Does life exist on other worlds?

Astrobiologists use modern scientific techniques to address tantalizing questions about the potential for life to exist on other bodies in our solar system—or orbiting other stars. How did life come to exist on Earth? Does life exist, or was it present in the past, elsewhere in our solar system?

By participating in spacecraft missions, conducting laboratory simulations and field studies on Earth, and analyzing advanced computer models, LASP astrobiologists are using every available technique to answer these questions.

Current projects include:

  • Studies of the evolution of the atmosphere, surface geology, and hydrology of Mars in relation to its habitability
  • The investigation of terrestrial analogs of environments that might be capable of supporting life on other planetary bodies, such as volcanic fumaroles and deep-sea hydrothermal vents
  • Laboratory simulations of geologic environments that can supply chemical forms of energy to support microbial communities, or “chemosynthesis”

Astrobiology is an exciting field at the intersection of many disciplines: astrophysics, planetary science, geology, atmospheric science, chemistry, molecular biology, and evolutionary biology. It also crosses into the humanities, with connections to philosophy, sociology, and history.

Beacause LASP’s researchers work with colleagues in so many other fields, we host the University of Colorado Boulder’s Center for Astrobiology, which coordinates astrobiology research and education across the campus.

Two CU Boulder graduate students take measurements among the icy pinnacles of the penitente field on the tallest active volcano on Earth, Ojos del Salado.