Astrobiology Chair Steven Dick Testifies Before House Science Committee | SpaceRef – Your Space Reference

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Dr. Steven J. Dick, Astrobiology Chair at The John W. Kluge Center, testified before the U.S. House Science Committee on December 4 about astrobiology and the search for biosignatures in our solar system.

Dick, the second Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology, testified at the full committee hearing alongside Dr. Mary A. Voytek, Senior Scientist for Astrobiology, Planetary Science Division, NASA, and Dr. Sara Seager, Class of 1941 Professor of Physics and Planetary Science at M.I.T.

Astrobiology is the scientific study of life in the universe. The question of whether humans are alone in the universe–once reserved for philosophers and theologians–can now be addressed by the science of astrobiology. In his testimony, Dr. Dick articulated key discoveries in the field over the past decade, including that Mars once had enough liquid water to be hospitable for life. Dick articulated challenges and goals for astrobiology moving forward, such as researching the origins of life on Earth in order to better determine the origins of life elsewhere.

Dr. Dick also addressed the intersection of astrobiology and society, which is the focus of his research at The John W. Kluge Center. The potential discovery of life on other planets could have enormous consequences for humanity. What will be the effect on our worldviews, philosophies, and religions if we discover microbial or intelligent life beyond Earth? Dr. Dick's research at the Library of Congress addresses the societal impact of these questions.

Written By: Jason Steinhauer
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2 COMMENTS

  1. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) asked the panelists how to engage children in astrobiology.

    Err….

    They’ll do that themselves. Seriously, if there ever was a discipline that doesn’t require a lot of selling it’s astrobiology. I mean, who wouldn’t be interested? It’s the ice cream of science!

  2. The potential discovery of life on other planets could have enormous consequences for humanity. What will be the effect on our worldviews, philosophies, and religions if we discover microbial or intelligent life beyond Earth?

    It would be interesting to see how the religious would reconcile the discovery of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. But I suspect it wouldn’t change their beliefs, just as the earth losing it’s place at the “center of the universe” didn’t have much impact.

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