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Astrobiology & Outreach

March 8, 2013


Astrobiology is the study of extraterrestrial life, i.e., the study of origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. This is an interdisciplinary field, that encompasses the search for habitable environments in the Solar System and habitable planets outside the Solar System, the search for evidence of prebiotic chemistry, laboratory and field research into the origins and early evolution of life on Earth, and studies of the potential for life to adapt to challenges on Earth and in outer space.

The word astrobiology is derived from the Greek ἄστρον, astron, “constellation, star”; βίος, bios, “life”; and -λογία, -logia, study. Astrobiology is wider and investigates the link between life and the universe, which includes the search for extraterrestrial life, but also includes the study of life on earth, its origin, evolution and limits. Exobiology as a term has tended to be replaced by astrobiology.

An image showing astrobiology               Astrobiology makes use of physics, chemistry, astronomy and biology to investigate the possibility of life on other worlds and help recognize biospheres that might be different from the biosphere on Earth.

Outreach, also called Education and Public Outreach (EPO or E/PO) or Public outreach or simply Science Outreach, is a head team for a variety of activities by research institutes, universities, and institutions such as science museums, aimed at promoting public awareness (and understanding) of science and making informal contributions to science education.

Outreach has recently become more organized. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) now require all the projects of its own to organize suitable outreach activities. Recently, an increasing number of projects have been hiring designated outreach scientists (part-time or full-time) that handle public relations on for their project. There are also specialized outreach providers, they include Education branch of the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado and the Education and Public Outreach Group at Sonoma State University which offer to organize a project’s outreach activities on a contractual basis. In addition to outreach by research institutions, an important part of informal science education is outreach programs. The science education includes science museums and science festivals.

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