Missions & Flight Instruments
A number of missions and flight instruments have a strong astrobiology component and are GSFC-led or have significant GSFC participation. Explore some of these missions and instruments below.
Hubble Space Telescope
ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter
Roman Space Telescope
Mars Sample Return
Leadership in Astrobiology Research Coordination Networks
Prebiotic Chemistry and Early Earth Environments Consortium
Nexus for Exoplanet System Science
Network for Life Detection
Network for Ocean Worlds
GCA, a member of PCE3, uses a combination of laboratory experiments, observations, and models to investigate returned samples and to enable us to learn about abiotic organic chemical evolution and guide the search for biosignatures.
Laboratory for Agnostic Biosignatures (LAB)
LAB, a member of NFoLD, focuses on four features of life that do not presuppose a specific biochemistry, using these concepts to begin to build a framework for looking for life “as we don’t know it.” These features include patterns of surface complexity, elemental accumulation, and evidence of energy transfer.
Resolving Orbital and Climate Keys of Earth and Extraterrestrial Environments with Dynamics (ROCKE-3D)
ROCKE-3D, a member of NExSS, simulates the past climates of Earth, other rocky Solar System planets, and theorized exoplanets to broaden our understanding of planetary habitability, to use similar simulations to assess the habitability of rocky exoplanets, and to produce synthetic disk-integrated spectra and phase curves of these planets.
Virtual Planetary Laboratory (VPL)
VPL, a member of NExSS, develops and combines scientific models from many disciplines to constrain habitability for newly discovered worlds.
Sellers Exoplanet Environments Collaboration (SEEC)
SEEC, a member of NExSS, studies the broad diversity of exoplanet atmospheres and climate by generalizing atmosphere and solar wind models and radiative transfer schemes to simulate a wide range of planetary conditions, as well as work on improved simulations and analysis of future observations of exoplanets to better understand what we can learn about the diversity of planetary properties across space and time.
Ocean Worlds Science Exploration and Analogs (OSEAN) Task Group
OSEAN is dedicated to the development of investigations in support of enabling high-priority science related to ocean worlds. Our STG team members are advocates and progenitors of new avenues of scientific inquiry enabled by the rapidly advancing exploration of these astrobiologically relevant objects.
See the latest astrobiology news from GSFC
Ask an Astrobiologist with Dr. Melissa Trainer
Our guest is Dr. Melissa Trainer, a Deputy Principal Investigator (PI) for the Dragonfly mission to Saturn's moon Titan, and lead for the Dragonfly Mass Spectrometer (DraMS), an instrument supporting the Dragonfly investigation of Titan's surface composition!
Gravity Assist: Mars Takes a Breath, with Jen Eigenbrode
The Curiosity rover has been probing the secrets of Mars since its arrival in 2012. Its discoveries include chemical signatures that could be related to life – or, alternatively, to geological processes.
About Half of Sun-Like Stars Could Host Rocky, Potentially Habitable Planets
According to new research using data from NASA's retired planet-hunting mission, the Kepler space telescope, about half the stars similar in temperature to our Sun could have a rocky planet capable of supporting liquid water on its surface.
NASA Scientists Discover ‘Weird’ Molecule in Titan's Atmosphere
NASA scientists identified a molecule in Titan’s atmosphere that has never been detected in any other atmosphere.
OSIRIS-REx TAGs Surface of Asteroid Bennu
Captured on Oct. 20, 2020 during the OSIRIS-REx mission's Touch-And-Go (TAG) sample collection event, this series of images shows the SamCam imager's field of view as the NASA spacecraft approaches and touches down on asteroid Bennu's surface, over 200 million miles (321 million km) away from Earth.
OSIRIS-REx and the Origin of Life
A historic moment is on the horizon for NASA’s first asteroid sample return mission, OSIRIS-REx. On Oct. 20, 2020, the spacecraft will descend to asteroid Bennu’s surface, touch down for a few seconds and collect a sample of the asteroid’s rocks and dust, which will be returned to Earth for study.
NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Unlocks More Secrets from Asteroid Bennu
NASA’s first asteroid sample return mission now knows much more about the material it’ll be collecting in just a few weeks.
Where Rocks Come Alive: NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Observes an Asteroid in Action
Detailed observations reveal Bennu is shedding material on a regular basis.
Giada Arney, Research Space Scientist, Will Look for Life on Exoplanets
Giada Arney, Research Space Scientist, will look for life on exoplanets, including remotely observable signs of life called biosignatures.
Pristine Space Rock Offers NASA Scientists Peek at Evolution of Life’s Building Blocks
Asuka 12236 is one of the best-preserved meteorites of its kind. And now, NASA scientists have shown that it contains microscopic clues that could help them solve a universal mystery.
A Successful Second Rehearsal Puts NASA’s OSIRIS-REx on a Path to Sample Collection
The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft performed its final practice run of the sampling sequence, reaching an approximate altitude of 131 feet (40 meters) over sample site Nightingale before executing a back-away burn.
NASA’s Planet Hunter Completes Its Primary Mission
NASA's TESS has completed its primary mission, imaging about 75% of the starry sky during a two-year-long survey. TESS has found 66 new planets, nearly 2,100 candidates, and much more.