for a printable version of these seven long-term science
Astrobiology is the scientific study of the
living universe; its past, present, and future. It starts
with investigating life on Earth, the only place where life
is known to exist, and extends into the farthest reaches of
the cosmos. It ranges in time from the big bang and continues
on into the future.
Astrobiology covers a diverse range of topics
which can be categorized under major questions: Where did
life come from? What is its future? Are we alone in the universe?
While these questions have been asked for millennia, rapid
advances in the sciences and the ability to travel out into
space have set the stage for a novel scientific examination.
As any such newborn, Astrobiology is growing and maturing
rapidly. Breakthroughs and discoveries are routine. But rather
than a description of each new research finding, the definition
of Astrobiology must be that of a whole, greater than the
sum of its parts. It is a collaborative effort; a "new" practice
that leverages and transcends traditional scientific discipline
boundaries to create an innovation in interdisciplinary communication.
Astrobiology absorbs the information from chemistry,
geology, astronomy, planetary science, paleontology, oceanography,
physics, biology, mathematicsÖ and emerges with a unique perspective.
One inaccessible from within each component discipline alone.
One characterized by both diversity and unity in the pursuit
of knowledge about the universe, and our place within it.
to "Ask an Astrobiologist"
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