ASGSB 2003 Annual Meeting Abstracts


LIFE IN A PLANETARY CONTEXT:  LIFE IN EXTREME AND EXRATERRESTRIAL ENVIRONMENTS. L. Pratt. Indiana University.    NASA Astrobiology Institute, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA.

   Life shows an extraordinary tolerance for extremes of temperature, desiccation, radiation, salt, pressure, and isolation from light and organics.  Where there is redox potential and transiently available liquid water, life will find a way.  This hypothesis has been born out again and again on Earth, generating a hypothetical paradigm for extraterrestrial experimentation and exploration.

   Among the environmental factors affecting adaptation and evolution are gravity, temperature, and radiation.  All three are obvious effectors for spaceflight and/or transmission of life through space.  In examining adaptive strategies and the phylogenetic pathways resulting from evolution with respect to these physicochemical stressors, we are able simultaneously to address the possibilities for life in Solar System locales beyond Earth and to envision the future of life beyond Earth.  Further, we can appreciate the impact of the planetary environment on biology’s naturally selected outcomes as well as the integration of the biosphere with the litho-, hydro-, and atmosphere.  From these collected revelations will arise strategies for searching out astronomical biosignatures.


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