The Carl Sagan Center

For the Study of Life in the Universe


The Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe (CSC), dedicated October 17, 2006, is committed to a longterm, broad, multi-disciplinary approach to humankind’s most profound questions:

How does life begin and evolve?

Does life exist elsewhere in the universe?

What is life’s future on Earth and beyond?

The CSC comprises nearly 50 principal investigators (PI’s), virtually all with PhD’s from some of the country’s most prestigious universities. Investigations range from theories of how galaxies, solar systems and planets form, to laboratory efforts in biology, micro-biology, genetics and more, and involve extensive field work in extreme environments to explore and understand the limits of life. The CSC provides a rich intellectual atmosphere

that enables and enhances pursuit of the study of life in the universe, often referred to as astrobiology, from all these vantage points. Partners include NASA, the National Science Foundation, national laboratories, major universities, and private benefactors.

CSC astrobiologists conduct basic research into many of the astronomical, geological, chemical, physical and biological factors that could affect the presence and distribution of life in the universe. The Institute is one of 12 lead members in NASA’s Astrobiology Institute (NAI). Active research projects include theory, laboratory work, field studies on the Earth, and the conduct of science experiments on spacecraft. Some CSC PI’s are co-investigators on NASA space flight missions, including the Mars Exploration Rovers currently studying the

surface of Mars. Others run long-term field expeditions such as the Haughton Mars Project on Devon Island above the arctic circle, an environment considered an earth analogue to Mars. Still others study the structure of the solar system and objects within it such as planetary rings and comets, asteroids and other small bodies. Each investigation is a small piece of the immense puzzle of the study of life. 


Benthic Microbial Mats in Lake Hoare, McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica