Astrobiology notes


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Astrobiology notes

  1. 1. Once thought of outside the mainstream of science…astrobiology now formalized field of study….emerging and developing field<br />Uses physics, chemistry. Astronomby, biology ecology. Geography geology planetary science to investigate the possibilities of life…..<br />astrobiology study everything/anything on Earth to understand how life might arise and survive elsewhere in the universe.<br />*Scientists strive to understand the environment in which they live…<br />…they study how life relates to their environment. <br />Astrobiologists study an environment that includes not just the Earth but entire universe…. In short; describe the study of life’s potential in the universe <br />and…the origin and history of life on our own planet. <br />Early 19th Century, “Spontaneous Generation” Life from non-living matter. According to Aristotle: mice from dirty hay, crocodiles from logs at the bottom of lakes, flies from putrid matter etc.<br /> As early as 300BC Epicurus wrote about existence of other worlds. <br />Discovery of other planets/moons helped spark ideas that Earth might not be only world with life<br />Galileo..perfected the telescope and performed observations of solar system (Jupiter & its moons)..opposed Aristotles’ view that earth was cetr universe<br />Because of this view, placed on trial for heresy 1633…spent remaining life under house arrest.<br />Copernius..suggested that Earth and other planets orbit the sun.<br />1920’s JBS Haldane and Aleksandr Oparin developed their theory of “how life arose”…..origin of life - “Primordial Soup” theories, <br />1950’s Stanley Miller and Harold Urey suggested that life Earth had a reducing atmosphere, since all the outer planets in our solar system had this type of atmosphere. The earth is special…it contains oxygen (clearly biological origin)<br />The year 2010 marked the 50th anniversary of the first person in space, a Russian astronaut, Yuri Gagarin <br />…it also marked the 50th anniversary of EXOBIOLOGY/ASTROBIOLOGY research at National Aeronautics & Space Admin (NASA) <br />At only 50 years old this field is relatively young…but as you will see, the questions that astrobiologists try to answer are as old as mankind<br />History changed on October 4, 1957..successfully launched Sputnik I. <br />EXOBIOLOGY really took off in the 1950’s during the Cold War - the start of the “space race” when humans first had access to space, the main players were the US and Soviet Union. Rockets grew larger allowing for more complicated missions. <br />Sputnik 1957 laika the dog<br />Explorer I 1958<br />Vostok 1961 Yuri Gargarin …first human to leave the atmosphere<br />Skylab 1973<br />What would be found in space was really speculation. <br />Science Fiction films and television also speculated about bizarre life forms, friendly and dangerous<br />The War of the Worlds 1953, the invasion of the body snatchers 1956<br />Star Trek 1966 and star wars 1970’s <br />About that time key people started to meet instigating the creation of EXOBIOLOGY<br />1957 –nobel prize winner, microbiologist and bacteria specialist, Joshua Lederberg<br />Met with JBS Haldane. They were in awe of the recent Sputnik satellite launches<br />They both saw a potential for ‘reckless’ use of space technologies. <br />Lederberg with his knowledge of microbiology was fearful of humans contaminating other celestial bodies that could damage potential ecosystems and prevent further scientific study..he was also concerned about explorers bringing back harmful bacteria to earth.<br />In 1958 Lederberg was appointed the head of NASA’s board on extraterrestrial life. Lederberg recruited talented scientists including --Carl Sagan. Also on the initial NASA EXOBIOLOGY team was Stanley Miller and Harold Urey. The life science office at NASA was created 1961. <br />The NASA jet propulsion lab and Ames research ctr both in California quickly developed strong Exobiology groups. <br />1976 nasa launched the 1st planetary exploration mission dedicated to search for evidence of life on another work..the work of EXOB & ASTROB truly took off! <br />Carl Sagan renowned astronomer was among the most influential scientists. Known for PBS documentary Cosmos..known for efforts to give credibility for scientific search and leading advocate for nuclear arms reduction. Best selling author…<br />After 20 years of exploration <br /><ul><li>Focus shifted from one-off flights to renewable hardware (ie: space shuttle)
  2. 2. From competition to cooperation (ie: Intl space station)ISS</li></ul>In 2000’s future manned space missions by china, Russia, japan and india and European union advaocated mission to moon and mars <br />From the 1990’s private interests began to promote tourism and private space exploration..<br />SETI…co-founded in 1984 by carl sagan….over 150 scientists today…nonprofit corporation…was funded in 1971 ny NASA to search radio frequencies for signals geing transmitted from outside the solar system. <br />Mission to explore understand and explain the origin, nature and prevalence of life in the universe. …sponsored by: Hewlet Packard, Alfred sloan foundations<br />Astrobiology growing 21st European may 2001<br />Digital Arecibo Puerto rico message as an attempt to contact extrterrestials<br />Worlds largest radio telescope- <br />3 exoplanets being orbiting a star 140 lite years away, arrows show size of motion over a 4 year period….Keck observatory Hawaii<br />Hubble telescope viewing exoplanets since 1990..within 4 years of new camera installed on hubble more than 500 galaxies at 950 mill years after the big bang was found. …trying to get closer to the stars and galaxies….<br /> <br />Current research: <br />Biology & chemical<br />Creatures w/out support of sunlight<br />Life on other planets that have a different chemical makeup<br />(6 elements: Carbon, Hydrogen,o2, sulfer, nitrogen, phosphorus-arsenic)<br />NASA researcher: assumptions … bacteria that can thrive on arsenic…opens new pathway for life on other planets…finding life can suprize us.<br />Geology:<br />Deep Space Missions: hubble and Spitzer space telescopes <br />The European Northern Observatory was initiated in the canary islands by representatives Spain, Sweden, Denmark United Kingdom. Germany, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Finland, Iceland, United States... Founded in 1959. First light was achieved in 1964. <br />KECK Observatory…largest optical telescope…enourmous light gathering ability<br />Mauna kea Hawaii…1992<br />Habitable zone: distance from a star where an earth like planet can maintain liquid water on its surface and earth like life. …<br />Bottom line: requires liquid water to sustain life as we know it. (Jupiters moon—Europa ---Saturn’s moon Enceladus)<br />Euopa..subsurface liquid water<br />Enceladus, liquid water near its surface<br /> <br /> <br />