Astrobiology is the name given to a bright new field of science that is engaged in the search for life beyond the Earth. Now this isn't meant in the sense of ‘aliens’ you may be familiar with from sci-fi films – green bug-eyed monsters – but in hardy single-celled microbes surviving, perhaps, beneath the freeze-dried surface of Mars. By its very nature, this search is deeply interdisciplinary, and sits right in the centre of the Venn diagram overlap between biochemistry, microbiology, geology, planetary science and astronomy.

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