Recent scientific results show that in our galaxy alone there are billions of planets orbiting other Suns. After billions of years of evolution on our own Pale Blue Dot and thousands of years of questioning, we finally have the technology in hand to explore other worlds inside and outside of our Solar System. The search is looking for signs of life on other bodies but at the same time uses the information generated to understand and safeguard our own planet, our Pale Blue Dot, better.
How many habitable worlds exist inside and outside our own Solar System? What can we learn of their evolutionary state from dozens or hundreds of light years distance? How does a young and an old Earth look like and what can we look for to identify them? How many other planets and moons can and how many do host life? What are the conditions that can lead to life? Did life begin a second time in our own solar system, or are we alone in our cosmic backyard? Are we one of many inhabited worlds in the Galaxy? And what do these other worlds tell us about what the future holds for our Pale Blue Dot?
The Carl Sagan Institute (CSI) explores these and related questions by bringing together experts from a wide range of scientific disciplines, who work together with some of the planet’s most talented students at the undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral level. CSI researchers use the latest data from space telescopes, probes to the solar system’s diverse worlds, field and satellite data on our home planet, laboratory studies of terrestrial organisms, and modeling of complex processes from the astronomical to the biological to explore these profound questions. CSI researchers participate in the development of the next generation of space- and Earth-based facilities to probe ever deeper and farther.
CSI also interprets these results for the widest possible audience, sharing the fascination of science with everyone who is interested where humankind stands in the quest to understand our place in the cosmos.