• Question: will astrobiology be used more in the future?

    Asked by miriam.z25 to Stephen on 12 Mar 2019.
    • Photo: Stephen O'Connor

      Stephen O'Connor answered on 12 Mar 2019: last edited 12 Mar 2019 1:17 pm

      I believe so. As technology improves it will allow us to explore more of the Solar System and beyond. We are already looking at setting up a Moon village (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqsJGzdcPP0) and colonies on Mars (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonization_of_Mars)!

      Other species have not been found on other planets, but there are reasons to believe they exist and we are looking for them.

      Life has been found living in some of the most extreme conditions on planet Earth. For example, scientists have found bacteria living in thick ice sheets and underwater lakes in the Arctic and Antarctic continent (North and South poles) at subzero temperatures and extreme pressures.
      Life has also been found around hydrothermal vents on the ocean floors, where very high temperature (hundreds of degrees Celcius) water rich in compounds such as sulphides is rushing from cracks in the Earth’s crust. Sunlight is fundamental to the survival of species as far as we know, yet in both of these regions very little reaches the species living there, and still they are there! The fact we have observed life in such extreme conditions give us confidence we will find them on other planets where these conditions are also present.

      There are many satellites that have looked and are currently looking for species on other planets.
      For example, on Mars there have been many robots that have landed on the surface of the planet to explore. There is one there right now called Curiosity. Here is a link for more information:

      The Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) is a satellite currently being built by the European Space Agency which will travel to Jupiter and study its moons Ganymede, Callisto and Europa. Here is a link for more information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jupiter_Icy_Moons_Explorer

      There are indications from satellites and telescopes that these moons could have liquid water. Our experience of life on Earth shows us that it depends on water to survive. If we can find it on a planet or a moon, we may find life!

      If we were to find other species or to live on other planets, it is important to develop our understanding now so that we can improve our chances of success.