What is Astrobiology?
In order to address these questions, astrobiologists gather together to define the goals and objectives that will set the tone for future research (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 the field of astrobiology, disciplines such as chemistry, biology, physics, geology, astronomy, planetary sciences, atmospheric sciences, and oceanography, to list a few, make important contributions to research topics such as the origin and search for life in our solar system.
Interdisciplinary collaboration is imperative!
Astrobiologists conduct laboratory experiments in simulated space environments, search for extreme life forms in the field, perform simulations to understand complex environmental processes, and build spaceflight instruments. We do whatever it takes to answer the grand questions!
If you are passionate about the origin and search for life in space, general steps to become an astrobiologist include earning a bachelor's or higher degree in a scientific discipline, getting involved in research projects, and building a professional network within the 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 such as AbGradCon. See AbGradCon23 for more information!