First Astrobiology Workshop, 1996: Background and Purpose: Multidisciplinary research promises opportunities for important gains through cross-fertilization of ideas and the development of new perspectives. NASA scientists are charged with helping to bridge the gaps between traditional disciplines and working with the external scientific scientific community to identify and implement new ways for the agency to approach the challenge of understanding the living universe.
Astrobiology is defined in the 1996 NASA Strategic Plan as " The Study of the living universe. This field provides a scientific foundation for a multidisciplinary study of (1) the origin and distribution of life in the universe, (2) an understanding of the role of gravity in living systems, and (3) the study of the Earth's atmosphere and ecosystems." Ames Research Center has been assigned the lead role for astrobiology within the agency.
In a response to the challenge from the NASA Administrator to develop new cross-disciplinary programs and strengthen existing efforts for the study of life in the universe, Ames will host a scientific workshop, organized around several major questions in astrobiology:
How does life originate?
How and where are other habitable worlds formed?
How have the Earth and its biosphere influenced each other over time?
Can terrestrial life be sustained and thrive beyond our planet?
How can we expand human presence to Mars?
The Astrobiology Workshop will bring together leading researchers from NASA and university communities to discuss current research and future opportunities in the space, life, and Earth sciences. The purposes of the meeting are: (1) To identify opportunities for multidisciplinary studies in the new field of astrobiology, and (2) To provide a forum for exchange of information and networking among space, life, and Earth scientists.
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