Astrobiology – the study and search for life beyond Earth – is the umbrella discipline for the work of the SETI Institute. Astrobiology encompasses a wide range of study areas, including astronomy, geology, biology, and sociology. It is succinctly encapsulated by the so-called Drake Equation. The latter, devised more than five decades ago by astronomer Frank Drake, is an scheme for estimating the number of communicating societies elsewhere in the Milky Way galaxy. Even though this famous formulation was intended to guide the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, it turns out to also describe the other research areas pursued by our scientists. In particular, what sorts of worlds might be amenable to life, how might life arise, and where might we find it? These considerations spur much of the Institute’s work, where nearly 100 scientists and staff are investigating topics in astrobiology. Much of this effort is focused on the nearby worlds of our solar system: could there once have been life on Mars, and might it still be there? What about biology in the oceans and lakes of the various moons of Jupiter and Saturn? There are more than a half-dozen nearby locales that seem to have the requirements for life. The Institute’s purview also extends beyond the solar system. These include efforts to find planets around other stars using both the Kepler spacecraft and the groundbased Gemini Planet Imager. The Institute also uses the Allen Telescope Array to search for signals coming from other parts of the galaxy that would betray the presence of intelligence. In addition, the Institute investigates such fundamental subject areas as the nature of asteroids and meteors, which could be important delivery systems for the ingredients necessary for biology, as well as interspecies communication and the chemical signatures of life that might be found in the atmospheres of exoplanets. It is often opined that the next two decades will witness the first discovery of extraterrestrial life, either microbial biology or signals from intelligence. The SETI Institute is uniquely positioned to be the first to make this discovery.

Image of the surface of Mars
Mineral Link Identified Near Mars 2020 Landing Site
A new study, led by Adrian Brown of Plancius Research (and also a member of the SETI Institute’s NASA Astrobiology Institute team), has identified a region on Mars where large grained outcrops of t
the surface of mars showing evidence of lakes or seas
Evidence of Lakes or Seas on Early Mars
A new paper in GSA Bulletin (Geological Society of America) describes evidence of liquid water at or near the surface of early Mars, suggesting the presence of lakes or seas.
Galileo and Earth.
100 YEARS OF THE IAU: Beyond the Galileo Experiment
Galileo’s closest approach to our planet in December 1990 allowed scientists to perform the first controlled experiment for the search for life on Earth from space.
CMU’s Zoë Rover Shows Robots Can Find Subterranean Organisms
The Zöe rover in the Atacama desert. The 1-m autonomous drill is visible on her deck.
Dale Andersen and team with SETI Institute expedition flag
Updates from Dale Andersen in Antarctica
... and he will be locating, characterizing, and understanding environments where physical and chemical conditions approach or exceed the tolerances for life.
SETI Institute Flag at the Summit of Simba
Nathalie Cabrol and NAI Team Return from Field Expedition to Chile
Nathalie Cabrol, Director of the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe, has just returned from a nearly month-long field expedition w