Questions tagged [astrobiology]

Questions regarding the study of life outside of Earth.

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30
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3answers
3k views

Is it possible to get pregnant through natural means in space?

The Russians did some early testing with rats (Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, By Mary Roach pg 245) and natural means did not result in pregnancy. Later testing shipped ...
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4answers
8k 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 ...
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4answers
7k views

Why do deep space probes have to be sterilized?

Correct me if I'm wrong but a probe to Mars will take months, during which time it's exposed to a vacuum and irradiated by the sun. It sounds to me like this would kill any micro-organisms on the ...
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3answers
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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 ...
15
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2answers
771 views

How would the search for life on Mars be affected by having boots on the ground?

It is looking like Mars One might continue to go forward, and even if it doesn't it is fairly likely that we will have people on Mars sooner or later. Have there been any scholarly estimations of the ...
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1answer
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Did the Viking landers detect life on Mars?

The two Viking landers had an experiment on board where they attempted to find life on the planet. The initial results said yes, there was life, but later there were questions raised about the results....
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2answers
1k views

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: ...
14
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4answers
343 views

What exactly do they look for when searching for extraterrestrial intelligence?

There are some experiments and projects that are searching for extraterrestrial intelligence.(SETI) I want to know what signs exactly are they looking for? Do they just look for monotone sinusoidal ...
13
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1answer
830 views

Has any country stated its official position on how it would respond to a discovery of intelligent extra terrestrial life?

There are currently many programs that are attempting to find intelligent extraterrestrial life. Putting aside the fact that I believe that the chances of this are slim to none, I'm interested in ...
13
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1answer
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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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257 views

What properties are used to quantify the odds of a star harboring earth-like life?

Say you start with a list of stars. What properties do we believe to be critical in the present existence or future formation of earth-like life in those star systems? How can one reasonably pare down ...
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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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681 views

What existing life on Earth is best suited for the Martian environment?

What existing life on Earth is best suited for the Martian environment? By best suited, I mean it could theoretically be placed on Mars and easily adapt or thrive within the existing environment the ...
12
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1answer
1k views

How big is Earth's sphere of broadcast influence?

The question Interstellar eavesdropping points out that we have been broadcasting to space for a long time, currently we are approaching a century. This means every star system in within 100 light ...
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4answers
640 views

Are we searching for life “as we don't know it”?

The phrase "Life as we know it" is often spoken with a knowing wink, and implies the speaker is in on the big secret. Life on Earth is carbon based and every form of life we know of is on Earth. Which ...
12
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1answer
402 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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4answers
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Is a combination of 'space is big' and 'humans haven't been around long' a good solution to the Fermi paradox?

The Fermi paradox is basically that: There are billions of stars, life is probably abundant throughout the universe. Even though it may take tens of thousands or millions of years for life on other ...
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486 views

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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464 views

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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3answers
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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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3answers
408 views

Does man send any signal to attract aliens?

Does man send any signal (such as electromagnetic radiation) to space to attract aliens?
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496 views

Interstellar eavesdropping

For about a century, humanity has broadcasted noise to space in the form of TV broadcasts, radio, etc... The nearest star is 4.242 light-years away, so for about 90 years, aliens -- if they exist in ...
10
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1answer
475 views

Plankton found outside the ISS, what is the substance in that claim?

There's been a news article around claiming that cosmonauts have found sea plankton on the outside of the international space station, for example here. Is there any substance to this claim? Have any ...
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4answers
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Why can't plants grow on Mars?

Mars has a lot of carbon dioxide in its atmosphere. It also gets a lot of sunlight. On Earth, plants use carbon dioxide and sunlight for photosynthesis. So, why can't plants live on Mars?
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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. ...
9
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1answer
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How will the Voyager Golden Record last for 1 billion years?

In the Radiolab podcast Space episode (2004) Ann Druyan mentioned that the contents of the Voyager Golden Record will last for 1 billion years before the contents of the Record becomes unreadable. ...
9
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1answer
601 views

Does NASA have any documented procedures in the event of discovery of extraterrestrial life?

Say that one of NASA's probes discovers definite evidence of life outside of Earth. Does NASA have any procedures in place on how to deal with such a situation? For instance, do they have to inform ...
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1answer
147 views

Would we be able to detect signs of life from the contents of a water plume?

Hubble has detected water vapor plumes shooting out of Europa Wikipedia writes to say it is predicted that the outer crust of solid ice is approximately 10–30 km (6–19 mi) thick Getting to ...
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1answer
433 views

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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1answer
577 views

Which earth-based lifeforms can survive the vacuum of space?

The Tardigrade (or Water Bear) is a remarkable creature: It is able to survive in all sorts of extreme environments (taken from wikipedia): temperatures from just above absolute zero to well above ...
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1answer
861 views

What evidence would be needed to determine a signal was artificial in origin?

Humanity has received some odd signals in the past. We've also sent out some signals ourselves. How could we determine that a signal we'd received was artificial in origin? Or of course inversely, ...
8
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2answers
985 views

DNA or even life in vacuum of space

Does anyone know of any missions planned or in progress that are searching in the very vacuum of space for the complex organic molecules that are key indicators of life (such as DNA, RNA, etc.), or ...
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1answer
520 views

Has Earth ever sent out a repeating signal into space?

My understanding is that for us to confirm that a signal is of artificial origin, we have to get the same signal at least twice. However, as far as I can tell, most of the signals we've sent out to ...
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1answer
249 views

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 ...
8
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0answers
800 views

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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2answers
495 views

What other bodies in the solar system are most likely to contain forms of life?

There have been many candidates stated as potential habitats for life outside of Earth, but what are considered to be the most likely to harbor life?
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3answers
231 views

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 ...
7
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1answer
161 views

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 ...
7
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1answer
380 views

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 ...
6
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1answer
247 views

Is it possible to observe satellites orbiting exoplanets?

Is it possible to observe a satellite orbiting a distant exoplanet? If its possible, it would seem to indicate that we have found intelligent life on that planet, since you need advanced technology to ...
6
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1answer
180 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 ...
6
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3answers
297 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 ...
6
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1answer
141 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 ...
6
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1answer
151 views

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 ...
5
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2answers
534 views

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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2answers
1k views

How does the presence of water on a planet indicate a likelihood of life?

As title says. We find water on a planet, and we assume that it's more likely life is there. How/why is this the case? Isn't it possible some life could survive without water? Even if the answer is '...
5
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2answers
591 views

Have extremophiles and anaerobic extremophiles been studied in space?

Extremophiles are organisms that can survive in physically and geothermally extreme conditions. The anaerobic variety do not require oxygen in order to survive. Has extremophiles' survival, in ...
5
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1answer
110 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 ...
5
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1answer
128 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)...
5
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1answer
479 views

Were the Voyager Golden Record / Arecibo message tested for decodability

I was wondering if the microgroove golden records they put on the Voyager spacecraft, or the Arecibo message, along with instruction on how to decode it, were first put to the test with the subjects ...