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astrobiology, extraterrestrial life, global warming, habitability, Mars
Astrobiology is the study of life beyond Earth. It is a relatively new field—it was established just before NASA’s debut in 1958—and it often receives criticism for its whimsical nature. Interest in astrobiology has escalated since the turn of the millennium, bringing questions of its worth to the forefront of modern science. Despite these criticisms, astrobiology has implications for both human welfare and scientific thought. The purpose of this paper is to follow the trajectory reinvigorated with NASA’s return to Mars in 2012 and to delve into the curiosities that make up the unique, interdisciplinary field of astrobiology. The paper will progress through several stages: It will establish the background surrounding astrobiology; the value of research as a whole; motivating factors and associated nuances inspiring astrobiology’s celestial focus; a discussion of the habitability of other planets; potential ethical implications of searching for life beyond Earth; and final thoughts regarding the matter.
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