Astrobiology is the study of life in the universe. It provides a biological perspective to many areas of NASA research, linking such endeavors as the search for habitable planets, exploration missions to Mars and Europa, efforts to understand the origin of life, and planning for the future of life beyond Earth.

Astrobiology addresses three basic questions, which have been asked in some form for generations. Astrobiology is exciting today because we have the technology to begin to answer these fundamental questions:

How does life begin and develop?

Does life exist elsewhere in the universe?

What is life's future on Earth and beyond?

RESOURCES for Astrobiology

NASA's Ames Research Center - Astrobiology division homepage.

The Search for Life in the Universe - Tutorial from Origins.

Habitable Worlds - Search the solar system for signs of life. 

Astrobiology: The Search for Life in the Universe - Penn State online magazine.

WEBQUESTS on Astrobiology

WebQuest: X-Treme Files
Produce storyboards for a producer of several successful alien movies and the CEO of a computer company who have decided to sponsor a contest for the best student-created video documentary concerning what life on Earth can tell us about what life may be like on other worlds.

On board SS-Beta somewhere over Terra
The Xlife Mission! Pick the likeliest planet (or moon) in the Solar System for the existence of off-Earth life and design the robotic vehicle-explorer and the instruments and experiments - money is no limit!

ACTIVITIES on What is Life? and Probablilities of ET Life

Life on Earth...and elsewhere?
Lesson 1: What is life?, Lesson 2: What does life need to live?, Lesson 3: What makes a world habitable?, Lesson 4: What can life tolerate, Lesson 5: Is there life on other worlds?
Fingerprints of Life: Classroom Activities
Size and Shape, Creature Feature, Searching for Life, Extremophiles, Classification. Links to NASA and JSC Astrobiology on the home page.

Astrobiology in the Classroom
An activity book from the NASA sponsored CERES project (available from Pearson Custom Publishing). Remote Sensing, Designer Genes, Who Can Live Here? - Life in Extreme Environments, The First Manned Mission to Mars, A Case of the Wobbles: Finding Extrasolar Planets, Interstellar Real Estate: Defining the Habitable Zone, The Rare Earth - Just How Rare is Earth-like complex life?, The Drake Equation

Exploring ice caves near McMurdo Station
The Drake Equation
In 1961, Dr. Frank Drake developed the Drake Equation to estimate the number of other technological civilizations that exist in our galaxy with whom we can communicate. Use the adapted version below to calculate the number of worlds within our Milky Way Galaxy that have intelligent life whose radio emissions are potentially detectable on Earth.

Lotto or Life: What Are the Chances?
Compare the likelihood of intelligent life existing elsewhere in the Universe to winning the lottery.

Extreme Life Trading Card Game
Play a card game to show you how life on Earth can be used as a model for life that may be found on other worlds. You will need to print the game cards.