What are astrobiologists currently studying? What do astrobiologists expect the first kind of extraterrestrial life to be like?
"What are astrobiologists currently studying? What do astrobiologists expect the first kind of extraterrestrial life to be like?"
See the NASA astrobiology links in the earlier answer to get specifics, questioner, but the answer is that multiple scientists are studying multiple astrobiological questions - for example:
- What is the abundance and chemical composition of water, in the form of either temperate pools or oceans, subterranean rivers or oceans, or sub-ice cap, sub-ice shelf, or sub-ice sheet saline and/or high pressure internal oceans on planets, moons, icy asteroids, and icy comets?
- What are the prebiotic chemicals on extraterrestrial moons and planets that could have led to biogenesis?
- Are gases generated by living metabolic reactions (e.g., photosynthesis), and that otherwise don't remain long in the atmosphere (i.e., molecular oxygen), found in abundance on exoplanets orbiting other stars?
- How do organisms survive and function in hotter, colder, more or less acidic, or poisonous environmental conditions compared to those in which we humans thrive?
- What are the simplest ways to chemically synthesize amino acids and nucleic acid-like bases using natural processes (e.g., temperature and/or temperature gradients, acidity or alkalinity, electromagnetic radiation and absorption, atmospheric and water pressure, kinetic energy, supernovae explosions, chemical composition and concentration, diffusion, static electricity, electrical currents, and lightning)?
- What are the chemically simplest self-replicating molecules one can grow in a test tube?
- What are the smallest self-replicating molecules one can grow in a test tube?
- What are the fewest genes one needs to remain an independently living bacterium?
- Can molecules of life or microorganisms survive having some of their major elements or molecules (e.g., Carbon; Nitrogen & Phosphorus; Oxygen & Sulfur; H2O; Sodium & Potassium; Chlorine) substituted with similar but higher- or smaller- electron shell atoms below or above them in the Mendeleev Periodic Table of elements (e.g., Silicon; Arsenic; Selenium; H2S; Rubidium or Lithium; and Iodine, Bromine, or Fluorine)?
- How "just right," vs. "too hot [solar wind]" or "too cold [tidally locked and frozen on the permanent nightside]" is the Goldilocks Zone of stars that are very different (e.g ., Red Dwarf star) from our own "average" yellow star, Sol?
- How many radio signals are being beamed our way from Stage 4 Sentient Civilizations (those who don't kill themselves, as we are currently doing, by fossil-fuel burning-induced global warming?
And, as to what the first kind of discovered extraterrestrial life will likely be like? It's a race, between us finding coded radio signals from a distant "Federation," and finding either some self-reproducing oligonucleotide-like molecules inside the saline H2O plumes out-gassed from ice-roof cracks above the miles-deep oceans of Ganymede, Enceladus, or Europa; or some sulfur-substituted oligonucleotide-like molecules inside the liquid H2S plumes out-gassed from the volcanoes of Io.
- Astro biologists are currently studying rge following about the origin of microbial life on Planets & their moons and Exoplanets (source 1, typical ).
All the ingredients needed for life as we know it – the proper chemicals, a consistent source of energy, and water that was likely present and stable on the surface for millions of years – were clearly present.
Did microbial life then begin? If so, did it evolve? Those questions remain unanswered, but this much is known: If a second genesis occurred on Mars (or on Jupiter's moon Europa, Saturn's moon Enceladus, or anywhere else in our solar system), then the likelihood increases substantially that many other forms of life exist on those billions of exoplanets and exomoons now known to orbit distant stars and planets. One origin of life on Earth could be the result of a remarkable and inexplicable pathway to life. Two origins in one solar system strongly suggests that life is commonplace in the universe.
2. The first kind of alien life will be microbial life on Planets & their moons and Exoplanets.
I am not an astrobiologist in any trained sense but I follow their predictions when I come across articles on such. From this I have several observations I can share.
- They blindly accept the idea of evolution of human forms and thus expect other advanced forms can only be evolved into through the process perpetuated by Darwin in our history.
- They have only experienced and can because of their mind set only experience a physical reality, despite physics proving the existance of 12 physical yet separate dimensions they only look for others that exist in this one limited dimension
- Because our sun is the source of all life here on this planet, they assume all other life must have not only one sun but a sun at all. This is far from the case.
- They do accurately assume that life on a planet with a single sun in it's solar system to be rare, it is, a much larger percentage of extraterrestrials planetary evolutions happned in dual sun systems. So in this way it is true that life is rare out there, they simply fail to stipulate the "on single sun solar systems"
- There does appear to be a split in their thinking though I am unsure what the percentages either way would be, that, some believe from the abundance of specific features across our planet are representitive of evolutions of other planets, ie limbs for traveling, limbs for tooling, lungs for breathing, hearts for beating blood etc. Where as the other side believe a little more openly that any number of different imperitive features could be developed and evolved due to a different environmental state. aka and bluntly put, some theorise with inclusion of science fiction, others theorise dismissing science fiction
- Because there are virtually no (not none) historical evidence of the other itterations of life on this planet barring humanoid forms or dinosaur forms they blindly assume that in the several billions of years of this planets evolution process that there were no other forms of life previous. Again this is not the case. Just as the scale of human form development is superbly short in duration relative to dinosaurs thus too the age of the dinosaurs through to us is also woefuly short in duration when you observe the other life forms billions of years ago that evolved here. Those be the ones that left so long ago it has taken us until now to re discover their name. They are the Kon-kee and they left here to travel through space 2.5 billions years ago, after an evolutionary growth that lasted approximately 300,000 years from their initial occurance of what I would attempt to summarise as a self questioning inteligence.
Astrobiologists can only study something that exists so they study Earth biology, Earth books and visit Earth schools. Soon astrobiologists hope to visit galactic schools and learn about animals from Andromeda.
Panspermia cannot be a part of exobiology because scientists cannot learn about imaginary things, but only real or former real things. Imaginary space thinking is left up to scientific fiction authors as real things can be studied only.
Why study science fiction? Alien fiction? Andromeda life fiction? Things that do not exist for real? No advanced degree can be given for imaginary things like imaginary gods, imaginary space aliens or imaginary ideas of things that do not exist yet. In a few billion years the study of the workings of a live body from another galaxy can be studied.
find out for yourself -
You can even get a degree in it.
Not much. It's a discipline without a subject. I suppose studying earths extreamophiles is close but they were not the first life on earth. If we do find any, it must be carbon based for the needed complexity so I would bet it is not that different. It will still require creative intelligence to overcome the information (amino acid or RNA sequencing) problem.