NASA today announced 12 new teams would join the NASA
Astrobiology Institute (NAI), a national and international
research consortium that studies the origin, evolution,
distribution and future of life on Earth and in the universe.

The institutional awards begin in fall 2003, when current
agreements with the NAI’s 11 founding lead teams conclude.
NAI team awards are for five years, with annual reviews, at
an average annual funding level of one million dollars.
Funding supports interdisciplinary research in conjunction
with professional, educational, and public outreach
activities, coordinated through NAI’s offices at NASA’s Ames
Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

“The NAI successfully reached an important milestone today
with the competition for the original NAI membership,” said
Dr. Edward Weiler, NASA’s Associate Administrator of Space
Science. “The quality of the proposals and stiff competition
demonstrated the scientific community’s enthusiasm for the
Astrobiology Institute. “This is an ongoing experiment in
collaboration across disciplines and distance,” said Dr.
Michael Meyer, astrobiology senior scientist at NASA
Headquarters, Washington.

The 12 newly selected teams, of which six are founding
members, join four NAI lead teams selected in 2001. “With
this group of 16 teams, NAI’s efforts reach from the Earth’s
deep subsurface to the stars,” said Dr. Rosalind Grymes,
acting director of the NAI. “We look to the near-term future
of solar system exploration as well as to the distant past of
planet Earth,” she said.

The new team lead institutions, principal investigators and
the titles of their proposed research are:

* Carnegie Institution of Washington: Dr. Sean Solomon,
“Astrobiological Pathways: From the Interstellar Medium,
Through Planetary Systems, to the Emergence and Detection of

* Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind.: Prof. Lisa Pratt,
“Indiana-Princeton-Tennessee Astrobiology Institute:
Detection of Biosustainable Energy and Nutrient Cycling in
the Deep Subsurface of Earth and Mars”

* Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Mass.: Dr.
Mitchell Sogin, “From Early Biospheric Metabolisms to the
Evolution of Complex Systems”

* SETI Institute, Mountain View, Calif.: Prof. Christopher
Chyba, “Planetary Biology, Evolution and Intelligence”

* NASA Ames Research Center: Dr. David DesMarais, “Linking
Our Origins to Our Future”

* NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.: Dr.
Michael Mumma, “Origin and Evolution of Organics in Planetary

* Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pa.: Prof.
Hiroshi Ohmoto, “Evolution of a Habitable Planet”

* University of Arizona, Tucson: Prof. Neville Woolf, “An
Astronomical Search for the Essential Ingredients for Life:
Placing our Habitable System in Context”

* University of California at Los Angeles: Prof. Edward
Young, “From Stars to Genes: An Integrated Study of the
Prospects for Life in the Cosmos”

* University of California at Berkeley: Prof. Jillian
Banfield, “Biospheres of Mars: Ancient and Recent Studies”

* University of Colorado, Boulder, Colo.: Prof. Bruce
Jakosky, “University of Colorado Center for Astrobiology”

* University of Hawaii, Manoa: Prof. Karen Meech, “The
Origin, History, and Distribution of Water and its Relation
to Life in the Universe”

The NAI, founded in 1997, is a partnership between NASA, 16
major U.S. teams and five international consortia. NAI’s goal
is to promote, conduct, and lead integrated multidisciplinary
astrobiology research and to train a new generation of
astrobiology researchers. For more information about the NAI
on the Internet, visit: