What is Astrobiology?

Ever since early humans first looked skyward and imagined the stars as distant campfires, humanity has wondered if we are alone in the Universe. The ancient Greeks argued against our home planet being the only cradle for life, but lacked the technology to prove their beliefs. In the late 20th century, the near-simultaneous discoveries of the possible remains of bacterial life in a Martian meteorite, and the first planets orbiting other stars, brought the question of the existence of life beyond the Earth to the forefront of scientific endeavor. In the 21st century, the new field of Astrobiology harnesses the required technological and scientific capability to seriously address this ancient and fundamental question.

Astrobiology is the study of life in the universe. The search for life beyond the Earth requires an understanding of life, and the nature of the environments that support it, as well as planetary, planetary system and stellar processes.   To provide this understanding, astrobiology combines the knowledge and techniques from many fields, including astronomy, biology, chemistry, geology, atmospheric science, oceanography and aeronautical engineering. How to become an astrobiologist can work alone on particular scientific questions, but often astrobiologists from different scientific disciplines work together to examine complex questions that no one field can answer alone. These questions cover topics such as:

  • How does life originate?
  • How does life evolve?
  • What kind of environment is necessary for life to survive?
  • What are the environmental limits or “extremes” under which life can survive?
  • What might life look like on another world?
  • Is there or has there been life elsewhere in our solar system?
  • How can we observe and identify a habitable – or even inhabited – world?
  • What is humanity’s future on Earth and beyond?

Save Iran’s cheetah from extinction

The Asiatic cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus ssp. venaticus) is classed as critically endangered on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with just 43 individuals left in Iran. Conservation efforts were dealt a major blow last month when the United Nations Development Program announced its withdrawal from the Conservation of the Asiatic Cheetah Project.

Management of the project will now fall mainly to Iran’s Department of the Environment, the head of which has declared the cheetah “doomed to extinction” on the basis of its declining numbers since 2001. We urge Iran’s government not to give up on how to save cheetahs conservation.

It should instead look to the example of the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) in China. The Chinese government and its partners undertook to develop breeding programmes in the 1950s and to protect bamboo-forest habitats in the 1980s. The strategy was so successful that pandas were last year downlisted from endangered to vulnerable.

What does it take to become an Arctic Explorer?

Is Arctic exploration a key aspiration of yours? Have you always wondered what it would be like to venture into the snowy wilderness? Agness and Cez believe that If yes, then go for it as travel is a key part to a growth mindset. The more you travel, the more you open up your eyes and mind to the earth’s natural beauty. You can become an explorer at any stage in your life. Don’t allow age or experience to hold you back. It’s never too late to learn. If you’re seriously considering changing up the daily routine and getting those snow boots on, then first take a look at these steps. Each step will help to prepare you before you dive into the unknown…

Understanding WHY you want to go

It’s very easy to wake up one day and shout ‘I WANT TO BE AN ARCTIC EXPLORER’. Yet, you have to question yourself as to why you’re so eager to become one. As with most things in life, it’s easier to say something than actually take action. Perhaps it’s been a dream of yours since childhood and you’re desperate to plunge your boots into the ice. Or, you may just like the idea of discovering places that others will never get to witness in their lifetime. Figuring out how to become an explorer of the Arctic is crucial to your progress.

Once you’ve figured out why, you’re a few steps closer to packing up and moving ahead. Sometimes, our mind likes to play tricks on us and places little seeds of doubt. These seeds soon grow into gargantuan trees and leave us paralysed from ditching the 9-5 attitude. Don’t allow fear to take over! If this is something you’re truly interested and invested in, then go for it! Life is too short not to take a risk, especially if it’s a risk that involves travel. As The Guardian states, we are lucky to be in the digital age, where everything is waiting for us online. Embrace the world and accept that you’re willing to go on this life-changing adventure!