Questions tagged [astrobiology]

Questions regarding the study of life outside of Earth.

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1answer
77 views

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 ...
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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) ...
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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 ...
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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)...
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Would it not be safe to introduce perchlorate consuming bacteria on Mars, at least for controlled tests?

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 ...
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Why will the next missions to Mars not search for past life where once 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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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546 views

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. ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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?
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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 ...
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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 ...
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185 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 ...
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653 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 ...
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131 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 ...
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Why the big difference between NASA and ESA/Roscosmos in evaluating the Oxia Planum landing site?

In november 2018 ESA announced that the Oxia Planum region is favoured for the ExoMars surface mission. The figure above from this answer about the 21 potential landing sites for the Mars 2020 ...
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Has the HP$^3$ on the Insight lander actually a probe to detect water and ice in the subsurface of Mars?

The Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP$^3$) is a science instrument onboard the Insight lander that features a self-penetrating probe to determine how heat flows inside Mars. Nicknamed "the ...
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138 views

Why are there no methane detectors with “the mole” of the Insight lander?

A possible geophysical source of methane on Mars could be ancient methane trapped in clathrate hydrates in the subsurface that may be released occasionally. In a not secured (!) article of ESA about ...
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Is microgravity “known to” increase bacteria's tendency to acquire foreign genetic material and become metal & antibiotic-resistant?

The RT article Mutant superbugs menace future space station expeditions – NASA ends with: Microgravity is known to increase a bacterium's tendency to acquire foreign genetic material and to become ...
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If I wanted to try to terraform Mars, who would have the authority to stop me?

Let’s say hypothetically I could fund a rocket ship and pack it with lots of biomaterial. Biomaterial that would hopefully survive the impact, reproduce and potentially alter the atmosphere of Mars. ...
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NASA's Curiosity Rover - Carbon Isotope Ratio of Methane?

The following is taken from Sinha & Rral , 2015: "NASA's Curiosity rover has the capability to search for organic compounds and to identify the chemical and isotopic composition of the Martian ...
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What would make Mars a better candidate for life to originate on? [closed]

The Allan Hills meteorite, found in Antarctica in 1984, lead to speculation that bacteria from Mars may have traveled from Mars to Earth between 17 million and 13 000 years ago - blasted from Mars 17 ...
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What were the 21 potential landing sites for the Mars 2020 mission?

In August 2015 more than 150 scientists attended a conference to evaluate 21 potential landing sites for NASA's next rover, a mission called Mars 2020. Out of those proposed landing sites the Mars ...
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Would a circular saw on one arm and a trowel on another on the Mars 2020 rover add scientific value? [closed]

Edit: I changed the question from one arm with a shovel to two arms, with one with a circular saw and the other with a trowel, some time after the first answer of @Hobbes. I did this because in his ...
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Which potential landing sites were identified at the MSL Landing Site workshops?

In the Wikipedia article Timeline of Mars Science Laboratory it is mentioned that at the first MSL Landing Site workshop, 33 potential landing sites were identified, and that by the second workshop in ...
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358 views

Fish in space: what were the results?

I've been interested in the Japanese experiment on the ISS involving raising fish in space, but in all my reading the results seem a bit ambiguous/conflicting (depending on source). What are the ...
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Are we alone after all? Understanding the recent re-evaluation of the Drake Equation

The Quartz.com article We may have answered the Fermi Paradox: We are alone in the universe says: Researchers of Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute have another answer. It’s likely ...
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Why is the northeastern region of Syrtis Major Planum a selected landing site for the Mars 2020 mission?

Image below: One of the 3 selected landing sites, on the left side of Jezero crater, which is also selected ! A workshop for the Mars 2020 Rover mission was held in February 2017 that selected 3 ...
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Why is Enceladus the “most interesting place for astrobiology” in the Solar System other than Earth?

In season 1 episode 1 of Space's Deepest Secrets (IMDB), Dr. Chris McKay, a planetary scientist for NASA, says around 1h:40m into the show, "This is the single most important and interesting place for ...
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Why not bring life to Venus along with the next exploring mission?

Why not bring cyanobacteria and fertilizer to the atmosphere of Venus to improve conditions for life there by producing oxygen ? Planetary protection could be a reason. According to Wikipedia: ...
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What type of rock or soil on Mars will give Nostoc Commune cyanobacteria the best chance to survive there?

Photo taken by YAMAMAYA Cyanobacteria are a group of photosynthetic bacteria, who use the energy of light to synthesize organic compounds from carbon dioxide, and producing oxygen this way. Nostoc ...
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Are Peace Vallis and it's alluvial fan on Mars classified as special regions or not?

According to the answer for this question, that was not accepted, alluvial fans might have water and thus a IVc category mission would be required to visit such an area. Curiosity meets only the IVa ...
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What potential characteristics can be reasonably discussed about a hypothetical Martian microbial ecosystem in lava tubes? [closed]

Based on their hypothetical origin in lava tubes, what characteristics of hypothetical Martian lava tube microbes can we reasonably extrapolate? Could we theorize how different microbe species might ...
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Could metal sulfates stay in the sulfuric acid layer of Venus?

For cyanobacteria metal ions like K+, Mg+ and other essential nutrients like phosphorus are vital for growing and to expand. So they could only thrive in the clouds of Venus if at least metal ions ...
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Why not simulate certain regions of the atmosphere of Venus?

Many people would like to know if any form of life could survive anywhere in the atmosphere of Venus. Researchers have simulated conditions on Mars and found that after a month some cyanobacteria ...
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553 views

How does hypergravity affect the human body?

What would happen to humans if we set foot on Kepler-442b, where the surface gravity is predicted to be about 30% percent stronger than that of earth? If humans colonized the planet, would it then ...
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Could there be liquid hydrogen oceans on the surfaces of worlds (including frozen gas giants) in the distant Kuiper belt or Oort cloud?

This is something I'm wondering for a science book I'm writing (not science fiction) where I cover the various forms of life that could exist especially in our solar system - such as life on Mars of ...
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Why is the surface of Mars oxidized?

Before 2.5 to 2Gya, Earth's surface was a chemically reducing environment (evidence includes reduced forms of iron, sulfur, and uranium in rocks before that time). It is believed to have become ...
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Is the amount of damage to humans due to x Sievert a function of exposure time?

After looking into the experienced radiation for certain space journeys, I was wondering wether it was correct to state that the amount of biological damage is a function of the exposure time for a ...
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Who gets to represent Earth in case of an Alien meeting? [closed]

Let's assume the aliens that come to visit our planet are friendly and somewhat like humans. Who will be the one to tell them about our habits and technology? Very curious if there are any laws that ...
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Could a terrestrial planet with a hydrogen atmosphere be habitable?

Many exoplanets, even small ones, have densities so low that it indicates that they have hydrogen atmospheres. Is a hydrogen gas atmosphere of a terrestrial planet somehow detrimental to biology as we ...
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Why do we worry about contaminating some solar bodies but not others?

On 15th September 2017, the Cassini probe will be destroyed by crashing it into Saturn. This will be done in order to eliminate the unlikely risk of it crashing into and forward contaminating one of ...
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Could a spacecraft be made out of wood?

Could a spacecraft use organic materials, like wood or bone or shell or other tissues, as an interface to the vacuum and radiation of space? Would wood outgas and crack up in space? I wonder if life ...
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Melanized fungi on the ISS - are they 'enjoying' the elevated radiation levels there?

The end of this excellent answer lead me to Wikipedia which linked to The blacker the better… especially in Chernobyl and Chernobyl Fungus Feeds On Radiation. One passage in 'blacker the better' ...
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Iron Oxidation Mechanism on Mars

My question relates more to the possibilities of life on Mars than to mining mineral deposits. QUESTION: Is it possible to have oxidized iron in the quantities that we see on Mars with only available ...
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6answers
538 views

Can a launch of a rocket or ship from Earth go so badly that it damages the Solar System?

Is it possible for a launch of a space object originating from Earth to go so badly that it would cause permanent damage to the Solar System or even destroy it? Example: a spaceship going off ...
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Life on other planets not based on water [duplicate]

I keep reading that scientists are looking for life on other planets. However almost always their premise to determine the same is based on life on Earth, i.e. need for water, air, etc. Why do we ...