The Astrobiology program of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has reportedly unveiled its new RCN (Research Coordination Network) LIFE: Early Cells to Multicellularity.
This initiative aims to start a global effort from researchers who will spend the next five years studying the evolution of life into complex organisms and the earliest biological processes.
RCNs are virtual collaboration models developed to support researchers in coordinating and communicating their research across organizational, divisional, disciplinary, and geographic boundaries.
The new LIFE RCN was officially unveiled at the 2022 AbSciCon (Astrobiology Science Conference) hosted by the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta.
The LIFE RCN is co-helmed by Betül Kaçar of the University of Wisconsin–Madison alongside Frank Rosenzweig of the Georgia Institute of Technology, Mary Droser of the University of California Riverside, and Ariel Anbar of the Arizona State University.
Kaçar cited that the LIFE RCN will discover rules of evolution between organisms and their environment. This will allow researchers to explore the evolution of life in other worlds and ways to search for them.
RCNs, one of the five cross-divisional networks, are fundamentally crosscutting and emphasize interdisciplinary scientific queries. LIFE joins:
• NExSS (Nexus for Exoplanet System Science): It focuses on studying and characterizing planets with the greatest possibility of having life signs
• NfoLD (Network for Life Detection): It researches life detection which includes the creation and preservation of biosignatures along with associated technological development
• PCE3 (Prebiotic Chemistry and Early Earth Environments): The consortium works to transform the community of life origin by overcoming ideological and linguistic barriers and improving interdisciplinary communication between prebiotic chemists and early earth geoscientists
• Network for Ocean Worlds upgrades comparatives studies to distinguish Earth and other oceanic worlds across their oceans, cryospheres, and interiors to study their habitability, discover biosignatures, and understand life
For the unversed, astrobiology is a field that strives to comprehend the evolution on Earth and the origin of life which will help to explore life forms elsewhere in the universe.