Astrobiology: Exploring Other Worlds

Start Date: 04/21/2019

Course Type: Common Course

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About Course

How are astronomers approaching their search for life in the universe? What have we learned from the surge of exoplanets discoveries? How likely is it that Earth does not host the only life in the Universe? In this course we explore the field of astrobiology, an emerging multidisciplinary field. Progress in astrobiology is driven by telescopes on the ground and in space, and by new insights on how life emerged on Earth and its diversity. The topics in this course range from the science of how exoplanets are detected, to the chemistry that supports the argument that the ingredients for life are common in the Universe. We will follow the analyses of experts in chemistry, astronomy, geology and archaeology to build a strong foundation of understanding. By the final assignment, students will be equipped with the knowledge necessary to identify what makes a planet habitable, and how likely it is that life exists there. Students will graduate from this course informed about one of the most exciting fields in all of science, and ready to discuss the current exoplanet news stories and discoveries.

Course Syllabus

Planets in the Solar System and Beyond
Hunting for Exoplanets

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Course Introduction

How are astronomers approaching their search for life in the universe? What have we learned from the surge of exoplanets discoveries? How likely is it

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Astrobiology 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 that on Earth. The origin and early evolution of life is an inseparable part of the discipline of astrobiology. 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.
Astrobiology Science and Technology for Exploring Planets Astrobiology Science and Technology for Exploring Planets (ASTEP) is a program established by NASA to sponsor research projects that advance the technology and techniques used in planetary exploration. The objective is to enable the study of astrobiology and to aid the planning of extraterrestrial exploration missions while prioritizing science, technology, and field campaigns.
Other Worlds Than Ours "Other Worlds Than Ours" contains the following tales:
NASA Astrobiology Institute The NASA Astrobiology Program includes the NAI as one of four components, including the Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology Program; the Astrobiology Science and Technology Instrument Development (ASTID) Program; and the Astrobiology Science and Technology for Exploring Planets (ASTEP) Program. Program budgets for fiscal year 2008 were as follows: NAI, $16 million; Grants for the Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology Program, $11 million; ASTID, $9 million; ASTEP, $5 million.
Astrobiology The European Space Agency is currently collaborating with the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and developing the ExoMars astrobiology rover, which is to be launched in 2018. While NASA is developing the Mars 2020 astrobiology rover and sample cacher for a later return to Earth.
Astrobiology Magazine Astrobiology Magazine (exploring the solar system and beyond), or Astrobiology Mag, is an American NASA-sponsored international online popular science magazine containing popular science content, which refers to articles for the general reader on science and technology subjects. The magazine reports on missions of NASA and other space agencies, as well as presents news of relevant research conducted by various institutions, universities, and non-profit groups. In addition, the magazine provides a forum through which researchers and the general public can oversee the progress made in fields of study that are associated with the science of astrobiology. According to, the magazine has a "vast archive of stories covering a broad array of topics ... [and] covers science and nature topics relevant to space, innovation and biology, with an emphasis on the existence, detection and exploration of life in the universe". The magazine was created by Helen Matsos, presently Chief Editor and Executive Producer, and began publication in 2000.
Astrobiology Journey to Enceladus and Titan (JET) is an orbiter astrobiology mission concept to assess the habitability potential of Saturn's moons Enceladus and Titan.
Astrobiology Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe: extraterrestrial life and life on Earth. 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).
A Journey in Other Worlds A paperback edition of "A Journey in Other Worlds" was issued in 2003.
Astrobiology Enceladus Life Finder (ELF) is a proposed astrobiology mission concept for a space probe intended to assess the habitability of the internal aquatic ocean of Enceladus, Saturn's sixth-largest moon.
NASA Astrobiology Institute NAI has partnership program with other international astrobiology organizations to provide collaborative opportunities for its researchers within the global science community.
Astrobiology "Astrobiology" is etymologically derived from the Greek , "astron", "constellation, star"; , "bios", "life"; and , "-logia", "study". The synonyms of astrobiology are diverse; however, the synonyms were structured in relation to the most important sciences implied in its development: astronomy and biology. A close synonym is "exobiology" from the Greek , "external"; Βίος, "bios", "life"; and λογία, -logia, "study". The term exobiology was coined by molecular biologist Joshua Lederberg. Exobiology is considered to have a narrow scope limited to search of life external to Earth, whereas subject area of astrobiology is wider and investigates the link between life and the universe, which includes the search for extraterrestrial life, but also includes the study of life on Earth, its origin, evolution and limits.
Astrobiology While it is an emerging and developing field, the question of whether life exists elsewhere in the universe is a verifiable hypothesis and thus a valid line of scientific inquiry. Though once considered outside the mainstream of scientific inquiry, astrobiology has become a formalized field of study. Planetary scientist David Grinspoon calls astrobiology a field of natural philosophy, grounding speculation on the unknown, in known scientific theory. NASA's interest in exobiology first began with the development of the U.S. Space Program. In 1959, NASA funded its first exobiology project, and in 1960, NASA founded an Exobiology Program, which is now one of four main elements of NASA's current Astrobiology Program. In 1971, NASA funded the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) to search radio frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum for interstellar communications transmitted by extraterrestrial life outside the Solar System. NASA's Viking missions to Mars, launched in 1976, included three biology experiments designed to look for metabolism of present life on Mars.
In Other Worlds In Other Worlds is a 1985 novel by American writer A. A. Attanasio, the second in his Radix Tetrad. It contains humans, zōtl, Rimstalkers, other spatial dimensions, and time-travel/temporal distortion as do other novels in the Radix series, though they are re-envisioned.
Astrobiology Advancements in the fields of astrobiology, observational astronomy and discovery of large varieties of extremophiles with extraordinary capability to thrive in the harshest environments on Earth, have led to speculation that life may possibly be thriving on many of the extraterrestrial bodies in the universe. A particular focus of current astrobiology research is the search for life on Mars due to its proximity to Earth and geological history. There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that Mars has previously had a considerable amount of water on its surface, water being considered an essential precursor to the development of carbon-based life.
Astrobiology Society of Britain The Astrobiology Society of Britain (ASB) is a learned society dedicated to the understanding and advancement of astrobiology in the United Kingdom. The organisation is affiliated with NASA.
A Journey in Other Worlds A Journey in Other Worlds: A Romance of the Future is a science fiction novel by John Jacob Astor IV, published in 1894.
Dreams of Other Worlds "Dreams of Other Worlds" explores how our concepts of distant worlds have been shaped and informed by space science and astronomy over the past forty years. The arc of the book is chronological and progresses from the proximate toward the remote. From comets to cosmology, and from the Mars rovers to the multiverse, the book spans eleven NASA missions that have given us a sense of our cosmic environment.
Exploring Minds Lectures from various university academics throughout Canada were featured on "Exploring Minds". Episodes were produced in Toronto, Vancouver and other cities with support from numerous Canadian universities.
Astrobiology Life Investigation For Enceladus (LIFE) is a proposed astrobiology sample-return mission concept for Enceladus. The spacecraft would enter into Saturn orbit and enable multiple flybys through Enceladus' icy plumes to collect icy plume particles and volatiles and return them to Earth on a capsule. The spacecraft may sample Enceladus' plumes, the E ring of Saturn, and the Titan upper atmosphere.