Aims Of Astrobiology, Current Research In AstrobiologyFuture of astrobiology
Astrobiology is an area of life science that investigates the origin of life, how the biological components interact to create environment, what makes planets habitable, and searches for life on other planets. Astrobiologists are scientists from many areas of science, including biologists (molecular biologists, microbiologists, ecologists, geneticists), chemists, oceanographers, climatologists, archeologists, paleontologists, geologists and astronomers. The foundations of astrobiology were laid in 1920s by a Russian scientist A.I. Oparin, and with his theory of development of organic matter from inorganic components under the conditions resembling early Earth's atmosphere. It took, however, over half a century before studies into evolution of life on Earth and extraterrestial life became an independent branch of life science. Astrobiology was created thanks to NASA's administrator Dan Goldin in The mid-1990s. Coordination of the global effort in astrobiology rests now with the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI), created in 1998 and based at Ames in California, and includes over 700 scientists from numerous research institutes in the U.S. affiliate organizations were also created in Europe and Australia.
New challenges for astrobiology include developing methods to test the newly discovered extrasolar planets for life signs, which can be quite different from what is now known. Although traveling in space is still limited, it is important that scientists establish ways in which terrestrial organisms can safely live in space for prolonged periods.
See also Astronomy; Biosphere; Chemical evolution; Extrasolar planets; Life history.
Horneck, Gerda, and Christa Baumstark-Khan, eds. Astrobiology: the Quest for the Conditions of Life Berlin: Springer, 2002.
Blumberg, Baruch S., "Astrobiology: an Introduction." Anatomical Record (November 2002):169–170.
Drake, Michael J, and Bruce M. Jakosky, "Narrow Horizons in Astrobiology." Nature (February 2002):733–734.
NASA Astrobiology Institute, Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA 94035 [cited November 10, 2002]. <http://astrobiology.arc.nasa.gov>.
"The Astrobiology Web. Your Online Guide to the Living Uni verse" [cited November 14, 2002]. <http://www.astrobiology.com>.
Astrobiology Web. "Astrobiology 101:Exploring the Living Universe." Mitchell K. Hobish, and Keith Cowing 1999 [cited November 14, 2002]. <http://www.astrobiology.com/adastra/astrobiology.101.html>.
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