Questions tagged [astrobiology]

Questions regarding the study of life outside of Earth.

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What theoretical work has been done to try to predict what types of life might exist in the water oceans of Jovian moons?"

The subsurface water oceans of Jovian moons (Europa, Enceladus) are of great interests in the search for extraterrestrial life. I'm wondering what current work has been done to predict the types of ...
Shawn Lim's user avatar
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What is the largest object/mass that can survive entry into the earth's atmosphere from space without heating to 40 degrees C, or above?

This question is of interest because there are terrestrial organisms, such as bacterial and fungal spores, and even complex multicellular organisms, such as tardigrades, which can survive deep space ...
Mike Darwin's user avatar
1 vote
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How would low gravity on Mars be a stress factor on plants?

As a 12 year old doing a science project for my local science fair I have found that many experiments that try to simulate how the environment would be like on Mars while growing plants always forget ...
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2 votes
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Why not bring an extra rover with an ExoMars drill unit to Jezero to have a far better chance to get biosignatures for the sample return mission?

In an interview in the recent article Mars Has So Much Radiation, Any Signs of Life Would Be Buried Six Feet Under physicist Alexander Pavlov of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center tells that he and ...
Cornelis's user avatar
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What will be more important for the first NASA led human mission to Mars, the exploration of important science targets or the mining of water ice?

A few months after NASA's decision in November 2018 that Jezero Crater would be the landing site for the Mars 2020 rover mission, the research article The Geology and Astrobiology of McLaughlin Crater,...
Cornelis's user avatar
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Could there be caves on Mars in the areas inside Jezero crater and the watershed west and north of it where the Mg carbonates are detected?

Both images above are screenshots from Fig. 1 of the article Formation of Magnesium Carbonates on Earth and Implications for Mars The green coloured regions indicate where Mg carbonates were detected, ...
Cornelis's user avatar
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What could be the cause of the extraordinary high Fe counts from the PIXL instrument onboard the Perseverance rover?

In this answer a table is showed with all the elements that were detected by the PIXL instrument on 2 occasions, namely sol 140 and sol 167. As could be expected, X-ray counts were high for Si (...
Cornelis's user avatar
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After one year exploring Jezero's crater floor, has there been any investigation into the presence of trace elements with PIXL?

PIXL instrument chart sample Credit:NASA/JPL-CALTECH Of course PIXL has been used already in Jezero crater, but as far as I know only to identify mineral compositions and textures, as described in ...
Cornelis's user avatar
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Does NASA's Titan explorer Dragonfly have a microscope? How will it observe potential microbial life?

One of NASA's stated goals with the Dragonfly mission is to "study astrobiology, prebiological chemistry, and the potential habitability of an extraterrestrial environment." I would think it ...
Drake P's user avatar
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Could not an adapted RASSOR appear to be crucial for the Perseverance rover to find possible biosignatures on Mars?

Is it not very likely that most of the material that could contain possible biosignatures, like clays and carbonate containing minerals, will be below a layer of dust or regolith on Mars ? That the ...
Cornelis's user avatar
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Agriculture on an exoplanet

If we find a hypothetical Earth-like planet A with a rocky terrain that we could colonize, how would we go about planting the first plants, knowing that there is a deficient of nutrients and the ...
Joel George V's user avatar
15 votes
7 answers
3k views

What would be the practical benefits of finding life in the Solar System?

An interesting article on the World Economic Forum website talks about the benefits of exploring Mars: There are also reasons for visiting Mars that transcend the purely scientific. Sending humans to ...
JonathanReez's user avatar
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If extraterrestrial life exists in our Solar system, is it believed to be unicellular or multicellular?

The Wiki article Life on Mars states the following: The primary mission of the Viking probes of the mid-1970s was to carry out experiments designed to detect microorganisms in Martian soil because ...
JonathanReez's user avatar
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41 votes
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Why are we trying to prevent life from spreading via landers rather than actively encouraging it?

The question How certain are we that we have not accidentally sent life to other planets/moons? talks about all the precautions taken to avoid spreading life to other planets/moons. But why even try ...
JonathanReez's user avatar
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Is there any demonstrated or even proposed technology that can sterilize a spacecraft with 100% certainty and yet leave it electronically functional?

In this answer to Why are there no robotic missions on Europa or Enceladus I wrote: Missions going through the ice and into the ocean are currently hypothetical and problematic. You need a lot of ...
uhoh's user avatar
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Why aren't there any robotic missions on Europa or Enceladus?

As per Space.com's Methane in plume of Saturn's moon Enceladus could be sign of alien life, studies suggest that Enceladus and Europa are the two most promising solar-system bodies on or in which to ...
user0193's user avatar
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Would Ingenuity's cameras be capable to spot and/or make close-ups of possible biosignatures?

Mars Helicopter Technology Demonstrator mentions on page 13/14 the sensors that Ingenuity carries, among them two cameras: Navigation (NAV) Camera. This is a global-shutter, nadir pointed grayscale ...
Cornelis's user avatar
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Has Akatsuki searched for phosphine in Venus?

The Akatsuki orbiter is never mentioned in articles about the phosphine discovery, does it have the capability to detect it and has it tried?
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Do you know any jokes that aliens might enjoy? [closed]

What are some jokes that aliens can understand without a lot of knowledge on humans? I think that humour is an essential part of being a human. And if we ever make contact with aliens then we should ...
Ivan Denysov's user avatar
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Was there ever serious speculation that some terrestrial deep sea life might be of alien origin? [closed]

According to this usually fairly well-researched youtube channel, There are also some truly strange critters in the deep sea and some so strange it's been speculated they were alien, and not always ...
Wouter's user avatar
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Could we intentionally contaminate another celestial body with life to start producing oxygen?

My question is simple, could we "nuke" a planet with life to create an atmosphere over time? I was seeing a documentary about Jupiter's moon, Europa, and how it could have hydro thermal ...
pau Fer's user avatar
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Do we know the likely conditions on Mars when its orbital eccentricity was very low?

Mars's eccentricity changes dramatically from highly eccentric, like now, to nearly circular, eg 1.3 million years ago and 1 million years in the future. Mars is more within the Sun's habitable zone ...
Brooks Nelson's user avatar
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1 answer
284 views

A retracted paper about Chlorophyll on Mars?

Recently, Gilbert Levin, one of the experimenters behind the Viking labeled release experiment, wrote this letter to the editors of Science. He makes this claim of particular interest Chlorophyll was ...
Wouter's user avatar
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Life on Mars: How do we know it is not from Earth?

Firstly I would like to start the question with the knowledge that we have, that the most basic form of life we want and expect to find in our Solar System is the primitive kind, such as viruses or ...
Polar Bear's user avatar
2 votes
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169 views

Why were only three known-negative soil samples used to determine the Viking labeled release experiments' false positive rate?

According to Levin, Gilbert V., and Patricia Ann Straat. "The case for extant life on Mars and its possible detection by the Viking labeled release experiment." Astrobiology 16.10 (2016): ...
Wouter's user avatar
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8 votes
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How can I view the Voyager golden record images?

As a human, I'm mildly interested in seeing for myself what message we have sent to some hypothetical aliens. This NASA page displays 48 of them: https://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/galleries/images-on-the-...
SE - stop firing the good guys's user avatar
13 votes
1 answer
1k views

How certain are we that we have not accidentally sent life to other planets/moons?

Recently phosphine was discovered on Venus, and that led to some speculation that life exists on Venus because phosphine is a known biosignature on Earth. Considering that we've sent probes to Venus ...
Allure's user avatar
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How often have signs of life been dismissed as abiotic?

Today, there are rumors about an upcoming announcement of the discovery of (non-conclusive) evidence for life on Venus, apparently they detected some phosphorus compound that is not produced by any ...
Wouter's user avatar
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Obtaining Europa's samples from Callisto. Possible to identify them? Worthwhile?

A lot has been discussed about the possibility of panspermia between Earth and Mars, and how compact systems such as Trappist-1 can be more prone to that. Here on Earth, we have identified numerous ...
Venus was her name's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
307 views

What is the most accepted explanation to the Fermi paradox by the scientific community? [closed]

If there is no "most accepted" explanation, then what would be the most scientifically probabilistic explanation to the Fermi paradox? The Fermi paradox, named after Italian-American physicist ...
A-ar's user avatar
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8 votes
1 answer
272 views

How did Spirit and Opportunity identify ferric sulfate and jarosite on Mars?

In the short BBC video Spain's otherworldly red river, Ricardo Amils, a researcher in Spain's Astrobiology Center says the following (amateur transcription): Río Tinto is a peculiar place in our ...
uhoh's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
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How did NASA fund searches for extraterrestrial life before 1993? How were the searches done?

The BBC's Astronomers want public funds for intelligent life search says: Nasa once funded the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence to the tune of $10m a year. But the funding was scrapped in ...
uhoh's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
59 views

Could the NOMAD instrument on the TGO detect methane at night with sufficient reflected sunlight or artificial light?

Nadir and Occultation for MArs Discovery (NOMAD) is a 3-channel spectrometer on board the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO). Both the solar occultation (SO), and the limb nadir and occultation (LNO) ...
Cornelis's user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
901 views

Could the James Webb Space Telescope detect chlorophyll on a exoplanet?

Say there's an exoplanet identical to Earth 20 light years away, and also assume it orbits at an angle so that it transits its star when seen from our solar system. Would the JWST be able to detect ...
qazwsx's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
312 views

Why are Viking LR results not sufficient evidence of life on Mars?

Gil Levin, one of the scientists involved with the 1976 Viking mission to Mars, has claimed and continues to claim that there is life on Mars, based off the positive results of the Labeled Release (LR)...
ETL's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
831 views

What harm could perchlorate consuming bacteria do to potential native life forms on Mars?

Since the discovery of the toxic perchlorate being globally distributed in the martian soil the chances for microscopic life there are thought to be greatly reduced.. Even in the RSL's, once thought ...
Cornelis's user avatar
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2 votes
0 answers
134 views

Why will the next missions to Mars not search for past life where once deep-water hydrothermal vents were?

The iron-sulfur world theory and the deep sea vent hypothesis are among the most popular ones to explain the origin of life on Earth. This article (Michalski J et al. Ancient hydrothermal seafloor ...
Cornelis's user avatar
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27 votes
4 answers
9k views

Are there types of animals that can't make the trip to space? (physiologically)

I thought about what kind of animals could make it to space, and I thought about how vertebrates can apparently withstand the G forces need to travel to the ISS, but I hadn't really thought about ...
Krupip's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
484 views

Could any "Well-Tracked Analyst Object" turn out to be a natural object or even something else?

The excellent satellite tracking database www.space-track.org, which is mantained by the United States Space Command, offers to the public accurate and up-to-date orbital elements for thousands of ...
Swike's user avatar
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3 votes
0 answers
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What is the name of the animal vaccine created in space? (according to Robert Zubrin)

I'm reading "The Case for Space" and on pg 47 of the book, Zubrin mentions that some sort of animal vaccine was created thanks to research done in microgravity and in space. He goes on to say that ...
voytekg's user avatar
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3 votes
2 answers
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Can mushroom spores survive the vacuum and radiation of space?

From this source, it states that: Living spores have been found and collected in every level of earth’s atmosphere. Mushroom spores are electron-dense and can survive in the vacuum of space. ...
plu's user avatar
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2 votes
0 answers
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Funding for small astrobiology fieldwork project

I am a postdoctoral scholar who plans to conduct a small project at the MDRS, a Mars simulation volunteer project. The project will be to conduct DNA sequencing of soil samples using a handheld nano ...
user31844's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
257 views

Does exploration of Venus' atmosphere now require any planetary protection protocols?

This answer quotes Marc Rayman's August 21, 2018 Dawn Journal entry: Not all solar system bodies need such protection. The Moon, Mercury and Venus, for example, have not been of interest for ...
Oscar Lanzi's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
123 views

Has the possibility of the return of organisms along with mined asteroid products to Earth been considered or discussed [closed]

Is it possible that mining on asteroids could bring life back to Earth such as bacteria?
Concerned citizen's user avatar
39 votes
3 answers
13k views

Why did the Chinese send flies and plants to the far side of the moon?

The Chinese space craft that just landed on the moon had a tube with a biosphere in with flies and plants. What are they expecting to learn? Didn't we already experiment that on the ISS? Source ...
Geordi La Forge's user avatar
-1 votes
2 answers
617 views

Does SpaceX plan to enhance/change the genome of space colonists to speed up the adaptation process to the living conditions on Mars? [closed]

My understanding of biology is that all living organisms adapt to the environment around them. I would even say the environment shapes the very essence of an organism. Gravity alone is a huge factor ...
Miroslav Řešetka's user avatar
7 votes
3 answers
3k views

Is it ethical for Chang'e-4 to bring an entire ecosystem to the moon? [closed]

As far as I know, it isn't ethical to contaminate outer space with life from Earth, because then we will never be sure if life can actually grow there. However, I just read reports that the latest ...
jonvyltra's user avatar
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3 votes
2 answers
602 views

Could nanobots travel through space?

I couldn't find a better place to ask this, but I figured this exchange would know about the problems associated with traveling through space. My question is if nanobots could spread through the ...
Wolfie_Waffle's user avatar
-3 votes
1 answer
1k views

What is the origin of Black knight satellite? [closed]

Is it true that an extraterrestrial satellite orbits earth in retrograde? If the Black knight exists, can we presume that it is placed there by aliens who are technologically more advanced than ...
Shalumia's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
255 views

Could it be worthwhile to bring a small and simple greenhouse with biofilms along with one of the next missions to Mars?

Planetary protection rules could be a reason not to bring biofilms to Mars, but because several landers and satellites that crashed or landed on Mars were probably not sterilized these rules were ...
Cornelis's user avatar
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