Astrobiologists In Black

28 July 2015

Astrobiologist Aditya Chopra is on a quest to find out where we come from and if we are alone.

To support his research he has entered the Australian Academy of Science's Inspire Australia video competition, with a video themed around the Men in Black movies.

"We are rapidly making new and profound discoveries about our own origins and our place in the universe," said Mr Chopra, from the ANU Research School of Earth Sciences.

"In recent years a wealth of scientific knowledge has come together to tell us a story about how life might have started on Earth."

The competition is funded by the Australian Academy of Science's Early-and Mid-career Researcher Forum, which champions improvements in the national research environment. It focusses on sustainable and transparent career structures, gender equity, stable funding policies and career development opportunities.

The Forum put up an initial $1,000 prize, which has grown to $14,500 with community support. The top 10 videos win funding, divided proportionally based on the number of votes they receive.

"Funding from this competition will help us identify the elemental composition of the earliest life forms on Earth. We will be analysing microbes that live in places such as hydrothermal vents using some of the most precise analytical instruments for chemical analysis," Mr Chopra said.

"Understanding the composition of life on Earth and how that relates to the environmental abundances of elements will inform what types of life forms we should expect in other habitable environments in the universe."