Exobiology

then. We are discovering both the fragility and robustness of life as we investigate the history of mass extinctions on our planet (including extinctions taking place today). a macro-system focused discipline. There is no current tangible evidence for intelligent extraterrestrial life (as of 2004). However uncertainties in the term of the equation make it impossible predict whether life is rare or common. an era that simultaneously brought life-giving water and organic compounds to the terrestrial planets while battering them with lethal quantities of impact energy. NASA Astrobiology Institute. the spectral signature of methane was detected in the Martian atmosphere by both Earth-based telescopes as well as by the Mars Express probe. boiling hot springs. once flowed on the surface of the planet Mars and exists today below the icy crust of Jupiter's moon. The NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) engages in government-funded xenobiologic study of the living universe Advances in science and technology are yielding dramatic new knowledge about the origin. Since one possible source. It seeks to understand the very large scale . Cassini to Saturn's moon Titan. Life o Earth has been traced back 3. and a future mission to Jupiter's moon Europa) hope to further explore the possibilities of life on other planets in our solar system. this has led scientists to speculate that the source could be (microbial) life Missions to other planets (such as Spirit and Opportunity to Mars. which suggests that if intelligent life is common in the universe then there should be obvious signs of it. so there must be a recent source of it. This use of the term demonstrates the speculative generation of possible models of such life. NAI astrobiology is. In 2004.Extraterrestrial life -. For these reasons the search for extraterrestrial life is of great relevance to xenobiologists. and aquifers buried kilometers below the land surface. Another associated topic in xenobiology is the Fermi paradox. Europa. and the destruction of our planet's protective shield of ozone. Likewise computer simulations of basic life processes have made it possible to do exploratory engineering of alternate life forms (like left-handed DNA) to determine their characteristics. the subtle alterations in climate triggered by volcanic eruptions and human industry.g.8 billion years to the period of heavy cometary bombardment. since any life form that might naturally evolve elsewhere could conceivably be created in a laboratory using a future technology. making xenobiology a valid field for scientific enquiry. Although this is currently a speculative field. It also includes the concept of artificial life. and destiny of life. Life on Earth has been found thriving at environmental extremes such as in Antarctic rocks. although that interpretation of the evidence is still controversial. active volcanism. Scientists have analyzed complex organic chemistry in interstellar clouds of gas and dust and have discovered more than 200 planets outside of our solar system.Drake equation -. the absence of life in the rest of the Universe is a falsifiable hypothesis (though it is yet to be proven false). silicon-based. o r wasdesigned much nearer to home. Search for evidence of extraterrestrial life. However examination of meteors from Antarctica which are presumed to have originated from the planet Mars have provided what som scientists believe to be microfossils of extraterrestrial life. Some contend that the number of planets with intelligent extraterrestrial life can be estimated from the Drake equation if and whe we ascertain the values of its variables. We have found that liquid water.Panspermia Xenobiology (also known as exobiology or astrobiology) is the term for a speculative field within biology which considers the possible variety of extraterrestrial life. Methane has a relatively short half-life in the Martian atmosphere. the one essential ingredient for life as we know it. e.Fermi paradox -. It might be difficult to tell whether a truly strange life form had in fact arisen in space. has thus far not been detected on Mars. Xenobiology also figures in much science fiction as the fictional science of the biology of alien organisms. distribution.

the notion that extraterrestrial life exists is entirely theoretical.processes which can influence or even create life. assessing the societal implications of discovering other examples of life. Search for extraterrestrial life. NAI literature says it recognizes a broad societal interest in its endeavors. especially in areas such as achievin a deeper understanding of life. Its success depends critically upon the close coordination of diverse scientific disciplines and programs. and whether they avoid the energetic (and quite deadly) galactic center. searching for extraterrestrial biospheres. Scientists are searching for extraterrestrial life in two very different ways.Extraterrestrial life forms. yet intensely relevant.An old star was formed before supernovae had enriched the locale with metals. Possible forms of extraterrestrial life. The Astrobiology Institute's focus is multidisciplinary in its content and interdisciplinary in its execution. one of Jupiter's moons with liquid water layer under its surface. which may contain life.Forms of extraterrestrial life. how they orbit. namely carbon-based organisms. including space missions. The ramifications of the recent discovery that Mars was once quite wet has caused quite a stir in the astrobiological community. The scientific study of extraterrestrial life is often called xenobiology. are often referred to as aliens. More than this.g. Direct search: They are directly searching for evidence of unicellular life within the solar system: searching Mars and examining meteors which have fallen to Earth. or even sentience) can be built. and envisioning the future of life on Earth and in space. reproduction. This ties in with the age of stars . and none which has been confirmed by science. directly and indirectly. especially intelligent ones. An experiment on the Viking Mars lander reported gas emissions from heated Martian soil that some argue are consistent with the presence of microbes . consumption. may not be th only structure upon which what we consider the concept of life (e. Since little potential evidenc of life on other planets exists. growth. to life at the level of microbes and bacteria. or part of it. Astrobiologists are interested in metallicity of stars since a star with a high metallicity is very likely to have planets. Extraterrestrial life Extraterrestrial life refers to theoretical forms of life that may exist and originate outside of the planet Earth. The fundamental questions that astrobiology attempts to answer are these: How do habitable worlds form and how do they evolve? How did living systems emerge? How can we recognize other biospheres? How have the Earth and its biosphere influenced each other over time? How do rapid changes in the environment affect emergent ecosystem properties and their evolution? What is the potential for biological evolution beyond the planet of origin? NAI claims to encourage planetary stewardship through an emphasis on protection against forward and back biological contamination and recognition of ethical issues associated with exploration. to see which star are formed where. and a proposed mission to Europa. Some theoreticists on the topic believe that life as we know it. an astrobiologist wants an answer to the question "How does life arise?" He may model a galaxy's lifetime. There is some suggestion of the existence of microbial life on Mars. range from the humanoid and monstrous beings like those from science fiction works. or "life on other planets". Astrobiology is truly a diverse discipline (being young).

which may reveal the presence of life (either directly or through spectrography revealing. it deals with the attempts to answer one of the most profound questions of all time: "Are we (the earthlings) the only technologically advanced civilization in the Universe?". Fermi paradox The Fermi paradox is a paradox proposed by physicist Enrico Fermi that questions the possibilities of finding intelligent extraterrestrial life. Current radiodetection method have been inadequate for such a search. More specifically. which holds that all life throughout the universe stems from one initial distribution of spores which consitute the seeds of life. SETI. Indirect search: It is theorised that any technological society in space will be transmitting information: man-made electromagnetic radiation is already detectable within an 80 light-year radius of Earth.though the lack of corroborating evidence from other experiments on the Viking indicates that a non-biologica reaction is a more likely hypothesis. which attempt to explain something that is commonly accepted as occurring. It has been argued that one of the best candidates for the discovery of life-supporting planets may be Alpha Centauri. this report is vigorously disputed. Astronomers also search for extrasolar planets that would be conducive to life. SETI@home. "Where are they? Why haven't we seen any traces of intelligent extraterrestrial life e. Origins of extraterrestrial life. however since these scientists are currently very much in the minority. and is constantly spreading. work such as SETI continues in the hopes that a signal will detected. Fermi's response to this conclusion was that if there were very many advanced extraterrestrial civilizations in our galaxy. in 1996 structures resembling bacteria were reportedly discovered in a meteorite known to be formed of rock ejected from Mars. Future telescopes should be able to image planets around nearb stars. is paradoxical. If true. the presence of free oxygen in a planet's atmosphere).) One such theory is panspermia. spacecraft or transmissions?". Is there extraterrestrial life? Many people believe that extraterrestrial life exists and that there are many planets in our own galaxy that . Some scientists believe that some UFOs are the spacecraft of intelligent extraterrestrials. the closest star system to Earth. Those that adhere to the premise behind the Fermi paradox often refer to that premise as the Fermi principle. it would then follow that life is prevalent throug space as these spores have traveled. Independently. probes.g. takes the data gathered by the world's largest radiotelescopes and analyses it for artificial patterns using supercomputers and one of the largest distributed computing projects in the world. as the resolution afforded by recent technology is inadequate for detailed study of extrasolar planetary objects. for instance. Again. suggesting that either our understanding or our observations are flawed or incomplete. then. the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. (This is in contrast to most theories. The Drake equation for estimating the number of extraterrestrial civilizations with which we might come in contact seems to imply that we should not expect such contact to be extremely rare. The paradox can be summed up as follows: The commonly held belief that the universe has many technologically advanced civilizations combined with our observations that suggest otherwise. Numerous hypotheses have been developed to validate the possibilty that extraterrestrial life could exist. and that life in various forms may exist throughout the universe.

"Strong life" proponents counter that because life arose on Earth as soon as the crust cooled. single-celled life instead of further up the evolutionary chain. more than thirty galactic orbits. almost all of the time there has been higher life on Earth. an that conditions to support bacterial life seem to exist elsewhere in our own solar system all support the positio that life should be fairly common. if so. that life has been found in a variet of environments once thought incapable of supporting it. The axis of rotation of a sphere is unstable. it becomes difficult to explain why the first forms of life were simple. The fact that signs of life Earth seem to be present almost as soon as it cooled enough to support it. Another crucial item is the Moon. The Earth has been between spiral arms for hundreds of millions of years. Some believe that our current knowledge of both chemistry and of biology strongly indicates that life is an exceptionally improbable thing to arise spontaneously. the more likely it becomes that life arose first on Mars. A statistical analysis that treats the question of life arising on a planet like winning a lottery—and generalizing from the special case that. Many scientists believe it was formed by a rare collision between the young Earth and a Mars-sized body 4. The more improbable that one deems life beginning spontaneously. if terrestrial life originated elsewhere. that planet formation seems to be fairly common. The collision had to occur at an exact angle. life itself must be intrinsically linked with terrestrial planet formation. at a distance in which the solar system moves at the same speed as the shock waves forming the spiral arms. An emerging line of thought even argues that multicellular life may be exceedingly rare in the universe becaus of a probable rarity of Earth-like planets. This latter position is defended on the basis that conditions which might support Earth-compatible life existed within a relatively short distance hundreds of millions of years before the Earth cooled. The impact spun the Earth Lunar tides stabilize the Earth's axis. on the only terrestrial world we have seen. The issue of whether intelligent life develops as readily as simpler forms is still an open question. Spiral arms have many novas. This giant impact sent much of the felsic rich mantle of Earth into orbit. but. there has been increasingly more support for an idea first mentioned by Lord Kelvin— that life first came about on Mars and was transported to Earth by a meteorite. As for the Earthly origin of life. This line of reasoning has been dubbed the Rare Earth hypothesis an relies on that fact that many improbable coincidences converged to make complex life on Earth possible.harbor life. too direct and Earth would have been obliterated. The solar system is in a very special orbit within the galaxy. Current data on this issue seems to support this second view or a related hypothesis that life originated elsewhere within the solar system and was transported to the Earth by a meteorite." but this theory is now in disfavor. The Rare Earth hypothesis. although Timothy Leary has suggested extra-terrestrial seeding of simple amino acids in his Exopsychology. too shallow and the Mars-sized body would have been deflected. it would almost certainly have to have been carried here on purpose. Lately. The magnetic field shields the Earth's air from th . and the radiation from them is believed inimical to higher life. who called it "panspermia. The idea that life is common everywhere and propelled from star to star by the pressure of starligh was proposed by Svante Arrhenius. The harsh radiation of interstellar space coupled with the extremely low probability that any extra-solar rocks capable of protecting life in the harsh inter-stellar environment have ever struck the Earth seem to indicate that. it now seems fairly certain that it began within our solar system. relating evolution and Leary's eight circui model of human consciousness. A widely-accepted view is that terrestrial life originated on the Earth itself. It is a nearly perfect circular orbit. It is possible that life was brought here. Lunar tides also have helped heat the mant The molten mantle generates the magnetic field of the Earth.450 million years ago. and if the Earth's axis varied the weather would vary dramatically—potentially suppressing life. the lottery was won—some astrobiologists have concluded that there seems to be at least a one-in-eight chance p billion years of "appropriate" conditions that life will form. The removal of light-rock types (felsic rock allowed for the formation of the first ocean basins (which are heavier (mafic) rock).

Some state that by making what they feel are reasonable assumptions and argumen we can ascertain that if life is possible at all. The argument over the premise behind the Fermi paradox. Furthermore. which would otherwise accelerate light molecules away. Current data. Still other people contend that we are probably the only spacefaring species in at least our galaxy. One can presume that similar output by a nearby star would be immediately characterized as unusual by us. However those people who adhere to the premise of the Fermi paradox believe that. otherwise we would be awash in their radio transmissions and be overrun by early colonization efforts. b almost certain that there are large numbers of extraterrestrial civilisations in the Universe. due to a lack of evidence to the contrary in all probability. We must therefore. . We can more easily find planetary systems with planetary orbits and configurations that are less stable than o own. the majority of the extrasolar planetary systems that have been found appear to be harsh environments for advanced life-forms. humans (as a technologically advanced species) are effectively alone in at least our part of th Milky Way Galaxy. Radio and observational data have for several decades been collected and analyzed by such projects as Projec Ozma. This is just part of the Rare Earth hypothesis. to date. which recycles limestone into biologically-active carbon dioxide. add that intelligent life is also common in the Universe. Some people contend that these results probably have a significant amount of sampling error: Other species may not use the radio frequencies we are searching in SETI or may not leak significant amounts radio waves (we leak less radio waves than a few decades ago because of the use of cable and satellite transmission). Those people who believe in the more optimistic assumptions used in the Drake equation proposed by Dr. sapping the air and water over a period of few million years. Our solar system if seen from a radio telescope within a few tens of light years away would seem unusual for the huge amount of radio waves being emitted from what appears to be an otherwise unremarkable main sequence star. Only then can we even begin to presume what the values of each of the variables in th Drake equation are. the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). They further say that since we cannot yet determine the variables of the Drake Equation wi any real confidence. they argue. In addition. we cannot determine the numbers of extraterrestrial civilizations based solely on this equation. there are no known main sequence stars with unusually bright radio emissions. The Drake equation.solar wind. Fran Drake and the even more optimistic assumptions given by Dr. the presence of different crustal rock types allows for the existence of plate tectonics. So far the SETI data seem to indicate that we are the only radio-transmitting species in at least that portion of our part of the Galaxy that has been surveyed. ET phone home. then the universe is so vast that it should not only be possible. they say. and the various projects searching for extrasolar planets. rely on data collection — which is only now beginning to be collected in a significant manner. Carl Sagan.

Freeman Dyson. one can quickly point out that if a particular planet is the only planet out of the trillions that has intelligent life on it. We have been actively searching for extraterrestrial signals for almost 30 years with projects such as SETI and have been passively listening to radio static for nearly 100 years. intelligent life must exist somewhere besides Earth. A star surrounded by a Dyson sphere would thus emit a distinctive black body spectrum without the strong emission lines that incandescent stellar plasma exhibits. Since the use of the electromagnetic spectrum for information transmission is relatively cheap and easy. No such stars have yet been found. probably with its peak unusually far into the infrared for a star of its size With this speculation. he postulated." With the Anthropic Principle. they say. This could very well be so. Moreover. They further state. and in doing so changing the electromagnetic signature of their sun. there must be others like themselves in the Universe. Fermi principle adherents say. but in any case it would be made of solid matter and would intercept most of the star's emitted light to re-radiate as waste heat. the mediocrity principle states that physical laws are the same throughout the Universe and the development of anything within the Universe has to follow these laws. Dr. After all intelligent life happened here. the absence of which tends to support the Fermi principle. but only if there are very few such civilizations in both space and time and they very quickly abandon radio as a means of data transmission Either way. Popularized by Dr. Further. They would think that. However. it would be certain that the people there would assume that they could n be the only planet with intelligent life. Dyson also proposed a type of invention which he deemed likely to appear within the life-span of an intelligent civilization. one would expect any technological civilization to take advantage of at least a part of this spectrum during their development.Some of those who subscribe to the Fermi principle state that given enough time to develop. the radio transmissions of any sufficiently advanced civilization will begin to outshine their parent star in the radio part o the spectrum. During this entire period we have yet to hea any confirmed alien broadcasts nor have we observed any main sequence stars with unusual electromagnetic radio signatures that might indicate a technological civilization. which. The exact design of the Dyson sphere was not specified. so why not on man of the trillions of other worlds? It is illogical to think that we are the only one. Those that believe the Fermi principle also state that from the Anthropic Principle one can see as a logical fallacy the following statement: "With billions of galaxies and countless trillions of planets in the Universe. proponents of the Fermi principle say. if there were many of these civilizations their transmissions would make a large impact o at least some part of the electromagnetic spectrum for at least a small part of their development. The fact that we have been able to receive and produce these transmissions for only a tiny fraction of our history may be limiting radio SETI in this regard. They also point out we are leaking progressively less radio as we transmit more TV via cable and satellite. Some adherents to the Fermi principle state that it is highly unlikely that all advanced civilizations would not eventually take full advantage of the power source of their home star. the Anthropic Principle makes it necessary to gather additional information before such an assumption could be made. he advised astronomers to search the night sky for unusually colored stars. it would be possible to create versions . Freeman Dyson's contribution. the their presence would be made obvious by their transmissions. a Dyson Sphere is an opaque shell around a star. Such a shell would be created by advanced alien civilizations that wished to harness as much of the radiant energy of their sun as possible. given the sheer numbers of other worlds. that if there are as many advanced extraterrestrial civilizations as Drake and Sagan have estimated. He said that he thought that would soon be possible for us to create an explorer-device which drew power from its surroundings to propel itself through the universe in search of intelligent life forms. it could consist of billions of independent solar collectors and space habitats or be a single unified structure. Those that believe the galaxy has many technologically advanced civilizations counter that the extraterrestrial may simply be using a medium other than radio or they eventually choose to hide their transmissions for som unknown reason. The anthropic principle. could only signify highly advanced and intelligent life.

with the outermost sphere radiating energy at close to the background radiation. Alternatively.this device which could create and launch vast numbers of copies of itself by the process of machine reproduction. Civilizations might also be deliberately hiding themselves in order to avoid destruction from more advanced civilizations. Extraterrestrial colonization. or an alien emissary itself. Given this. They might do so out of ethical concerns for primitive beings or a desire to encourage cultural diversity. The chances are tha civilizations would be too far apart in either time or space to actually meet. The fact that they haven't detected us sooner or we didn't detect them first may be simple coincidence. Seen from afar. and focussed electromagnetic technologies like aimed narrow-beam radio. A more recent idea (sometimes called the fiber optic objection). we may have been detected at a distance and either a return message. Information theory states that a message which is compressed maximally is indistiguishab from white noise. Fermi principle adherents state that any advanced civilization will almost certainl try to seek out new resources and colonize first their solar system. Another hypothesis is that the whole existence of human life on earth (even if our species survives for some hundred thousand years) is but a brief moment compared to the age of the universe. The counterargument to this would be that even though as bandwidth becomes a bottleneck to communication. optical fibers. Adherents to the Fermi principle furthermore argue that. is currently en-route. we can reasonably assume that life elsewhere will follow similar principles. microwave or laser transmission. if intelligent life were common. Even allowing for the realities of vast distances between stars and the relativistic speed-limit. It has also been proposed that a fundamental information theoretical axiom might be behind the lack of recognized signals. Yet another idea is that all intelligent life inevitably evolves towards a technological singularity and quickly becomes unrecognizable to humanity in our present state. a large amount of power is needed for a transmitter to send messages any significant distance. many planets could follow the cycle of life arising and being extinct during the billion year span. Several possible explanations Solutions to the Fermi paradox can be grouped in three categories: They are here Those who attribute UFOs to alien spacecraft have a ready answer to the paradox. Most recent technologies that . They exist but have not communicated with us One possibility is that advanced civilizations either deliberately or accidentally hide evidence of their existence from humanity. each one radiating less energy than the next smallest one. stars in our own galaxy much older than our own would be within a range to hav built and launched fleets of these automated exploration devices. Adherents of this concept observe that human technology is currently moving away from broadcast for long-distance communication and replacing it with wires. Another possible explanation is that advanced civilizations would construct multiple concentric Dyson Spheres around their stars. and then surrounding solar systems. Alternatively. it is perfectly reasonable to believe that a lifeform intelligent enough to travel to our planet is intelligent enough to exist her undetected. Because broadcasts are radiated in all directions evenly. there ought still be some niche technologies which would not or could not strive to maxima data compression. observes that the use of broadcast technologi like radio for the transmission of information are fundamentally wasteful of energy and that advanced technological civilizations may not use them at all for that reason. from what we know about life's ability to overcome scarcity and colonize new habitats on our own planet.

is that as a technologically advanced species. but which tries to preserve its culture from one cycle to the next. gamma ray bursters or other catastrophic planetary or galactic events are so common that complex life rarely has the time to evolve. but for any of a number of reasons we are unable to detect their signals. and the Moon is the result of freak occurrence. or at least complex life. are rare. we are alone in our part of th Cosmos. the invention of radio technology or interest in the exploration of outer space may be vanishingly rare. such as mobile phones and Wi-Fi networks. Technological civilizations may usually or invariably destroy themselves (via nuclear war. Drake equation . Another possibility is that ice ages. Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's The Mote in God's Eye has as its central premise a civilisation that taxes its resource base and cyclically self-destructs. For instance. This could be because we haven't yet pointed receivers in their direction. or they are using an esoteric or highly advanced method of communication we are not able to detect or interpret at all. Science fiction authors have proposed another possible explanation — that someone. A common concept used in the scientific method to test the validity of certain ideas is Occam's Razor. a body of a certain mass striking Earth at just the right angle to carve off the material and put it in a stable orbit. say adherents to the premise behind the Fermi paradox. Even if the conditions for life are common. Fred Saberhagen's Berserker novels and Greg Bear's The Forge of God. Life on Earth. and as such pessimism about their long term viability is a justifiable position. is destroying intelligent life in the universe as fast as it is created. and that therefore most civilizations would only be detectable for a short period of time between the discovery of radio and the switch more efficient technologies. comet or meteor impacts. It is argued that th trend may make Earth itself nearly undetectable from space within a few decades. biological warfare. and intelligent life on Earth. A similar but slighly modified theory suggests that another civilization may in fact be attempting to communicate with us. and left human beings subject to involuntary.employ broadcasting. Others argue that the conditions for life. Occam's Razor states that the explanation for a given phenomenon that has the fewest assumptions should be preferred over more complicated ones. evolved as a result of the competition for scarce resources. To paraphrase. Another alternative is simply that they destroy themselves. use very short-range transmitters to communicate with fixed stations that are themselves connected by wires or narrow beams. the evolution of human-like intelligence. instinctual drives to consume resources and to breed. Alternately. or something. The simplest explanation. supernovae. these events may not be frequent enough on other planets and evolution is slowed because there aren't enough mass extinctions to encourage diversity. They do not last long enough to communicate with us. grey goo or in a Malthusian catastrophe after destroying their planet's ecosphere) before or shortly after developing radio or spaceflight technology. It seems likely that intelligent life on other planets evolved subject to simila constraints. some hypotheses say that complex life required the stimulation of tides from Earth's Moon to evolve. The evolutionary psychology that developed during this struggle has left its mark on our characters. This theme can be found in novels such as Frederik Pohl's Heechee novels. They do not exist.

but is still much firmer than the values following. This equation was devised by Dr. The Drake equation states that N = R* × fp × ne × fl × fi × fc × L where: N is the number of extraterrestrial civilizations in our galaxy with which we might expect to be able to communicate and R* is the rate of star formation in our galaxy fp is the fraction of those stars which have planets ne is average number of planets which can potentially support life per star that has planets fl is the fraction of the above which actually go on to develop life fi is the fraction of the above which actually go on to develop intelligent life fc is the fraction of the above which are willing and able to communicate L is the expected lifetime of such a civilisation Historical estimates of the Drake equation parameters. In addition while it appears that life developed soon after the formation of Earth. fi. But this evidence is limited in scope. Earth's very large.g. the Cambrian explosion in which a large variety of multicelluar life forms came into being occurred considerable . and stabilizing the planet's axis of rotation. What evidence is currently visible to humanity suggests that fl is very high. and so this term remains in considerabl dispute. suggesting that abiogenesis is relatively "easy" once conditions are right. but the values used by Drake an his colleagues in 1961 are: R* = 10/year. astrosociobiology and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.5. at such a distance that it remains out of the spiral arms for hundreds of millions years (evading radiation from novae). fl = 1. which have little of the ultraviolet radiation that has contributed to the evolution of life on Earth. unusual moon appears to aid retention of hydrogen by breaking up the crust. fc. Frank Drake in the 1960s in an attempt to estimate the number of extraterrestrial civilizations in our galaxy with which we might come in contact. The Drake equation is closely related to the Fermi paradox. and L are obviously little more than guesses. fp is more uncertain. In addition. fp = 0. One piece of data which would have major impact on this term is the controversy over whether there evidence of life on Mars. life on Earth appears to have begu almost immediately after conditions arrived in which it was possible. fi has been impacted by discoveries that the solar system's orbit is circular in the galaxy. Jupiter's satellite Europa) adds further uncertainty to this figure. mostly in X-rays . most stars in our galaxy are red dwarfs. ne = 2. Instead they flare violently. Also. The possibility of life on moons of gas giants (e.The Drake equation (also known as the Green Bank equation) is a famous result in the speculative fields of xenobiology. but the discovery of numerous gas giants in close orbit with their stars has introduced doubt that life-supporting planets commonly survive the creation of their stellar systems. fi = fc = 0. Confidence ne was once higher. inducing a magnetosphere by tidal heating and stirring. The conclusion that life on Mars developed independently from life on Earth would argue for a high value for this term. The main purpose of the equation is to allow scientists to quantify the uncertainty of the factors which determine the number of extraterrestrial civilizations.a property not conducive to life as we know it (simulations also suggest that these bursts erode planetary atmospheres). The value of R* is the least disputed.01. Considerable disagreement on the values of most of these parameters exists. and L = 10 years.

This has provided considerable motivation for the SETI movement.5 × 0. and the determining factor in whether there are large or small numbers of civilizations in th universe is the civilization lifetime. fp = 0. and L = 50 years N = 10 × 0. but of course we would not be present in those galaxies to observe this fact.5. Please list new estimates for these values here.1 × 0. fl = 1. which suggests the possibility that special conditions were necessary for this to occur. fi = 0.1 × 100000 = 5000 [edit] Current estimates of the Drake equation parameters This section attempts to list best current estimates for the parameters of the Drake equation. Other assumptions give values of N that are << 1.5 . but some observers believe this is still compatible with observations due to the anthropic principle: no matter how low the probability that any given galaxy will have intelligent life in it. and assuming that 10% of civilizations become willin and able to communicate. the galaxy that we are in must have at least one intelligent species by definition.1. R*. after Enrico Fermi who first publicised the subject.1. ne = 2.5 × 2 × 1 × 0. that in the year 2001 a value of 50 for L can be used with exactly the same degree of confidence that Drake had in using 10 in the year 1961. fl = 1. Again. and then spread through their local star systems for 100. and L = 100. The well-known astronomer Carl Sagan speculated that all of the terms except for the lifetime of a civilization are relatively high. fc = 0. In Sagan's case. or in other words the ability of technological civilizations to avoid selfdestruction. fp = 0. However. this conflicts with the currently observed value of N<<1 .5 × 1 × 0. the fraction of those stars which have planets Estimated by Drake as 0.) The remarkable thing about the Drake equation is that by plugging in apparently fairly plausible values for eac of the parameters above. the resultant expectant value of N is generally often >> 1. the rate of star creation in our galaxy Estimated by Drake as 10/year fp.05 Alternatively.amounts of time after the formation of Earth.one observed humanity in entire universe.000 years N = 20 × 0. giving the rationale behind the estimate and a citation to their source.01. In addition some scenarios such as the Snowball Earth or research into the extinction events have raised the possibility that life on Earth is relatively fragile. (Note.01 × 0.5. ne = 0. the controversy over life on Mars is relevant since the finding that life did form on Mars but cease to exist would affect estimates of these terms. in accor with the observable evidence. This conflict is often called the Fermi paradox.01 × 50 = 0. the Drake equation has been a strong motivating factor for his interest in environmental issues and his efforts to warn against the dangers of nuclear warfare. making some more optimistic assumptions.000 years (a very short period in geologic time): R* = 20/year.5. Other assumptions give values of N that are << 1. There could be hundreds of galaxies in our galactic cluster with no intelligent life whatsoever. fi = fc = 0. and suggests that our understanding of what is a "conservative" value for some of the parameters may be overly optimistic that some other factor is involved to suppress the development of intelligent space-faring life. given different assumptions: R* = 10/year. Some computations of the Drake equation. however.

being far from supernovas and being stable themselves for sufficient time. There is some evidence to suggest that bacteria may be able to survive for very long periods of time even in deep space (and may therefore be the underlying mechanism behind Panspermia). the fraction of the above which are willing and able to communicate Estimated by Drake as 0.com/news/news.01. Evidence and mechanisms. being derived from the same ancestral stock.33 using a statistical argument based on the length of time life to to evolve on Earth. some of his principal ideas such as steady state theory have been largely shown to be false. .000 times rarer. although he was a highly original thinker and won top scientific accolades. the fraction of the above which actually go on to develop life Estimated by Drake as 1 In 2002. Lineweaver and Tamara M. that the fall of most of these civilizations did not destroy their technology. Recent studies out of India have found bacteria at heights greater than 40 km in Earth's atmosphere where mixing from the lower atmosphere is unexpected. a consequence of panspermia is that life throughout the universe would have a surprisingly similar biochemistry. the fraction of the above which actually go on to develop intelligent life Estimated by Drake as 0. this gives a lower bound on L of 66 years. Davis (at the University of New South Wales and the Australian Centre for Astrobiology) estimated fl as > 0. Charles H. by having heavy elements. could easily be revived after being taken back to earth 31 months later. the expected lifetime of such a civilisation Estimated by Drake as 10 years. so Shermer's estimates should be regarded as pessimistic. Panspermia Panspermia is a theory (more directly described as a hypothesis. while Streptococcus mitus bacteria that had accidentally been taken to the moon o the Surveyor 3 spacecraft in 1967. a Greek philosopher. however. however. Note.01 L. In an article in Scientific American.newscientist. A lower bound on L can be estimated from the lifetime of our current civilization from the advent of radio astronomy in 1938 (dated from Grote Reber's parabolic dish radio telescope) to the current date. and they were succeeded by later civilizations which carried on those technologies. His science fiction writing also makes it easy for critics to discredit theories of extraterrestrial life. However. fc.jsp?id=ns99994525) fi.ne. In 2004. Michael Shermer estimated L as 420 years. The theory has origins in the ideas o Anaxagoras. An important proponent of the theory was the British astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle. Solar systems in galactic orbits with radiation exposure as low as Earth's solar system are more than 100. Using twenty-eight civilizations more recent than the Roman Empire h calculates a figure of 304 years for "modern" civilizations. based on compiling the durations of sixty historical civilizations. as there is no compelling evidence yet available to support or contradict it) that suggests that the seeds of life are prevalent throughout the universe and life on Earth began by such seeds landing on Earth and propagating. [1] (http://www. Lineweaver has also determined that about 10% of star systems in the Galaxy are hospitable to life. the average number of planets which can potentially support life per star that has planets Estimated by Drake as 2 fl. Hoyle's advocacy is both a blessing and a curse. So the high-altitude bacteria might be expected.

panspermia doesn't alleviate the need for life to have started somewhere at some time. Directed Panspermia. fired randomly in all directions is the best. Another objection to Panspermia is that bacteria would not survive the immense heat and forces of an impact on earth. or hoping to terraform planets for later colonisation . but that it has existed as long as all other forms of matter. which are dated at only 3. . it merely extends the time frame and environments available for life to originate. most cost effective strategy for seeding l on a compatible planet at some time in the future. Inconclusive results from the Viking program biological tests. but the official NASA stance is that the effect was chemical rather than biological. endolithic bacteria using chemosynthesis found inside rocks and in subterranean lakes. The tests were consistent with the presence of life.only 500 million years after the oldest dated rocks. Crick argues that small grains containing DNA. Bacteria and more complex organisms have been found in more extreme environments than thought possible.8 billion years old -. it spread throughout the universe by panspermia. no conclusions (whether positive or negative) have yet been reached on this point. However. Bacteria which don't rely on photosynthesis for energy. however. Some extremophile bacteria have been found living at temperatures above 100C. Semi-dormant bacteria found in ice cores over a mile beneath the antarctic . in that wherever life first began. This suggests that the seeds of life may have been purposely spread by an advanced extraterrestrial civilisation. The earliest evidence is of fossilised stromatolites or bacterial aggregates. o the building blocks of life. Tests were performed to detect the metabolism radioactive elements by soil microbes on Mars. On some models of planet formation this is almost too soon for the Earth to have cooled sufficiently to allow liquid water and support life. In particular. believe that life never evolved from inorganic molecules. Suggestive evidence in favour of panspermia are The remarkably rapid appearance of life on Earth in the fossil record. This is an extension of panspermia called cosmic ancestry. This is not resolvable until life on another planet can have its chemistry analysed. The strategy might have been pursued by a civilisation facing catastrophic annihilation. such as black smokers or oceanic volcanic vents. along with Leslie Orgel who proposed the theory of directed panspermia in 1973.whether of earth or extra-terrestrial origin. others in strongly caustic environments. to have a biochemistry similar to terrestrial forms. Some have taken the theory as an answer to those arguing the improbability of the origin of life.this lends credibility to the conce of sustaining the components of life on the surface of icy comets. Some believers in panspermia. A second prominent proponent of panspermia is Nobel prize winner Francis Crick. and then similar tests performed after the sample was raised t very high temperatures to kill any life.

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