Edinburgh Scientists Bid To Join NASA
In response to an initiative from NASA, a group of Edinburgh geologists, biologists and astronomers hoping to participate in the new NASA Astrobiology Institute (NABI) have formed the Edinburgh Astrobiology Consortium. On Tuesday 31st March, Dr Ray Wolstencroft of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, will tell the National Astronomy Meeting at the University of St Andrews about the research the group want to do.
"Astrobiology is a huge subject" says Dr Wolstencroft. "You can probably best describe it as 'the study of life in the universe'. Interest in astrobiology is growing rapidly thanks to the recent discoveries of planets around nearby stars, possible though controversial evidence of fossils in a Martian meteorite and the accumulating evidence that terrestrial organisms can thrive in a wide variety of extreme environments. NASA is keen to encourage much more research in astrobiology."
"A major goal for NASA is to develop an understanding of whether there is life elsewhere other than on Earth, where life may be found and how best to detect it. NASA is also interested in how terrestrial organisms may adapt and evolve in extraterrestrial environments. All this needs teams of researchers including international experts in different areas of science."
The Astrobiology Institute will be a 'virtual institute' of geographically separate research groups located around the world and will be managed by the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View California. To overcome the difficulties of such widely separated groups working together, the Institute is experimenting with advanced electronic connections based on the Next Generation Internet.
The work proposed by the Edinburgh Astrobiology Consortium(EAC) includes:
The EAC members are:
The Edinburgh proposal is one of 70 submitted to NASA from groups around the world, and the Consortium is waiting to hear whether its bid has been successful.
Contact Information for the National Astronomy Meeting, University of St Andrews:Press room (open 8.30 - 18.00 Tue 31 March to Thur 2 April; 9.00 - 12.00 Fri 3 April): Phone: 01334-462168 and 01334-462169; Fax: 01334-463130