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2002 Annual Science Report

University of Washington Reporting  |  JUL 2001 – JUN 2002

Executive Summary

Habitable Planets and Evolution of Biological Complexity

Earth is the prototype by which the feasibility of life on other planets in the Solar System or on planets in other star systems is measured. It is reasonable to assume that if life exists in other planetary systems, it will exist in conditions that will, to a great extent, mimic those that created and sustained life on Earth. By understanding the early-Earth environment and the evolutionary processes that allowed life to appear in the form of simple and then more complex organisms, scientists can better establish the criteria by which the search for other habitable planets can be guided.

Our research at the University of Washington has centered on three important astrobiological questions: What are the characteristics of planets that can evolve complex organisms? Where might such planets occur? How does biological complexity evolve on a planet ... Continue reading.

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