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Exploring the Cosmic Frontiers

The Fascinating World of Astrobiology

-Mandira Roy



In the universe where we are surrounded by countless galaxies, stars, and planets, one question continues to captivate the human imagination: Are we alone? The answer to the question comes through the field of Astrobiology, a multidisciplinary field of science, that seeks to answer this age-old query by exploring the possibility of life beyond Earth.


What is this astrobiology then? To put it simply, this field can be as fascinating as shown in Interstellar which delves into space exploration and the search for a new habitable planet for humanity, to , Life the space horror film where astronauts discover an extraterrestrial organism on Mars and as they study it, they realize that the organism is far more dangerous than they initially thought. So how do you perceive it? Well, it depends on how you want to see it. Astrobiology is a captivating field that challenges our perceptions and pushes the boundaries of scientific exploration. While we have not yet found definitive evidence of extraterrestrial life, the quest for answers continues to inspire researchers and capture the imagination of people worldwide.


But have you ever thought about why countries are in a rat race to search for life on other planets? To our amaze, NASA Astrobiology Program's annual budget is approximately $65 million (5,39,27,86,750 rupees) even countries like ours want to search for life in space. This is because astrobiology has the potential to unravel the mysteries of life, it has the potential to answer the fundamental question of our lives that is “What is our origin? ”. The discovery of the presence of water on the surface of Mars is itself so fascinating, just imagine your future generation from Mars looking at Earth and questioning our origins. Captivating indeed! From the Greek and Egyptian civilizations speculating about the existence of otherworldly beings to today's advanced Spacecrafts carrying humanity to space, we have come a long way! Astrobiology has seen numerous exciting discoveries in recent years from the Buried Ocean on Pluto to the Mars Methane Mystery leaving humanity astounding.


But the search for life on other worlds is fraught with concerns, concern pertaining to the potential difficulties of dealing with alien life that could be discovered on other worlds or in samples returned to the Earth from space. Will we know when we have found it? Is it harmful to humans? Is it harmful to ecosystems on Earth? So here you must know the concept of “planetary quarantine,” or more recently called “planetary protection”. The International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) in 1958 with the strong urging of individuals such as Joshua Lederberg, made specific recommendations for the practice of planetary quarantine to make this scientific exploration less harmful for humanity.


For humanity, astrobiology is still like distant oasis . In the 21st century, the new field of Astrobiology harnesses the required technological and scientific capability to seriously address this ancient and fundamental question. As we explore the cosmos, astrobiology will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in shaping our understanding of the universe and our place within it. In the end, “Exobiology is no more fantastic than the realization of space travel itself, and we have a grave responsibility to explore its implications for science and for human welfare with our best scientific insights and knowledge.”

~ Joshua Lederberg






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SOURCE : airandspace.si.edu





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