Astrobiology and Extraterrestrial Biosignatures

The Astrobiology and Extraterrestrial Biosignatures group focuses on examining microbial biodiversity and ecology in the Canadian High Arctic and the Antarctic dry valleys where very unique habitats exist, using both classical microbiology and novel genomics-based molecular techniques for studying microbial communities. Understanding what types of microorganisms could survive in these types of soils, as well as detecting biosignatures is important to understanding what future missions could look for in near surface water ice on Mars in the north polar regions or other cold, rocky places in the solar system. In parallel with the search for life in habitable extraterrestrial environments within the Solar System, members of the group use cutting edge telescopes on the ground and in space to establish the habitability of nearby temperate terrestrial exoplanets and to search their atmospheres for signs of life.


Faculty Members

Cowan, Nicolas

Associate Professor of Physics / Earth and Planetary Sciences
Office: MSI 202
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Mahmoudi, Nagissa

Assistant Professor of Earth & Planetary Sciences
Office: FDA


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Whyte, Lyle

Professor of Natural Resource Sciences
Office: Macdonald-Stewart
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