SETI Institute Projects and Programs (Listed Chronologically)

Global Evolution of Solids in the Circumplanetary Subnebula

Monday, November 03 2014 - 12:31 pm, PST
In this proposal, we seek to improve our understanding of the coagulation, growth, and evolution of solids in nebulae by specifically attacking a problem that has here-to-fore never been broached: the evolution of solids in the subnebulae of giant planets from which the observed giant planet satellite systems presumably formed.

Mars Simulation Measurements (MSM): Survivability of Organic Molecules Adsorbed on or Occluded in Minerals under Ionizing Radiation

Monday, November 03 2014 - 12:27 pm, PST
This proposal requests funds to determine the protective role of minerals on adsorbed organic molecules against radiation effect under conditions that simulate Mars environments. Organic material could have been delivered to Mars from space via meteorites, comets and small interplanetary dust particles. Endogenous formation of organic material may also be considered as a possibility. The purpose is to measure, and compare the survivability rates of a wide variety of organic compounds against radiation effects when they are adsorbed on minerals that are identified on Mars.

Is Quantum Knowability Subject to Spacetime Warping?

Monday, November 03 2014 - 12:23 pm, PST
We propose to send one component of a split radar beam to the planet Mercury and the other to Mars, thereby creating two possible paths for the light to take. When the beams arrive back at Earth, we will use Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle to force the which–path information to be unknowable, thereby determining when interference should occur.

Planet and Satellite Systems

Monday, November 03 2014 - 12:18 pm, PST
Our tasks will be to characterize the orbital distribution of binary stars, and the patterns of insolation (sunlight) on planets of binary stars. Such patterns have profound implications for the climate and habitability of extrasolar planets.

Kepler Education and Public Outreach: A SETI Institute Project

Monday, November 03 2014 - 12:06 pm, PST
The SETI Institute (SI), in collaboration with Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS), UC Berkeley, and the NASA Ames Research Center Office of Public Affairs (PAO), proposes to conduct the Education and Public Outreach (E/PO) work for NASA’s Kepler Mission, FY 2013 through FY 2016.

Life at the dry limit: Cyanobacteria inside halite pinnacles in the Atacama desert

Monday, November 03 2014 - 11:59 am, PST
The goal of this project is to understand the survival mechanism of cyanobacteria inhabiting the interior of halite pinnacles in the Yungay region of the Atacama desert. The Yungay region is so inhospitable that even the organisms better adapted to water stress are absent. For decades it was thought that life was not possible in this region. The discovery of endolithic colonies of cyanobacteria inside halite pinnacles was a surprise. The halite pinnacles themselves are unique, and have not been described in any other desert on earth.

Advancing the Search for Life on Mars Through Robotic Exploration and Field Analogue Research

Monday, November 03 2014 - 11:46 am, PST
I propose to advance the search for life on Mars by approaching the microbiology of ground ice in the Antarctic Dry Valleys as an analogue to ground ice on Mars, and by introducing a new mission concept for the robotic exploration of Mars that would allow to drill to a depth of several meters and search for life in ground ice.

Characterization of the dark material in the Saturn system

Monday, November 03 2014 - 11:42 am, PST
The goal of our proposed research is to further investigate the nature and origin of the dark material(s) on the satellites of Saturn.

A compositional interpretation of TNO taxonomy

Monday, November 03 2014 - 11:35 am, PST
In the trans-Neptunian region, ices are common and clearly detectable in the largest trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs). However, it is the small TNOs at the far edge of the Solar System, pristine in composition because of their distance, that could contribute important information on the original composition of the system. The proposed research consists in an investigation aimed at:

Formation of Giant Planets and sub-Neptunes by Core-Nucleated Accretion

Monday, November 03 2014 - 11:11 am, PST
The basic objective of this proposal is the improvement of the understanding of the origin and evolution of planets with gaseous envelopes, including gas giants and “sub-Neptunes”, as observed in extrasolar systems. The project will involve numerical modelling and comparison of the results with observations of planets by radial velocities, transits, and direct detections. The calculations will be based on giant and sub-Neptune planet formation through the Core-Nucleated Accretion model (CNA), in which a heavy-element core forms first. Once it has attained sufficient mass, it captures gas from the protoplanetary disk as it continues to accrete solids. Significant improvements in the physics, compared with past work, will be incorporated.