What is Astrobiology?

Astrobiology is defined as any form of research pertaining to or concerning the origins, search for, and/or understanding of the context of life in our universe, as well as the extension of human life to other parts of our universe and the habitability of other worlds. Three grand basic questions in the field are:
  • How does life begin and evolve?
  • Does life exist elsewhere in the Universe?
  • How do we search for life in the Universe?

In order to address these three questions, hundred of members within astrobiology field are gathered together every few years to define goals and objectives for astrobiology research moving forwards (see roadmaps and Astrobiology Strategy). Six major topics of research in the astrobiology field today include:

  • Identify abiotic sources of organic compounds

  • Synthesis and function of macromolecules in the origin of life

  • Early life and increasing complexity

  • Co-evolution of life and the physical environment

  • Identifying, exploring, and characterizing environments for habitability and biosignatures

  • Constructing habitable worlds

Due to the interdisciplinary nature of astrobiological questions, fields such as chemistry, biology, physics, geology, astronomy, planetary sciences, atmospheric sciences and oceanography (to list a few) constantly make important contributions to the building and understanding astrobiology research as a whole. Interdisciplinary collaboration is imperative! Astrobiologists conduct laboratory experiment in simulated space environments, search for extreme life forms in the fields, perform simulations to understand complex processes, build spaceflight instruments to collect and/or analyze in space, and etc. We do whatever it takes to answer our grand questions!

If you are passionate about the origin of life and searching life in space, you can always bring in a field of knowledge that excites you and build the astrobiology community with us together! General steps to become an astrobiologist include:

  • Earn a bachelor's or higher degree in a scientific discipline

  • Complete research projects

  • Build a professional network within astrobiology community

Recognizing your strengths as a researcher, and finding how you can personally contribute to the field of astrobiology, is an individual journey that can be greatly enhanced by attending conferences like AbGradCon. See AbGradCon22 for more information!

Astrobiology Primer v2.0


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