Astrobiology (other terms have been exobiology, exopaleontology, bioastronomy and xenobiology) is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. This interdisciplinary field encompasses the search for habitable environments in our Solar System and habitable planets outside our Solar System, the search for evidence of prebiotic chemistry, life on Mars and other bodies in our Solar System, laboratory and field research into the origins and early evolution of life on Earth, and studies of the potential for life to adapt to challenges on Earth and in outer space.
Astrobiology makes use of physics, chemistry, astronomy, biology, molecular biology, ecology, planetary science, geography and geology to investigate the possibility of life on other worlds and help recognize biospheres that might be quite different from the Earth's. However, astrobiology concerns itself with an interpretation of existing scientific data; given more detailed and reliable data from other parts of the Universe, the roots of astrobiology itself —biology, physics, chemistry— may have their theoretical bases challenged. Much speculation is entertained in the field to give context, and astrobiology concerns itself primarily with hypotheses that fit firmly into existing scientific theories.