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Oxygen in Planetary Biospheres

The Green Bank Blumberg Astrobiology workshops are supported by a grant from Unither Bioelectronique, in honor of Dr. Barry Blumberg, the late Chairman of its corporate parent’s Scientific Advisory Board.

May 5-7, 2023 at the Green Bank Observatory (GBO) in Green Bank, WV

Nobel Laureate Baruch S. “Barry” Blumberg (1925-2011). Founding Director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute

I understood that my mandate was to establish a basic science organization that could discover and understand natural phenomena that related to early life and to life elsewhere.

Barry Blumberg, on his appointment as founding director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI).

Earth, the only planet we know of with life (and with scientists who hold workshops to discuss planets and life) is thoroughly and anomalously oxidized – in its atmosphere, mineralogy and biosphere. Clearly, photosynthetically released oxygen, fueled by a nearby star, is sufficient to fuel a robust and diverse biosphere. But is it necessary? If so, is it a “hard step” towards single-and multi-celled eukaryotes animals and plants, or their extraterrestrial analogs (“complex life”), including cognitive and technological life? Oxygen is commonly discussed as a biosignature. The rise of oxygen, as both an energetic “fuel” and the source of an ozone UV screen,  is seen as key to Earth’s development of complex life. Yet Earth’s biosphere predates its contemporary atmospheric composition, and given astrobiology’s “N=1” problem, do we know enough to generalize this requirement?  Should Earth’s history, which is marked by a geologically sudden rise of metabolically important atmospheric oxygen, be mirrored elsewhere? Are there astrophysical contexts and locations which favor the development of oxygenated planetary biospheres?

This 3-day workshop at the Green Bank Observatory will focus on topics related to the role of oxygen in the universe, planets and life, and how the rise of oxygen on Earth may (or may not) likely have analogs on other planets.  Attendance is limited to 50 participants, by application only, and all registration and travel expenses will be covered. 

Recognizing the challenges the pandemic has presented for networking over the past several years, this workshop will have a strong focus on early career researchers, and will have broad international participation. Presenters are encouraged to gear their talks to an interdisciplinary audience, eschewing the trees of internecine disciplinary debates for the forest of broader understanding.

Abstract submission and registration application will be forthcoming

Topics covered may include:

  • Oxygenation events in planetary histories.
  • The role of oxygen in the development of complex life. 
  • The chemical environment of the development of biological complexity
  • Alternatives to oxygen: complex life and atmospheric radiation screens on abiotic planets?
  • Oxygen as a biosignature.
  • False positives.
  • Biosignatures of non-oxygenated planets (such as Earth prior to the GOE).
  • Exoplanet modeling and observations.
  • Atmospheric evolution.
  • The astrophysical and astrochemical context of the development of biological complexity

Also, we encourage those working on any related problems not listed here to apply.

Green Bank Software Staff

Phone numbers: (304) 456-[office] // Emails: [contact]

Joe Brandt
Software Engineer

Office: x2210

Contact: jbrandt

Victoria Catlett
Software Engineer

Office: x2288

Contact: vcatlett

Thomas Chamberlin
Software Engineer

Office: x2290

Contact: tchamber

Matthew Harrison
Software Engineer

Office: x2118

Contact: mfharris

Paul Marganian
Software Engineer

Office: x2202

Contact: pmargani

Kasey Purcell
Software Engineer

Office: x2167

Contact: kpurcell

Nathaniel Sizemore
Software Engineer (Group Lead)

Office: x2206

Contact: nsizemor

2023A Results

23A Green Bank Observatory Time Allocation Committee Report

A total of 74 proposals requesting NSF funded “open skies” time were submitted to the Green Bank Observatory’s Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) for semester 23A. Proposals are reviewed on a competitive basis with a panel review system (see Proposal Review System). Below are the statistics by proposal count and hours. The oversubscription is the ratio of the number of submitted proposals to the number of approved proposals. The pressure is the ratio of the requested time to the available time in hours. Here we only include proposals submitted for the 23A semester that have been reviewed by the Green Bank Observatory Telescope Allocation Committee (TAC).

A description of the 23A proposals accepted can be found here.

Statistics by Proposal Count

Total Proposals74
Table 1

Statistics by Proposal Hours

Requested Time 2548.67 hours
Available Time 1777 hours
Approved 785.75 hours
Filler 612.25 hours
Rejected 1150.67 hours
Pressure 2.4
Table 2

GBT Pressure Plots

Observations in high frequency bands require better weather conditions than observations in lower frequency bands. The GBT uses three weather categories: poor (for observations below 8 GHz), good (observations between 8-18 GHz and 26.5-50 GHz), and excellent (observation in the 18-26.5 GHz band and above 50 GHz). The first three figures below show the pressure plots for each these weather categories. The last figure includes all weather categories. The black horizontal line shows the total available hours. The letters A, B, and C correspond to the priorities assigned by the TAC where A and B are approved time and C is filler time. Carryover is time allocated by a TAC from a previous semester that is being executed in the 23a semester.

Weather conditions poor (for observations below 8 GHz)
Weather conditions good (observations between 8-18 GHz and 26.5-50 GHz)
Weather conditions excellent (observation in the 18-26.5 GHz band and above 50 GHz)
All weather categories

GBT Observation Preparation

Please use the GBT Dynamic Scheduling System (DSS) to enable observing sessions, select observers for your project, and enter your blackout dates. The DSS Home Page has additional information about the DSS. See GBT Observing for information about how to prepare for your observations.

Please note that the DSS uses the average Right Ascension (RA) and Declination (Dec) of all sources within a session. The average RA and Dec will be used to determine when the session can be scheduled. You will need to carefully check the RA and Dec, along with the minimum and maximum session lengths, to make sure that these values are satisfactory and will allow all your sources to be observed before enabling the session.

2023A Approved Science Program

A total of 74 proposals requesting NSF funded “open skies” time were submitted to the Green Bank Observatory’s Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) for the August 1, 2022 semester 23A deadline . The table below summarizes the approved observing programs. Listed are the PI name, proposal ID, proposal title, maximum hours approved and proposal type (Regular, Triggered, Large or External). Proposals from previous semesters that were awarded time in the 23A semester are included. The table also includes HSA and GMVA proposals that were awarded time on the GBT as a VLBI station as well as proposal accepted via external agreements with CHANDRA, Hubble Space Telescope, FERMI, SOFIA, Swift, and XMM.

For each approved program, the Proposal Finder Tool will have access to its author, title, abstract and total approved hours. A description of the Time Allocation Committee report for 23A can be found here.

Alexander, Kate GBT23A-273Monitoring the Exceptional Jetted Tidal Disruption Event AT2022cmc17.5Regular
Archibald, Anne GBT23A-307Continued Timing of a Millisecond Pulsar in a Stellar Triple System  – copy25Regular
Bolatto, Alberto GBT21B-024GBT EDGE: A Representative Survey of the z=0 Universe with Full IFU Spectroscopy300Large
Busch, Michael GBT23A-132Searching for OH in the nuclear wind of the Milky Way20Regular
Busch, Michael GBT22A-434SC:Mapping molecular clouds in OH from diffuse to high-mass star forming regions300Large
Cameron, Andrew GBT23A-160Continued observations of an eccentric, relativistic binary pulsar.57Regular
Cohen, Tyler GBT23A-364Timing Properties of Millisecond Pulsar Profile Shapes34Regular
Corcoran, Kyle GBT23A-376Follow-up of a Gaia Sample of Candidate Neutron Star and Black Hole Binaries7Regular
Di Teodoro, Enrico GBT23A-131Measuring 12CO(1-0) emission in the Milky Way’s Nuclear Wind6.5Regular
Fonseca, Emmanuel GBT23A-356Followup Timing of Low-declination GBNCC Pulsars8Regular
Frayer, David GBT22B-162GBT HI Observations of the GOALS LIRG 3C842Regular
Ginsburg, Adam GBT23A-268From ACES to TENS: The Central Molecular Zone with MUSTANG6Regular
Gupta, Harshal GBT21B-316Molecular Exploration of the Diffuse Interstellar mediUM (MEDIUM)285.75Large
Issaoun, Sara GMVA22B-249Resolving Polarization in Sgr A* with GMVA+ALMA10Regular
Johnson, Bradley GBT23A-245Continuing the Search for Axion Dark Matter in Andromeda with VEGAS18Regular
Jones, Michael GBT23A-080Gas content of a new class of stellar system in the Virgo cluster24.5Regular
Jones, Michael GBT23A-084Cold gas reservoirs of satellites in nearby Milky Way-like systems74Regular
Kania, Joseph GBT23A-371Narrow Band Quasi-periodic Fast Radio Burst20Regular
Kim, Daewon VLBA23A-316Exploring the innermost jet regions of the blazar BL Lac with the HSA and EHT14Regular
Kim, Jae-Young GMVA23A-031First subparsec-scale imaging of the new TeV gamma-ray radio galaxy 3C 2648Regular
Kramer, Michael GBT22B-231Timing and General Relativity in the Double Pulsar System101Regular
Ladu, Elisabetta VLBA23A-234Evidence for a new disk maser in the LINER galaxy IC485.8Regular
Lewandowska, Natalia GBT23A-322A study of potentially new single pulses in the Crab pulsar1.25Regular
Lowe, Ian GBT22B-068A Multi-Scale, Multi-Wavelength Study of Dust in Molecular Cloud Filaments II21.5Regular
Luo, Gan GBT23A-246An OH and CH survey of the molecular clouds in the outer-disk of the Milky Way53Regular
Lynch, Ryan GBT23A-295A Pilot GBT Pulsar Survey of the Galactic Plane216Regular
Mason, Brian GBT22B-242Measuring 3mm Source Contamination in the ACT Galaxy Cluster Sample18.75Regular
Maureira, Maria Jose GBT22B-180CO freeze-out across a filamentary dense cloud forming a quadruple system25.5Regular
McEwen, Alexander GBT23A-332The GBT 820MHz Survey: Confirmation of New Pulsar Candidates6.25Regular
McGuire, Brett GBT23A-047Closing the Loop: PAHs Toward Cyg OB2-126Regular
McKee, James GBT23A-315Broadband observations of giant pulses from PSR J0218+42328Regular
McKee, James GBT23A-318Continued monitoring of PSR J2108+45: a binary with a circumstellar environment16.5Regular
Mckinven, Ryan GBT23A-334Polarimetric Follow-up of Repeating FRB Sources in Dynamic Environments30Triggered
Michail, Joseph VLBA23A-078Joint EHT, JWST, VLA, and VLBA+GBT Observations of Sgr A* in April 20236Regular
Ocker, Stella GBT23A-088An Ultra-Wideband Study of Repeating Fast Radio Bursts16.5Regular
Paraschos, Georgios Filippos GMVA23A-033Revealing the jet launching in 3C84 at the highest detail15Regular
Parent, Emilie GBT23A-367Pinpointing the onset of radio pulsations in a new transitional pulsar candidate6Triggered
Park, Jongho VLBA23A-118Probing the Jet Base of M87 in the Time Domain30Regular
Park, Jongho GMVA22B-100A Multicolor View of the Black Hole Environment in M8728Regular
Pearlman, Aaron GBT23A-155A Search for Prompt and Periodic Emission from Nearby Repeating FRBs20Triggered
Perez, Karen GBT23A-1423FGL J0838.8-2829: A Redback Binary MSP Candidate4Regular
Peters, Wendy GBT23A-330A Candidate Pulsar in Glimpse-C0110.5Regular
Pineda, Jaime GBT23A-199Ions vs Neutrals in a Dense Core – copy18Regular
Possenti, Andrea GBT23A-206The magnetar-FRB link: simultaneous Radio/X-Ray monitoring of active magnetars19.5Triggered
Ransom, Scott GBT22B-256Long Term Timing of 65 Recycled Pulsars in Bulge Globular Clusters75Regular
Robishaw, Timothy GBT23A-339Confirmation of Magnetic Field Detection in CRRL Emission from DR 2133Regular
Romero, Charles GBT23A-086SZ Constraints of Shocks in CIZA J2242.8+530140Regular
Roth, Nathan GBT22B-176Measuring NH3 and OH in a Target of Opportunity Comet with the GBT7.5Triggered
Route, Matthew GBT23A-286A Multiband Search for Radio Emission Among the Coolest Ultracool Dwarfs31.5Regular
Salas, Pedro GBT22A-437SC: GBT Diffuse Ionized Gas Survey at Low frequencies – GDIGS-Low826Large
Sarazin, Craig GBT23A-028Bridges of Intergalactic Gas Connecting ACT Cluster Pairs35Regular
Schmiedeke, Anika GBT23A-360Exploring the kinematics in a filamentary infrared dark cloud40Regular
Schmiedeke, Anika GBT22B-191Feeding a super-critical filament in a subsonic core17.5Regular
Scibelli, Samantha GBT22A-435SC: Q- Band Chemical Complexity Survey of Prestellar Core L1544647Large
Singal, Jack GBT19A-083How Bright is the Radio Sky?  A 310 MHz Absolute Map30Regular
Song, Yiqing GBT22B-248Mapping HCN and HCO+ in Local Luminous Infrared Mergers19.5Regular
Spekkens, Kristine GBT22B-139Atomic Gas in the Host Galaxies of Gravitational Wave Events – LVK O440Triggered
Spezzano, Silvia GBT22B-040Exploring the chemistry of Sulfur towards the young starless core L1521E18Regular
Squillace, Alessandra GBT23A-263A Survey of 15-Nitrogen Fractionation in Prestellar Cores36Regular
Stark, David GBT22A-436SC: Robust Gas Measurements for BreakBRD Galaxies206.5Large
Stephens, Ian GBT23A-288Mapping Ammonia in Bones: Understanding our Magnetized Spiral Potential132Regular
Swihart, Samuel GBT23A-301Two New Spider Millisecond Pulsars7.25Regular
Tang, Ningyu GBT23A-185HI and OH survey toward Taurus B213 region with extremely low HINSA abundance35Regular
Thomas, Reshma Anna GBT23A-365Regular monitoring of FRB 20190520B RM variations43Regular
Tremblay, Chenoa GBT23A-042Magnetic Fields in Star Formation through Simultaneous Observations of CH and OH5Regular
Urquhart, James GBT23A-350Search of Hypercompact HII Regions Towards Methanol Masers56.25Regular
Wakker, Bart GBT23A-344Observing HI column densities to measure HVC metallicities155Regular
Wen, Di G22A001A magnified view of an ionised scattering medium in a z= 1.145 late- type galaxy36Regular
Yang, Chentao GBT22B-020Confirming the nature of a 380GHz H2O maser disk in a lensed quasar at z=3.9114Regular