UK Centre for Astrobiology


Here you can find the latest news from the UK Centre for Astrobiology.

UKCA launches MINAR 5, 1 km underground

MINAR live links

Fifth astrobiology analog campaign using its deep subsurface astrobiology laboratory

The UKCA begins a two week campaign of testing space instruments and studying life in extreme environments using an underground astrobiology laboratory 1 km underground at the Boulby Mine, UK. 

MINAR 5 (Mine Analog Research) runs from October 8-20th 2017 for two weeks and involves scientists from NASA, Sweden, Switzerland and a number of groups from the UK. It will focus on the study of life and bio signaturesin the deep subsurface and the testing of a variety of instruments including drills, life detection equipment and other new planetary instruments. In the second week, MINAR will involcve ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer. The campaign will also have some live links (see poster the right). You can read more about the campaign here.

You can read about the previous MINAR 1-3 campaigns here.

Fifth Astrobiology Academy completed in July

New lesson plans and curriculum for primary and secondary schools

On July 10th, the UKCA hosted its fifth Astrobiology Academy, a teaching training initiative designed to develop astrobiology curriculum materials. This year, bringing 20 primary and secondary school teachers together from across Scotland and the US, it continued to develop curriculum materials for primary and secondary schools using astrobiolgy to tecah basis science.

The lesson plans developed by the academy can be accessed here:

UKCA joined by Javier Martin-Torres

In September 2017 the UKCA was joined by Javier Martin-Torres, who currently leads a planetary science and atmospheric research group at the Luleå University of Technology, Sweden, division of Space technology. Javier is PI of the HABIT instrument to be flown on the ExoMars European Mars lander and will join us as a Visiting Fellow.

New Marie-Curie Fellow to join UKCA

The UKCA was joined by by Marie-Curie Fellow, Sean McMahon in September 2017. His work has focused on early life on Earth and its application to looking at the habitability of other planets such as Mars. Previusly at Yale and Aberdeen, at the University of Edinburgh he will work on subsurface biosignatures and how they can inform the search for life elsewhere.

New NSF Fellow to join UKCA

The UKCA was joined by Rebecca P:reescott. Currently at the University of Hawaii, her NSF (National Science Foundation) Fellowship will be held jointly at the University of Edinburgh and the University of South Carolina. She will be focusing on quorum sensing molecules in microbial mats and the search for biosignatures on Mars.

The UK completes pilot phase of astrobiology in prisons

The UKCA has completed a pilot phase of its 'Life Beyond' programme focused on taking astrobiology and science education into the prison environment. Lectures and inmate-led discussions were held at HMP Shotts, Edinburgh, Glenochil and Lowmoss. The full course begins at the end of October.