Lucknow, May 10 (IANS) The Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences (Lucknow), Indian Institute of Science Education Research (Pune), National Centre for Cell Sciences and Amity University (Mumbai) have launched an initiative to discuss astrobiology studies in India for research to explore life on other planets.
The questions that will be addressed include – are we alone in this universe and whether there is life on other planets too.
The four institutes recently held a video conferencing session with the Indian Space Research Organization on the subject.
Astrobiology explores whether extraterrestrial life exists and if it does, how can humans detect it.
The study requires an understanding of the nature of environments that support life as well as planetary systems and stellar interactions.
The four institutes will be working on different aspects of astrobiology and will set up laboratories or conduct research in the chosen area.
BSIP will research ‘Evolution of Life’ and has the required manpower and equipment to set up a laboratory.
BSIP scientist Mukund Sharma said that humans believe that there is life on other planets with rocks and water.
“Life on Earth is based on carbon. Similarly, life on another planet may be possible because of carbon or a similar element. The laboratory will find answers,” he said.
Explaining further, he said, “For instance, we know that Mars has a rocky surface. BSIP will study if those rocks can harbour life.”
In 2016, four BSIP scientists were among the first Indians to be a part of the Spaceward Bound Program sponsored by National Aeronautics and Space Administration, US, to study similarities in regional topography and microbial life between Ladakh and Mars.
Ladakh was selected for the expedition owing to geographical features like cold deserts, permafrost, glaciers and saline lakes, presumed to be similar to what is on Mars.
The Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany in Lucknow is an autonomous institute constituted under the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India. The Institute is located at Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, and is a seat of higher learning in the field of plant fossil research.
It was established in the year 1946, under the name, Institute of Palaeobotany, a progression of the Palaeobotanical society formed by a group of botanists led by the renowned Indian botanist, Professor Birbal Sahni.
Sahni, known as the father of Dendrology, was its first Director.