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Exobiology Branch Overview

Chief: Mary Voytek
Deputy Chief: Dr. Melissa Kirven-brooks
Assistant Chief: Lori Munar

People about Exobiology Branch Overview

The Exobiology Branch conducts interdisciplinary basic research in exobiology to understand pre-biotic chemistry and the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the Universe. We provide an interface between the external academic community and NASA programs. Our work also informs the selection, design, and development of NASA life-detection missions; the design and fabrication of spaceflight instruments to evaluate habitability and detect biosignatures; and the interpretation of astrobiology mission and astronomical data.

Below are brief descriptions of the main focus areas in our branch along with links to additional details on some of our current projects:

Basic Research in Astrobiology

We conduct basic research that covers a broad range of topics within Astrobiology. Our work includes research into the origin and early evolution of life, and our branch is home to the Center for the Emergence of Life, which supports a holistic approach to investigating the origin and early evolution of life by integrating experimental and computational approaches in the areas of cosmochemistry, systems chemistry, molecular modeling, in vitro evolution, and synthetic biology. Our branch also conducts research to understand the nature and distribution of habitable environments and how biosignatures from inhabited environments can be detected. Our investigations into habitability and biosignatures include research that focuses on multiple planetary bodies both with and beyond our own solar system.​

Center for Emergence of Life