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Report: NASA Should Expand the Search for Life, Make Astrobiology Integral Part of Missions

12 Oct 2018, 08:15 UTC
Report: NASA Should Expand the Search for Life, Make Astrobiology Integral Part of Missions
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WASHINGTON – To advance the search for life in the universe, NASA should support research on a broader range of biosignatures and environments, and incorporate the field of astrobiology into all stages of future exploratory missions, says a new congressionally mandated report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
Astrobiology, the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe, is a rapidly changing field, especially in the years since the publication of NASA’s Astrobiology Strategy 2015. Recent scientific advances in the field now provide many opportunities to strengthen the role of astrobiology in NASA missions and to increase collaboration with other scientific fields and organizations. The report finds that these changes necessitate an updated science strategy for astrobiology.
The committee that authored the report found that the lines of evidence we use to look for current and past life on Earth and beyond, called biosignatures, needs expansion. An updated, more sophisticated catalog and framework will be important to enhance our ability to detect both life that might be similar to terrestrial life, and potential life that differs from life as we know it. The latter will be enabled by investigating novel “agnostic” biosignatures ...

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