants a thorough overview of the field

Training students in such a multidisciplinary subject implies a lot of challenges and pitfalls, both in the set-up and organization of the course, choice of lecturers and literature, grading of students as well as the necessity of new teaching methods. The conference will not only serve as a forum for exchange of ideas and experiences, but also as a starting point for a long-term international collaboration in astrobiology teaching.

The meeting venue is held at the very pleasant http://www.akersberg.se which is only a 50 min direct train ride from Copenhagen International Airport. For further information about the event visit http://www.nordicastrobiology.net/IWEA

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XII Spanish National Congress of Virology

Location: Burgos, Spain

The Spanish Society for Virology (SEV) and the Organizing Committee are pleased to welcome you to Burgos, Spain, for the XII Spanish National Congress of Virology (XII CNV). The Congress will be held on June 9-12, 2013, at the Aula Magna of the University of Burgos and at the Congress Center Forum Evolucion Burgos. We have scheduled an interesting program covering various basic and clinical aspects of human, veterinary and plant virology. We will also explore the fruitful interaction of virology with other areas of biology (in particular, the study of evolution and the microbiology of extreme environments), as well as with medicine, chemistry and physics. In addition, we are both pleased and honored to host several renowned Spanish and foreign virologists as invited speakers. All together, we will be able to discuss current progresses, achievements, and challenges in the study of viruses. We have also prepared an interesting social and cultural program that includes a visit to two of the major scientific landmarks of Burgos: the Archaeological Site of Atapuerca and the Museum of Human Evolution. The official language of the Congress will be English.

Website address for further information http://www.cab.inta-csic.es/congresovirologiasev2013/index.php/en.html

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Geobiology 2013: An International Training Course in a Rapidly Evolving Field

Applications due: February 15, 2013

In this intense multidisciplinary summer course, June 9 – July 12, we will explore the coevolution of the Earth and its biosphere, with emphasis on how microbial processes affect the environment and leave imprints on the rock record. Participants get hands-on experience in cutting-edge geobiological techniques including molecular biology, bioinformatics, geochemistry, petrology and sedimentology, and work in research groups to solve relevant questions. The course will involve a field trip to the Great Salt Lake and southern Wyoming. Lab work will be conducted at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado, USC/Caltech/JPL in the Los Angeles area and the USC Wrigley Institute on Catalina Island. The 2013 course is open to students and researchers at any level, although we give preference to graduate students in their early to mid years of study.

For more information visit: http://dornsife.usc.edu/geobio2013

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Isotopes as Diagnostic Tools in Astronomy, Geology and Biology

Location: Höör, Sweden
Deadline for registration, accommodation booking and abstract submission: 15 April 2013

The third meeting of the Nordic Network of Astrobiology will be devoted to the subject “Isotopes as diagnostic tools in astronomy, geology and biology”. Isotope ratios are used in many fields of astrobiology, to determine the origin and synthesis pathways of interstellar molecules, to date early geological formation, to assess paleoclimates and, last but not least, to detect life on early Earth. The conference aims to bring researchers from different fields using isotopes together to exchange the newest developments in this field and to develop ideas for further research. The following themes will be, amongst others, covered by the symposium:

  • Isotope ratios in the interstellar medium
  • Isotopes in stars
  • Isotopes and the early solar system
  • Isotopes in meteorites
  • Isotopes in dating of geological formations
  • Isotope ratios as indications of catastrophic events in Earth’s history
  • Identification of metabolisms in sediments by using stable isotopes
  • Effects of stable isotopes on biological systems
  • Stable Isotope ratios as biomarkers on Mars and other habitable planets and satellites
  • Isotopes in the search for life on the early Earth
  • Isotopes in ice cores as indications in past and present climates

For further information visit the event website: http://www.nordicastrobiology.net/Isotopes2013/

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Extraterrestrial Liberty: What is Freedom Beyond the Earth

Location: London, England

This is a call for presentations and registration for a joint UK Centre for Astrobiology/British Interplanetary Society two-day meeting to explore the development of freedom in the extreme conditions of outer space. One of the most compelling questions in political philosophy, and one that has been intensely debated by scientists and political philosophers since the early years of the Enlightenment (although it has its roots in the democracy of ancient Athens) is: ‘What is liberty?’ Over the next few years, the UK Centre for Astrobiology will host a series of symposia to consider the development of liberty and democratic institutions beyond the Earth. Drawing on the long discussions that have occurred since the Enlightenment, the symposia seek to understand how the unique conditions of space will influence the future of freedom in space. These questions constitute an important philosophical strand of astrobiology linked to how human societies adapt to the extreme conditions of outer space. Topics to be addressed include: Liberty on planetary surfaces and in spaceships, the rule of law in space, the nature of democracy in space, land ownership and freedom in space, the nature of tyranny in space, the independence of space settlements and extraterrestrial constitutions.

The workshop is open to anyone interested in the social implications of space exploration and settlement. It is open to scientists, political philosophers, policy makers and others. Speakers to include: John Cain, GeoFind Consultancy: ‘Astronaut Health: Planetary Exploration and the Limitations on Freedom’ Stuart Armstrong, University of Oxford: ‘Outrunning the Law: The Ease of Intergalactic Colonisation Poses Unique Challenges for Star-spanning Civilizations’ Charles Cockell, University of Edinburgh: ‘Freedom in a Box: Paradoxes in the Structure of Extraterrestrial Liberty’ Paul Rosenberg, The Free-Man’s Perspective: ‘Space: John Locke’s Ultimate Triumph’ Steve Baxter, Science Fiction Writer: ‘The Cold Equations: Extraterrestrial Ethics in Science Fiction’ Kelvin Long, Institute for Interstellar Studies: ‘Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness: Extending Personal Freedom to the Space Frontier and Managing the Consequences’. Ian Crawford, Birkbeck, London: ‘Interplanetary Federalism: Maximising the Chances of Extraterrestrial Liberty’ We welcome suggestions for presentations.

Please contact Charles Cockell at c.s.cockell@ed.ac.uk if you are interesting in contributing. Register at: http://www.bis-space.com/2012/10/17/7183/extraterrestrial-liberty-what-is-freedom-beyond-the-earth

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Astrobiology Grand Tour - Western Australia

Location: Denham, Australia

This eleven-day scientific discovery tour that journeys from the Western Australian coastal town of Denham through the Pilbara will be a trip back in time. It is designed for scientists interested in the earliest life on Earth, and early environments. Highlights range from the modern stromatolites of Shark Bay, through the banded iron formations of the Hamersley Ranges to the earliest convincing evidence of life on Earth in the 3.5 billion-year-old rocks of the Pilbara Craton. Your guide, Professor Malcolm Walter, will take you through some of Australia’s most remote and remarkable countryside. Accommodation will be in a sheep station (ranch), country hotels and camping under the stars (made easy by professional camp managers, Outdoor Spirit).

For more information visit: http://aca.unsw.edu.au/Grand_Tour
Download the PDF with all the details and the booking form below

To secure your place, please return a copy of the booking form to marnie@fredwatson.com.au

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Summer Course: Molecules in Space

Location: Kungsbacka, Sweden
Application Deadline: 2 April 2013

The summer course “Molecules in space”, which will be held at Onsala Space Observatory, Sweden from 25 June to 2 July 2013, aims to give participants a thorough introduction into the role of molecules in many astronomical environments such as

  • the early universe
  • star-forming regions and protoplanetary disks
  • atmospheres of planets and their satellites
  • cometary comae
  • circumstellar envelopes
  • supernova remnants

The event will be organized by the Nordic Network of Astrobiology. Observations at the 20m telescope at Onsala and exercises will complement the lecture program. The program of the summer school comprises:

  • lectures by internationally leading scientists covering a broad range of subjects in astrochemistry
  • observations of a small, cold molecular cloud using the 20m telescope at Onsala Space Observatory to determine its mass and whether it is going to collapse forming a star
  • state-of-the art model calculations of the chemistry of dark clouds and ice surfaces
  • usage of observations to determine physical parameters in astronomical objects
  • a poster session for the participating students and early career scientists

The event is aimed for Ph. D. students and early career scientists (up to 5 years after their first Ph. D. in a related field) in fields relevant to astrochemistry and astrobiology. The event is open to applicants from all nationalities. Detailed information about the summer school and the application procedure (deadline 2 April 2013) can be found at the website of the course: http://www.nordicastrobiology.net/Onsala2013/

Successful applicants accepted by the organizers will receive free lodging, meals and excursions, but will have to organize financial means for their travel to and from Onsala themselves. Course credit awards (3 ECTS points) for Ph. D. students will be applied for by the course organizers.

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Australian Astrobiology Meeting

Location: Sydney, Australia

The Australian Centre for Astrobiology and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) are pleased to invite you to the Australian Astrobiology Meeting. The two-day conference is open to all with an interest in astrobiology. It will be held at the Sydney Kensington campus of UNSW on Monday the 1st and Tuesday the 2nd of July, 2013. For further information or to lodge an expression of interest please visit the conference website: http://aca.unsw.edu.au/aa-meeting

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Protostars & Planets VI

Location: Heidelberg, Germany

The Protostars and Planets series has served the community for more than three decades with state of the art compilations of the current knowledge in the fields of star and planet formation. The previous volume PPV was published in 2007. Since then, the field of protostars and planets has advanced tremendously, from a theoretical as well as observational point of view.

The primary outcome of the conference will be the Protostars and Planets VI book of review articles. The logistics of preparing excellent overview articles and getting them into print in due time requires timely organization. Therefore, the deadline to submit proposals for review chapters and associated talks was closed on September 15th 2012.

For more information visit: http://www.mpia-hd.mpg.de/homes/ppvi/index.php

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Summer course: "Impacts and their Role in the Evolution of Life"

Location: Saaremaa, Estonia
Application Deadline: 30 April 2013

The course “Impacts and their Role in the Evolution of Life” will take place from 16 to 25 August 2013 at Kuressaare and the Kaali impact crater site on the island of Saaremaa, Estonia. The following subjects will be covered:

  • Roles of impacts in the formation of habitable planets
  • Physical and chemical properties of comets and meteorites
  • Detection and investigation of impact craters by geological methods and remote sensing from space
  • Ecological consequences of impacts and the role of impacts in mass extinctions
  • Transfer of life through meteorite impacts
  • Threat to life on our planet by near-Earth asteroids and comets

The lecture programme will be complemented by practical exercises concerning:

  • Electromagnetic mapping of impact sites
  • Analysis of pollen indicators of the Kaali impact event.
  • Microscopy of impactites
  • Georadar profiling at Kaali

Participants will also have the possibility to display their own research results in two poster sessions. Furthermore, excursions to geologically interesting sites like the Panga cliffs are planned.

The course is aimed for graduate (masters and Ph. D.) students and early career scientists (up to 5 years after their first Ph. D. in a related field) in fields relevant to astrochemistry and astrobiology. It is open to applicants from all nationalities. Detailed information about the summer school and the application procedure (deadline 30 April 2013) can be found at the website of the course: http://www.nordicastrobiology.net/Impacts2013/

Successful applicants accepted by the organizers will receive meals and excursions, but will have to organize financial means for their travel to and from Kuressaare and their lodging themselves.

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64th International Astronautical Congress (IAC)

Location: Beijing, China
Abstract submission deadline CLOSED: February 21, 2013

The International Astronautical Congress (IAC) is the largest space-related conference worldwide and selects an average of 1000 scientific papers every year. The Congress’ theme is Promoting Space Development for the Benefits of Mankind.

For additional information please visit the IAC website at: http://www.iac2013.org/.

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International Biogeoscience Conference 2013

Location: Japan

Early registration deadline: August 31, 2013.
Abstract submission for oral presentations is closed but slots for poster presentations are still open.

To submit a poster, please contact Kenichiro (Ken) Sugitani as soon as possible. Registrations for presentation will be closed when all poster slots are filled.

The International Biogeoscience Conference 2013 – “Revealing the biotic diversity on the early Earth and the evolution of cyanobacteria and eukaryotes” will take place at Nagoya University, Japan, co-hosted by Nagoya City Science Museum, the Japan Astrobiology Network Association, and the Australian Centre for Astrobiology.

This conference aims to bring together geologists, paleontologists, geochemists, biologists, and molecular and evolutionary biologists to discuss significant contemporary issues relating to our understanding of the early evolution of life and its interaction with Earth’s surface environments.

For all the conference information visit: http://www.info.human.nagoya-u.ac.jp/~sugi/Site/Biogeoscience_Conference_2013.html

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Student and Early Career Opportunities

2013 Josep Comas i Solà International Summer School in Astrobiology: "Biosignatures: The Fingerprints of Life"

Location: Santander, Cantabria, Spain
Application deadline: March 4, 2013 (NAI scholarships)

The 2013 International Summer School in Astrobiology will be held at the summer campus of the Spanish National University (UIMP), Palacio de la Magdalena, Santander, Spain on June 24-28, 2013.

This year’s theme is “Biosignatures: The Fingerprints of Life.” Topics to be covered in the school include an overview of metabolism, and the nature and preservation of environment-specific biosignatures in both the planetary surface and the atmosphere. More details on the school and application information are available on the School’s website: http://astrobiology2.arc.nasa.gov/nai/UIMP/2013/

The application deadline will be March 4th for NAI student travel scholarships, and students of any nationality studying at a US institution are eligible to apply. These scholarships cover travel costs, school fees, accommodation and meals.

European students may apply for scholarship support provided by UIMP and the European Space Agency (ESA) through the UIMP website http://www.uimp.es at a later date.

Scholarship support for students of other nations will be advertised as opportunities become available.

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