Astrobiology is a peer-reviewed scientific journal covering research on the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life across the universe. The journal's scope includes astrophysics, astropaleontology, bioastronomy, cosmochemistry, ecogenomics, exobiology, extremophiles, geomicrobiology, gravitational biology, life detection technology, meteoritics, origins of life, planetary geoscience, planetary protection, prebiotic chemistry, space exploration technology and terraforming.
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Allan Hills 84001 (commonly abbreviated ALH84001) is a Martian meteorite that was found in Allan Hills, Antarctica on December 27, 1984, by a team of U.S. meteorite hunters from the ANSMET project. Like other members of the group of SNCs (shergottite, nakhlite, chassignite), ALH84001 is thought to be from Mars. However, it does not fit into any of the previously discovered SNC groups. On discovery, its mass was 1.93 kilograms (4.3 lb).
In 1996, a group of scientists claimed to have found evidence for microscopic fossils of Martian bacteria in the meteorite, culminating in then U.S. president Bill Clinton giving a speech about the potential discovery. These claims were controversial from the beginning, and the wider scientific community ultimately rejected the hypothesis once all the unusual features in the meteorite had been explained without requiring life to be present. Despite there being no convincing evidence of Martian life, the initial paper and scientific and public attention caused by it are considered to be turning points in the history of the developing science of astrobiology.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 Phys.org, 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.EXPOSE
EXPOSE is a multi-user facility mounted outside the International Space Station dedicated to astrobiology. EXPOSE was developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) for long-term spaceflights and was designed to allow exposure of chemical and biological samples to outer space while recording data during exposure.The results will contribute to our understanding of photobiological processes in simulated radiation climates of planets (e.g. early Earth, early and present Mars, and the role of the ozone layer in protecting the biosphere from harmful UV-B radiation), as well as studies of the probabilities and limitations for life to be distributed beyond its planet of origin. EXPOSE data support long-term in situ studies of microbes in artificial meteorites, as well as of microbial communities from special ecological niches. Some EXPOSE experiments investigated to what extent particular terrestrial organisms are able to cope with extraterrestrial environmental conditions. Others tested how organic molecules react when subjected for a prolonged period of time to unfiltered solar light.ExoMars
ExoMars (Exobiology on Mars) is a two-part astrobiology project to search for evidence of life on Mars, a joint mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Russian space agency Roscosmos. The first part, launched in 2016, placed the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter into Mars orbit and released the Schiaparelli EDM lander (which crashed). The second part is planned to launch in 2020 and to land the Rosalind Franklin rover on the surface, supporting a science mission that is expected to last into 2022 or beyond.ExoMars goals are to search for signs of past life on Mars, investigate how the Martian water and geochemical environment varies, investigate atmospheric trace gases and their sources and by doing so demonstrate the technologies for a future Mars sample-return mission. The mission will search for ancient biosignatures of Martian life, employing several spacecraft elements to be sent to Mars on two launches.
The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and a test stationary lander called Schiaparelli were launched on 14 March 2016. TGO entered Mars orbit on 19 October 2016 and will proceed to map the sources of methane (CH4) and other trace gases present in the Martian atmosphere that could be evidence for possible biological or geological activity. The TGO features four instruments and will also act as a communications relay satellite. The Schiaparelli experimental lander separated from TGO on 16 October and was maneuvered to land in Meridiani Planum, but it crashed on the surface of Mars. The landing was designed to test new key technologies to safely deliver the 2020 rover mission.In 2020, a Roscosmos lander called ExoMars 2020 surface platform is to deliver the ESA Rosalind Franklin rover to the Martian surface. The rover will also include some Roscosmos built instruments. The second mission operations and communications will be led by ALTEC's Rover Control Centre in Italy.List of astronomy journals
This is a list of scientific journals publishing articles in astronomy, astrophysics, and space sciences.List of microorganisms tested in outer space
The survival of some microorganisms exposed to outer space has been studied using both simulated facilities and low Earth orbit exposures. Bacteria were some of the first organisms investigated, when in 1960 a Russian satellite carried Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus, and Enterobacter aerogenes into orbit. A large number of microorganisms have been selected for exposure experiments since, as listed in the table below.
Experiments of the adaption of microbes in space have yielded unpredictable results. While sometimes the microorganism may weaken, they can also increase in their disease-causing potency.It is possible to classify these microorganisms into two groups, the human-borne, and the extremophiles. Studying the human-borne microorganisms is significant for human welfare and future crewed missions in space, whilst the extremophiles are vital for studying the physiological requirements of survival in space. NASA has pointed out that normal adults have ten times as many microbial cells as human cells in their bodies. They are also nearly everywhere in the environment, and although normally invisible, can form slimy biofilms.Extremophiles have adapted to live in some of the most extreme environments on Earth. This includes hypersaline lakes, arid regions, deep sea, acidic sites, cold and dry polar regions and permafrost. The existence of extremophiles has led to the speculation that microorganisms could survive the harsh conditions of extraterrestrial environments and be used as model organisms to understand the fate of biological systems in these environments. The focus of many of the experiments has been to investigate the possible survival of organisms inside rocks (lithopanspermia), or their survival on Mars for understanding the likelihood of past or present life on that planet. Because of their ubiquity and resistance to spacecraft decontamination, bacterial spores are considered likely potential forward contaminants on robotic missions to Mars. Measuring the resistance of such organisms to space conditions can be applied to develop adequate decontamination procedures.Research and testing of microorganisms in outer space could eventually be applied for directed panspermia or terraforming.Panspermia
Panspermia (from Ancient Greek πᾶν (pan), meaning 'all', and σπέρμα (sperma), meaning 'seed') is the hypothesis that life exists throughout the Universe, distributed by space dust, meteoroids, asteroids, comets, planetoids, and also by spacecraft carrying unintended contamination by microorganisms. Distribution may have occurred between galaxies, and so may not be restricted to the limited scale of solar systems.Panspermia hypotheses propose (for example) that microscopic life-forms that can survive the effects of space (such as extremophiles) can become trapped in debris ejected into space after collisions between planets and small Solar System bodies that harbor life. Some organisms may travel dormant for an extended amount of time before colliding randomly with other planets or intermingling with protoplanetary disks. Under certain ideal impact circumstances (into a body of water, for example), and ideal conditions on a new planet's surfaces, it is possible that the surviving organisms could become active and begin to colonize their new environment. Panspermia studies concentrate not on how life began, but on the methods that may cause its distribution in the Universe.Pseudo-panspermia (sometimes called "soft panspermia" or "molecular panspermia") argues that the pre-biotic organic building-blocks of life originated in space, became incorporated in the solar nebula from which planets condensed, and were further—and continuously—distributed to planetary surfaces where life then emerged (abiogenesis). From the early 1970s, it started to become evident that interstellar dust included a large component of organic molecules. Interstellar molecules are formed by chemical reactions within very sparse interstellar or circumstellar clouds of dust and gas. The dust plays a critical role in shielding the molecules from the ionizing effect of ultraviolet radiation emitted by stars.The chemistry leading to life may have begun shortly after the Big Bang, 13.8 billion years ago, during a habitable epoch when the Universe was only 10 to 17 million years old. Though the presence of life is confirmed only on the Earth, some scientists think that extraterrestrial life is not only plausible, but probable or inevitable. Probes and instruments have started examining other planets and moons in the Solar System and in other planetary systems for evidence of having once supported simple life, and projects such as SETI attempt to detect radio transmissions from possible extraterrestrial civilizations.