National Ocean Month: Astrobiology and Earth's Oceans
Happy National Ocean Month! During the month of June, researchers at the the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA, and around the world are celebrating the Earth’s ocean. Many of us have learned names and boundaries for multiple ‘oceans’ on Earth, but according to NOAA there is truly only one, and it is the defining feature of our planet. In 2008, the United Nations designated June 8 as World Ocean Day to celebrate the essential role that the Earth’s ocean plays in our planet’s biosphere. This year, the Biden-Harris Administration issued a proclamation of June to be National Ocean Month in the United States of America.
Approximately 70 percent of Earth’s surface is ocean, which is connected to major lakes and waterways through a complex drainage system on land. Because of this, everyone is connected to the ocean. The ocean has been central to research at the NASA Earth Science Division, which studies the total Earth system and how natural and human-induced pressures can affect the global environment.
The ocean plays a crucial role in the habitability of Earth, and that is why ocean research is also of immense importance to NASA Astrobiology. In fact, one of NASA’s Research Coordination Networks (RCNs), which gathers researchers from across the NASA divisions, is specifically dedicated to studying oceans – on Earth and beyond.
The Network for Ocean Worlds (NOW) was formed to advance studies of ocean worlds, including planets like Earth and ancient Mars, and moons like Europa and Enceladus. NOW researchers are comparing aspects of these worlds to understand how ocean worlds could be habitable for life as we know it, and how we might search for biosignatures in such places. To learn more about NOW, visit: https://oceanworlds.space/
To celebrate National Ocean Month, check out some resources from members of the NOW network discussing the importance of oceans in understanding life’s potential in the Universe.
Life on an Ocean World: Are we alone in the Universe?
The ocean is essential to life on Earth and may have given rise to life on our planet billions of years ago. It has also given us a glimpse into the wide range of extreme conditions and settings that are capable of supporting life. Credit: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Ocean Worlds
Life on an Ocean World: Can we find life using chemistry?
Humans have not yet ventured to an ocean world. But that hasn’t stopped scientists from asking themselves what conditions might exist beneath the ice crusts of places like Europa or Enceladus, what might find a home there, and what Earth’s ocean can tell us about those far-away places before we even visit. Credit: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Ocean Worlds
Biden-Harris Administration Celebrates World Ocean Day (White House)
Hear ‘Sounds of the Sea’ in Ocean Scientists’ Music Project (NASA)
World Ocean Day (United Nations)
Network for Ocean Worlds (NOW)
World Ocean Month (NOAA)
NASA Earth Science Division (NASAESD)
Oceanography at the NASA Earth Science Division (NASAESD)