SETI Institute Projects and Programs (Listed Chronologically)

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.

Orbital Evolution of Outer Solar System Satellites

Monday, November 03 2014 - 10:55 am, PST
This proposal focuses on the dynamics of satellites orbiting three outer solar system objects: Saturn, Pluto and the triple trans-Neptunian object (TNO) 1999 TC_36. The proposed work is divided into two main themes, one dealing with the dynamical evolution of the Saturnian satellite system, and the other concentrating on the dynamics of gravitationally bound fragments in TNO collisions.

Orbital Dynamics of Small Bodies in the Inner Solar System

Monday, November 03 2014 - 10:50 am, PST
This proposal aims to study the orbital evolution of three interesting groups of small bodies in the Inner Solar System: meteoroids originating in the Hungaria region, small binary asteroids, and Mars Trojans.

The Role of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Dense Cloud Absorption Features: The Last Major Unanswered Question in Interstellar Ice Spectroscopy

Friday, October 31 2014 - 4:48 pm, PDT
Interstellar dust plays a vital role in the star formation process and the eventual formation of planetary systems including our own. Ice mantles are an important component of the dust: reactions involving simple ices can create more complex (and astrobiologically interesting) molecules, and ices sublimated back into the gas phase influence the gas-phase chemistry.

Science Processing Support for the TESS Mission

Friday, October 31 2014 - 12:53 pm, PDT
In April 2013, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) was selected for flight in August 2017 by NASA’s Explorer Program to discover the 1,000 exoplanets best suited for follow-up and characterization with existing, impending, and future facilities and projects such as the James Webb Space Telescope.