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Extraterrestrial Life


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Astronomy Research and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life The objective of this paper is to discuss life here on Earth and the possibilities of extraterrestrial life in one’s solar system. The team will describe the properties of life on Earth and explain the theories for the genesis of life, including the theory of natural selection. Members will provide a brief description of the evolution of life and include a geological timescale that describes specific eras throughout the previous three billion plus years. The team will assess the possibilities of extraterrestrial life, and results will be presented.
Describe the properties of life on Earth Properties of life on Earth are what define the word life. The properties of life consist of cells and reproduction, responses to the environment, growth and development, and evolution. Every living thing is collected through cells which make tissues and organs that make a living organism. All living organisms can produce such as humans, animals, bacteria, and plants called asexual reproduction. The responses of the living in the environment are through any changes occurring in “light, sound, heat, and chemical contact” through “eyes, ears, and taste buds” (Cliff’s notes, 2011, para. 3). Behavior is one way that all living organisms changes through the environment such as the food chain for one’s survival. Growth and development of an organism takes in all substantial amount of information through energy of building growth structures for survival. An example of this would be a living organism taking in the environment and making sure that all physical needs are taken care of such as eating. Passing down inherited traits change over time with Evolution are organisms that are in a population that is constantly changing over time. Inherited traits are passed through genetics and genes through living organisms throughout the world, and this is what makes all organisms different from others.
Explain the theories for the genesis of life The theory of evolution has clearly started with the traces of fossils of time and change. This theory of evolution was achieved and considered by Charles Darwin, a profound scientist. Many scientists before Darwin had made the discovery of fossils with time changes and strong evidence, and Darwin’s theory was how the species went through the change (Bennett, Donahue, Schneider, and Voit, 2009). Darwin’s theory consisted of two facts for his conclusion and they are “overproduction and struggle for survival” and “individual variation” (Bennett, Donahue, Schneider, and Voit, 2009, pg. 736). The first fact is to pass traits on to other offspring and the second fact is that the specie will start to look and act likes the specie. The first known species of looks and age were determined through DNA and domains of bacteria, archaic, and eukaryote. The older species that live near hot water and near volcanic vents are called black smokers (Bennett, Donahue, Schneider, and Voit, 2009, pg. 737).
Theory of Natural Selection The Theory of Natural Selection basically states that only the better suited species will thrive. Charles Darwin proposed this theory after observing population variations in birds. The main idea is that when any sort of change occurs in one’s environment, only the best suited of a species will be capable of thriving and adapting to those changes, and the species that are not capable of evolving or adapting will eventually die out (AllAboutScience, 2011). Darwin noted after his observations of the birds that birds that are within the same category of that species had slightly different traits, and those different traits made that new version of that species more suited for the current environment in which the birds resided (AllAboutScience, 2011). For instance, Darwin may have observed a slightly different beak on a select few of the birds which better enabled them to search for insects within trees or buried within the ground. Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection states that only the better suited of the species will thrive and the less suited will die off, eventually resulting in a new and improved species. Through time that species may actually evolve into a completely different creature. There was a group of moths that had resided in cities around the time of the industrial revolution, and the moths had to cope with pollution. The lighter-colored moths were easy prey to other animals because they stood out on dark surfaces. Darker moths were more camouflaged and were better suited to survive. Over time this resulted in the lighter-colored moth species to die off and the darker-colored moths to increase in population (AllAboutScience, 2011). When the environment balances out changes will eventually balance out, more of the evolved species will exist and fewer of the less suited species will be present. All species have proven to be genetically stable (AllAboutScience, 2011). Today humans use this type of genetic evolution in breeding only the best animals such as cattle, the most productive species of cattle are chosen to breed with one another. Another example would be horses; horse racing is a very popular sport. Horse breeders pay large amounts of money and look high and low for the best of the best of the breed of horse they which to produce. The Evolution of Life The team will briefly describe five eras responsible for producing life. One must research back in time roughly to three billion years to identify the first life form on the planet Earth. Charles Darwin estimated the first single cell organism was present during the Archean Era, or three to four billion years ago, and approximately 70 % of the Earth’s land masses formed during this time (ThinkQuest, 2000). The Archean Era produced bacteria and plant-like algae that fed off the sunlight’s pure energy, and is known for starting the building blocks of life (ThinkQuest, 2000). The Proterozoic Era occurred 2.5 billion to 544 million years ago and many bacterial and archean fossils have been found dating back to this period. The appearance of eukaryotic cells, which contain nuclei and genetic information, begin to appear and oxygen was beginning to form in the Earth’s atmosphere. The presence of oxygen eliminated bacteria and permitted new cells to grow. In fact, these cells are contained in many modern day plants, fungi, insects, and animals (ThinkQuest, 2000). Toward the end of this era, multi-cellular life forms begin to develop. The Paleozoic Era occurred approximately 544 million to 245 million years ago, and many life forms began to develop. One would not recognize many of these forms in the modern day. These life forms began to develop into amphibious forms in the oceans and eventually evolved into reptiles that ventured onto the land (ThinkQuest, 2000). The Mesozoic Era contained three periods including the Cretaceous, Jurassic, and Triassic and is most famous for the existence of dinosaurs. The introduction of coniferous plants began, but once again many of these plants became extinct (ThinkQuest, 2000). The Cenozoic Era started occurring 65 million years ago, and is the most present era that contains two periods. The Tertiary period began with the extinction of the dinosaurs and a production of mammals such as horses, elephants, and human-like characters are witnessed (ThinkQuest, 2000). The second period, or Quaternary, began with the Ice Age and produced the first appearance of modern humans (ThinkQuest, 2000).
Possibilities for life on Earth In order to discuss the possibility of finding life on other planets one first needs to define the term “life”. In order to qualify as life the object in question must contain certain qualities. The organism must have order in its makeup (Bennett, 2009). The organism must be able to reproduce (Bennett, 2009). The organism must go through growth and development (Bennett, 2009). The organism must consume energy in order to carry out activities of life (Bennett, 2009). The organism must respond to its environment (Bennett, 2009). Finally, the organism must evolve and adapt (Bennett, 2009). There are people who believe that it is impossible for life to exist beyond that of our own planet. There are scientists that think that we on earth are just “lucky” as far as the cosmic circumstances that led to life on our planet (Bennett, 2009). The idea is that there are very few planets with the life-bearing qualities that the Earth has resulting in what is known as the rare Earth hypothesis (Bennett, 2009). In order for a planet to harbor life it must include several things. The planet must provide a source of nutrients, energy to fuel the activities of life, and liquid water (Bennett, 2009). It seems that liquid water is the hardest portion of the three to find on other planets in the universe, but that does not mean that liquid water does not exist on another planet. It may be that the water on the surface of a planet is frozen, but deep down there may be liquid water that is being heated by volcanic activity (Bennett, 2009). It is assumed that in order for a planet to harbor life it must be roughly the size of our Earth, and it must be within the “habitable zone” near a star similar to our own Sun (Bennett, 2009). Working under that assumption limits the possibilities of finding life on another planet significantly, but still leaves many places in the universe to search due to the vastness of the universe (Bennett, 2009). The most widely known search for signs of extraterrestrial life is being done by the SETI institute. SETI stands for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI institute, 2011). The SETI institute develops technologies that they use to scan the skies and listen for any evidence of radio waves given off by possible intelligent beings from another planet (SETI institute, 2011).
In conclusion, the author has touched based on the research regarding extraterrestrial intelligence, and also discussed the possible of extraterrestrial life within our solar system. The author of this paper also explained the evolution of life over the last three billion years and explained the genesis of life, the theory of natural selection, as well as described the properties of life on Earth.

References (2011). Theory of Natural Selection. Science. Retrieved from:
Bennett, J., Donahue, M., Schneider, N., & Voit, M. (2009). The cosmic perspective (Media Update) (5th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pearson/Addison Wesley. Characteristics of Living Things. 18 Jul 2011,articleId-8578.htmlSETI Institute. (2011). The Center for SETI research. Retrieved from
ThinkQuest (2000). The evolution of life. Life on Earth. Retrieved from:

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