Short Course Presentations

Mike Malaska
Ocean World Microhabitats 101
(3.8 MB .pdf)
Jeff Marlow
Boston University
Microbes of Extreme Environments
(9.5 MB .pdf)
Kris Zacny
Honeybee Robotics
Robotic acquisition techniques
(6.9 MB .pdf)
Mary Beth Wilhelm
NASA Ames Research Center
Geochemistry, Biosignature and Life Detection Techniques
(11.3 MB .pdf)


Lecture 1 – "Ocean World Microhabitats 101" – Mike Malaska

Goal: Provide background and overview about Ocean World microhabitats.

  • What are microenvironments? Why should we care?
  • Where are they found?
  • How do they form?
  • Where would they be on other planets?
  • How have we detected them on Earth?
  • What are their scales?
  • What are implications for planetary exploration?

Lecture 2 – "Microbes of Extreme Environments" – Jeff Marlow

Goal: Provide context about the microbes and biosignatures that could inhabit microenvironments in extreme environments on Earth (Biology 101).

  • Microbiology of microbes that we would find in likely microenvironments (“micro” x 3!);
  • Microhabitat energy gradients;
  • Microhabitat microbe metabolisms;
  • Diversity of microbes we find here on Earth;
  • Implications for astrobiology of Ocean Worlds*
  • Implications for astrobiology of Mars permafrost and polar caps.

Lecture 3 – "Robotic acquisition techniques" – Kris Zacny

Goal: provide an introduction to different techniques to obtain a sample from ice or rock.

  • Small scale robotic sampling (drilling, grabbing) 101;
  • Drilling/getting samples in ice;
  • Drilling/getting samples in rocks;
  • Acquisition: getting from the drill (grabber) into the device;
  • How do we do this during planetary exploration?
  • What is state of the art for small scale sample acquisition?
  • What are limits and constraints? What are the big technical challenges to go really small to mm scale?

Lecture 4 – "Geochemistry, Biosignature and Life Detection Techniques" – Mary Beth Wilhelm

Goal: Describe the fundamentals of sample extraction, analysis, biosignatures, and instrumentation.

  • Extracting the sample: how do we get stuff out of ice or rock? (or cells)
  • Extraction techniques and instrumentation.
  • What is a “biosignature”?
  • What are typical biosignatures?
  • What kinds of instruments are used to identify biosignatures? (instrumentation 101)
  • What kinds of instruments can be used on really small sample volumes?