Astrobiology is the multi-disciplinary field devoted to the investigation of the origin; physical, chemical and environmental limitations; and the distribution in space and time of life on Earth and in the Cosmos. Astrobiology seeks an answer to one of the most fundamental of all questions: Is Life Restricted to Planet Earth or is Life a Cosmic Imperative? Understanding the characteristics, properties, habits, and diversity of living organisms on Earth is crucial to determine where and how to search for evidence of life elsewhere. New techniques and methodologies must be developed in order to determine a suitable suite of valid biomarkers that is needed to facilitate the differentiation of abiotic processes from true signatures of life. This is crucial to establish the criteria needed to properly evaluate potential biosignatures in ancient Earth rocks and in a wide variety of Astromaterials. This volume includes papers treating many of these topics. They range! from considerations of relict microbial communities of extreme environments to complex organic molecules. Other papers discuss the use of stable isotopes and their biological fractionation as a baseline for evaluating extraterrestrial evidence and the use of chirality and composition of indigenous amino acids for differentiating between terrestrial and extraterrestrial organic matter in Astromaterials. Also treated in this volume are geomorph parallels, sediment patterns, and cyclicities in permafrost sediments of Earth and Mars; the survival of bacteria in space, eclipsing binaries, and advanced DNA and protein chip technology for future robotic missions to search for life in the Solar System.
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