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Scientists from Middle East join NASA to launch astrobiology desert expedition

posted on Feb 21, 2011

For the first time in the Middle East region a joint team of leading NASA and Emirati scientists have embarked on an astrobiological study of extreme desert environments. Each year NASA Ames Research Center’s Spaceward Bound scientific team selects one desert internationally and for 2011 the Arab Youth Venture Foundation and NASA are collaborating to conduct this research in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Spaceward Bound expedition is sponsored by Lockheed Martin, a global leader in the design and production of spacecraft that helps scientists understand our planet from a new perspective. 


While in UAE, the research team plans to study the surface transitions and microbial life from the sandy dunes and desert pavement (gravel surfaces) in areas of Al Ain and Al Gharbia.

The strong radiative fog in the area along with the salt crust microbial communities in the Sabkha (salt marshes) along the coast will also be studied.


Lisa LaBonte, CEO of AYVF states, "In organizing Spaceward Bound 2011, a key feature of the program enabled us to augment NASA's scientific team with leading scientists from the Arab world. In doing so, we believe we've created a very robust team across various scientific disciplines to undertake this unique desert science field expedition." 


"Spaceward Bound is an outstanding NASA education program that brings together NASA scientists and science teachers," said Pete S. Worden, center director of NASA Ames Research Center, Silicon Valley, California. "It's a great opportunity for classroom teachers to participate in real field studies to enhance their research experience and skills.”


“Lockheed Martin is a leader in encouraging science, technology, engineering and math education around the world,” said Dr. Ray O. Johnson, Senior V.P. and Chief Technology Officer. “NASA’s Spaceward Bound 2011, in the UAE desert, is one activity the Corporation supports that will build international partnerships and help ensure a pipeline of technical talent for the increasingly complex global security landscape.”                                   


For further information, please contact:          

The Arab Youth Venture Foundation


Lisa LaBonte (English)                                                                  Hussain Al Ansari (Arabic)

Mob: +971-50-888-4005                                                                Mob: +971-50-422-4443

Email:                                                                        Email:

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