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Astrobiology: The Search for Life in the UniverseEach of the 11 lead members of NASA's Astrobiology Institute has a specific mission. According to Hiroshi Ohmoto, director of Penn State s Astrobiology Research Center, Here we are mainly concerned with the origin of life and the evolution and extinction of important organisms. These include bacteria that live on methane, cyanobacteria (the inventors of photosynthesis), eukaryotes (a big category, covering anything with a nucleus, from single-celled organisms to humans), land-dwelling organisms, and early animals. Penn State astrobiologists are studying the environment before there was life on Earth, the origin of oxygen in the atmosphere, the chemical and thermal structures of oceans, and the role of metals in the evolution of life. Overall, they want to understand the connection between changes in environment and changes in life forms in the early Earth. PSARC offers research assistantships for graduate and undergraduate students, fellowships for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, and an undergraduate minor in astrobiology. The minor covers 18 credits in earth sciences, geochemistry, geophysics, astronomy, biology, biochemistry, meteorology, and microbiology. The goal, says Ohmoto, is to teach students to critically evaluate claims related to this field that they encounter well after their college education has ended. Under a scanning electron microscope, Martian meteorite ALH84001 yields tube-like structures that look a lot like remnants of Earthly bacteria except smaller by a factor of ten.
Document ID
Document Type
Pacchioli, David (Pennsylvania State Univ. University Park, PA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2003
Publication Information
Publication: Space Science Reference Guide, 2nd Edition
Subject Category
Life Sciences (General)
Meeting Information
Astrobiology: Looking for Life in the Universe(University Park, PA)
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.

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