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Center for Astrobiology

Mars Lake Image

The Center for Astrobiology assembles researchers from a variety of disciplines to address the occurrence of life in our solar system. This image shows Shalbatana Lake on Mars as it may have looked 3.4 billion years ago. (Courtesy University of Colorado)

Housed at CU-Boulder with leadership from LASP scientists, the Center for Astrobiology builds on institutional commitments across the field, assembling a team of scientists who together span the entire range of disciplines that comprise astrobiology.

The field of astrobiology has as its goal understanding the potential and actual distribution of life in our solar system and in the universe. It addresses the origin and evolution of life on Earth, the occurrence of habitats capable of supporting life in our solar system, and the potential for planets and life to exist orbiting other stars. Astrobiology is inherently an interdisciplinary field that brings together major aspects of astrophysics, planetary science, geology, atmospheric science, chemistry, molecular biology, and evolutionary biology. In addition, it crosses the boundaries into the humanities, with connections to philosophy, sociology, history, and journalism, for example.

CU-Boulder is one of the fifteen member institutions in the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI), which is a distributed collection of research programs and institutions comprising a national program in astrobiology. The goal of the NAI is to support cutting-edge interdisciplinary science in the component disciplines of astrobiology and, via undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral programs, to teach the next generation of astrobiologists.

The Center for Astrobiology brings together faculty from the component disciplines to provide a suitable research and teaching environment. Faculty participate from departments and institutes across campus; in addition, we have ties to programs at Lockheed Martin in southwest Denver, and to Ball Aerospace and the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder. The Center for Astrobiology was initiated in 1998 and its activities since then include research in all of the component disciplines, seminar series in astrobiology, public symposia on major issues in astrobiology, scientific workshops to bring together the local astrobiology community, and support for both graduate and undergraduate courses in astrobiology and extraterrestrial life.

To learn more about the Center for Astrobiology at the University of Colorado, see: http://lasp.colorado.edu/life/.