When Apollo 8 astronauts Bill Anders, Frank Borman, and Jim Lovell rounded the farside of the Moon, they became the first humans to witness an Earthrise above an alien surface. The iconic image was first published on 30 December 1968.
I knew when I realized the coincidence of the 50th anniversary of the Earthrise photo and the publication date of my second issue of The Planetary Report that I would have to put that photo on the cover. Its placement suggested this issue’s theme: “Where Life Began.” Earth is currently the only place in the universe that we know to have hosted life, past or present. The idea that life is common in the universe arises in part from the observation that life seems to have existed on Earth as far back as we can read its history. If life started so (apparently) easily here, shouldn’t it have started wherever conditions permitted? In this issue, Caltech’s Michael Wong summarizes the current state of science about how we think life started here, and what that means for our search for it elsewhere.