Rebecca Clanton

What is Astrobiology?

Astrobiology is a different branch of Biology that studies life on earth and life in space.

Astrobiology is really just the study of life in space and on earth so it only really relates to Biology

Why is it importnt to us?

No-one knows what is useful. In the 1960s a group of microbiologists studied a different way of bacterial genetics called phage host range restriction. It related to why some viruses would not grow on some bacteria. It had no obvious use at all. The solution turned out to be something called restriction enzymes, which opened up recombinant DNA.

What does it have to do with me?

We want to know its as simple as that. I mean its not ‘cure cancer’ important, but ‘who the heck am I?’ important. We want to know if there are others out there, whether life is a freakish accident or a natural consequence of geology, whether we are alone as self-aware beings or whether the universe teams with complex life.

Ethical Conserns

The existence of life beyond Earth would raise possible questions about “rights” and “personhood”.

When did it start?

The study of Astrobiology was founded in the 1960s, so it is a younger science.

The Future?

The future will be developing a dedicated website under the auspices of the NAI, compiling an online database of cross-disciplinary literature and resources for both astrobiology scientists and external experts in humanities and social science research; and coordinating online and virtual communications in order to identify and include diverse scholars and prioritize key crossover research areas related to astrobiology's.


"Encountering Life in the Universe: Ethical Foundations and Social Implications of Astrobiology." Encountering Life in the Universe: Ethical Foundations and Social Implications of Astrobiology. The University of Arizona, 2013. Web. 08 Sept. 2015.