The goal of the Habitable Worlds program is to use knowledge of the history of the Earth and the life upon it as a guide for determining the processes and conditions that create and maintain habitable environments. It is also to search for ancient and contemporary habitable environments and explore the possibility of extant life beyond the Earth.
NASA’s Habitable Worlds Program includes elements of the Astrobiology Program, the Mars Exploration Program, and the Outer Planets Program. A common goal of these programs is to identify the characteristics and the distribution of potentially habitable environments in the Solar System and beyond. This research is conducted in the context of NASA’s ongoing exploration of our stellar neighborhood and the identification of biosignatures for in situ and remote sensing applications.
The target bodies for this program element include, but are not limited to:
- Mars – the astrobiological potential of past or present environments on or in the Martian surface or subsurface.
- Icy Worlds – the astrobiological potential of icy worlds in the outer solar system, including Europa, Ganymede, Enceladus, and Titan.
- Habitable Exoplanets and/or their moons – A potentially habitable exoplanet implies a planet with conditions roughly comparable to those of Earth (i.e., an Earth analog) and thus potentially favorable to the presence of life.