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The current (2008) NASA Astrobiology Roadmap can be accessed by clicking the link above. The 2003 revision of the roadmap is posted below for historical reference.



Fundamental Questions


Goals and Objectives

Goal 1
Habitable Planets

Goal 2
Life in our Solar System

Goal 3
Origins of Life

Goal 4
Earth's Early Biosphere and its Environment

Goal 5
Evolution, Environment, and Limits of LIfe

Goal 6
Life's Future on Earth and Beyond

Goal 7
Signatures of Life


    Final Version, September 2003


Astrobiology and the Roadmap

Astrobiology is the study of the origins, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. It requires fundamental concepts of life and habitable environments that will help us to recognize biospheres that might be quite different from our own. Astrobiology embraces the search for potentially inhabited planets beyond our Solar System, the exploration of Mars and the outer planets, laboratory and field investigations of the origins and early evolution of life, and studies of the potential of life to adapt to future challenges, both on Earth and in space. Interdisciplinary research is needed that combines molecular biology, ecology, planetary science, astronomy, information science, space exploration technologies, and related disciplines. The broad interdisciplinary character of astrobiology compels us to strive for the most comprehensive and inclusive understanding of biological, planetary and cosmic phenomena.

This NASA Astrobiology Roadmap outlines these multiple pathways for research and exploration and indicates how they might be prioritized and coordinated. The roadmap embodies the efforts of more than 200 scientists and technologists, including NASA employees, academic scientists whose research is partially funded by NASA grants, and many members of the broader community who have no formal association with NASA.

Fundamental Questions

Astrobiology addresses three basic questions that have been asked in various ways for generations.

  • How does life begin and evolve?

  • Does life exist elsewhere in the universe?

  • What is the future of life on Earth and beyond?


The following basic principles are fundamental to the astrobiology program:

  • Astrobiology is multidisciplinary in its content and interdisciplinary in its execution. Its success depends critically upon the close coordination of diverse scientific disciplines and programs, including space missions.

  • Astrobiology encourages planetary stewardship through an emphasis on protection against forward and back biological contamination and recognition of ethical issues associated with exploration.

  • Astrobiology recognizes a broad societal interest in its endeavors, especially in areas such as achieving a deeper understanding of life, searching for extraterrestrial biospheres, assessing the societal implications of discovering other examples of life, and envisioning the future of life on Earth and in space.

  • The intrinsic public interest in astrobiology offers a crucial opportunity to educate and inspire the next generation of scientists, technologists and informed citizens; thus a strong emphasis upon education and public outreach is essential.

Life is a central theme that unifies NASA's vision and mission. A golden age has begun for the life sciences, an age in which science and technology will benefit enormously from a fundamental understanding of the full potential of living systems. This Roadmap outlines how to achieve a better fundamental understanding both of our own world and also of potential habitable worlds and life beyond Earth. This is an agenda for inspiring the next generation of planetary explorers and stewards to sustain the NASA vision and mission.


Responsible NASA Official:
Mary Voytek

Last modified: October 28, 2014