The UK Centre for Astrobiology : a virtual astrobiology centre. Accomplishments and lessons learned, 2011-2016
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The UK Centre for Astrobiology (UKCA) was set up in 2011 as a virtual center to contribute to astrobiology research, education, and outreach. After 5 years, we describe this center and its work in each of these areas. Its research has focused on studying life in extreme environments, the limits of life on Earth, and implications for habitability elsewhere. Among its research infrastructure projects, UKCA has assembled an underground astrobiology laboratory that has hosted a deep subsurface planetary analog program, and it has developed new flow-through systems to study extraterrestrial aqueous environments. UKCA has used this research backdrop to develop education programs in astrobiology, including a massive open online course in astrobiology that has attracted over 120,000 students, a teacher training program, and an initiative to take astrobiology into prisons. In this paper, we review these activities and others with a particular focus on providing lessons to others who may consider setting up an astrobiology center, institute, or science facility. We discuss experience in integrating astrobiology research into teaching and education activities.
Cockell , C S , Biller , B , Bryce , C , Cousins , C , Direito , S , Forgan , D , Fox-Powell , M , Harrison , J , Landenmark , H , Nixon , S , Payler , S J , Rice , K , Samuels , T , Schwendner , P , Stevens , A , Nicholson , N & Wadsworth , J 2018 , ' The UK Centre for Astrobiology : a virtual astrobiology centre. Accomplishments and lessons learned, 2011-2016 ' Astrobiology , vol 18 , no. 2 . DOI: 10.1089/ast.2017.1713
© Charles S. Cockell et al., 2018; Published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. This Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited.
Authors thank all those individuals, UK research councils, funding agencies, nonprofit organisations, companies and corporations and UK and non-UK government agencies, who have so generously supported our aspirations and hopes over the last 5 years and supported UKCA projects. They include the STFC, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC), the EU, the UK Space Agency, NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), The Crown Estate, Cleveland Potash and others. The Astrobiology Academy has been supported by the UK Space Agency (UKSA), National Space Centre, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), Dynamic Earth, The Royal Astronomical Society, The Rotary Club (Shetlands) and the NASA Astrobiology Institute.
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