Whilst this list provides a source of information and ideas for experimental work, it is important to note that recommendations can date very quickly. Do NOT follow suggestions which conflict with current advice from CLEAPSS, SSERC or recent safety guides. eLibrary users are responsible for ensuring that any activity, including practical work, which they carry out is consistent with current regulations related to Health and Safety and that they carry an appropriate risk assessment. Further information is provided in our Health and Safety guidance.
Links and Resources
This resource describes how astrobiology brings together many different branches of science, and gives some useful examples of the types of research being conducted in this field.
Astrobiologist, Dr. Lewis Dartnell, explains how we can understand more about possible life on other planets by looking at life on the Earth. He talks about his hopes that we find evidence of life on Mars, and other bodies within our solar system. Lewis explains how analysing the light from exoplanets could help us to detect life outside our solar system.
This video features interviews with three space scientists: Becca Wilson – a planetary scientist at the University of Leicester; Euan Monaghan – a PhD student in planetary science and astrobiology at the Open University; and Louisa Preston – a post doctoral research fellow in planetary geology and astrobiology at the Open University.
The space scientists talk about what inspired them to become scientists. They talk about their day-to-day work, and the advice they would give to budding scientists.
This Catalyst article looks at life in extreme environments on Earth which can suggest how life might exist on Mars. One of the developments in recent years that really opened up scientists’ eyes to the possibility of life on Mars has been the realization of just how adaptable and versatile life on Earth is.
All life forms on Earth are based on organic biochemistry. This activity requires students to analyse an unknown soil sample (just recovered from a space mission to another planet!) and look for signs of possible indicators for life.
Curriculum areas covered:
• Cell biology
• Food tests, including starch, sugar, protein and fat
The video shows Chris Carr performing tests on three soil samples. He also explains how the activity can be applied to different areas of the curriculum. He links the tests to those done by the Viking lander missions to Mars
From Teachers TV, this Inside Science video describes an investigation into MELISSA, an artificial eco-system intended for long-duration space missions. This includes discussions with astronauts about the role of micro-organisms in space travel, such as a two year mission to Mars.
MELISSA, or Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative, has been developed as an artificial closed loop eco-system in which micro-organisms are used to break down human waste, produce nutrients for plants, absorb carbon dioxide, produce oxygen, and grow edible algae.
At labs in Belgium and Barcelona, scientists give updates on the MELISSA project experiments, and explain the types and functions of various micro-organisms involved. They also talk about the unknowns of microbial evolution, the risks of mutation, and the need to do further space-based testing
ET Phone Earth guides students in writing an article for a journal about the possibility of life existing in other parts of the Universe. A range of articles and papers on this topic are provided as useful background material for planning and writing the article.
There are four films here which look at different asects of astrobiology:
Life in the extremes
Microbes can survive in the most hostile and inhospitable environments. Might similar places in our solar system be able to support them too?
Why are scientists interested in Mars?
Why are scientists interested in Mars? Four scientists talk about why they are interested in the red planet, and how they plan to get there.
Rover missions to Mars send back tantalising glimpses about the planet, and search for clues as to whether it was ever capable of supporting life.
What lies under the ice of Europa?
Could Jupiter’s icy moon Europa support life in its vast ocean
This resource provides a further three short films:
Exoplanets are planets outside our own solar system. Find out how scientists use ingenious methods to spot them.
Finding the right conditions to support life is a delicate balance, and scientists are on the look out for exoplanets in the ‘Goldilocks zone’ – Not too hot, and not too cold!
How can we know if there is life on planets too far away for us to ever travel to? Find out how analysing the light from a distant planets gives us clues about its atmosphere