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NASA Selects 3 Teams for Astrobiology Research Initiative; Mary Voytek Comments

NASA has selected three interdisciplinary research groups to study the formation and future of life in the universe under separate five-year grants worth up to $21 million combined.

The space agency said Thursday it chose the Evolution of Nanomachines in Geospheres and Microbial Ancestors, the Astrobiology Center for Isotopologue Research and Jet Propulsion Laboratory, as members of the NASA Astrobiology Institute.

ENIGMA will study prebiotic molecules and ancestral enzymes to see how the evolution of proteins created life on Earth.

ACIR will assess compounds from planetary environments and metabolic systems to demonstrate how molecular elements show the origins and history of organic compounds.

JPL will use data from the Cassini-Huygens mission to find existing and potential life on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon.

Mary Voytek, director of the astrobiology program at NASA, said all three groups will complement the existing research of NAI’s teams in astrobiology, as well as initiate developments in scientific studies.

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