Astrobiology

Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe: extraterrestrial life and life on Earth. This interdisciplinary field encompasses the search for habitable environments in our Solar System and habitable planets outside our Solar System, the search for evidence of prebiotic chemistry, laboratory and field research into the origins and early evolution of life on Earth, and studies of the potential for life to adapt to challenges on Earth and in outer space. Astrobiology addresses the question of whether life exists beyond Earth, and how humans can detect it if it does. (The term exobiology is similar but more specific — it covers the search for life beyond Earth, and the effects of extraterrestrial environments on living things.)

Astrobiology makes use of physics, chemistry, astronomy, biology, molecular biology, ecology, planetary science, geography, and geology to investigate the possibility of life on other worlds and help recognize biospheres that might be different from the biosphere on Earth. Astrobiology concerns itself with interpretation of existing scientific data; given more detailed and reliable data from other parts of the universe, the roots of astrobiology itself—physics, chemistry and biology—may have their theoretical bases challenged. Although speculation is entertained to give context, astrobiology concerns itself primarily with hypotheses that fit firmly into existing scientific theories.

Earth is the only place in the universe known to harbor life. However, recent advances in planetary science have changed fundamental assumptions about the possibility of life in the universe, raising the estimates of habitable zones around other stars and the search for extraterrestrial microbial life. The possibility of life on Mars, either currently or in the past, is an active area of research.

Read more about AstrobiologyOverview, Life in The Solar System, Rare Earth Hypothesis, Research, Missions

Other articles related to "astrobiology":

Steven J. Dick - Career
... the NASA Group Achievement Award "for initiating the new NASA multidisciplinary program in astrobiology, including the definition of the field of astrobiology, the formulation and initial ... surveyed the field in "Critical Issues in the History, Philosophy, and Sociology of Astrobiology" (Astrobiology, Vol ...
Astrobiology Society Of Britain
... The Astrobiology Society of Britain is a learned society dedicated to the understanding and advancement of astrobiology in the United Kingdom ... when it emerged from the e-mailing list-based UK Astrobiology Forum and Network at the UK's first Astrobiology Conference in 2003 in Cambridge ...
NASA Astrobiology Institute - History
... Although NASA had explored the idea of forming an astrobiology institute in the past, when the Viking biological experiments returned negative results for life on Mars, the public lost interest and federal funds ... Origins Program, broadening its reach from exobiology to astrobiology, the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. 9 million was set aside to fund the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI),an interdisciplinary research effort using the expertise of different scientific research institutions and universities from ...
Astrobiologist - Research
... started just such a degree in 2006, and the American government funds the NASA Astrobiology Institute ... theories to inform and support the exploratory search for life may be considered astrobiology's most concrete practical application ... Ian Stewart, amongst others, consider xenobiology separate from astrobiology ...