A total of five Astrobiology RCN will be formed initially. All will be responsive to future NASA mission goals of understanding the emergence and early evolution of life and searching for life in and beyond our solar system. These RCNs are inherently crosscutting and focus on interdisciplinary science questions. The initial group of Astrobiology RCNs is:

The Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NExSS)
The Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NExSS), which is focused on the study and characterization of planets with the greatest potential for signs of life, was established as an experimental Research Coordination Network (RCN) aimed at encouraging and sustaining interdisciplinary, cross-cutting research. NExSS coordinates the new, interdisciplinary field of exoplanet research that involves the expertise of all four of the Science Mission Directorate (SMD)’s Divisions (Astrophysics, Earth Science, Heliophysics, Planetary Science). Members of NExSS investigate the diversity of exoplanets and learn how their history, geology, and climate interact to create the conditions for life.

The Network for Life Detection (NfoLD)
Members of the Network for Life Detection (NfoLD)will investigate life detection research, including biosignature creation and preservation, as well as related technology development. This RCN will support the next step in PSD’s strategy for life detection in building and managing the Ladder of Life Detection and will be responsive to the Congressionally mandated 2018 NAS study on NASA’s strategy in the search for life. This network has the potential to expand to include research funded by the Science Mission Directorate (SMD)’s Earth Science as well as the NSF Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE).

Prebiotic Chemistry and the Early Earth
Members of this RCN will Investigate chemical processes under the conditions on the Early Earth and the formation of basic proto/biological molecules and pathways, leading to the emergence of systems harboring the potential for life. The Prebiotic Chemistry and the Early Earth RCN has the potential to expand to include research funded by the Science Mission Directorate (SMD)’s Astrophysics, and Earth Science. Additionally, this RCN will build on the NASA Astrobiology Program’s efforts with NSF that have led to the development of the Ideas Lab and the Center for Chemical Evolution (CCE).

Ocean Worlds (Habitable Worlds)
Members of this RCN will investigate the diversity of potentially habitable other worlds in our Solar System, with a focus on ocean worlds, and learn how their history, geology, and climate interact to create the conditions for life. This RCN will be responsive to the Congressional mandate to establish an Ocean Worlds program. The Ocean Worlds RCN has the potential to expand to include research funded by all four of Science Mission Directorate (SMD)’s Divisions (Astrophysics, Earth Science, Heliophysics, Planetary Science) and similar work at other agencies (NSF Office of Polar Programs (OPP) and Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE)).

From Early Cells to Multicellularity
Members of this RCN will investigate the earliest biological processes and the evolution of life on Earth into more complex organisms up to the advent of multicellularity. The From Early Cells to Multicellularity RCN has the potential to expand to include research funded across governmental agencies, including NIH and DOE. Additionally, this RCN will build on the NASA Astrobiology Program’s efforts with NSF that have led to the development of the Ideas Lab.

Astrobiology FAQ