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New NASA astrobiology chief

Bruce Runnegar will lead study of life on Earth and beyond.

Harvey Black(hblack@chorus.net)

Another manned trip to the moon is among the goals of Bruce Runnegar, the newly named director of NASA's Astrobiology Institute (NAI). Runnegar, who will take office in January, is a professor in the Department of Earth and Space Sciences and director of the Center for Astrobiology at the University of California, Los Angeles' Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP). Runnegar's appointment was announced 6 September. He succeeds Nobel Laureate Baruch Blumberg, who resigned in April, having led the Institute since 1999.

Runnegar told The Scientist NAI's mission centers on three areas of inquiry: "the search for life outside the Earth, how life evolved on Earth, and what do we do with our own life as we inevitably move out into the solar system and out into the galaxy." Going back to the moon is a crucial step, "a way to develop some of the skills that will...

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