Astrobiology (general)

NRC On Value of Astrobiology

By Keith Cowing
May 20, 2006

An Assessment of Balance in NASA’s Science Programs, National Research Council

“[Page 20]: “The decadal surveys for astrophysics and for solar system exploration both embraced astrobiology as a key component of their programs, with the questions encompassed by astrobiology serving as overarching themes for the programs as a whole. The missions put forward in the solar system exploration survey are all key missions in astrobiology, whether they are labeled as such or not. And issues and missions related to astrobiology represent one of the key areas of interest identified in the astronomy and astrophysics communities.

Astrobiology provides the intellectual connections between otherwise disparate enterprises. NASA’s astrobiology program creates an integrated whole and supports the basic interdisciplinary nature of the field. Further, the Vision is, at its heart, largely an astrobiology vision with regard to the science emphasis. In developing the future of the program, the missions actually feed forward from the basic science. Astrobiology is just beginning the type of synthesis and integration that will allow it to provide science input for future mission development. Without it, the science and the scientific personnel will not be in place to support the missions when they do fly.

At a time of increasing desire for cross-disciplinary programs, astrobiology represents an outstanding example of the development of a successful new interdisciplinary area.”

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.