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
NASA Goddard Scientists Begin Studying 50-year-old Frozen Apollo 17 Samples
Scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, recently received samples of the lunar surface that have been curated in a freezer at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston since Apollo 17 astronauts returned them to Earth in December 1972.
Could the Blueprint for Life Have Been Generated in Asteroids?
The discovery, by an international team with NASA researchers, gives more evidence that chemical reactions in asteroids can make some of life’s ingredients, which could have been delivered to ancient Earth by meteorite impacts or perhaps the infall of dust.
NASA-Funded Study Extends Period When Mars Could Have Supported Life
The surface of Mars is barren and inhospitable, but perhaps it wasn’t always that way. Billions of years ago, when life emerged on Earth, the climate of Mars could have been Earth-like as well, with a thicker atmosphere than today and oceans of liquid water.
With First Martian Samples Packed, Perseverance Initiates Remarkable Sample Return Mission
NASA, along with the European Space Agency, is developing a campaign to return the Martian samples to Earth.
Chemical Complexity as a Sign of Life as We Don't Know It
NASA is exploring potential signs of life that could be very different from what we have on Earth.
Everything You Need to Know About the OSIRIS-REx Mission to Bennu & Back
Join us for a special panel episode all about the OSIRIS-REx mission, which just left asteroid Bennu with asteroidal material on its way back to Earth! This episode's guests are all collaborators on the OSIRIS-REx mission: Drs. Eve Berger, Jason Dworkin, and Scott Sandford.
Salts Could Be Important Piece of Martian Organic Puzzle, NASA Scientists Find
A NASA team has found that organic salts are likely present on Mars and may be detectable.
Avi Mandel Focuses on Worlds Out of This World
Acting Director Avi Mandell, of the Sellers Exoplanet Environments Collaboration, focuses his attention on worlds out of this world.
NASA Study: To Find an Extraterrestrial Civilization, Pollution Could Be the Solution
If there's an advanced extraterrestrial civilization inhabiting a nearby star system, we might be able to detect it using its own atmospheric pollution, according to new NASA research.
Key Building Block for Organic Molecules Discovered in Meteorites
Scientists from Japan and NASA have confirmed the presence in meteorites of a key organic molecule which may have been used to build other organic molecules, including some used by life. The discovery validates theories of the formation of organic compounds in extraterrestrial environments.
Asteroid Ryugu Dust Delivered to Earth; NASA Astrobiologists Prepare to Probe It
NASA Astrobiologists Prepare to Analyze Dust Delivered from Asteroid Ryugu
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.