Exobiologists, Rocketeers, and Engineers: Inside NASA’s Quest for Life in Space

By Rick Eyerdam


True stories about real people: Nobel Prize laureate Dr. Joshua Lederberg said that once he decided exobiology was the way to save the solar system from earthly biological contamination he sought expert help first at the University of Wisconsin, where he was professor of genetics. There he discovered a brilliant biology student, nineteen-year-old Lynn Alexander.

“I was looking for a biologist with an interest in astronomy. Then Lynn mentioned that she was dating a bright astronomy student who was researching the atmosphere of Jupiter,” Ledeberg told me. “Lynn introduced Carl Sagan to me, and I introduced him to NASA. It was one of my major contributions to NASA.”

Exobiologists, Rocketeers, and Engineers: Inside NASA’s Quest for Life in Space details the challenges faced by the NASA engineers with the rise of the exobiologists who had no laboratory and no way to conduct scientific research unless they could get a ride on a spaceship. Just what NASA need since its legacy institutions-Langley, Ames, JPL, Goddard-were designed to devise new aeronautic feats. After the moon missions, rockets into space with life-search equipment on board raised the horizon to infinity. This is their amazing historic story.


About the author:

Rick Eyerdam is a national award-winning reporter who was a finalist in the NASA Journalist in Space competition and who covered the NASA Viking Mars missions and subsequent launches. He is editor of Marsnow, info, an acclaimed Web site covering the search for life on Mars and in space.

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