How many planets exist that might support life? Indeed, what is required for life to exist? How does life start? How does it evolve, and what fabulous creatures can evolution produce? How often do intelligent creatures appear in the giant tapestry of life? It is exactly these questions that are being addressed by the scientists of the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe.
The center brings together leading researchers in astrobiology, the study of life in the universe. Astrobiology uses modern science to seek answers to the age-old questions: Where did we come from? Are We Alone?
Our team focuses on a wide set of disciplines ranging from observing and modeling the precursors of life in the depths of outer space to studies of Earth and its rich biological history. We seek to understand the concept of habitability, on our planet and elsewhere in the solar system. Many of our scientists participate as investigators in NASA space flight missions, as observers on some of the world’s finest telescopes, and as explorers probing life in inhospitable environments, including the Arctic, Antarctic, high mountains and the depths of the sea. Appropriate to the sweeping scope of this research, we have many partners including NASA, the National Science Foundation, and major universities.
Carl Sagan Center Projects and the Drake Equation
Each Carl Sagan Center research project is related in some way to understanding the origins of life or the extent to which life may be present beyond Earth. The study of astrobiology is a way to understand the various factors in the Drake equation, and thus to help guide the search for extraterrestrial life.
Carl Sagan Center Funding
Sagan Center scientists generate much their own funding through outside grants, usually from NASA or the National Science Foundation. The SETI Institute's excellent management enhances the impact of this funding, and we provide a supportive and stimulating environment for scientists undertaking basic research in astrobiology.
Carl Sagan (1934 – 1996) was an American astronomer, biologist, author, science popularizer, and science communicator in the space and natural sciences. During his lifetime, he published more than 600 scientific papers and popular articles, and was author, co-author, or editor of more than 20 books. In his works, he advocated skeptical inquiry and the scientific method. He pioneered astrobiology and promoted the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI). Sagan became world-famous for his popular science books and for the award-winning 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which he narrated and co-wrote. He was a trustee of the SETI Institute and his memory remains an inspiration for everyone at the Carl Sagan Center.