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Rolf-Peter Kudritzki

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From the Director

In this time of economic uncertainty, we recently received some exceptionally good news. An interdisciplinary team of UH scientists led by IfA astronomer Karen Meech has received a grant of about $8 million from the NASA Astrobiology Institute to continue its investigation of the astrophysical, chemical, geological, and biological processes that link the history and distribution of life in the Universe to that of water. This grant should attract even more money for this investigation, perhaps up to 10 times as much.

The UH team includes 14 co-investigators at the IfA and in the departments of computer sciences, oceanography, and chemistry, and the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics, as well as 26 collaborators on the US mainland and in many other countries. The UH team was one of only five out of 12 existing teams to be selected for continued funding.

The team will seek to understand where Earth’s water came from

  • By studying newly forming planetary systems.
  • By using laboratory experiments to investigate the processes that chemically alter materials in space to determine if these processes may have led to life’s precursor molecules.
  • By looking for water-rich main-belt comets, which may hold clues to the origin of Earth’s water.
  • By investigating the history of water in the early solar system through studies of meteorites.
  • By studying the role of microbiological processes on Earth that may have analogues on other planets to learn how the products of these reactions might be used to detect extraterrestrial life.

Congratulations to Karen Meech and her colleagues!

Rolf-Peter Kudritzki
Director, Institute for Astronomy


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Weighing 70 Galaxies
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