Welcome to the portfolio website of sociocultural anthropologist and space & society research specialist, Klara Anna Capova.

The Earth seen from orbit.

My work to date deals with only one, yet one quite a complex question: What does it mean to be human in the Space Age? Specialised in Space & Society studies with focus on human and robotic space exploration, astrobiology and SETI, I am interested in how societies relate to and interact with space sciences and technologies, and ultimately impact on people’s everyday lives.

research areas

Researcher specialised in Science and Technology Studies (STS), with primary interest in the societal context of space sciences and technologies and social impacts they have (Space & Society). This includes cultural, economic, geo-political, environmental and public dimensions of space exploration and in particular transformations of human relations to outer space; popular perceptions of science; science policy; and the practical, contemporary socio-economic impacts and benefits of space exploration and technologies namely their contributions to sustainable development and green future worldwide.

Astrobiology is a multidisciplinary and innovative science that studies origins and evolution of life. Astrobiology receives great attention from public and mass media alike because it tackles the fundamental questions of human existence: Where do we come from? How did life originate? The project explores public availability of science concepts as
a way of influencing, if not shifting, the contemporary European worldview. The concepts of science made ‘visible’ seem to be an increasingly important facilitators of science diffusion and dissemination as well as vehicles of societal change related to developments in science.

History, Development & Societal Aspects of Active of SETI. I am a member of the SETI UK Research Network. My research interest related to SETI can be divided into four themes: 1) interstellar message construction principles, 2) societal impact of extraterrestrial life detection, 3) imagined contact scenarios, 4) SETI in other parts of the world. Klara offers a sociocultural perspective on the scientific search for life beyond earth and addresses its impact and status in contemporary Western society and beyond. This includes investigation of how is the alien life imagined, theorised, and narrated in popular culture and mass media.

In the historical records of the maritime exploration, polar expeditions we find several accounts of human failures, equipment dysfunctions and other disasters. In learning from history, using the historical and cultural analogies there are at least two broad fields where the analysis of historical accounts combined with socio-cultural insights seem to be relevant also in the new era of exploration: Space Exploration vs. Commercial Exploitation and Space Travel & Settlements. The idea use to accounts of naval and polar exploration stems from Klara’s personal interest in polar and maritime exploration.

I am open to worldwide research opportunities and collaborations. If you have any questions or want to say hi, please get in touch.

→ Space for Society

Societal impacts of space exploration

→ Search for Life beyond Earth

Are we alone in the universe?

→ Space for Sustainability

Space for sustainable development

dr klara anna capova anthropologist of outer space

15 years
of experience

I am an advocate of a multi- and inter-disciplinary dialogue, cooperation between and across the disciplines and the open science.


Entries in History of sciences: Astrobiology and Society, Encyclopedia of Astrobiology (2022)

Section editor and author in the ‘History of sciences: Astrobiology and Society’ of the Encyclopedia of Astrobiology (2021), edited by Gargaud M., Amils R., and Cleaves H.J. et al.. The new entries include Discovery of Extraterrestrial Life (2022), Moon Treaty (2022), Social Studies of Science (forthcoming), Socioeconomic Benefits of Space (forthcoming), and Commercial Use of Space (forthcoming). About the book: the interdisciplinary field of Astrobiology constitutes a joint arena where provocative discoveries are coalescing concerning, e.g. the prevalence of exoplanets, the diversity and hardiness of life, and its increasingly likely chances for its emergence. Biologists, astrophysicists, biochemists, geoscientists and space scientists share this exciting mission of revealing the origin and commonality of life in the Universe. The members of the different disciplines are used to their own terminology and technical language. In the interdisciplinary environment many terms either have redundant meanings or are completely unfamiliar to members of other disciplines. The Encyclopedia serves as the key to a common understanding. Each new or experienced researcher and graduate student in adjacent fields of astrobiology will appreciate this reference work in the quest to understand the big picture. The carefully selected group of active researchers contributing to this work and the expert field editors intend for their contributions, from an internationally comprehensive perspective, to accelerate the interdisciplinary advance of astrobiology.

Mars: new insights and unresolved questions (2021)

Review article published in the International Journal of Astrobiology, Cambridge University Press by Changela H.G., Chatzitheodoridis E., Antunes A., Beaty D., Bouw K., Bridges J.C., Capova K.A., Cockell C.S., Conley C.A., Dadachova E., Dallas T.D., de Mey S., Dong C., Ellery A., Ferus M., Foing B., Fu X., Fujita K., Lin Y., Jheeta S., Hicks L.J., Sen Hu S., Kereszturi A., Krassakis A., Liu Y., Oberst J., Michalski J., Ranjith P.M., Rinaldi T., Rothery D., Stavrakakis H., Selbmann L., Sinha R.K., Wang A., Williford K., Vaci Z., Vago J. L., Waltemathe M., Hallsworth J.E.. Mars exploration motivates the search for extraterrestrial life, the development of space technologies, and the design of human missions and habitations. Here, we seek new insights and pose unresolved questions relating to the natural history of Mars, habitability, robotic and human exploration, planetary protection, and the impacts on human society. Studies of Mars’ evolution can shed light on the habitability of extrasolar planets. In addition, Mars exploration can drive future policy developments and confirm (or put into question) the feasibility and/or extent of human habitability of space.

Introducing Humans to the Extraterrestrials: the Pioneering Missions of the Pioneer and Voyager Probes (2021)

Original research article published by Frontiers in Human Dynamics. The article gives a brief overview of how human life is represented on the 1972 Pioneer 10 and 1973 Pioneer 11 plaques and on the 1977 Voyager 1 and 2 Golden Records, sent on their journeys to deep space by the U.S. National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA). Having left the boundaries of the Solar System and moving through interstellar space, the space probes still carry messages with information about their makers and their era. The overview includes the visual and audio part of the Voyager message and is focused around the questions for what types of information were included, what methods were used to communicate the information and how were humans introduced to the unknown receiver.

Visions of a Martian future (2020)

Essay published in Futures by Szocik, K., Abood, S., Impey, C., Shelhamer, M., Haqq-Misra, J., Persson, E., Oviedo, L., Capova, K.A., Braddock, M., Rappaport, M.B. and Corbally, C.. As we look beyond our terrestrial boundary to a multi-planetary future for humankind, it becomes paramount to anticipate the challenges of various human factors on the most likely scenario for this future: permanent human settlement of Mars. Even if technical hurdles are circumvented to provide adequate resources for basic physiological and psychological needs, Homo sapiens will not survive on an alien planet if a dysfunctional psyche prohibits the utilization of these resources. Once on Mars, human factors such as leadership structure, social organization and code of conduct, group size, gender balance, developmental cycle, mobility, length of stay and the ecological settings and type and manner of subsistence, will create a novel Martian culture. The degree that settlers are severed from the Earth will affect how radically foreign this culture will be when compared with cultures on Earth.

How will the emerging plurality of lives change how we conceive of and relate to life? (2019)

Project report by Persson, E.; Abbott, J.; Balkenius, C.; Cabak Redei, A.; Capova, K.A.; Dravins, D.; Dunér, D.; Gunneflo, M.; Hedlund, M.; Johansson, M.; Melin, A.; Persson, P. published in Challenges. The project “A Plurality of Lives” was funded and hosted by the Pufendorf Institute for Advanced Studies at Lund University, Sweden. The aim of the project was to better understand how a second origin of life, either in the form of a discovery of extraterrestrial life, life developed in a laboratory, or machines equipped with abilities previously only ascribed to living beings, will change how we understand and relate to life. Because of the inherently interdisciplinary nature of the project aim, the project took an interdisciplinary approach with a research group made up of 12 senior researchers representing 12 different disciplines. The project resulted in a joint volume, an international symposium, several new projects, and a network of researchers in the field, all continuing to communicate about and advance the aim of the project.

klara anna capova human mission to mars
Human Extremophiles: Mars as a Camera Obscura of the Extraterrestrial Scientific Culture (2019)

A book chapter published in The Human Factor in a Mission to Mars: An Interdisciplinary Approach, Springer Space and Society book series. Edited by Konrad Szocik. This book collects contributions from scholars in various fields and the discussion goes beyond medical and technological challenges of deep-space mission and focuses on human nature and biases.

The start of the century marked the beginning of a new era of scientific goals and technological achievements in space technologies, together with the new visions of space exploration ambitions. The enterprising plans of space travels and creation of first human settlement on Mars are frequently presented as the next proverbial giant leap for humankind. The chapter focuses on private space programmes and considers the motivations for future exploration of Mars from a sociocultural perspective. Further, it discusses why Mars is of such importance to public imagination today. In presenting a socio-science fiction, and regarding science as the primary mode of operating of such endeavour, the chapter argues that the Martian colonists will need to live in the extreme environments, survive unprecedented scenarios and in a way become organisms that thrive in extreme conditions, extremophiles, themselves.

Technoscientific Afterlives: Contemporary technoscientific practices and the changing cultural landscapes of postmodern spirituality (2018)

Book chapter in ‘Deathless Hopes. Reinventions of Afterlife and Eschatological Beliefs’ edited by Alexander Massmann, Christopher B. Hays, published by LIT Publishers. Questions of eternal life and a revolution of the human condition have been a continuing theme in many religions, notably in the Abrahamic faiths. In one way or another, “deathless hopes” continue to play a prominent role in today’s public discourses. To understand the current significance of the issue, a thorough grasp of historical dynamics is required. This volume gives a representative overview of prominent traditions in the Hebrew Bible, Jewish Studies, contemporary ethics, theology, and anthropology, but also evaluates common questions afresh, suggesting new perspectives. The chapter is dedicated to contemporary thought and practices dealing with the human body and its postmortem transformations in context with new technologies and commercial applications of science and space technologies. The chapter introduces three case studies: Celestis Memorial Spaceflights, the LifeGem Ashes to Diamond service, and Alcor Life Extension Foundation.

Astrobiology and Society in Europe Today (2018)

The White Paper published by Springer International Publishing in Spriger Briefs in Astronomy. Edited by Klara Anna Capova, Erik Persson, Tony Milligan, and David Dunér. This White Paper describes the state of astrobiology in Europe today and its relation to the European society at large. With contributions from authors in twenty countries and over thirty scientific institutions worldwide, the document illustrates the societal implications of astrobiology and the positive contribution that astrobiology can make to European society.

The White paper has two main objectives: 1. It recommends the establishment of a European Astrobiology Institute (EAI) as an answer to a series of challenges relating to astrobiology but also European research, education and the society at large. 2. It also acknowledges the societal implications of astrobiology, and thus the role of the social sciences and humanities in optimising the positive contribution that astrobiology can make to the lives of the people of Europe and the challenges they face. This book is recommended reading for science policy makers, the interested public, and the astrobiology community. It presents an overview of the status of astrobiology today, places astrobiology in a societal context; is written by the leading European scientists and scholars in the field and is strongly oriented towards policy formation.

Attitudes towards the scientific search for extraterrestrial life among Swedish high school and university students (2018)

Original research article published in the International Journal of Astrobiology by Erik Persson, Klara Anna Capova, and Yuan Li. The aim of the study is to increase our understanding of the attitudes towards the scientific search for extraterrestrial life among high school and university students in Sweden. The most important results of the analysis are: (a) the great majority of students believe that extraterrestrial life exists; (b) most students regard searching for extraterrestrial life to be quite important or very important; (c) very few students think that we should actively avoid searching for extraterrestrial life; (d) the most common motive for assigning a high priority to search for extraterrestrial life is that it is interesting, the most common motive for assigning a low priority is that such knowledge would not be practically useful, or that the money would be better spent elsewhere; (e) most students do not think they are very well informed regarding the search for extraterrestrial life. A higher percentage of the students who judge themselves to be well informed also believe that extraterrestrial life exists.

ka Capova being human space age second origin of life
Att presentera människan för utomjordingar (2017)

A book chapter published by the Pufendorf Institute for Advanced Study in Lund in the Multidisciplinary Writing Series, ‘Liv: Utomjordiskt, Syntetiskt, Artificiellt’ edited by Jessica Abbott and Erik Persson. From English original (Introducing humans to the extraterrestrials) translated to Swedish by Anna Cabak Redei.

Detta kapitel ger en kort översikt över hur mänskligt liv framställs i bild på Pioneer-plaketten 1972 och i ljud och bild på Voyagers guldskiva 1977, båda utsända av USA:s rymdfartstyrelse (NASA) och nu på väg ut i den interstellära rymden. Dessa rymdskepp bär med sig meddelanden som innehåller information om livet på jorden. Vilken information inkluderades? Hur presenterades människan? Vilka kommunikativa metoder användes i dessa meddelanden? Och, talar dessa meddelanden å människans vägnar, på denna planet? Efter översikten över NASA:s två interstellära meddelanden, undersöker jag meddelandenas design och analyserar ”berättelsen om mänskligt liv”. Genom en antropologisk ansats, visar jag på att den grundläggande idén bakom utformandet av meddelandena på både Pioneer och Voyager byggde på en naturvetenskaplig världssyn.

The New Space Age in the making: Emergence of exo-mining, exo-burials and exo-marketing (2016)

Original research article published n the International Journal of Astrobiology. At the beginning of the 21st century we witness considerable global developments in space exploration and a new era has begun: the New Space Age. The principal symbols of that age are firstly internationalisation of space activities, secondly commercial utilisation of space technologies, and lastly emergence of outer space economy. This paper presents selected signposts of the New Space Age.

Three cases of recent outer space enterprises: recovery of asteroid resources (exo-mining), post-cremation memorial spaceflight (exo-burials) and first extraterrestrial advert (exo-marketing), are introduced in order to emphasise the monetary and social dimension of commercial application of space technologies. To give an illustration of these trends, this paper provides a brief socioculturally minded account of three outer space undertakings that are interpreted as signposts of the new era.

Sociality and electricity in the United Kingdom: The influence of household dynamics on everyday consumption (2015)

Original Research Article published in Energy Research & Social Science in 2015. Authors: Sandra Bell, Ellis Judson, Harriet Bulkeley, Gareth Powells, Klara Anna Capova, and David Lynch. The paper investigates household practices that use electricity, their relation to systems of provision and the enactment of domestic sociality. The results of this research conducted in the UK shed light on puzzling variations in electricity consumption across households posed by previous research. We argue for the need to attend to how household socialites influence and are influenced by electrical services and trace the links between these dynamics and the effects of wider cultural and socio-economic forces. Continue reading …

Fostering Active Network Management Through SMEs’ Practises (2015)

Research Paper published in Energy Efficiency in 2015. Authors: Gareth Powells, Sandra Bell, Ellis P. Judson, Stephen M. Lyon, Robin Wardle, Klara Anna Capova, and Harriet Bulkeley. Managing the electricity network through ‘smart grid’ systems is a key strategy to address challenges of energy security, low carbon transitions and the replacement of ageing infrastructure networks in the UK. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have a significant role in shaping patterns of energy consumption. Understanding how their activities interrelate with changes in electricity systems is critical for active network management. Continue reading …

The Detection of Extraterrestrial Life: Are We Ready? (2013)

Chapter in edited volume ‘Astrobiology, History, and Society: Life Beyond Earth and the Impact of Discovery. Springer’s Series Advances in Astrobiology and Biogeophysics, edited by Douglas A. Vakoch.

This book addresses important current and historical topics in astrobiology and the search for life beyond Earth, including the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). The first section covers the plurality of worlds debate from antiquity through the nineteenth century, while section two covers the extraterrestrial life debate from the twentieth century to the present. The final section examines the societal impact of discovering life beyond Earth, including both cultural and religious dimensions. Throughout the book, authors draw links between their own chapters and those of other contributors, emphasizing the interconnections between the various strands of the history and societal impact of the search for extraterrestrial life. The chapters are all written by internationally recognised experts and are carefully edited by Douglas Vakoch, professor of clinical psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies and Director of Interstellar Message Composition at the SETI Institute.

Albina Dratvova: Scientific Diary 1921-1961 (2008)

Co-editor and Introduction in Albina Dratvova, Denik 1921-1961. Scientific Diary. Edited by Klara Anna Capova, Heczkova, L. & Lestinova, Z., Published in Prague in Czech by Academia in 2008.

Edice PAMĚŤ svazek 14. Komentovaný „vědecký“ deník filozofky a matematičky Albíny Dratvové, která byla jednou z prvních habilitovaných žen na pražské přírodovědecké fakultě, dochovaný v archivu Akademie věd České republiky přináší nezvyklý pohled na osud vědy v minulém století. Akademický život Doc. Dratvové je prostoupen zásadními historickými a vědeckými událostmi 20. století (změny akademického prostředí první republiky, zavření vysokých škol a oktrojovaná vědecká práce za protektorátu, komunistický puč a následné postupné vytlačování svobodného vědeckého života z univerzit a také zásadní změny v pojímání světa v novém fyzikální paradigmatu po Einsteinových objevech a po Plankových teoriích), které se odrazily v jejím specifickém deníku zaznamenávajícím individuální odborné a vědecké proměny jednoho života. Deník a jeho komentář doplní biografická studie editorek deníku.

Latest News

Create a website or blog at