Status Report

First European Workshop on Exo/Astrobiology 21-24 May 2001

By SpaceRef Editor
March 2, 2001
Filed under ,

21-24 May 2001

ESRIN, Frascati (near Rome), Italy

Background and Purpose

The multidisciplinary area of Exo/Astrobiology has recently experienced a
tremendous surge of interest within the wide scientific community involving
both space and non-space disciplines. This includes such diverse fields as
the chemical origin of life on Earth, the persistence of life in extreme
conditions, interplanetary transport mechanisms and search for life
strategies in the Solar System and beyond.

The European Exobiology Network is an association of European scientists
active in this field and dedicated to bringing together and strengthening
European scientific and intellectual resources to ensure a leading role for
Europe in this field.

Since the 1980’s the ESA microgravity life sciences activities have involved
exobiology research concentrated on the effects of low Earth space
conditions such as solar and cosmic radiation and low gravity on organic and
life forms. The programme intends to extend these activities to search for
life strategies in the Solar System.

Recently the activities of the ESA Space Science programme have been
extended to include exo/astrobiology as a cross-fertilised discipline which
can benefit from a number of ESA missions such as Huygens-Cassini, Mars
Express, Rosetta, Eddington and IRSI-Darwin.

Jointly these two programmes aim to work together to promote an integrated
and coordinated European approach in order to optimise the use of
space-related resources and ensure a lead role for European Science in this
important, emerging field.

This is the first of an intended series of workshops aimed at bringing
together European scientists to review the status of the field and develop
future plans and perspectives.

Objectives of the Workshop

Based on interactive dynamic discussions, the workshop aims to:

  • identify the European potential in Exo/Astrobiology
  • foster European cooperation through joint projects in Exo/Astrobiolgy
  • strengthen the European Network in Exo/Astrobiology
  • encourage young scientists to participate in exo/astrobiological
    research in Europe
  • promote a constructive research interface between exobiological
    expertise in Europe and the rest of the World for the benefit of the
    discipline and the planet
  • develop a perspective for longer term Exobiology research, especially
    in relation to human missions to Mars

Topics to be covered by the Workshop

  • Initial conditions and environment for the emergence of Life on Earth
    (evolution of planets and their satellites, atmosphere and hydrosphere,
    conditions necessary for life)
  • Chemistry of the origin of life on Earth (ingredients, extraterrestrial
    organic chemistry, theories of the origin of life, prebiotic chemical
    evolution, early life, last common ancestor)
  • Life in the extremes and terrestrial analogues for extraterrestrial
    habitats. Signatures of microbial life
  • Prospects for life beyond the Earth (planets/moons of the Solar System,
    extrasolar planets, extra solar life)
  • Strategy for search of life with emphasis on “in situ” analysis vs
    sample return, respective roles of humans and robots
  • Societal aspects


European Exobiology Network

European Space Agency

Organizing Committee:

Andrè BRACK (chairman) France
Beda HOFMANN Switzerland
Gerda HORNECK Germany
David WYNN-WILLIAMS United Kingdom

Science Advisory Committee:

Ricardo AMILS Spain
Clas BLOMBERG Sweden
Christiano COSMOVICI Italy
Don COWAN United Kingdom
Pascale EHRENFREUND The Netherlands
David FIELD Denmark
Nils HOLM Sweden
Jean-Luc JOSSET Switzerland
G¸nter KIEDROWSKI Germany
Helmut LAMMER Austria
Gian-Gabriele ORI Italy
Roland PAEPE Belgium
Alan PENNY United Kingdom
FranÁois RAULIN France
Alan SCHWARTZ The Netherlands
Helga STAN-LOTTER Austria
Karl STETTER Germany
Ray WOLSTENCROFT United Kingdom

Location of the Workshop

ESA’s European Space Research Institute, known as ESRIN, is based in
Frascati, a small historic town 20 km South of Rome (see

For information on ESRIN’s main functions, activities and how it works

Mail: ESA/ESRIN, Via Galileo Galilei, Casella Postale 64, 00044 Frascati
(RM), Italy

Organisation of the Workshop

The workshop will offer four distinct events:

  • Plenary Sessions highlighting the exo/astrobiological achievements
    reached by the different groups in Europe

  • Group discussions on hot topics :
    o How did life start on Earth?

    o What was the chemistry of the origin of life on Earth?

    o How does life adapt to the extremes?

    o Are we alone in the Universe?

    o How can we search for life in the Solar System?

  • Poster sessions with the purpose to give background details for the
    more general presentations in plenary sessions or discussion groups

  • Network sessions
    to foster the European Network in Exo/Astrobiology

ESA will publish the Proceedings of the Workshop as an ESA Special
Publication (ESA SP).

Submission of abstracts

Abstracts will be accepted on the basis of 600-800 words and may be
submitted preferably by using the on-line web form or as an e-mail
attachment (in MS-Word or pdf) to

Authors are requested to indicate in which of the events they inten to
present their paper :

  • plenary session (one abstract per group)
  • discussion groups
  • posters

Abstracts sent by e-mail should also contain the following information:

  • Title of workshop
  • Topic (see list)
  • Title of paper (centered)
  • Author(s) name(s) and affiliations

The full address of the contact (and/or presenter), including tel./fax.
Numbers and e-mail address should be given separately.

The deadline for the submission of abstracts is 15 March 2001.

Registration, Registration Fees and Hotel Reservations

[Registration/Hotel Reservation Form]

No registration fees will be collected in order to allow a maximum of
scientists to attend the Workshop.


A limited number of rooms have been blocked at several local hotels. We
advise you to book your hotel via the conference local support. Please
return the attached hotel reservation form by fax to the conference local
support before 14 April 2001. After this date the hotel block booking will
be released, and availability of any hotel room can no longer be guaranteed.

Please complete the attached form even if you prefer a different category of
hotel and our conference local support will endeavour to satisfy your

Should you not require hotel accommodation, you should still confirm your
attendance by fax to the conference local support so that you will be
officially registered for the meeting and be able to gain access to the
ESRIN site.


Lunch is available in the ESRIN canteen and is payable in cash. The canteen
has a wide variety of dishes including vegetarian.

Directions from Airport

Road directions from Rome Fiumicino airport to the Frascati area will be
provided upon request.

Hotel Confirmation

Please note that the hotel confirmations will be sent out during the week of
17 April 2001.

Booking of Hotel Rooms and Airport Taxis **

Cancellations should be made in writing to the ESRIN Travel Office – fax no.

0039 06 9418 0242

No show hotel and taxi bookings will be charged to the requestor’s credit

Local Transportation

Daily bus transportation will be arranged between the pre-booked hotels,
ESRIN and any social events.

Welcome Package

A welcome package of documentation including meeting logistics, courtesy bus
timetable and social event details will be provided at the hotel check in.

Requests for Financial support

Limited amounts of funds will be available for students and others with
limited funding. Applicants should preferably be authors or co-authors of
abstracts submitted for presentation at the Workshop. In all cases, a
justification for claims on grounds of research commitment will be needed.
The deadline is 15 March 2001 for receipt of applications. Requests to be
sent to both Drs. P. CLANCY and M. CORADINI at the following E-mails: and

Deadlines to remember:

for abstracts: 15 March, 2001

for financial support requests, 15 March , 2001

for registration (first come approach)

SpaceRef staff editor.