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Astrobiology - Science topic

From the origins of life on earth to the quest for life in the universe
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Publications related to Astrobiology (6,925)
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Article
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In this work, we have analyzed natural samples collected at three hydrothermal areas of Iceland by Raman spectroscopy. The studied high-latitude regions are considered environmentally and mineralogically appropriate Martian analogues since they are rich in weathered basalts that have been altered by hydrothermalism to mineral phases such as silica,...
Book
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This seminal monograph provides the essential guidance that we need to act as responsible ecological citizens while we expand our reach beyond Earth. The emergence of numerous national space programs along with several potent commercial presences prompts our attention to urgent environmental issues like what to do with the large mass of debris that...
Book
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A thorough exploration of the fascinating evolution of tides through the Earth’s history and their impacts on the Earth Did you know that the size of the full moon in the night sky is determined by how the continents have been arranged on Earth throughout its history? This is indeed the case, because the tides are largely controlled by the size of...
Preprint
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The detection of habitable worlds is one of humanity's greatest endeavors. So far, astrobiological studies show that one of the most critical components for life development is liquid water. Its chemical properties and its capacity to dissolve and hence transport other substances makes this constituent a key piece in the development of life. As a c...
Poster
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Background: Tardigrades show significant resistance to a number of environmental stressors, including exposure to the space vacuum. But even though, studies on the influence of hypomagnetic conditions or even geomagnetic field in general, on tardigrades were rare, until recently. We present the current state of knowledge on the influence of hypomag...
Article
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The stable isotope composition of soluble and insoluble organic compounds in carbonaceous chondrites can be used to determine the provenance of organic molecules in space. Deuterium enrichment in meteoritic organics could be a residual signal of synthetic reactions occurring in the cold interstellar medium or an indicator of hydrothermal parent-bod...
Article
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This paper presents a review of the space exploration for life signature search with a special focus on the fluorescence microscope we developed for the life signature search on Mars and in other sites. Considering where, what, and how to search for life signature is essential. Life signature search exploration can be performed on the Mars surface...
Research
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A journal devoted to life in outer space
Presentation
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Extremophiles possess ability to tolerate and live under the extremes of physico-chemical, geological and nutritional conditions. These microorganisms are evolutionary relics with the evolution of the adaptation strategies at cellular, biochemical and molecular levels. Their metabolic pathways and enzymatic tools have enabled them to maintain stabi...
Article
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For decades, the search for potential signs of Martian life has attracted strong international interest and has led to significant planning and scientific implementation. Clearly, in order to detect potential life signals beyond Earth, fundamental questions, such as how to define such terms as “life” and “biosignature”, have been given considerable...
Article
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Most amino acids and sugar molecules occur in mirror, or chiral, images of each other, knowns as enantiomers. However, life on Earth is mostly homochiral: proteins contain almost exclusively L-amino acids, while only D-sugars appear in RNA and DNA. The mechanism behind this fundamental asymmetry of life remains unknown, despite much progress in the...
Preprint
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Enceladus is a primary target for astrobiology due to the salty plume ejecta measured by the Cassini spacecraft and the inferred subsurface ocean sustained by tidal heating. Sourcing the plumes via a direct connection from the ocean to the surface requires a fracture through the entire ice shell ($\sim$10 km). Here we explore an alternative mechani...
Article
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In the only salt evaporation pond retaining its natural setting of the historic Salina di Cervia (Italy), the northernmost salterns of the Mediterranean area, a number of potentially preservable textures derive from the interactions between photosynthetic mat producers and the sedimentary substrate. These morphologies occur at the beginning of the...
Article
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Deserts represent extreme habitats where photosynthetic life is restricted to the lithic niche. The ability of rock-inhabiting cyanobacteria to modify their photosynthetic apparatus and harvest far-red light (near-infrared) was investigated in 10 strains of the genus Chroococcidiopsis, previously isolated from diverse endolithic and hypolithic dese...
Article
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The ideas of deep-space human exploration, interplanetary travel, and space civilizations are becoming a reality. However, numerous hindrances remain standing in the way of accomplishing these feats, one of which is space ionizing radiation. Space ionizing radiation has become the most hazardous health risk for long-term human space exploration, as...
Article
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The overarching theme of the Orbiting Astronomical Satellite for Investigating Stellar Systems (OASIS) , an Astrophysics MIDEX-class mission concept, is Following water from galaxies, through protostellar systems, to Earth’s oceans . The OASIS science objectives address fundamental questions raised in “Pathways to Discovery in Astronomy and Astroph...
Article
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Glaciers, formed from the gradual accumulation of snow, can be continuous records representing past environments and recognized as a time capsule of our planetary evolution. Due to extremely harsh conditions, glacial ice has long been considered an uninhabitable ecosystem for microorganisms to sustain their life. However, recent developments in mic...
Article
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The search for life elsewhere in the universe represents not only a potential expansion of our knowledge regarding life, but also a clarification of the first principles applicable to terrestrial life, which thus restrict the very search for extra-terrestrial life. Although there are no exact figures for how many species have existed throughout Ear...
Article
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Recent years have witnessed the detection of an increasing number of complex organic molecules in interstellar space, some of them being of prebiotic interest. Disentangling the origin of interstellar prebiotic chemistry and its connection to biochemistry and ultimately, to biology is an enormously challenging scientific goal where the application...
Presentation
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This video, produced by Dr. Keith Johnson, MIT, is based on his 2021 paper, "Cosmology, Astrobiology, and the RNA World: Just Add Quintessential Water" published in the International Journal of Astrobiology 20(2),111-124. Because cosmic dust-ejected water nanoclusters responsible for dark matter and dark energy appear only 200 million years after t...
Presentation
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This is Presentation 31531, at Session F3.2, Astrobiology. The in situ Raman spectroscopy analyses of carbonaceous fossils in the Sooke #1 meteorite find are presented and discussed. The Raman spectra and maps reveal nanodiamondized particles of lonsdaleite surrounded by silicates of pyroxene-diopside structure. The three active Raman modes E2g, A...
Article
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The search for the chemical origins of life represents a long-standing and continuously debated enigma. Despite its exceptional complexity, in the last decades the field has experienced a revival, also owing to the exponential growth of the computing power allowing for efficiently simulating the behavior of matter—including its quantum nature—under...
Article
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The NASA Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is currently exploring Jezero crater, a Noachian-Hesperian locality that once hosted a delta-lake system with high habitability and biosignature preservation potential. Perseverance conducts detailed appraisals of rock targets using a synergistic payload capable of geological characterization from kilometer to...
Article
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Finding evidence of extraterrestrial life would be one of the most profound scientific discoveries ever made, advancing humanity into a new epoch of cosmic awareness. The Venus Life Finder (VLF) missions feature a series of three direct atmospheric probes designed to assess the habitability of the Venusian clouds and search for signs of life and li...
Article
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Understanding hydrocarbon cycling in the subsurface is important in various disciplines including climate science, energy resources and astrobiology. Mud volcanoes provide insights into biogeochemical processes occurring in the subsurface. They are usually associated with natural gas reservoirs consisting mainly of methane and other hydrocarbons as...
Presentation
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From the theoretic approach I propose to interpolate BH singularity as a pulse space manifold in the dimers. In that Self-Referred Language, Penrose transform for flat stability can equate anthropic device quotients as distance in clusters of resonance. So, while waiting for samples from Mars, it is possible to exploit the pulse coincidence between...
Preprint
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The search for Life in the Universe generally assumes three basic life's needs: I) building block elements (i.e., CHNOPS), II) a solvent to life's reactions (generally, liquid water) and III) a thermodynamic disequilibrium. It is assumed that similar requirements might be universal in the Cosmos. On our planet, life is able to harvest energy from a...
Article
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The Prebiotic Chemistry and Early Earth Environments (PCE3) Consortium is a community of researchers seeking to understand the origins of life on Earth and in the universe. PCE3 is one of five Research Coordination Networks (RCNs) within NASA’s Astrobiology Program. Here we report on the inaugural PCE3 workshop, intended to cross-pollinate, transfe...
Article
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Mounting evidence of chemical disequilibria in the Venusian atmosphere has heightened interest in the search for life within the planet’s cloud decks. Balloon systems are currently considered to be the superior class of aerial platform for extended atmospheric sampling within the clouds, providing the highest ratio of science return to risk. Balloo...
Article
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Venus is known for its extreme surface temperature and its sulfuric acid clouds. But the cloud layers on Venus have similar temperature and pressure conditions to those on the surface of Earth and are conjectured to be a possible habitat for microscopic life forms. We propose a mission concept to explore the clouds of Venus for up to 30 days to eva...
Article
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The Sample Analysis at Mars instrument stepped combustion experiment on a Yellowknife Bay mudstone at Gale crater, Mars revealed the presence of organic carbon of Martian and meteoritic origins. The combustion experiment was designed to access refractory organic carbon in Mars surface sediments by heating samples in the presence of oxygen to combus...
Article
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Biota are found in glaciers, ice sheets and permafrost. Ice bound microorganisms evolve in a complex mobile environment facilitated or hindered by a range of bulk and surface interactions. When a particle is embedded in a host solid near its bulk melting temperature, a melted film forms at the surface of the particle in a process known as interfaci...
Article
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Europa is an established high-priority astrobiology target where identifying chemical signatures of life is one of NASA’s highest-priority goals. Remote sensing techniques are powerful tools for extraterrestrial exploration, but in situ data through analyses of subsurface materials is necessary for ground-truthing these habitability investigations....
Research
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A journal devoted to life in outer space
Article
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Communications among civilizations may include self-descriptive bioinformation because pathogen dynamics exist in their astrobiology and astrovirology, which could become pathogenic upon actual contact. This information is of mutual benefit, if reciprocated. However, in contrast, the strategic counter-scenario of self-hidden civilizations is also d...
Article
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Amino acids are important targets in the search for life beyond Earth. The types of amino acids, their relative abundances, and enantiomeric excess all serve as biosignatures. To detect such biosignatures, identification and quantification of individual amino acids are required. Regardless of the analytical workflow used, it is critical to release...
Article
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Hydrothermal systems and their deposits are primary targets in the search for fossil evidence of life beyond Earth. However, to learn how to decode fossil biomarker records in ancient hydrothermal deposits, we must first be able to interpret unambiguously modern biosignatures, their distribution patterns, and their association with physicochemical...
Chapter
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New Frontiers in Astrobiology presents a simple and concise overview of the emerging field of astrobiology. Astrobiology studies the evolution, origin, and future of life on Earth and beyond. This book provides a brief overview of the current research and future status of this fascinating field. The book covers a wide range of topics from the histo...
Preprint
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It is now understood that if life had ever erose on Mars, it might have been preserved in the simplest form. Therefore, studying the traces of simple life forms from the rock records of various Earth environments and climatic conditions perhaps helps to narrow down the region of interest while searching for life on the red planet. The Precambrian e...
Article
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We examine the epistemological foundations of a leading technique in the search for evidence of life on exosolar planets. Specifically, we consider the ``transit method'' for spectroscopic analysis of exoplanet atmospheres, and the practice of treating anomalous chemical compositions of the atmospheres of exosolar planets as indicators of the poten...
Preprint
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Though fascinating and multi-disciplinary in scientific horizon, Astrobiology, till date has not managed to make a commendable mark in Indian academia which raises the need of not reformation but transformation in the education system. As per our recent survey, 30.88% of 2455 participants claimed to have heard about Astrobiology for the first time,...
Conference Paper
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Salt-encrusted basins of the high Andes are among the best terrestrial analogs for salt-encrusted basins on Mars. Topographic constructs form in these basins on Earth due to the activity of water. We explore two examples of these constructs in a halite and gypsum salar and evaluate the implications for exploration of Mars.
Article
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Recent and past observations of chemical and physical peculiarities in the atmosphere of Venus have renewed speculations about the existence of life in its clouds. To find signs of Venusian life, a dedicated astrobiological space exploration mission is required, and for this reason the Venus Life Finder mission is currently being prepared. A Venus...
Research Proposal
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Quantum Astrobiology (QAB) is concerned with the potential of quantum mechanics in describing and understanding astro-biological phenomena. The application of the quantum mechanical effects may help to resolve the problem of evolution of life on this planet in prebiotic environment. It could give a plausible explanation for how the first signs of l...
Poster
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More and more attention has been raising toward the icy moons of the Solar System since the discovery of their potential liquid water [1], and the astrobiology potential below their surface ice [2]. In addition, the ongoing preparation of JUICE (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer) mission is boosting the research as well. Before the hopefully successful JU...
Conference Paper
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The purpose of this paper is to see how the creation of astrophilosophy could better emphasize the role of philosophy today, and would it behave as a side-by-side major philosophical discipline or a complement to the current philosophical disciplines, for example, bringing new light into metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, or philosophy of mind. In...
Poster
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In 2010, Rampelotto suggested [1] that Panspermia hypothesis, the transfer of the “seeds of life” between planets [2] is one of the promising fields of astrobiological and planetary research. The suggested transfer has some crucial steps, generally marked as i) escape, ii) transfer and iii) and landing phases [2]. All steps have been investigated,...
Poster
Full-text available
In the rock found in Sooke Basin on Vancouver Island we discovered some carbonaceous fossils containing lonsdaleite particles that could be only formed during gigantic impact shocks in meteorites or their impact craters. We examined Raman spectra and maps of these objects and discuss them in comparison with the spectra of carbonaceous matter in met...
Article
Full-text available
Integrated analyses of Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) IR, Context Camera (CTX), and Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) data sets have been used to characterize the western flank of the Martian volcano Alba Mons, which hosts a prominent population of lava tube systems. Identification and mapping of lava tube systems is based on both morph...
Article
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Parageobacillus thermantarcticus strain M1 is a Gram-positive, motile, facultative anaerobic, spore forming, and thermophilic bacterium, isolated from geothermal soil of the crater of Mount Melbourne (74°22′ S, 164°40′ E) during the Italian Antarctic Expedition occurred in Austral summer 1986–1987. Strain M1 demonstrated great biotechnological and...
Article
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The regolith environment and associated organic material on Ceres is analogous to environments that existed on Earth 3–4 billion years ago. This has implications not only for abiogenesis and the theory of transpermia, but it provides context for developing a framework to contrast the limits of Earth’s biosphere with extraterrestrial environments of...
Preprint
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A well-known paradox in astrobiology has been discussed at length by the research and general community. In this work we offer a novel perspective associated with the relationship of timescales of development and response of natural learning systems. It is shown that a balance that could lead to a long-term stable development of such systems can be...
Article
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We are embarking on a new age of astrobiology, one in which numerous interplanetary missions and telescopes will be designed, built, and launched with the explicit goal of finding evidence for life beyond Earth. Such a profound aim warrants caution and responsibility when interpreting and disseminating results. Scientists must take care not to over...
Conference Paper
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Fundamental to astrobiology is origin of autotrophy with reductive TCA cycle (rTCA) being often proposed as a primordial carbon fixation pathway. In this study we examined evolution of citrate cleavage reaction in rTCA done either by citryl-CoA synthase (CCS) and citryl-CoA ligase (CCL) with the release of citryl-CoA intermediate or by ATP citrate...
Conference Paper
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Early career research (ECR) groups are essential in academia to foster cross disciplinary collaboration, build essential support networks, and produce high quality research. Here, we introduce a recently developed ECR group coined The STROMATOLITES (Studying Totally Rad Objects in Modern and Ancient Thermal, Oceanic, Lithified, and Interlayered Tex...
Preprint
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The ultimate goal of astrobiology is to determine the distribution and diversity of life in the universe. But as the word "biosignature" suggests, what will be detected is not life itself, but an observation implicating a particular process associated with living systems. Technical constraints and our limited access to other worlds suggest we are m...
Article
Full-text available
The identification of traces of life beyond Earth (e.g., Mars, icy moons) is a challenging task because terrestrial chemical-based molecules may be destroyed by the harsh conditions experienced on extraterrestrial planetary surfaces. For this reason, studying the effects on biomolecules of extremophilic microorganisms through astrobiological ground...
Conference Paper
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Introductory presentation to the online conference on "Islamic Perspectives on Exotheology" hosted by Virginia Commonwealth University on May 10 and 11, 2022. Shoaib Ahmed Malik and I (Jörg Matthias Determann) are very grateful to Stephen Bullivant, Richard Playford and the Religion and Astrobiology in Culture and Society (RACS) Network for partner...
Article
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The detection of life beyond Earth is the principal goal of the field of astrobiology. However, the complexity of life itself, the scientific challenges of the required measurements, and the difficulty in conveying this complexity to others, means that it is now critical for the astrobiology community to develop standards of evidence and report...
Article
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The Perseverance rover (Mars 2020) mission, the first step in NASA’s Mars Sample Return (MSR) program, will select samples for caching based on their potential to improve understanding Mars’ astrobiological, geological, geochemical, and climatic evolution. Geochronologic analyses will be among the key measurements planned for returned samples. Asse...
Preprint
Full-text available
Most amino acids and sugars molecules occur in mirror, or chiral, images of each other, knowns as enantiomers. However, life on Earth is mostly homochiral: proteins contain almost exclusively L-amino acids, while only D-sugars appear in RNA and DNA. The mechanism behind this fundamental asymmetry of life remains unknown, despite much progress in th...
Article
Full-text available
Lava tubes on Mars hold exciting potential for the preservation of biosignatures, which may survive on geological timescales in these isolated, stable environments. To support the development of future astrobiological mission concepts, we turn to terrestrial lava tubes, host to a variety of microbial communities and secondary minerals. Following a...
Article
Full-text available
Extremophiles are group of microorganisms that possess ability to tolerate and live under the extremes of physico-chemical, geological and nutritional conditions. Such microorganisms are evolutionary relics and have evolved adaptation strategies at cellular, biochemical and molecular levels. They produce enzymes that are capable to maintain stabili...
Presentation
Full-text available
It is reviewed the issue of habitability of rocky planetary bodies, with emphasis in the development of habitability metrics. Both photosynthetic and chemosynthetic primary producers are considered. It is highlighted the link Astrobiology - Environmental Sciences.
Research
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A journal devoted to life in outer space
Preprint
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Titan's atmosphere is a natural laboratory for exploring the photochemical synthesis of organic molecules. Significant recent advances in the study of the atmosphere of Titan include: (a) detection of C$_3$ molecules: C$_3$H$_6$, CH$_2$CCH$_2$, c-C$_3$H$_2$, and (b) retrieval of C$_6$H$_6$, which is formed primarily via C$_3$ chemistry, from Cassin...