What criteria do you think are important for assessing the habitability of a planetary body? Illustrate with reference to current or past missions in our solar system.


What is meant by the concept of Galactic Habitable Zone. Illustrate with reference to a current mission that looks outside our solar system.


  1. Read the paper Phylogenetic Structure of the Prokaryotic Domain: The Primary Kingdoms and answer the following questions.
    1. Why do chloroplasts have 16S rRNA and what is the sequence of this RNA similar to?
    2. What metabolic class of Archaea was used to determine the similarity of Archaea to Bacteria? How do these organisms match/represent the evolutionary diversity of Archaea known today? (you should look at a much more recent phylogenetic tree)
    3. How evolutionarily similar are Archaea to Bacteria or Eukarya?
    4. Why was this surprising to learn?
    5. What does the paper suggest about the universal ancestor?
    6. What can we learn from anaerobic, unicellular eukaryotes?

Problem Sets

Problem Set 1 (PDF) Solution 1 (PDF) (Courtesy of Katherine French. Used with permission.)
Problem Set 2 (PDF) Solution 2 (PDF) (Courtesy of Katherine French. Used with permission.)