Astrobiology (general)

Astrobiology in Space: A Comprehensive Look at the Solar System

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
March 1, 2023
Filed under
Astrobiology in Space: A Comprehensive Look at the Solar System

The field of astrobiology aims to understand the origin of life on Earth and searches for evidence of life beyond our planet. Although there is agreement on some of the requirements for life on Earth, the exact process by which life emerged from prebiotic conditions is still uncertain, leading to various theories.

In order to expand our knowledge of life and our place in the universe, scientists look for signs of life through the use of biosignatures, observations that suggest the presence of past or present life. These biosignatures often require up-close investigation by orbiters and landers, which have been employed in various space missions.

Mars, because of its proximity and Earth-like environment, has received the most attention and has been explored using (sub)surface sampling and analysis. Despite its inhospitable surface conditions, Venus has also been the subject of space missions due to the presence of potentially habitable conditions in its atmosphere.

In addition, the discovery of habitable environments on icy moons has sparked interest in further study. This article provides an overview of the origin of life on Earth and the astrobiology studies carried out by orbiters and landers.

by Maarten L. De Mol
Life 2023, 13(3), 675;


Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻