SAGANet Community Newsletter - Dec. 2015


A publicly compiled, interstellar radio wave transmission

Welcome to 'A Simple Response to an Elemental Message', a non-for-profit, publically-compiled, Interstellar Radio Message due to be transmitted from Earth on a one-way journey to our North Star in 2016.

“How will our present, collective environmental interactions shape the future?”

Today, we are situated within a period theorised as “The Critical Decade”, a pivotal point within our civilisations’ history in which present ecological decisions may inherently commit future generations to adversity. Global decisions reached at the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2015 in Paris as well as made at home will collectively hold equal weight in sculpting this arrow of time for all of Earth’s inhabitants regardless of species, location or adaptability. Never before has humankind wielded this capacity to author the future of the Earth's entire biosphere; our civilisation has truly become a worldwide, geological agent whose capabilities can rival that of nature's own sculpting forces.

So how do you think we, as a species, will shape this future? ‘A Simple Response to an Elemental Message’ invites individuals from anywhere on the planet to consider and freely contribute their own unique [text-based] perspectives to the posed question; “How will our present, collective environmental interactions shape the future?” In autumn 2016, material submitted in response to this globally relevant question will be transmitted into deep space to commence its interstellar, light-speed journey; in effect, creating a culturally-inspired, ‘message in a bottle’ of global perspectives encoded within light itself that will propagate out into space for eons.

By submitting text contributions from across the globe for this interstellar, poetic time capsule, participants will be contributing to ongoing dialogue concerning how our civilisation collectively perceives its’ role within shaping the future of the environment and establish a means by which we may collectively analyse these perspectives for cross-cultural universals within this single, global human community.

- Paul Quast, Artist & Project Coordinator.


Wish to know more about this initiative or participate in this transmission? Please visit the purpose-
built project website to explore, interact, investigate the research and, if interested, contribute your

own unique perspective to this interstellar odyssey via;

You can follow the progress of this interstellar odyssey on Facebook and Twitter via:


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4th Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI) Symposium - Jan. 12-15, 2016
Three Experiments in Biological Origins: Early Earth, Venus and Mars
Date: January 12 - 15, 2016
Location: Tokyo, Japan 
Participation/Poster Deadline: December 14, 2015
The aim of this meeting is to look at the formation and early environment of Venus, the Earth and Mars and place them into context relative to each other, and to a lesser degree to other planets and exoplanets. The goal is to determine what conditions on Earth were favorable for the onset of chemical cycles that eventually led to a thriving biosphere, and whether our neighbors may have once harbored such conditions. Why did Earth succeed where the others failed?

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In-person & Online Workshop on the Consequences of Internal Planet Evolution for the Habitability and Detectability of Life - Feb. 17-19, 2016

Upstairs Downstairs: Consequences of Internal Planet Evolution for the Habitability and Detectability of Life on Extrasolar Planets

A Workshop Without Walls Presented by the NAI, NExSS, and NSF

Where: Arizona State University & Virtual Locations
Date: February 17th - 19th, 2016
Time: 9:00AM - 5:00PM MST

The chemistry and physics of planetary interiors shapes conditions at their surfaces in ways that profoundly affect habitability and our ability to detect life. The nature and extent of these interactions are not well understood even on Earth. For example, we debate the ways in which internal processes affected the emergence of an O2-rich surface environment on Earth, paving the way for complex life. As a result, we lack a guiding theory from which we can infer the likelihood that O2 will accumulate in the atmospheres of exoplanets with slightly different mass or composition from Earth. The implications for exoplanet habitability and life detection strategies have barely been considered.

The goal is a community research roadmap and white paper aimed at developing a theory of planetary evolution, from solar nebula to evolving world, that will guide the search for inhabited worlds into the next generation. To this end, the workshop will be open to community participation via face-to-face attendance at ASU, and virtual participation as a NASA Workshop Without Walls.This workshop will bring together astrobiologists, astronomers, planetary scientists, geochemists, geophysicists, and others needed to develop a working theory about the complex relationships between the surface habitability and internal evolution of Earth and Earth-like worlds.

Click here to RSVP
No commitment necessary!

Key themes:

Exoplanetary Observations
What can we observe now and in the near future that has bearing on facets of exoplanet geophysics and geochemistry that shape habitability and detectability?

Physics and Chemistry in Planetary Formation
How does our understanding of planetary formation inform our ability to predict planetary compositions and hence important geophysical and geochemical parameters?

Atmospheres and Biosignatures
What are our longer-term observational aims and how are they affected by surface-interior interactions?

Physical Behavior of Planetary Materials and Planetary Structure
What are our limits of understanding of planetary material behaviors and surface tectonics, and how must this understanding extend and evolve to guide the search?

Thermal and Chemical Evolution of Planets
What are our limits of understanding of solid planet evolution and how must this understanding extend and evolve to guide the search?

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Conference on Water in the Universe: From Clouds to Oceans - Apr. 12-15, 2016
Date: April 12 - 15, 2016
Location: Noordwijk, Netherlands 
Abstract Submission Deadline: December 11, 2015
The conference will cover all astrophysical aspects of water, including the water trail, from the formation of water in molecular clouds to water on planetary bodies, including in our own solar system; water as a probe of physics and chemistry; and water nearby to water in extra-galactic and high redshift sources.
For all the conference information, visit:

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Outer Planets Assessment Group Meeting - Feb. 1-2, 2016

OPAG will meet February 1-2, 2016 in San Antonio, Texas. Please forecast your travel if you need to - the deadline is imminent.

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Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group Meeting - March 2-3, 2016
The 31st MEPAG meeting, to be held March 2-3, 2016, in Silver Spring, MD. More information will be sent out and posted on the MEPAG meeting webpage ( as it becomes available.

LPI Summer Intern Program in Planetary Science - Deadline Jan. 8, 2016

The Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) invites undergraduates with at least 50 semester hours of credit to experience cutting-edge research in the lunar and planetary sciences.

The deadline for application is January 8, 2016.

Summer interns will work one-on-one with a scientist at the LPI or at the NASA Johnson Space Center on a research project of current interest in lunar and planetary science. Furthermore, they will participate in peer-reviewed research, learn from top-notch planetary scientists, and preview various careers in science.

The 10-week program begins June 6, 2016, and ends on August 12, 2016. Selected students will receive a $5675.00 stipend; in addition, U.S. students will receive a $1000.00 travel stipend, and foreign nationals will receive a $1500.00 foreign travel reimbursement.

Applications are only accepted via the electronic application form found at the LPI’s intern website

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Exploration Science Summer Intern Program in Planetary Science - Deadline Jan. 15, 2016

The Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) and NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) is hosting a special Exploration Science Summer Intern Program to build on the success of the former Lunar Exploration Summer Intern Program that was designed to evaluate possible landing sites on the Moon for robotic and human exploration missions. Over a five year period (2008–2012), teams of students worked with Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) science staff and their collaborators to produce A Global Lunar Landing Site Study to Provide the Scientific Context for Exploration of the Moon. The program for 2016 is designed to have the same impact on future exploration activities, but has a broader scope that includes both the Moon and near-Earth asteroids. It is a unique opportunity to integrate scientific input with exploration activities in a way that mission architects and spacecraft engineers can use. Activities may involve assessments and traverse plans for a particular destination (e.g., on the lunar farside) or a more general assessment of a class of possible exploration targets (e.g., small near-Earth asteroids).

The 10-week program runs from May 23, 2016, through July 29, 2016. Selected interns will receive a $5675 stipend to cover the costs associated with being in Houston for the duration of the program. Additionally, U.S. citizens will receive up to $1000 in travel expense reimbursement and foreign nationals will receive up to $1500 in travel expense reimbursement.

**APPLICATION DEADLINE: January 15, 2016**

Applications are only accepted using the electronic application form found at LPI’s
Exploration Science Summer Intern website.

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Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Internships - Summer 2016 - Deadline Feb. 5, 2016

The goal of the Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Internship is to provide promising students with the opportunity to work in the area of civil space research policy in the nation's capital, under the aegis of the Space Science Board of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The summer 2016 program is only open to undergraduates.

The deadline for applications is February 5. Candidate(s) selected for will be contacted no later than March 4. Additional information about the program, including application procedure, can be found at:

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NExSS Winter School: Interaction between planet interiors and surfaces - Deadline Dec. 7, 2015

The NExSS Winter School is open to grad students and recent postdocs who want to increase their interdisciplinarity across the disciplines studied by NExSS in general, and the themes explored
at the related "Upstairs/Downstairs" Workshop Without Walls in particular. It will be held Feb. 21-27 at the Biosphere 2 facility in Oracle, AZ. We intend to select 30 students for the school, and their
expenses would be paid for entirely (except for the flight to Phoenix/Tucson).

We have now confirmed many instructors for the School --- Daniel Apai (UA), David Catling (UW), Steve Desch (ASU), Shawn Domagal-Goldman (GSFC), Hiroshi Imanaka (SETI), Maggie Turnbull (GSI) --- and we are in the process of confirming a few more this week. We are excited to explore the themes of interaction between planet interiors and their surfaces, with implications for geochemistry and biosignatures.

More information and application procedures at:

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2016 Kavli Summer Program in Astrophysics - UC Santa Cruz - Deadline Jan. 22, 2016

The 2016 Kavli Summer Program in Astrophysics (formerly known as ISIMA), will be held in Santa Cruz, CA, from June 20th to July 29th this summer on the topic of "Exoplanetary Atmospheres." Jonathan Fortney is the director of this year's program, with a Scientific Organizing Committee of Dorian Abbott, Ruth Murray-Clay,  Doug Lin​, Xi Zhang, and Colin Goldblatt. ​The program lecturers are Jacob Bean, David Catling, and Kristen Menou.
For more information about the program, including details about its format, testimonies from past participants, and application forms, see
The program will consist of a first week of pedagogical lectures and state-of-the-art seminars, and the next 5 weeks are dedicated to collaborative and multidisciplinary research, with graduate students working on projects proposed by the long-term participants of the program.
This program is an outstanding venue for students to learn about a field in depth, and have the opportunity to work with leading faculty in the field. The students are chosen among the best applicants from all over the world. This is also an incredible opportunity for faculty and postdocs to meet the best of the next generation, and have the chance to mentor them. Many research projects lead to a publication.
The program is inviting applications from graduate student, postdocs and faculty to attend. Applications are competitive, as all selected participants will be provided with free accommodation for the duration of their stay in Santa Cruz. The deadline for student applications is January 22nd. Faculty/postdoc applications are reviewed on a monthly basis, until March 31st.


NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF) Program - Deadline Feb. 1, 2016

NASA announces a call for graduate fellowship proposals to the NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF) program for the 2016-2017 academic year.  This call for fellowship proposals solicits applications from accredited U.S. universities on behalf of individuals pursuing Master of Science (M.Sc.) or Doctoral (Ph.D.) degrees in Earth and space sciences, or related disciplines. The purpose of NESSF is to ensure continued training of a highly qualified workforce in disciplines needed to achieve NASA’s scientific goals. Awards resulting from this competitive selection will be made in the form of training grants to the respective universities.

The deadline for new applications is February 1, 2016.

The NESSF call for proposals and submission instructions are located at the NESSF 16 solicitation index page at - click on "Solicitations" then click on "Open Solicitations" then select the "NESSF 16" announcement.  Also refer to “Program Specific Questions” and “Frequently Asked Questions” listed under “Other Documents” on the NESSF 16 solicitation index page.

For further information contact Claire Macaulay, Program Administrator for NESSF Earth Science Research, Telephone: (202) 358-0151, E-mail: or Dolores Holland, Program Administrator for NESSF Heliophysics Research, Planetary Science Research, and Astrophysics Research, Telephone: (202) 358-0734, E-mail:.

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Postdoctoral position at the SETI Institute in Astrobiology and Planetary Science

The SETI Institute Carl Sagan Center (Mountain View, CA) is seeking applicants for a two-year Postdoctoral Research Associate in the field of Astrobiology and Planetary Science. As a University of Wisconsin-Madison NAI Team Member, research will focus on the preservation and recovery of biomarkers using samples collected from planetary analog environments and samples from International Space Station radiation exposure experiments.
The position is located at NASA Ames Research Center (ARC) and will require close collaboration with SETI Institute and ARC researchers in the Planetary Systems and Exobiology Branches, as well as NAI team members at UW-Madison and other institutions.
Qualified candidates will have a Ph.D. in a relevant discipline (e.g., Chemistry, Geochemistry, Biology) and extensive experience in Instrumental Methods of Analysis. Experience in UV/Vis/IR spectroscopy, LCMS and GCMS is desired. For complete information and to apply please go to:



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