"Somewhere, something incredibile is waiting to be know" - Carl Sagan
“Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.” - Carl Sagan
“We're made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.” - Carl Sagan
“[My study of the universe] leaves little doubt that life has occurred on other planets. I doubt if the human race is the most intelligent form of life.” - Harold Urey
“Very high altitude astronomy only works by ignoring established biological science” - Steven Magee
“I have worked with some of the greatest minds in astrophysics and it is now clear that they were the dunces of astrobiology.” - Steven Magee
“Man must rise above the Earth—to the top of the atmosphere and beyond—for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.” - Socrates
“Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science.” - Edwin Hubble
“To confine our attention to terrestrial matters would be to limit the human spirit.” - Stephen Hawking
“It is we who live in the extreme environment.” - Thomas Gold
“Extinction is the rule. Survival is the exception.” - Carl Sagan
“There should be no boundaries to human endeavor.” - Stephen Hawking
“The origin of life is one of the great outstanding mysteries of science.” - Paul Davies
“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.” - John F. Kennedy
“Space is for everybody. It’s not just for a few people in science or math, or for a select group of astronauts. That’s our new frontier out there, and it’s everybody’s business to know about space.” - Christa McAuliffe
“Never limit yourself because of others’ limited imagination; never limit others because of your own limited imagination.” - Mae Jemison
“I know the sky is not the limit because there are footprints on the Moon - and I made some of them!” - Buzz Aldrin
“We are limited only by our imagination and our will to act.” - Ron Garan

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Astrobiology is the study of life in a planetary context, looking at its origin, evolution and presence on Earth as well as beyond. It is an exciting, interdisciplinary field combining chemistry, astrophysics, geology, biology and even philosophy to investigate the possibility of life on other worlds and help recognize biospheres that might be different from that on Earth.

The name Astrobiology, first proposed by the Russian astronomer Gavriil Tikhov in 1953, is now used globally in place of similar earlier names, that included Exobiology and Xenobiology. The history of astrobiology is intimately linked with the human exploration of space. During the early days of space exploration the possibility of contaminating another planet with Earth’s life (forward contamination) as well as bringin extraterrestrial life back to Earth (backward contamination) became a rising concern. The possibility of contamination, especially forward contamination, is very real and has the potential to hinder future discoveries on life’s current or past presence. These ideas were quickly grouped together with hypothesis and speculation regarding life’s presence in the universe, the possibility of its existence and emergence.

Apollo17 Earth Rise Nasa

Earth rises. The Earth rising on the Moon’s horizon.

jupiter South Pole Juno Nasa

This image shows Jupiter’s south pole, as seen by NASA’s Juno spacecraft from an altitude of 32,000 miles (52,000 kilometers). The oval features are cyclones, up to 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) in diameter. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Betsy Asher Hall/Gervasio Robles

Today all space missions are under very strict biological protocols aimed at protecting planets and life in space, collectively termed Planetary Protection, and managed by the NASA Office for Planetary Protection.

Today Astrobiology is a vibrant field of research. A quick search on the internet will give you an idea of the breadth of different projects and disciplines involved. Enquiries go from the origin of life on our planet to the use of Earth extreme environments as planetary analogs to prepare for future space missions.