Decades of research have led scientists to look deeply into the nature of life itself — what it is, how it began on Earth, and what other worlds might also support it. A shift in focus is now emerging as NASA scientists recognize that with a strategic push the possibility of detecting life beyond Earth could be on the horizon with the creation of new teams: Center for Life Detection Science, Network for Life Detection, Laboratory for Agnostic Biosignatures, and Oceans Across Space and Time.
“If life exists on other planets, presumably one would expect it to be microbial. Could it ever have made this transition to complex life?” said Nigel Goldenfeld, Swanlund Chair of Physics at the University of Illinois and Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology. “It’s not that you’re inevitably going to get advanced life, because there are a bunch of things that have to happen.”