Related topics: microorganisms

First evidence of planet-wide groundwater system on Mars

Mars Express has revealed the first geological evidence of a system of ancient interconnected lakes that once lay deep beneath the Red Planet's surface, five of which may contain minerals crucial to life.

Pond scum explains evolution of first animals

Microbial mats that existed on sea floors prior to the Cambrian explosion provided the foundation for early animal life to arise, new research looking at trace fossils of that early life has found.

A new Goldilocks for habitable planets

The search for habitable, alien worlds needs to make room for a second "Goldilocks," according to a Yale University researcher.

Scientific roadmap for European astrobiology

The first scientific Roadmap for European Astrobiology was published on 21 March 2016. This strategic landmark for European astrobiology was produced through the European Commission-funded AstRoMap project (2013-2015). In ...

Nitrogen may be a sign of habitability

We might commonly think of Earth as having an oxygen-dominated atmosphere, but in reality the molecule makes up only a fifth of our air. Most of what surrounds us is nitrogen, at 78 percent. Astrobiologists are beginning ...

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Astrobiology

Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. 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.

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