Habitable Worlds and Extreme Environments

Astrobiology Resources

OSTA Conference at Newport, OR

October 14, 2005


NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and NOAA Ocean Explorer Sites

http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/explorations.html.  The homepage for connecting to the science and resources from Ocean Explorer Expeditions since 2001. A rich source of information about ocean science and extreme environments.

            Ring of Fire Exploration Sites Submarine Volcanoes and their EXTREME environments.

            http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/05fire/welcome.html 2005

            http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/04fire/welcome.html 2004

            http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/03fire/welcome.html 2003

            http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/02fire/welcome.html 2002

            http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/02fire/logs/magicmountain/welcome.html Magic Mountain virtual site.

http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/edu/welcome.html. Ocean Explorer Education site, complete with lesson plans, curriculum materials, and professional development opportunities for teachers.           

http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/02arctic/logs/aug26/media/biota.html video of creatures living at 1.5 dg C. NOAA Artic exploration

http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/gallery/livingocean/livingocean_inverts.html  NOAA Ocean Explorer Gallery of Invertebrates

http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/gallery/livingocean/livingocean_fish.html NOAA Ocean Explorer Gallery of Vertebrates.

http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/gallery/livingocean/livingocean_seafloor.html NOAA Ocean Explorer Gallery of Seafloor structures and creatures. Movies and images of hydrothermal vents and the life growing around them. EXTREME life.

http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/edu/lessonplans/lessonplans.html Lesson plans you can search by grade level and topic.

http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/02fire/background/education/media/ring_candy_chemo_9_12.pdf  Biochemistry of hydrothermal vents. Differentiate between requirements for life in extreme environments and other environments, and use models to create a visual image of chemicals involved in autotrophic nutrition.

http://www.immersionpresents.org/extremes.html A site related to a 2005 NOAA dive,  Life at the Extremes, follows the work of Dr. Robert Ballard and  Dr. Deborah Kelley on the Lost City. Much of the information appears appropriate for Middle School students.

TERC (originally Technology and Energy Research Center)

http://astrobio.terc.edu/ Astrobiology:  An Integrated Science Approach. Site has sample lessons and activities for use in classrooms.

http://astrobio.terc.edu/xtreme/resources.html  The Xtreme Files resources page provides links to help students (and teachers) answer questions on what are the characteristics of life, how did it all begin, etc.

http://astrobio.terc.edu/xtreme/ WebQuest: X-Treme Files:  Interactive multidisciplinary challenge to students to create a documentary video that demonstrates what life is on earth and how it might be extrapolated to other planets.

http://astrobio.terc.edu/samples/chpt2_act3.html Lesson and resources for students to look at the relation between stars' temperatures and colors. Data for some 100 stars are available for students.

http://www.astrobiology.com/extreme.html is an Astrobiology Web page on Life in Extreme Environments. It houses a large set of online references for students interested in organisms that live (or lived) in extreme environments.

SETI Institute

http://www.seti.org/site/pp.asp?c=ktJ2J9MMIsE&b=179110 From SETI, a series of modules written for grade levels 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, and 8-9.  Sample lessons from the modules are available for download. 

http://www.voyagesthroughtime.org:16080/curriculum/index.html SETI's integrated curriculum provides sample lesson information and activities for the six components of the Voyages Through Time curriculum.

http://www.voyagesthroughtime.org:16080/curriculum/instructional.html describes the 5E instructional strategy:  Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate.

http://www.voyagesthroughtime.org:16080/cosmic/sample/lesson5/z_act1.htm Sample Activity from the Cosmic Evolution module on the formation of galaxies. http://www.voyagesthroughtime.org:16080/planetary/sample/lesson5/z_act3.htm Sample Activity from the Planetary Evolution module on 'The Living Earth' and makes a planet habitable.

This online activity was the most fully supported online sample activity, with pdf activities and materials. It contains excellent material related to habitable planets, the greenhouse effect, Mars. The Calvin Johnson article on 'Goldilocks and the Three Planets' is available as a pdf download, along with the teacher key.

http://www.voyagesthroughtime.org:16080/planetary/sample/lesson5/pdf/goldilocks.pdf is a thoughtful lesson comparing the climates of Earth, Venus, and Mars.

http://www.physics.sdsu.edu/~johnson/writing/climate.html is the initial article by Calvin W. Johnson on 'Goldilocks and the Three Planets.'

http://www.voyagesthroughtime.org:16080/planetary/sample/lesson5/pdf/5_1_key_gold3plan.pdf The teacher key to the Goldilocks reading activity.

Also in the 'Living Earth' lesson is a 'Crash Landing' Activity that uses a set of  Organism cards in a simulated activity discovering what life forms have a chance of surviving a spaceship crash: 

http://www.voyagesthroughtime.org:16080/planetary/sample/lesson5/5_3_1sas_CrashLnad.pdf .

http://www.voyagesthroughtime.org:16080/planetary/sample/lesson5/5_3_1key_CrashLand.pdf is the teacher's key.

The full-color organism cards required for the Crash Landing activity are available as a downloadable (large) pdf file: http://www.voyagesthroughtime.org:16080/planetary/sample/lesson5/pdf/5_3ext_organismcards.pdf  .

In addition to the text material, the Living Earth online activity site contains live links to two video clips: 

Life in Extreme Conditions with Dr. Chris McKay of NASA describes what is necessary on earth (and elsewhere) for life to exist. The role of water in making a habitable world. And

What is the Habitable Zone? In which Dr. McKay defines 'habitable' and talks about Mars.

http://www.voyagesthroughtime.org:16080/origin/sample/lesson2/z_act1.htm The 'What is Life' lesson is the sample lesson plan/activity from the Origin of Life module. Two activities include the Mystery Beaker and a soap bubble activity.

http://www.voyagesthroughtime.org:16080/evolution/sample/lesson5/z_act3.htm In the 5th lesson on 'How Are Living Things Related?' in the Evolution of Life module, information on protein sequences is presented. An excellent activity on the morphological traits of ratite birds is included.

http://www.voyagesthroughtime.org:16080/hominid/sample/lesson4/z_act2.htm The Hominid Evolution module sample lesson is on 'Migration and Variation.'

http://www.voyagesthroughtime.org:16080/technology/sample/lesson4/z_act1.htm The sample lesson from the Evolution of Technology module looks at the Effects of Technology. The activity provided looks at the anatomy of a light bulb and adds an exploration to determine from where all the elements/minerals in the bulb come.

http://www.seti.org/ASSET is the SETI link for teachers to apply for a week at an ASSET workshop doing and presenting inquiry activities. Teachers who are accepted for the Workshop receive a complete set of VTT modules on CD.

NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI)

http://nai.arc.nasa.gov/index.cfm The NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) providing updates reported from NAI funded centers.

http://nai.arc.nasa.gov/newsletter/  The regular online newsletter from the  NASA Astrobiology Institute with articles that can be used as background reading for students on cutting edge research in the field. Available in Spanish, too.

http://nai.arc.nasa.gov/newsletter/ The NASA Astrobiology Institute newsletter site hosts a section for teachers, with note about professional development opportunities, posters, and astrobiology curricular materials.

http://www.astrobio.net/news/ NASA's online Astrobiology Magazine with current information on the field of astrobiology.

http://www.astrobio.net/news/Topic5.html Astrobiology Magazine Hot Topic #5:  Extreme Life articles and links.

http://www.astrobio.net/news/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=1683&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0  Ends of the Earth. An article by Pamela Conrad, an astrobiologist with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, describing what can be learned about life on other planets by studying life in earth's cold desserts.

http://www.astrobio.net/news/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=1687&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0  Proof of Life? The second Astrobiology Magazine article by Pamela Conrad on her work in cold desserts.

http://astrobiology.arc.nasa.gov/  The NASA/Ames Astrobiology Website.

http://astrobiology.arc.nasa.gov/roadmap/  NASA Astrobiology Roadmap materials online. Fundamental Questions and Principles.

http://astrobiology.arc.nasa.gov/roadmap/roadmap.pdf A 26-page booklet focused on the 3 fundamental questions of astrobiology.

http://astrobiology.arc.nasa.gov/roadmap/g1.html NASA Astrobiology Roadmap Goal 1.  Habitable Planets: Understand the nature and distribution of habitable environments in the Universe.

http://astrobiology.arc.nasa.gov/roadmap/g2.html NASA Astrobiology Roadmap Goal 2. Life in Our Solar System: Explore for past or present habitable environments, prebiotic chemistry and signs of life elsewhere in our Solar System.

http://astrobiology.arc.nasa.gov/roadmap/g3.html  NASA Astrobiology Roadmap Goal 3. The Origins of Life: Understand how life emerges from cosmic and planetary precursors.

http://astrobiology.arc.nasa.gov/roadmap/g4.html  NASA Astrobiology Roadmap Goal 4.  Earth's Early Biosphere and its Environment: Understand how past life on Earth interacted with its changing planetary and Solar System environment.

http://astrobiology.arc.nasa.gov/roadmap/g4.html  NASA Astrobiology Roadmap Goal 5.  Evolution, Environment, and the Limits of Life: Understand the evolutionary mechanisms and environmental limits of life.

http://astrobiology.arc.nasa.gov/roadmap/g6.html  NASA Astrobiology Roadmap Goal 6.  Life's Future on Earth and Beyond:  Understand the principles that will shape the future of life, both on Earth and beyond.

http://astrobiology.arc.nasa.gov/roadmap/g7.html  NASA Astrobiology Roadmap Goal 7.  Signatures of Life:  Determine how to recognize signatures of life on other worlds and on early Earth.

NAI Online Educational Resources Especially for K-12 Students and Teachers.

http://astroventure.arc.nasa.gov/ Astro-Venture is a kid-oriented NASA site fir students 'to search for and design a habitable planet.'  The site includes 'training' in astronomy, atmospheric science, geology, and biology to prepare for designing the planet. A good teaching resource!

http://planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov/AlienSafari_launch_page.html JPL's Planetquest site hosts Alien Safari, an interactive tool to learn about the 'most extreme organisms on our planet.' 

http://serc.carleton.edu/microbelife/ Microbial Life—Education Resources includes a section on Microbial Life in Extreme Environments and on extremophiles. The page also includes a resource page for K-12 teachers and students.

http://nai.arc.nasa.gov/library/downloads/AMNHafterschool.pdf The American Museum of Natural History has developed a set of 'after school' astrobiology activities for grades 5-12. Included in this pdf files are lesson plans and materials for a wide range of astrobiology activities. The pdf file also includes a set of color card examples of 'Extreme Life' for activities on extremephiles.

http://www.nps.gov/yell/publications/pdfs/handbook/ch4.pdf Chapter 4 of the Yellowstone Resources and Issues Guide by the NAI Ames Site provides easy to understand information on Archaea and thermophiles.

http://nai.arc.nasa.gov/astrotech/solarindex.cfm Search for Habitable Worlds is an interactive page that introduces students to possible habitable sites in the solar system. For the planets and highlighted moons, there are links to facts and to habitability topics (temperature, water, atmosphere, energy sources, and raw materials).

http://nai.arc.nasa.gov/poster/index.cfm Astrobiology Education Poster.  Download the poster and handouts for five related classroom activities.

http://nai.arc.nasa.gov/library/downloads/ERG.PDF   Astrobiology in your classroom:  Life on Earth and Elsewhere? Hands-on activities for grades 5-10. Downloadable 60 p resource guide.

Other Astrobiology Resources

http://science.nasa.gov/newhome/headlines/msad13jan99_1.htm An older NASA educational program entitled 'Life on the Edge' was designed to subject microorganisms to extreme environments here on earth (for example, leaving yeast cells at the top of  California's White Mountains).  The microbes were distributed to classrooms for study in an ''Extremophiles Experimenter's Kit'' containing all the materials necessary for students to safely study the microbes.  Although this program is no longer current, it offers ideas and methods for student projects studying extremophiles.

http://www.astrobiology.com/ The Astrobiology Web. Provides links to current news related to astronomy and astrobiology.

            http://www.astrobiology.com/extreme.html Astrobiology Web page on Life in Extreme Environments.

http://www.spaceref.com/Directory/Astrobiology_and_Life_Science/extremophiles/ Astrobiology and Life Science:  Extremophiles. This page mainly provides links to other sites with studies on extremophiles.

http://www.spaceref.com/Directory/Astrobiology_and_Life_Science/hydrothermal_vent_communities/ Astrobiology and Life Science: Hydrothermal Vent Communities.

http://www.spaceref.com/Directory/Astrobiology_and_Life_Science/astrochemistry/ Astrochemistry links.

http://www.cv.nrao.edu/~awootten/allmols.html  National Radio Astronomy Observatory. The 125 reported interstellar and circumstellar molecules (up to 13 atoms)(updated 2004 Aug 24).

http://www.ph1.uni-koeln.de/vorhersagen/ The Cologne Database for Molecular Spectroscopy (CDMS). A sidebar link connects to a page listing 2-7 atom compounds found in space using rotational spectroscopy (2004)

http://wwwusr.obspm.fr/departement/demirm/list-mol.html  DEMIRM List of Insterstellar Molelcules (145 as of August 2005).

'http://www.strw.leidenuniv.nl/%7Eiau34/links.html Worldwide Molecular Astrophysics Resources from the Astrochemistry Working Group.

http://spec.jpl.nasa.gov/ Jet Propulsion Lab Molecular Spectroscopy.  This site contains a catalog directory and a search form to look for molecules at specific frequencies. Technical, but potentially useful for students interested in studying organic molecules in space.

http://www.astrobiology.nl/ Astrobiology, NL. Astrobiology page from the Netherlands. The site provides a great poster link in color showing space organic compounds, such as fullerenes and amino acids.

Life on Earth

http://evolution.berkeley.edu/ . The Berkeley Understanding Evolution site, designed for teachers with links to lesson plans, materials, and resources sites.

http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/search/topicbrowse2.php?topic_id=56 . Link references on the History of Life on Earth. Includes the following two references.

http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/arthropodstory .  The Arthropod Story. An interactive online look at how the exoskeleton and jointed limb were factors in the evolutionary success of two groups.

http://www.paleoportal.org/ . The Paleontology Portal, from University of California Museum of Paleontology, the Paleontological Society, the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, and the United States Geological Survey, provides links to fossil images and to famous flora and fauna.

http://www.agiweb.org/news/evolution/index.html .  The American Geological Institute with the Paleontological Society present the Evolution and the Fossil Record. Four case studies are presented:  "evolution of vertebrate legs, evolution of birds, evolution of mammals, and evolution of whales."

http://tolweb.org/tree/phylogeny.html . The Tree of Life Web Project hosted through the University of Arizona offers teachers a unique resource. It houses over 4000 web pages on diversity of organisms here on earth, on how they evolved, and on their characteristics.

Astronomy Resources for Teachers

An offer for schools from Imaginova and Sptiz Inc (may no longer be available)

http://www.imaginova.com/newsroom/release.php?id=040902 for information on a program to provide teachers with Starry Night software. Teachers or administrators can email spacetoschool@imaginova.com to apply.


R. Hemphill

October 2005