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Nasa scientists to study desert environment.

Team, in collaboration with Emirati experts, will examine microbial life and surface transition in sand dunes

Abu Dhabi A joint team of leading US space agency Nasa and Emirati scientists have embarked on an astrobiological study in the extreme desert environments in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

During the study, which is the first of its kind in the Middle East, members from Nasa (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and the Arab Youth Venture Foundation (AYVF) will research the surface transitions and microbial life from the sandy dunes and desert pavement (gravel surfaces) in areas of Al Ain and Al Gharbia (the Western Region). Every year, the Nasa Ames Research Centre's Spaceward Bound scientific team selects one major desert internationally and the Emirate was chosen as the location for 2011.

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

Additionally, that the team will study a strong radioactive fog located in the area as well as the salt crust microbial communities in the Sabkha (salt marshes) along the coast.

"In organising Spaceward Bound 2011, a key feature of the programme 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," Lisa LaBonte, CEO of AYVF, said.

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In search of microbes

The team of scientists will research the surface transitions and microbial life from the sandy dunes and desert pavement (gravel surfaces) in areas of Al Ain and Al Gharbia in the Western Region. The team will also study a strong radioactive fog located in the area as well as the salt crust microbial communities in the Sabkha (salt marshes) along the coast.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Feb 25, 2011
Words:350
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