Goolish, Edward M. Astrobiology Institute, Ames Research Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Moffett Field, California.
Last reviewed:June 2019
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- Life on early Earth
- Chemical origin of life
- Source of life's building blocks
- Life in extreme environments
- Habitability of other planets
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The scientific discipline that studies the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. Astrobiology is an interdisciplinary science integrating contributions from biology, geology, astronomy, paleontology, and planetary science, among others. The first use of the term appears to have been in 1941 when it was defined as the subject of life in the universe other than on Earth (Fig. 1). The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) adopted the term in 1996 and expanded the meaning to include the origin and history of life on Earth, and the future of life in the universe. In 1998, the NASA Astrobiology Institute was established, solidifying this new discipline within the science community. See also: Astronomy; Biology; Geology; Paleontology; Science; Universe
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