In 1997, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) formed the National Astrobiology Institute to coordinate and fund research into the origins, distribution, and fate of life in the universe. A 2002 NRC study of that program, Life in the Universe: An Assessment of U.S. and International Programs in Astrobiology, raised a number of concerns about the Astrobiology program. In particular, it concluded that areas of astrophysics related to the astronomical environment in which life arose on earth were not well represented in the program. In response to that finding, the Space Studies Board requested the original study committee, the Committee on the Origins and Evolution of Life, to examine ways to augment and integrate astronomy and astrophysics into the Astrobiology program. This report presents the results of that study. It provides a review of the earlier report and related efforts, a detailed examination of the elements of the astrobiology program that would benefit from greater integration and augmentation of astronomy and astrophysics, and an assessment of ways to facilitate the integration of astronomy with other astrobiology disciplines.
National Research Council. The Astrophysical Context of Life . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2005.
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