Astrobiology is the science that seeks to understand the story of life in our universe. Astrobiology includes investigation of the conditions that are necessary for life to emerge and flourish, the origin of life, the ways that life has evolved and adapted to the wide range of environmental conditions here on Earth, the search for life beyond Earth, the habitability of extraterrestrial environments, and consideration of the future of life here on Earth and elsewhere. It therefore requires knowledge of physics, chemistry, biology, and many more specialized scientific areas including astronomy, geology, planetary science, microbiology, atmospheric science, and oceanography. However, astrobiology is more than just a collection of different disciplines. In seeking to understand the full story of life in the Universe in a holistic way, astrobiology asks questions that transcend all these individual scientific subjects. Astrobiological research potentially has much broader consequences than simply scientific discovery, as it includes questions that have been of great interest to human beings for millennia (e.g., are we alone?) and raises issues that could affect the way the human race views and conducts itself as a species (e.g., what are our ethical responsibilities to any life discovered beyond Earth?).
Astrobiology (ISSN 1531-1074) (e-ISSN 1557-8070); 16; 8; 561-653