Astrobiology: what it is and what we don’t know

With the fast increase of knowledges in the field of astronomy and planetary geology, astrobiology passes from an unknown topic to be an extremely interesting topic in the scientific community. Astrobiology is the study of the origin, the evolution, and the distribution of extraterrestrial life, by using methodologies from geology, biology, chemistry, physics, and astronomy in order to understand the origin of life on our planet and to find forms of life beyond Earth. Topics that are discussed in the field of astrobiology are very sensitive and easily misunderstood by media, so in this article it is clarified and resumed what we know, what we don’t know, what we could know in the future about this peculiar field of research.


About the Author

Nicola Mari
Nicola Mari
Nicola Mari is a PhD student in Planetary Sciences at the University of Glasgow (UK), where he is part of the Planetary Science and Astrobiology Research Group. He has two Master's Degree in Geology and Volcanology in USA (Michigan Technological University) and Italy (University of Milan-Bicocca), and he performed an internship at the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV) and several geological stage in different parts of the world. His researches are focused on magmatology, volcanology, meteorites, and geochemistry of magmatic systems, both on Earth and on extraterrestrial bodies. He work on the mantle evolution of Mars by studying martian meteorites with geochemical-isotopical methods with focusing on the Re-Os systematics and novel cosmochemical techniques based on highly siderophile elements (HSE) distribution. Results would shed light on the magmatic evolution of Mars, the interior of terrestrial planets in the Solar System, the timescale of habitability for hypothetical forms of life on Mars. Obtained data will also be useful for Martian sample analysis obtained in future sample return missions by lander/rover and astronauts.

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