Skip Navigation (press 2)
NASA Logo National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Goddard Space Flight Center
- NASA Portal

GCA Banner
Astrobiology Fact


What's New...

Dr. Michael Mumma and Dr. Steven Charnley of GCA have published a review article in the Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics 2011 on "The Chemical Composition of Comets - Emerging Taxonomies and Natal Heritage". (09.2011)

DNA Building Blocks Found in Carbon-Rich Meteorites
A team of GCA scientists M. Callahan, J. Stern, D. Glavin. J. Dworkin and their co-investigators found diverse suite of nucleobases and terrestrially rare nucleobase analogs in twelve carbon-rich meteorites. (08.08.11)

Variations of Organics in Tagish Lake Meteorite Fragments
Dr. C. Herds at University of Alberta and his Co-Investigators, including Drs. D. Glavin, J. Dworkin, M. Callahan, and J. Elsila of GCA conducted detailed chemical and isotopic analyses of organic materials in four Tagish Lake meteorite specimens (06.09.2011)

Jupiter's "Grand Tack" Reshaped the Solar System
Jupiter, the largest planet in the Solar System, is pivotal in shaping the configuration of the entire system, including the small bodies like comets and asteroids. (06.06.2011)

Variations of Gas Release from Comet Hartley-2
GCA scientists, Drs. Mumma, Bonev, Villanueva, Paganini, DiSanti and an international team of co-investigators measured episodic and spatial variations of eight primary volatiles (H2O, HCN, CH4, C2H6, CH3OH, C2H2, H2CO, and NH3) and two product species (OH and NH2) in comet 103P/Hartley 2 using high-dispersion infrared spectroscopy with large ground-based telescopes in Hawaii and Chile. (05.17.2011)

No Methane Emission from the Exoplanet HD189733b
A GCA team consisting of Drs. A. Mandell, L.D. Deming, M.J. Mumma and other colleagues used the Keck II telescope in Hawaii to obtain high-resolution near IR spectra of the exoplanet HD189733b. HD189733b is a transiting "hot Jupiter" from which strong thermal IR radiation has been detected by Deming et al 2006. (02.01.2011)

Left-Handed Amino Acids Found in More Carbon-Rich Meteorites
A team of GCA scientists, Drs. D. Glavin, M. Callahan, J. Dworkin, and J. Elsila analyzed samples from nine carbon-rich meteorites (CI, CM, and CR carbonaceous chondrites). (01.17.2011)

The Puzzle of Extragalactic DIBs
Diffuse Interstellar Bands (DIBs) have been observed in medium resolution spectra of the Andromeda and Triangulum galaxies taken by GCA scientist Martin Cordiner and his colleagues at Queen's University in Belfast, U.K. They had found these molecular fingerprints before in three other galaxies of the Local Group: our Milky Way, and the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. (01.10.2011)


Amino Acids Found in Meteorites from Asteroid 2008 TC3
GCA scientists Drs. Jason Dworkin, Michael Callahan, and Jamie Elsila analyzed fragments of meteorites from the asteroid 2008 TC3 that were recovered from the Nubian Desert of northern Sudan after its impact on October 7, 2008. (12.15.2010)

Why the Earth and Mars have more glitzy metals than the Moon
The Moon has much less gold, platinum and palladium (highly siderophile elements) compared to Earth and Mars. (12.09.2010)

Europa's Hidden Ice Chemistry
Mark Loeffler (GSFC) and Reggie Hudson (GCA) report reactions between two ices at temperatures hundreds of degrees below freezing without the need for radiation to drive the chemistry. The findings could revamp our understanding of Europa and other icy moons. (10.5.2010)

Dust Models Paint Alien's View of Solar System
Collaboration between scientists at two NASA Astrobiology Institutes: Marc Kuchner (GCA) and Chris Stark (Carnegie Institute of Washington), produced supercomputer simulations tracking the interactions of thousands of dust grains that show what the solar system might look like to alien astronomers searching for planets. (09.23.2010)


Goddard Scientists Put Astrobiology Lab on the Map  
Excess of L-amino acids in three meteorites provide clues to origin of life...   NASA Scientists Find Clues to a Secret of Life 03.17.2009
Swift UVOT data show that Lulin was shedding nearly 800 gallons of water each second.   Comet Lulin 02.20.2009
What would happen if, for a single day, the sun's light and heat were amplified a thousand times?   Extreme Weather on an Extrasolar Planet 01.28.2009
Extreme Weather on an Extrasolar Planet   GSFC Podcast
Mysterious Methane Gas Found in Mars' Atmosphere   Audio Interview from Science Friday


12.13.2008 - "Confirmed: 1969 Meteorite Brought Genetic Building Blocks from Sapce". The 50th story in Discover Magazine's Top 100 Stories of 2008 was the manuscript "Extraterrestrial nucleobases in the Murchison meteorite" by Zita Martins (Imperial College) which appeared in Earth and Planetary Science Letters. The manuscript describes work performed at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Codes 691 and 699 by Drs. Jason Dworkin and Daniel Glavin in cooperation with eight other authors.

11.20.08 - Press Release NASA selects New Science Teams for the Astrobiology Institute

Michael Mumma/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center - Origin and Evolution of Organics in Planetary Systems

Exogenous organic material and water were delivered to Earth in great amounts during the late heavy bombardment, and small amounts arrive even today. Intact examples abound in meteorite collections and their analysis provides a key window on source regions within 5 AU of the young sun. Major mass flux also arrived from beyond 5AU, and this source can be evaluated by measuring the organic composition of comets. Investigations of organics in comets are proposed. A comparison of organics in comets and meteorites with those in dense cloud cores and in disks around young stars can then clarify the origin and evolution of such material, and permit extention to other planetary systems. Characterization of organics in exoplanets tests these extentions. Energetic radiation from young stars can process disk material, so their spectra are explored at X-ray through ultraviolet wavelengths and used to guide models of organic evolution in the protoplanetary disk. Extensive laboratory investigations are conducted to test aspects of organic production and processing by energetic particles and radiation. Instrumental protocols are developed to enhance in situ investigations on space flight missions.

11.20.2008 - "Baking the Rover in Not An Option" The next-generation Mars rover will visit the Red Planet to sniff out the smallest traces of organic material - the building blocks of life. Trouble is, the Mars Science Laboratory is made from several kilograms of organic material from Earth. How will mission scientists keep the martian samples clean, and distinguish which molecules are from Mars, and which are from Earth?

10.16.2008 - "Volcanoes May Have Provided Sparks and Chemistry for First Life" In the Astrobiology Top 10 Stories of 2008 was the re-examination of samples from a classic origin-of-life' experiment. The finding is that volcanoes may have played an important role in life's beginnings on Earth. The story, by Jason Dworkin, Daniel Glavin, and four co-authors, appeared in the journal Science in October.

7.17.2008 - "The Earth as an Alien World helps search for Exoplanets"


Comet Wild 2's Complex Chemistry: Chemistry & Engineering News


Stardust: Press Release


Earth's early atmosphere: Washington Universty and Space Daily


 + Freedom of Information Act
+ The President's Management Agenda
+ NASA Privacy Statement, Disclaimer, and Accessibility Certification   
NASA Meatball NASA Official: Dr. Cynthia Y. Cheung
Website Manager: Corinne Eby