Astrobiology, space and the future age of discovery

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Astrobiology, space and the future age of discovery

Astrobiology is the study of the origins, evolution, distribution and future of life in the Universe, and specifically seeks to understand the origin of life and to test the hypothesis that life exists elsewhere than on Earth. There is a general mathematics, physics and chemistry; that is, scientific laws that obtain on Earth also do so elsewhere. Is there a general biology? Is the Universe life-rich or is Earth an isolated island of biology? Exploration in the Age of Enlightenment required the collection of data in unexplored regions and the use of induction and empiricism to derive models and natural laws. The current search for extra-terrestrial life has a similar goal, but with a much greater amount of data and with computers to help with management, correlations, pattern recognition and analysis. There are 60 active space missions, many of them aiding in the search for life. There is not a universally accepted definition of life, but there are a series of characteristics that can aid in the identification of life elsewhere. The study of locations on Earth with similarities to early Mars and other space objects could provide a model that can be used in the search for extra-terrestrial life.

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