Russians to partner with NASA Astrobiology Institute
NASA NEWS RELEASE
Posted: October 15, 2005
The Russian Astrobiology Centre will become an affiliate of the NASA Astrobiology Institute through its international partners program.
The NASA Astrobiology Institute, headquartered at NASA Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley, is leading the scientific study of life in the universe - its origin, evolution, distribution and future. This multidisciplinary field brings together the physical and biological sciences to address some of the most fundamental questions of the natural world: How do living systems emerge? How do habitable worlds form and how do they evolve? Does life exist on worlds other than Earth? How could terrestrial life potentially survive and adapt beyond our home planet?
"The new, formal affiliation between the Russian Astrobiology Centre and the astrobiology institute opens up new possibilities for collaborative studies," said NASA Astrobiology Institute Science Director Bruce Runnegar. "For example, Russian Astrobiology Centre scientists are deeply involved in studies of the microbiology of the Siberian permafrost in places where recent volcanic activity has melted the ice, as may have happened in the past on Mars," he said.
"We are very pleased to be an affiliate member of the NASA Astrobiology Institute. It is an honor for us," said Russian Astrobiology Centre Director Dr. Anatoliy Pavlov of the A.F. Ioffe Physical and Technical Institute, St. Petersburg, and a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. "The Centre has already had several successful collaborative initiatives with NASA Astrobiology Institute scientists, and we hope that the formal relationship will make future collaborations easier and more efficient."
The Russian Astrobiology Centre, which was founded in 2002, has 20 active members at universities and research centers in St. Petersburg, Moscow and Khabarovsk. Its primary goal is to coordinate and assist different astrobiology-related research initiatives in Russia.
The Centre's main research areas include studying the evolution of the atmosphere and biosphere; the transfer of plant and animal life between Earth and Mars and the survivability of different microorganisms during space travel; and examining life in extreme environments.
"In the near future, we are planning to organize several joint expeditions of NASA and Russian scientists," said Pavlov. "We're planning an expedition to Kamchatka to study the unique microorganisms in the area of interaction of active volcanoes, hot springs and permafrost," he added.
"We are excited by the addition of this sixth international partnership," said NASA Astrobiology Institute Executive Director Rose Grymes, who also serves as director of the institute's international partners program. "Our colleagues in Russia will expand the NASA Astrobiology Institute family. We are enthusiastic about sharing in the unique expertise of the members of the Russian Astrobiology Centre, to visiting astrobiology field sites in Russia, exchanging students and researchers, and conducting joint workshops, symposia and courses. Our mutual commitment to education and public outreach will lead to new and innovative communications activities, benefiting students and teachers in both the United States and Russia."
The Russian Astrobiology Centre will join the existing NASA Astrobiology Institute affiliate and associate partners: Centro de Astrobiología of Spain (associate), Astrobiology Society of Britain (affiliate), Groupe des Recherches en Exobiology of France (affiliate), Australian Centre for Astrobiology (associate), European Astrobiology Network Association (representing 17 countries, affiliate).
Founded in 1997, the astrobiology institute is a partnership between NASA, 16 major U.S. teams and six international consortia. The NASA Astrobiology Institute's goal is to promote, conduct and lead integrated multidisciplinary astrobiology research and to train a new generation of astrobiology researchers.