p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px ‘Times New Roman’; color: #000000; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000}span.s1 {font-kerning: none}span.Apple-tab-span {white-space:pre}For hundreds of years, we’ve looked at the sky wondering about the presence of life somewhere else in the universe other than Earth, whether in our solar system or some other planet.

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 Such ideology has found its presence in movies, scientific missions and many religions around the world. Science. as a matter of fact, does not actually provide a complete definition of life, neither does it know the point in time when organic matter first transformed from nonliving to living. Only about 50 years ago, did humans begin to spread their presence into space, first with launching satellites and then with humans orbiting the Earth and taking the first steps on the moon. While the expansion of our species into other galaxies continues, simple facts regarding the long-term adaptation of organisms to new habitats remain unknown. For instance, the side effects of living on Mars are still unknown, where gravity is 62% lower than that of Earth.

 And from those unanswered questions, the scientific field of astrobiology was born. ?  Scott Hubbard defines astrobiology as “the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe”. According to Hubbard, NASA’s astrobiology program addresses three main questions: “How does life begin and evolve? Is there life beyond Earth and, if so, how can we detect it? What is the future of life on Earth and in the universe?”. So how did astrobiology become a field of science, what prompted the sudden interest in the subject? Well actually, Stanley Miller and Harold Urey’s 1953 experiment, where they were able to form some organic compounds, had a huge influence on The U.S.

Space Program’s decision at the time, to embrace the field of study of life in the universe, and called it exobiology. In 1959, scientists around the world were proud because NASA funded the first ever exobiology project where they designed a device that “detects microbial life in extraterrestrial environments”. Later on in the 1970s, NASA sent the Viking probes to Mars in search of microbial life on the surface of the planet, however, the mission was a failure, and as a consequence of this failure, NASA sidelined exobiological research and experiments for space missions, primarily to Mars, for many years. The scientific community found that they had been doing it wrong all along, they stopped looking for signs of life in space, and instead started searching for habitable environments. Soon after that, NASA proceeded with its small exobiology grants program. And finally in 1995, progress in science and discovery made the study of life in the universe appealing once again, and NASA’s astrobiology program was born.  There are four elements that make up the field of astrobiology and they are: 1) Astronomy which is defined as the study of science which deals with celestial objects, space, and the physical universe as a whole. 2) Biology which is the study of living organisms.

3) Astro-ecology which is the scientific study of the interactions of life with space environments. And finally, 4) Astrogeology which is the study of the geology of astronomical objects such as planets, moons, asteroids, and comets. As of December of 2017, no evidence of extraterrestrial life has been found. However, there has been a discovery of what is thought to be microfossils of extraterrestrial origin that were found from the Allan Hills 84001 meteorite that was discovered in Antartica in 1984. However, some scientists find this interpretation to be highly controversial. Then there is also the Yamato 000593 meteorite which had carbon-rich spheres that scientists think may have been formed by biotic activity.

  Astrobiology is a fairly young field of science, however, it is growing exponentially, with many new NASA missions that serve to find more about extraterrestrial life. The Mars 2020 mission is a rover idea developed by NASA which is intended to explore Mars’ surface geological processes and history, including the evaluation of its past habitability and likelihood for the conservation of bio-signatures and biomolecules on the surface. Then there is also the Europa Clipper mission which will also be launched by NASA that aims to study Jupiter’s moon Europa and will investigate whether the moon that is thought to have an ocean of liquid water under its surface could harbor life. 


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