October 6, 2010

Symposium To Celebrate 50 Years of Exobiology and Astrobiology at NASA

In 1959, NASA funded its first exobiology investigation, a life-detection experiment for Viking mission to Mars. In 1960, the agency established an exobiology program, whose early managers adopted an approach to advancing this field of study by funding forward-thinking, boundary-bending, multidisciplinary research projects that other funding sources tended to judge as too risky.

NASA's Viking mission included three exobiology experiments designed to look for evidence of life on Mars. By the 1980s, NASA expanded its exobiology program to encompass studies of evolutionary biology. In the 1990s, NASA again expanded the breadth and depth of this program, broadening the boundaries of "exobiology" to establish "astrobiology" as a program encompassing studies of chemical evolution in interstellar space, the formation and evolution of planets, and the natural history of Earth in addition to exobiology and evolutionary biology.

Today NASA's Astrobiology Program addresses three fundamental questions: How does life begin and evolve? Is there life beyond Earth and, if so, how can we detect it? What is the future of life on Earth and in the universe? In striving to answer these questions and improve understanding of biological, planetary and cosmic phenomena and relationships among them, experts in a range of relevant disciplines are participating in astrobiology research and helping to advance the enterprise of space exploration.

This event, sponsored by NASA and Lockheed Martin, is free and open to the public. Please RSVP (required) by 4:30 p.m. EDT Oct. 7 by sending an email to: [email protected]. Non-US Citizens provide nationality, along with passport number and expiration date.

For more information, see: http://astrobiology.nasa.gov, or contact: [email protected].