archive: SETI [ASTRO] Life In Extreme Enviroments - Announcement Of

SETI [ASTRO] Life In Extreme Enviroments - Announcement Of

Larry Klaes ( )
Wed, 30 Dec 1998 20:25:37 -0500

>X-Authentication-Warning: majordom set sender
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>Date: Thu, 31 Dec 1998 0:16:26 GMT
>From: Ron Baalke <>
>Subject: [ASTRO] Life In Extreme Enviroments - Announcement Of Opportunity
>Reply-To: Ron Baalke <>
> (LExEn)
> Announcement of Opportunity and
> Special Competition for FY 1999
> DEADLINE DATE: March 5, 1999
>Life flourishes on Earth in an incredibly wide range of environments, from
>high-salt deserts to volcanoes to polar ice. These environments may be
>analogous to the harsh conditions that exist now, or have existed, on other
>planets. The study of microbial life forms and the extreme environments in
>which they exist here on Earth can provide important new insights into how
>organisms form and adapt to diverse environments. This knowledge will
>provide the basis for detecting and understanding the life forms that may
>exist beyond our own planet, and for developing useful new products and
>The Directorates for Biological Sciences (BIO), Engineering (ENG),
>Geosciences (GEO), Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS), and the Office
>of Polar Programs (OPP) of the National Science Foundation (NSF) announce an
>opportunity to enhance knowledge about "Life in Extreme Environments"
>(LExEn) through highly interdisciplinary, integrated research activities.
>Two new areas of emphasis are added to the fiscal year 1999 competition: a
>particular focus is placed upon the development of methods and capabilities
>to facilitate LExEn research. Secondly, a new effort in cooperation with the
>National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) is described to begin
>long term studies over decadal time scales at representative examples of
>significant extreme environments.
>FY99 Special Competition
>Proposals in response to the announcement of Opportunity must be received at
>NSF no later than close of business on March 5, 1999. Review and processing
>of proposals require approximately 6 months.
>For the purposes of this announcement "extreme" refers to environments found
>today on Earth which have attributes that are similar to those that exist
>now or that may have existed in the past on other planetary bodies, or to
>those that are postulated to have existed on Earth at the dawn of life. Such
>environments might include those associated with hydrothermal systems, high
>radiation fields, sea ice and ice sheets, anoxic habitats, hypersaline
>lakes, high altitude or polar deserts, or man-made environments such as
>those created for industrial processes.
>Because of the importance of the interactions between microbial organisms
>and the extreme environments within which they exist, studies are
>particularly encouraged that crossdisciplinary boundaries and foster
>collaborative investigations.
>Funds available from both NSF and NASA to support projects under this
>Special Competition are expected to total approximately $7 million.
>Approximately 20 awards are anticipated in fiscal year 1999 depending on the
>quality of the proposals received and the availability of funds.
>In order to provide specific guidance concerning the content of proposals
>suitable for submission to this competition, this announcement of
>opportunity is presented in three separate but closely related sections:
>* The LExEn Interdisciplinary Research Program
>* Methods and Capabilities for LExEn Research
>* LExEn Sites for Long-term Interdisciplinary Studies (LSLIS)
>However, the three areas that are described in the present Announcement of
>Opportunity comprise a single Special Competition, and all proposals
>received in response to this Announcement will be reviewed together. The
>three components of the fiscal year 1999 competition are described in detail
> * LExEn Interdisciplinary Research Program
>The LExEn interdisciplinary research program will explore the relationships
>between microbial organisms and the environments within which they exist,
>with a strong emphasis upon those life-supporting environments that exist
>near the extremes of planetary conditions. In addition, the LExEn program
>will explore planetary environments in our own solar system and beyond to
>help identify possible sites for life elsewhere.
>The scope of the LExEn Interdisciplinary research program is described in
>terms of three broad themes below. Strong emphasis will be given to the
>support of interdisciplinary research proposals. For this component of the
>LExEn competition, research projects of 2-5 years duration are appropriate.
>Microbial Systems:
>Research is required to enhance understanding of the microbial systems on
>Earth, particularly with respect to their diversity and the mechanisms that
>allow microbes to survive and alter extreme environments. Examples of
>relevant topics include:
> * studies to discover, quantify, culture, preserve, and analyze
> microorganisms from extreme environments;
> * research on the diversity, ecology, physiology, biochemistry, genetics
> and evolutionary history of microbes from extreme environments within
> the context of the diversity of conditions found in those environments
> and/or their possible utility in biotechnology;
> * the identification of unusual or even unique chemical compounds and
> their specific roles in survival strategies; and
> * paleobiological studies of microbial life on Earth, including efforts
> which improve understanding of the products of life that are preserved
> in the geological record.
>Extreme Environments on Earth:
>Because of the importance of the interactions between living organisms and
>their habitats, it is necessary to achieve improved understanding of
>present-day or past extreme environments that support or have supported
>life. Examples of relevant topics include:
> * studies designed to discover, explore and fully characterize
> significant examples of extreme environments; and
> * field, laboratory, and theoretical studies designed to understand the
> active physical, chemical, biological, and geological processes that
> determine the characteristics of present-day or past extreme
> environments on Earth and which result in their ability to support
> unusual microbial life.
>Planetary Environments:
>In order to provide insights into the possibility of life beyond our own
>planet, research is also needed to characterize the environments of planets
>in the solar system and beyond and to understand the commonalities of their
>formation and evolution. Examples of relevant topics include:
> * studies of the formation of Earth, other planets and their satellites;
> * remote sensing of planets and their atmospheres;
> * studies of interstellar grains and meteorites to establish criteria for
> the presence of biogenic substances;
> * studies of interstellar and cometary chemistry, particularly of
> biologically relevant molecules;
> * the relationship between interstellar organic molecules and the origin
> of life; and
> * research on the biogeochemical effects of microbes on their
> environments on Earth to better design tests for life on other planets.
> * Methods and Capabilities for LExEn Research
>In several areas of LExEn research, progress is limited by lack of effective
>methods, capabilities, or technologies. To address this issue, this second
>component of the fiscal year 1999 LExEn program is targeted at the support
>of research projects to develop or apply one or more of the following:
> * methods to isolate and culture microbes found in extreme environments;
> * methods to study these microbes in their natural habitats and to
> describe their adaptive strategies from the molecular to the ecological
> level;
> * technologies for non-contaminating sample recovery;
> * sensors and sensing techniques to probe extreme environments on Earth
> or other planets;
> * methods to study ancient microbial life and paleo-environmental
> conditions on Earth; and
> * methods to investigate the potential for habitable environments on
> other planets (including theory and modeling).
>For this component of the LExEn competition, research projects of 2-5 years
>duration are appropriate. Proposals that are predominantly for the purchase
>of available equipment or instrumentation are not appropriate for this
> * LExEn Sites for Long-term Interdisciplinary Studies (LSLIS)
>Because of the dynamic nature of many of the processes that control the
>interactions of microorganisms with their environments, substantial insights
>can be gained by programs of sustained observation and sampling targeted at
>understanding the biological, chemical, and physical variability of these
>systems. Therefore this component of the LExEn competition, to be supported
>jointly by NSF and NASA if suitable proposals are received, will establish a
>small number of research programs targeted at the study of representative
>examples of extreme environments and the life they support. NASA?s interest
>in extreme environments is related to the broader study of life in the
>Universe (see It is intended that
>through this competition a small number of diverse study sites will be
>selected that will be the target of multidisciplinary observation and
>research for at least a 5-10 year period. The following paragraphs describe
>desirable characteristics of LSLIS proposals, though not all are necessarily
> * A well-designed program of measurement, observation, and sampling
> focused upon a site that is representative of a class of extreme
> environments, with the objective of gaining fundamental new
> understanding of the biological, chemical, and physical
> characteristics, variability, and processes.
> * A research plan that balances exploratory and hypothesis-driven
> investigative strategies and that is cognizant of the need to modify
> and shape the data-collection approaches as insight is gained
> concerning the controlling processes.
> * An effective research program that combines studies of the natural
> ecosystem with the development of new technologies and missions for the
> exploration of extreme environments in our Solar System.
> * A multidisciplinary team of investigators with an integrated
> investigative strategy that balances appropriately studies of life with
> studies of the characteristics of the supporting environment.
> * An education component that stresses the entrainment of graduate
> students in highly interdisciplinary research activities.
> * A demonstrated interest in the application and continued development of
> improved instrumentation and technology.
> * An innovative plan for the archiving and broad dissemination of the
> collected samples and data.
>Proposals to this component of the LExEn program should be of a 3-5 year
>duration, with the understanding that renewal proposals for a second 3-5
>year term would be entertained at the appropriate time. It is anticipated
>that one to three sites will be established in FY99 with additional sites to
>be added in later LExEn competitions, pending compelling proposals and the
>availability of funds. The appropriate level of support for each site is
>expected to range from $0.5 to $2.0M per year.
>Coordination of Review Process
>The LExEn special competition for fiscal year 1999 and the NSF special
>competition "Microbial Observatories" (MO), the announcement for which is
>being released soon and will be available for review at
>, are complementary
>programs. Investigators may not submit the same proposal, or proposals that
>are substantially similar, to these competitions. The Microbial
>Observatories competition is a broad opportunity for investigators to
>propose activities directed at the discovery and characterization of
>microbes in any environment on earth. The LExEn competition is focused upon
>interdisciplinary studies of microbial life-forms in extreme environments,
>with emphases upon understanding the processes that determine the
>characteristics of the environments, and upon gaining knowledge to provide
>the basis for detecting and understanding life forms that may exist beyond
>our own planet.
>Given the potential for overlap between proposals submitted to these
>complementary competitions, NSF plans to coordinate the review processes by
>scheduling the respective panels to enable joint consideration of
>appropriate proposals where necessary.
>The National Science Foundation Directorate for Biological Sciences will
>host an annual meeting of all LExEn and MO awardees who are engaged in
>microbial discovery activities. The purpose of this meeting will be to
>facilitate an exchange of ideas and information, to promote interaction
>among investigators and sites, and to build links between research programs
>with related or complementary objectives. Each proposal should include
>sufficient funds in its budget request to cover the costs of attending this
>meeting for the Principal Investigator and co-Principal Investigators.
>Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions
>Proposals submitted in response to this Announcement of Opportunity will be
>accepted from colleges, universities, and other non-profit institutions in
>the United States. Proposals involving collaboration with researchers and
>facilities of other countries or international groups are welcome, provided
>support is requested only for the U.S. portion of the collaborative effort.
>Proposals submitted in response to this program announcement should be
>prepared and submitted in accordance with the general guidelines contained
>in the Grant Proposal Guide (GPG), NSF 99-2. For proposals involving field
>work in Antarctica, guidelines described in the "Antarctic Research
>Opportunities and Proposal Guide" NSF 96-93 should be followed. These are
>available electronically on the NSF Web site at: <>.
>Paper copies may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse,
>telephone 301-947-2722 or by e-mail from
>Proposals will be subjected to initial screening for the requirements in the
>GPG and will be returned without review or advance notification if
>deficiencies are found. Proposals will NOT be forwarded to other programs if
>found to be inappropriate for this competition. Proposals submitted in
>response to this announcement must be received at NSF no later than close of
>business on March 5, 1999.
>The NSF FastLane system is available for electronic preparation and
>submission of a proposal through the Web at the FastLane Web site at
><>. Submission via Fastlane is strongly
>Group and collaborative proposals involving more than one institution MUST
>be submitted as a single administrative package from one of the institutions
>involved. Multiple submissions will not be accepted. (The proposal may be
>split into separate awards if the project is recommended for support.)
>Proposers requiring the use of a UNOLS ship or submersible must submit a
>ship request form to NSF?s Division of Ocean Sciences as well as the UNOLS
>office and the operator of any requested ship or ships.
>Proposal Review Information
>Proposals will be evaluated by ad hoc mail and panel review in accordance
>with established Foundation procedures and the criteria described below. It
>is anticipated that each review panel will have expertise in the fields of
>astronomy, planetary sciences, chemistry, geochemistry, biology, atmospheric
>sciences, earth sciences, ocean sciences, polar sciences, and engineering.
>Merit Review Criteria
>Review of proposals submitted to NSF are solicited from peers with expertise
>in the substantive area of the proposed research or education project. These
>reviewers are selected by Program Officers charged with the oversight of the
>review process. NSF invites the proposer to suggest at the time of
>submission, the names of appropriate or inappropriate reviewers. Special
>care is taken to ensure that reviewers have no immediate and obvious
>conflicts with the proposer. Special efforts are made to recruit reviewers
>from non-academic institutions, minority serving institutions, adjacent
>disciplines to that principally addressed in the proposal, first time NSF
>reviewers, etc.
>Proposals will be reviewed against the following general merit review
>criteria established by the National Science Board. Following each criterion
>are potential considerations that the reviewer may employ in the evaluation.
>These are suggestions and not all will apply to any given proposal. Each
>reviewer will be asked to address only those that are relevant to the
>proposal and for which he/she is qualified to make judgments.
>What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity?
>How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and
>understanding within its own field or across different fields? How well
>qualified is the proposer (individual or team) to conduct the project? (If
>appropriate, the reviewer will comment on the quality of prior work.) To
>what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative and
>original concepts? How well conceived and organized is the proposed
>activity? Is there sufficient access to resources?
>What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity?
>How well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while
>promoting teaching, training, and learning? How well does the proposed
>activity broaden the participation of underrepresented groups (e.g., gender,
>ethnicity, disability, geographic, etc.)? To what extent will it enhance the
>infrastructure for research and education, such as facilities,
>instrumentation, networks, and partnerships? Will the results be
>disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding?
>What may be the benefits of the proposed activity to society?
>For proposals that are responsive to the two interdisciplinary components of
>this Announcement of Opportunity (i.e. the LExEn Interdisciplinary Research
>Program and LExEn Sites for Long-term Interdisciplinary Studies) another
>criterion in the review process will be the potential interdisciplinary
>synergism among the various research components.
>Integration of Research and Education
>One of the principal strategies in support of NSF?s goals is to foster
>integration of research and education through the programs, projects and
>activities it supports at academic and research institutions. These
>institutions provide abundant opportunities where individuals may
>concurrently assume responsibilities as researchers, educators, and students
>and where all can engage in joint efforts that infuse education with the
>excitement of discovery and enrich research through the diversity of learner
>perspectives. PIs should address this issue in their proposals to provide
>reviewers with the information necessary to respond fully to both NSF merit
>review criteria. NSF staff will give it careful consideration in making
>funding decisions.
>Integrating Diversity into NSF Program, Projects, and Activities
>Broadening opportunities and enabling the participation of all citizens -
>women and men, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities -
>is essential to the health and vitality of science and engineering. NSF is
>committed to this principle of diversity and deems it central to the
>programs, projects, and activities it considers and supports. You should
>address this issue in your proposals to provide reviewers with the
>information necessary to respond fully to both NSF merit review criteria.
>NSF staff will give it careful consideration in making funding decisions.
>Grant Administration and Conditions
>Grants awarded as a result of this announcement will be administered in
>accordance with the terms and conditions of NSF GC-1 (10/98) or FDP-III
>(7/1/97), Grant General Conditions. Copies of these documents are available
>from the NSF online document system:
>pubsys/browser/ More information is contained in the NSF Grant
>Policy Manual, (NSF 95-26) available electronically on the NSF Web site or
>in paper copy by subscription from the Superintendent of Documents,
>Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402.
>Contacts for Additional Information
>This announcement, and other LExEn-related information, is available on-line
>If you have questions or require further information, contact:
>Division of Environmental Biology
>Douglas Siegel-Causey, (703) 306-1481,
>Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences
>Philip Harriman, (703) 306-1439,
>Division of Astronomical Sciences
>Eileen Friel, (703) 306-1826,
>Division of Chemistry
>George Rubottom, (703) 306-1851,
>Division of Bioengineering and Environmental Systems
>Frederick Heineken, (703) 306-1319,
>Division of Atmospheric Sciences
>Jarvis Moyers, (703) 306-1523,
>Division of Earth Sciences
>Richard Lane, (703) 306-1551,
>Division of Ocean Sciences
>Phillip Taylor, (703) 306-1587,
>David Epp, (703) 306-1586,
>Office of Polar Programs - Antarctic Research Section
>Polly Penhale, (703) 306-1033,
>Office of Polar Programs - Arctic Research Section
>Linda Duguay, (703) 306-1029,
>Office of Space Science, NASA
>Michael Meyer, (202) 358-0307,
>NSF funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering.
>Grantees are wholly responsible for conducting their project activities and
>preparing the results for publication. Thus, the Foundation does not assume
>responsibility for such findings or their interpretation.
>NSF welcomes proposals on behalf of all qualified scientists, engineers and
>educators. The Foundation strongly encourages women, minorities and persons
>with disabilities to participate fully in its programs. In accordance with
>Federal statutes, regulations and NSF policies, no person on grounds of
>race, color, age, sex, national origin or disability shall be excluded from
>participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to
>discrimination under any program or activity receiving financial assistance
>from NSF (some programs may have special requirements that limit
>Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities provide
>funding for special assistance or equipment to enable persons with
>disabilities to work on NSF-supported projects. (For more information, see
>Section V.G.)
>The National Science Foundation has Telephonic Device for the Deaf (TDD) and
>Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) capabilities that enable
>individuals with hearing impairments to communicate with the Foundation
>about NSF programs, employment or general information. TDD may be accessed
>at (703) 306-0090, FIRS at 1-800-877-8339.
>The information requested on proposal forms and project reports is solicited
>under the authority of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as
>amended. The information on proposal forms will be used in connection with
>the selection of qualified proposals; and project reports submitted by
>awardees will be used for program evaluation and reporting within the
>Executive Branch and to Congress. The information requested may be disclosed
>to qualified reviewers and staff assistants as part of the proposal review
>process; to proposer institutions/grantees to provide or obtain data
>regarding the proposal review process, award decisions, or the
>administration of awards; to government contractors, experts, volunteers and
>researchers and educators as necessary to complete assigned work; to other
>government agencies needing information as part of the review process or in
>order to coordinate programs; and to another Federal agency, court or party
>in a court or Federal administrative proceeding if the government is a
>party. Information about Principal Investigators may be added to the
>Reviewer file and used to select potential candidates to serve as peer
>reviewers or advisory committee members. See Systems of Records, NSF-50,
>"Principal Investigator/Proposal File and Associated Records," 63 Federal
>Register 267 (January 5, 1998), and NSF-51, "Reviewer/Proposal File and
>Associated Records," 63 Federal Register 268 (January 5, 1998). Submission
>of the information is voluntary. Failure to provide full and complete
>information, however, may reduce the possibility of receiving an award.
>Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to
>average 120 hours per response, including the time for reviewing
>instructions. Send comments regarding this burden estimate and any other
>aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing
>this burden, to:
>Mary Lou Higgs
>Acting Reports Clearance Officer
>Information Dissemination Branch
>Division of Administrative Services
>National Science Foundation
>Arlington, VA 22230
>OMB 3145-0058
>PT 34
>KW: 1002091 1002083 1002146 1002001 1007001 1015800 1015790 1005017 0710035
>0710015 1003012 1003002
>CFDA No. 47.050 47.074 47.041 47.078 47.079
>NSF 99-43
>(replaces NSF 97-157)