Astrobiology Course

What is Astrobiology?

Astrobiology is the study of the origin, distribution, and evolution of life. Astrobiology aims to understand the fundamental nature of life of Earth and examine the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe.

Astrobiology MCB 3703

Course Objectives:
The goals of this course are to expose and familiarize students with the following:

1) The nature of science and the scientific method in Astrobiology.
- What are the processes of science?
- What skills are required for working in science?
- How does science apply to everyday life and the study of Astrobiology?

2) Fundamental concepts of Astrobiology and its application
- What are the biochemical and genetic processes required for the origin and evolution of life?
- What are the environmental limitations of life within the universe?
- Does life exist elsewhere in the universe?
- What is the future of life on Earth and beyond?

By the end of this course students should be able to:

- Apply the scientific method to problems in Astrobiology
- Understand important concepts and experimental approaches in Astrobiology

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Lecture Outline:
The topical outline for Astrobiology MCB 3703 lectures at the University of Florida

Lecture Section

Lecture Astrobiology Primer*

1 Introduction to Astrobiology and the Scientific Method

2 Introduction to the Universe, Stellar and Planet Formation

3 Geological Processes on Earth and the Origin of the Moon

4 The Habitable Zone and Biogeochemical Processes on Earth

5 Origin of Life - Prebiotic chemistry and Abiogenesis

6 Origin of Life - From Metabolism to Cells and the RNA world

7 Origin of Life - LUCA and the Switch to DNA-based Genomes

8 Origin of Life - Evolution of the Genome

9 Astrobiology Primary Literature Discussion #1 - Origin of Life

10 Rise of Oxygen in the Atmosphere and the Origin of Eukaryotes

11 Student Presentations on Astrobiology Topic of Choice

12 Student Presentations on Astrobiology Topic of Choice

13 Student Presentations on Astrobiology Topic of Choice

14 Before Darwin - Idealism and the Great Chain of Being

15 Origin of Species - The Arguments and the Evidence

16 Snowball Earth - Climate and the Cambrian Explosion

17 Microbial Diversity of Life on Earth - Metabolic Diversity

18 Pushing Life to the Limits - Adaptation to temperature stress

19 Pushing Life to the Limits - Adaptations to pressure and pH stress

20 Pushing Life to the Limits - Adaptations to salt and radiation stress

21 Astrobiology Primary Literature Discussion #2 - Extremophiles

22 Extraterrestrial Threats to Earth - Origin of Asteroids and Comets

23 Guest Lecture - Introduction to Lithopanspermia

24 Detection of Extrasolar Planets: methodology and characteristics

25 Search for Life in the Solar System – Biomarkers

26 Search for Life in the Solar System - Moons of Jupiter

27 Search for Life in the Solar System - Moons of Saturn

28 Guest Lecture - Microbial Ecology, Survival, and Growth of Terrestrial Bacteria on Spacecraft Surfaces during Robotic Missions to Mars

29 Search for Life in the Solar  - The habitability of Mars

30 Student Presentations on Astrobiology Topic of Choice

31 Student Presentations on Astrobiology Topic of Choice

32 Student Presentations on Astrobiology Topic of Choice

33 Guest Lecture - Planetary Protection

34 Controlled Environmental Life Support - Bioregeneration

35 Humans Factors - Gravitational Biology

36 Human Factors – Cosmic Radiation

37 Astrobiology Primary Literature Discussion #4 – Human Factors

38 Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence and the Drake Equation

39 Future of Space Exploration: Robotic Missions

40 Future of Space Exploration: Human Colonization of Space

 

Stellar Formation and Evolution

Planetary Formation and Evolution

Planetary Formation and Evolution

Astrobiogeochemistry & Origin of Life

Astrobiogeochemistry & Origin of Life

 

Astrobiogeochemistry & Origin of Life

Astrobiogeochemistry & Origin of Life

Astrobiogeochemistry & Origin of Life

 

 

 

Evolution of Life Through Time

Evolution of Life Through Time

Astrobiogeochemistry & Origin of Life

Diversity of Life

Diversity of Life

Diversity of Life

Diversity of Life

 

Planetary Formation and Evolution

Diversity of Life

Planetary Detection & Characterization

Planetary Detection & Characterization

Planetary Detection & Characterization

Planetary Detection & Characterization

Planetary Detection & Characterization


Planetary Detection & Characterization

 

 

 

Science in Space

Science in Space

Science in Space

Science in Space

 

Science in Space

Science in Space

Science in Space

*Primer Sections are derived from the Astrobiology Primer (Mix et al., 2006)