Dr. Carl Sagan

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Carl Sagan Isn't that amazing?

Dr. Carl Sagan helped design the plaques carried by both Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11. These plaques, bearing the images of a man and a woman as well as a diagram showing Earth's location in the Galaxy, may one day be found by an extraterrestrial civilization.

Carl Sagan was an astronomer and a Pulitzer Prize winning author who was often described as "the scientist who made the universe clearer to the ordinary person". Dr. Sagan helped to popularize science through the writing of hundreds of articles and over two dozen books. His television series "Cosmos" became the most watched show in public television history. It was seen by more than 500 million people in 60 different countries. Dr. Sagan was born in New York City on November 9, 1934. He described himself as a childhood science fiction addict who became fascinated by astronomy when he learned that every star in the night sky was a distant Sun. He was always encouraged by his parents to research answers to his innumerable questions about science. His scientific curiosity led him to earn four degrees in physics, astronomy and astrophysics from the University of Chicago. Carl Sagan taught and conducted research at Harvard University. He was among the first to determine that life could have existed on Mars. In 1968, Dr. Sagan became a professor at Cornell University where he was also director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies. He was well-known as a pioneer in the field of exobiology, the study of the possibility of extraterrestrial life. He constantly appealed to NASA to extend its exploration of the universe. In his role as a visiting scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Carl Sagan helped design and manage the Mariner 2 mission to Venus, the Mariner 9 and Viking trips to Mars, the Voyager mission to the outer solar system and the Galileo mission to Jupiter. Dr. Sagan suffered from a rare bone marrow disease called myelodysplasia. Complications from the disease caused the pneumonia which ended his life on December 20,1996.

A Question

What is the name of the field of study that investigates the possibility of extraterrestrial life?

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