Status Report

NASA Astrobiology Institute Notice: Interdisciplinary Exploration Science solicitation

By SpaceRef Editor
March 4, 2005
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NASA Astrobiology Institute Notice: Interdisciplinary Exploration Science solicitation

Are you an NAI Member? Involved in an NAI Focus Group? Does your expertise include interdisciplinary science? Have you anything to contribute, scientifically, to the National Vision for Space Exploration (Earth, Moon, Mars and Beyond)?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you should know about the new Interdisciplinary Exploration Science solicitation included in the Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES) recently released by the Science Mission Directorate (SMD), NASA Headquarters.

Interdisciplinary Exploration Science (IES) has a $10 million budget in 2005 and anticipates 15-20 awards of up to three years duration. Notices of Intent are requested by April 15, proposals are due June 17.

The scope of relevant research includes:

  • The interrelationship between terrestrial life, climate, and other physical parameters
  • Research on signatures of extraterrestrial life, whether remotely sensed or sought in situ
  • Research towards understanding the history of the solar system and the planets as a system of systems
  • Earth processes or systems that are good analogs for processes or systems at work elsewhere in the solar system
  • Prebiotic chemistry and the cycling of elements
  • Understanding and modeling the space environments in which exploration activities will occur.

This trend, towards interdisciplinary science and collaborative proposals on the large scale, should be particularly interesting to the NAI, itself a large-scale collaborative and interdisciplinary activity. Astrobiology is included within IES, and astrobiology is the core of NAI. The NAI, through its Members, is in a unique and strong position to respond to this opportunity. The Institute has laid the ground work in interdisciplinary collaborative research by the very structure of its Teams, through NAI Focus Groups, in the progress obtained at its 2003 NAI Retreat, via the preparation of interdisciplinary white papers, and most recently in the development of its Collaborative Science Plan.

Are you familiar with the NAI Collaborative Science Plan (CSP), now in draft? The NAI’s CSP contributed to our concerted group response to the request from the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) for white papers on interdisciplinary exploration science late last year (available at Clearly we continue to be in tune with SMD’s emphasis on interdisciplinary science.

Among our planned next steps in the CSP process is a series of workshops (or videocons), refining and specifying collaboration directions. With this message we are asking all NAI members to recommend themes/topics for near-term workshops exploring interdisciplinary astrobiology science in the context of the IES and other ROSES elements.

As you have ideas, please also discuss them with your Team PI, the chair(s) of your Focus Group, or the lead for a section of the CSP that engages you. Facilitating interaction within and between Teams, within astrobiology and between contributing disciplines–this is at the core of our cooperative Institute. While the CSP is being completed and circulated for comment and endorsement, these proposed workshops are a simultaneous next step that can further focus our collaborative efforts, defining specific research/technology development interactions. Various funding sources exist, if additional funds are needed, for progress in particular areas. In addition to the IES, which we mention prominently because it is new, the ROSES 2005 announcement also includes opportunities with which you may already be familiar: ASTID, ASTEP, and the Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology Program. The weblink for this solicitation is (go from “Solicitations” to “Open Solicitations”). The NAI also has a small Institute Strategic Fund, described at the NAI’s website,, and opportunities for Student Research and Travel Scholarships.

If you want to participate in these workshops or videocons –planning, attending, suggesting topics– send a response to this note to Dr. Rita Briggs ( by March 11 indicating the specifics of your interest. Also reply if you would like assistance finding colleagues within the Institute with a particular expertise to augment your own in the development of an interdisciplinary research topic.

Is there a cross-discipline collaboration that would further the progress of your own investigations? One of NAI Central’s ongoing roles is helping to create connections between investigators and between Teams.

Thanks for working with the NAI on this,


Dr. Rosalind A. Grymes

Deputy Director

NASA Astrobiology Institute

SpaceRef staff editor.