Author Archives: Anushree Srivastava

Prof. Mukund Sharma senior paleontologist and astrobiologist from Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences (Lucknow, India) is renowned for his immense contribution in the field of Precambrian Palaeobiology in India. He has extensively worked on the Archaeans of the Dharwar Craton, the Proterozoic basins of peninsular India i.e., the Cuddapah, Kaladgi, Vindhyan, Chhattisgarh and, Marwar Supergroups, Kurnool, Bhima, and Indravati Groups. He has reported syngenetic fossil cyanobacteria from >2600 Ma Neoarchaean Iron Formation of Karnataka. His studies on 1600 Ma old Vindhyan Supergroup demonstrated that Grypanai spiralis considered to be a eukaryotic fossil is actually a coiled long sheath of prokaryotic cyanobacteria. Chuaria-Tawuia which were once considered as an independent life form for more than a century were shown by him as representing two stages of life cycles of the same organism. From Neoproterozoic Bhima Group, he reported multicellular organisms which show they evolved ca 720 Ma, much earlier than Ediacaran…

Read more

By Anushree Srivastava Crew Biologist – Mars 160 Twin Desert-Arctic Analog Mission Executive Officer and Crew Biologist – Crew 172   Hi Everyone! Here I am with some selected pieces from my diaries written over a period of three months as part of MARS 160 Twin Desert-Arctic Analog Mission and Crew 172. Mars 160 mission recently culminated its first phase at Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in the Utah Desert. The second and final phase of this Mars simulation mission will take place at Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) in the High Arctic this summer. Both FMARS and MDRS, founded and administered by The Mars Society, are unique Mars analog habitats, established in 2000 and 2001 respectively. MDRS is located on the San Rafael Swell of southern Utah and FMARS is located near Haughton Impact Crater formed approx. 39 million years ago during the Eocene. The MDRS campus is…

Read more

Emergence and Evolution of Biological Complexity From the origins of life to multicellularity Saturday Feb 4 –  Monday Feb 6, 2017 Dasheri auditorium, NCBS, Bangalore Biology, at all scales from molecular to cellular to populations, provides quintessential examples of complex adaptive systems. This meeting brings together experimentalists, theorists and philosophers to discuss the physical principles underlying the emergence of complexity in biological systems, and how it is shaped by cooperative dynamical behaviour and selective pressures. Speakers will probe events in the history of life on Earth which marked qualitative changes in the complexity of biological systems, such as the origin of life or the appearance of multicellularity, and also discuss our growing quantitative understanding of evolution at the molecular scale. Please note the deadline for Registration: December 15, 2016 – Foreign applicants who need a visa are urged to register as soon as possible to avoid last-minute stress! Organizers:  Clement…

Read more

Astrobiology India has announced a project for college students to join the Young Scientist Program (YSP) of Blue Marble Space Institute of Science (BMSIS)   Project Title – “Astrobiology and Space Science in India”   Project Description  Astrobiology India, an initiative of Blue Marble Space, is aimed to encourage and promote awareness of Astrobiology and Space Sciences in India and to bring together the Indian Astrobiology community worldwide. The Young Scientist Program intends to promote the vision and mission of Astrobiology India by offering an opportunity to a student to conduct a study of the past, present, and future of space science and astrobiology research in India. Specifically, the student would carry out the in-depth literature study of the historical development and present scenario of space science and astrobiology research in India. The report will discuss the foundation of Astrobiology India, its goals, contributions, identification of possible challenges in the…

Read more

Dr. Dimitra Atri is a computational physicist working on various aspects of astroparticle physics, radiation biophysics, and astrobiology at the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science (BMSIS). Prior to that, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai, India. He earned his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Kansas in May 2011. He has written a number of articles on topics like effects of ionizing radiation on human health, observation of muon excess due to gamma ray bursts detected from space etc. For a full list of his publications, go to http://kusmos.phsx.ku.edu/~dimitra/Publications.html Some of his current projects include, modeling the impact of hard solar events and galactic cosmic rays on astronaut health in long-term space missions, exploring the impact of particle interaction models tuned with LHC data on gamma-ray and neutrino production in our galaxy, modeling the background flux of protons, antiprotons, neutrinos and…

Read more

  Professor Vinod Chandra Tewari Senior Scientist (Geology), Astrobiologist, India   Professor Vinod Chandra Tewari recently retired (November 2014) as Senior Scientist (G) and Project Director at  Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun, India. He has done extensive research for over 35 years in the field of Precambrian Phanerozoic stromatollites; sedimentation and carbon isotope chemostratigraphy; genesis, early evolution and diversification of life and its astrobiological significance. In his illustrious scientific career, he has been awarded many international fellowships. He was the senior associate and TRIL fellow at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, Italy. He has contributed to several International Geoscience Programme (IGCP) projects such as stromatolites, bio-sedimentology of microbial buildups, phosphorites, Precambrian – Cambrian boundary, global bioevents and the rise and fall of Vendian biota. He is currently the convener of the IGCP project on Asian Tethyan Realm in India.  It is a huge multinational project which, through multidisciplinary investigations, is expected to…

Read more

  NASA SPACEWARD BOUND The Spaceward Bound Program is an educational program developed at NASA Ames Research Center. More information here. The objective is for participating scientific researchers, educators and students to visit remote and extreme environments in different parts of the world and conduct astrogeological/biological experiments, make observations and learn about the origin, sustenance and adaptation of living organisms within such biospheres. Previous spaceward bound expeditions have been conducted in the Mohave Desert USA, North Dakota USA; Idaho USA, Western Australia, Namibian Desert, UAE, Antarctica; high Arctic regions, New Zealand. More information here Traditionally, after the scientific theme of the expedition has been defined, (for example, hot acidic lakes, cold-dry desert, hot-dry desert, etc.), a team consisting of scientists, educators and students visits the site, each with their own objectives to accomplish. The scientists collect samples, conduct preliminary on-site sampling, make observations, and the work usually results in publish worthy data. The…

Read more

    The New Zealand Astrobiology Initiative (NZAI) of the Royal Astronomical Society, New Zealand (RASNZ), is dedicated to encouraging, assisting, and promoting astrobiology research, education and outreach in New Zealand. The lead of the group, Haritina Mogosanu is an astrobiologist (life sciences) who is also trained in public relations, international security and outreach. She loves to travel and share her passion for astronomy, astrobiology and space. She believes that scientific education is a gatekeeper of peace. It makes humankind a better place for all of us. She is a founding and board member of KiwiSpace Foundation and Mars Society New Zealand, and executive member of the World Space Week Association. Hari has been a great friend and supporter of Astrobiology India since its inception. As we continue to collaborate, we as Astrobiology India team congratulate NZAI as they complete a year and wish them boundless success for many more years to…

Read more

Dr K Sivan, Distinguished Scientist and Director, Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), Thiruvananthapuram, has assumed the office of the Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram, today.  He took over as Director, VSSC from Mr M Chandradathan, who superannuated in end May 2015. Dr Sivan graduated from Madras Institute of Technology in Aeronautical Engineering in 1980 and took his Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore in 1982. Subsequently, he completed his PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay in 2006. Dr Sivan joined ISRO in 1982 to Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) Project and has made rich contributions towards end to end mission planning, mission design, mission integration and analysis. The mission design process and innovative mission design strategies perfected by him for PSLV has become the foundation for ISRO launch vehicles like Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV),  GSLV Mk-III, as well…

Read more

BMSIS is pioneering a new internship program model. Alongside cutting-edge scientific investigations, students are also exposed to training in Communication as well as Ethics. The modern scientist requires excellent communication skills. It is increasingly necessary for scientists to clearly communicate the value of their science to the public and to policy makers, to write compelling proposals for funding, and to communicate their findings at scientific conferences. Communication is thus a pivotal skill in the success of a scientific career. Modern science can also touch the sensitivity of society at large, from climate change to evolution, and countless other topics. The modern scientist thus needs to have the skills to place his or her work in a modern media-rich environment and think about the societal implications of their research. BMSIS interns may work on-site or remotely, depending on the needs of the project, mentor, and intern. Funding is available for some…

Read more

Imagine this scenario: You are planning to buy a new house in a nice neighborhood. The schools in the area are good, the neighborhood is very safe, but you want to know the ‘kid friendly’ area (so that your kids can have friends). You drive around, looking at the available houses, watching for any ‘kid signatures’. You notice that a good proportion of the homes in your neighborhood show some ‘potential’ to have kids. Based on your observation, you estimate the percentage of houses with kids. A very similar process is currently being carried out in the field of ‘exoplanets’: planets orbiting other stars. The past two decades have seen a rapid increase in the discoveries of exoplanets (although, if you follow the International Astronomical Union’s definition of a planet, exoplanets are not technically ‘planets’. But that discussion is for another time). Just this year, the number of confirmed exoplanets…

Read more

Humans have gazed up at the sky in wonder since before the dawn of civilization, and the age-old question of “are we alone?” has occupied philosophers and priests for centuries on end. Today the interdisciplinary field of astrobiology strives toward an answer to this mystery by examining this history of life on Earth in an effort to search for life elsewhere and better understand our future. Astrobiology is a collaborative effort among scientists of different fields to examine the origin, distribution, and future of life in the universe. Earth is the only known example of an inhabited planet, but this at least provides astrobiologists with a rich geological and biological history to examine the conditions that led to the formation of life. Investigation into the interplay between life and climate can lead toward a more fundamental understanding of exactly what is needed for an environment to be “habitable”. This in…

Read more

Geologist, Astrobiologist, Engineer – NASA Ames Research Centre Research Scientist, Director – Blue Marble Space Institute of Science   Dr. Sanjoy Som is a research scientist at the Exobiology Branch of NASA Ames Research Center. His is also a systems engineer for Fruit Fly Lab, a scientific program to study fruit flies on the International Space Station. Fruit Fly Lab – 1 launched in December 2014. Broadly, his research involves investigating the connection between geology, geochemistry, and microbiology in geological systems that involve the reaction of water with sea-floor rocks, through a combination of field, laboratory and theoretical studies. His work on investigation of fossil raindrop imprints to study the ancient Earth atmosphere was published in Nature. He is also the CEO of Blue Marble Space, a non-profit organization whose mission is to enable and promote international unity through space exploration. Blue Marble Space has started several outstanding initiatives including…

Read more

Transmission of radio waves or optical light is the most plausible mechanism of communication between us and any intelligent civilization, if existent in the Milky Way. Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is largely dependent on tapping the radio signals coming from other worlds which are several light years away from us. International community of scientists involved in SETI research have been employing huge radio telescopes like the Arecibo radio telescope, the National Radio Astronomy 140 foot radio telescope, the Big Ear telescope and others, to search for radio signals from extraterrestrial civilizations since 1960s. Indian astrophysicists are now all set to make significant contributions in establishment of the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope – the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). The SKA radio telescope project will be built in sparsely populated and remote areas of Australia and South Africa, with a total collecting area of approximately one square kilometre,…

Read more

Microbiologist, Astrobiologist Jet Propulsion Laboratory – NASA   Dr. Parag Vaishampayan is a scientist in the Biotechnology and Planetary Protection Group at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), California Institute of Technology (Caltech), in Pasadena, California. In this role, he is responsible for the characterization of the microbial diversity associated with spacecrafts outbound from Earth and the clean-room facilities in which they are assembled. Being the key bioinformatician of his group, he is also involved in the generation and curation of a comprehensive microbial sequence database at JPL. Dr. Vaishampayan has over 15 years of research experience in microbial ecology of diverse and extreme environmental niches, encompassing spacecraft assembly clean rooms, ocean, stratospheric air samples, high altitude caves, hydrothermal vents, and the human gut to name a few. His research has been showcased in more than 35 peer-reviewed publications, a book chapter and multiple presentations. A complete list of his publications can be…

Read more

15/17