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Journey to alien worlds here on Earth
Discover the fascinating life that thrives in places humans can’t survive, from the Atacama desert in Chile to Lake Vostok under the ice of Antarctica.
On this three-week course, Dr Louisa Preston will guide you through what these environments have in common with other planets, how life can survive various harsh conditions, and whether that means we could see life on other planets too.
If Earth can sustain life, then why can’t other planets? Or can they?
Habitability all depends on who or what needs to inhabit, and just one small change to an environment can remove any prospect of maintaining life.
You’ll start here on Earth by examining how our planet has managed to maintain its habitability while other planets have not.
Then you’ll take a trip into outer space to classify different galaxies in the Universe and discuss the circumstellar habitable zone (CHZ), the zone around a star where liquid water can be stable on the surface, and thus maintain life.
Explore the wonders of life on Earth
The Earth is made up of a myriad of systems, all perfectly balanced to support life. From its atmosphere to its plate tectonics and even the moon being just the right size and distance, each of Earth’s systems works together to help life thrive.
This course will guide you through these systems, how they work together, and their roles in sustaining life on Earth.
Goldilocks and the water bears
The Earth can be a strange place, with even stranger creatures. They may not be extraterrestrial, but some organisms can appear extremely alien.
You’ll finish this course by meeting the extremophiles: organisms that live in seemingly inhospitable environments. You’ll even focus on the famous tardigrade (aka the water bear) which can survive multiple extremes and are all-but-indestructible.
Highlight the new, job-relevant skills you’ve gained and supplement existing qualifications with a hard-earned, industry-specific digital certificate – plus one for every course within your ExpertTrack.
- Learn the latest in your chosen industry or subject.
- Complete each course and pass assessments.
- Receive certificates validated by the educating organisation.
- Impress employers with learning outcomes you can add to your CV.
- Make your career dreams a reality.
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Learning on this course
You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.
What will you achieve?
By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...
- Explain how 'habitability' is not a fixed concept
- Recognise and classify different galaxies in the Universe
- Describe how the Earth has managed to maintain its habitability whilst other planets have not
- Summarise how the Earth maintains its temperature
- Describe the link between plate tectonics and life
- Explain the impact of having a moon on life on Earth
- Recognise that places capable of supporting life do not always have life
- Investigate extremophiles and their life on earth
- Explain the importance of planetary analogues in astrobiology
Who is the course for?
This course is designed for anyone interested in the fundamentals of astrobiology, particularly habitats and habitability on Earth and on other planets.
It will be especially useful to university applicants looking to identify areas that they’d like to specialise in and STEM teachers looking to bring science to life for their students.
- Pay $39 per month to keep learning online
- Have complete control over your subscription; you can cancel any time
- Work at your own pace and set your own deadlines at every stage
- Only pay while you’re learning; the subscription will cancel automatically when you finish
- Complete online assessments to test your knowledge and prove your skills
- Earn digital course certificates and a final award that you can share online, with potential employers, and your professional network
- Keep access to the content of courses you complete even after your subscription ends