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The exobiology (from Greek ἔξω exo , German , except outside, outside of ' and biology ) is an interdisciplinary science that the possibility of the emergence and existence of extraterrestrial life researched and with the general question of life in all concerned (see also: Panspermia ).


The term exobiology was mainly used in the early days of space travel for what is now known as astrobiology , but today only applies to a sub-area of ​​astrobiology. It was coined by the biologist Joshua Lederberg in the 1960s and is often used from a biological point of view. The ESA uses this term preferred, and the NASA operates a exobiology program. Another name, cosmobiology , comes from the physicist John Desmond Bernal , but is rarely used.

According to Untersteiner (2006), exobiology is that interdisciplinary branch of science that studies the origin, distribution and evolution of life in the universe. The NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) defines exobiology simply as "the study of the living universe". This area of ​​science thus also includes questions about the further evolution of earthly life and its possible distribution in the universe. In this context, the German physicist Claudius Gros suggested that the technique of the Breakthrough Starshot Initiative could be used to establish a biosphere of single-celled organisms on an otherwise only temporarily habitable exoplanet.

Exobiology tries to detect life outside the earth in three ways.

  1. Direct search within the solar system and possibly transport of a sample to Earth by space probes.
  2. Search for biosignatures on exoplanets using astronomical observation methods. There are several indirect methods of inferring life. It is assumed that certain molecular compounds can only be created permanently through life. If one were to find such molecules in the light spectrum ( absorption spectrum ) of a distant planet , for example , that would be a strong indicator of life.
  3. Look for signs of extraterrestrial technology, such as B. Signals or artifacts . A clear sign of intelligent life would be, for example, radio signals from extraterrestrial civilizations , such as those that SETI projects are trying to find. So far, however, these projects have not been successful, even if it is assumed that there could be hundreds of civilizations in the Milky Way alone . This number was determined using the Drake equation and is subject to strong fluctuations depending on the assumptions made.


  • Aleksandar Janjic: Astrobiology - the search for extraterrestrial life. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2019, ISBN 978-3-662-59491-9 .
  • Hubert Untersteiner: Exobiology - Science of Life in Space. edition nove, 2006, ISBN 3-902546-42-5 .
  • Fred Adams: Life in the Universe. Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag , Munich 2006, ISBN 3-423-34282-X .
  • Claude R. Canizares: Evaluating the biological potential in samples returned from planetary satellites and small solar system bodies - framework for decision making. National Academy Pr., Washington 1998, ISBN 0-309-06136-9 (online).
  • Pascual Jordan : Discussion Notes on the Exobiological Hypothesis. Steiner, Wiesbaden 1971.
  • LR Magnolia, SA Gogin, JA Turley: Exobiology: A Bibliography. Issue 52 of Research Bibliography, STL Technical Library, TRW Space Technology Laboratories (1964).

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Exobiology  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. About Astrobiology. (No longer available online.) NASA September 26, 2014, archived from the original on October 11, 2008 ; accessed on October 10, 2014 (English). Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / astrobiology.nasa.gov
  2. Joshua Lederberg: Signs of Life - Criterion System of Exobiology. (PDF; 1.1 MB), Nature 207, 4492, July 3, 1965, pp. 9-13. Retrieved December 13, 2010.
  3. ^ NASA's Exobiology and Evolutionary Biology Program. ( Memento of the original from February 24, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. At: astrobiology.nasa.gov. Retrieved August 28, 2013. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / astrobiology.nasa.gov
  4. ^ Claudius Gros : Developing Ecospheres on Transiently Habitable Planets: The Genesis Project , Astrophysics and Space Science, Vol. 361, pp 1-14 (2016).
  5. Jessica Boddy Q&A: Should we seed life on alien worlds? , Science , September 9, 2016.
  6. ^ J. Tarter: The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) . In: Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics . tape 39 , 2001, p. 511–548 , bibcode : 2001ARA & A..39..511T bibcode * ID with undesired URL encoding (English).