Invitation To The European Astrobiology Institute

Dear Astrobiologists,

In addition to the long-standing “European Astrobiology Network Association (EANA)”, several new European networking initiatives have been launched over the last years, such as the COST Action “Origins and Evolution of Life on Earth in the Universe” (http://www.life-origins.com/), the Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership “European Astrobiology Campus” (http://astrobiology-campus.eu/) and the FP7 project “AstRoMap”.

The European astrobiology community has thus gained in maturity and coordination. To build on this momentum and take European Research in astrobiology to a higher level the launch of a European Astrobiology Institute was proposed. This entity will be a virtual institute consisting of research and higher education institutions and organisations as well as other stakeholders aiming to carry out research, training, outreach and dissemination activities in astrobiology in a comprehensive and coordinated manner and thereby securing a leading role of the European Research Area in the field.

The European astrobiology community has gained in maturity and coordination from past actions and now builds on this momentum by launching the European Astrobiology Institute.

An Interim Board was formed consisting of members and employees of the main stakeholders in this field in the European Research Area (ESA, ESF, ISSI, German Aerospace Centre, CNRS, CNES, INAF, Europlanet, EANA, Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Centro de Astrobiología, etc.) to prepare the creation of the EAI. It has elaborated a draft Action Plan mapping out the tasks, structure, governing bodies, activities, funding and administration of the EAI. This Action Plan has been finalised and is now open for discussion with the whole European astrobiology community in summer 2018. Recruitment of institutions is planned to place in autumn and winter 2018/19 and the first General Assembly of the EAI is planned for late spring 2019.

A preliminary website of the European Astrobiology has been set up at: http://www.europeanastrobiology.eu/

The Interim Board invites all members to discuss the plans for establishment of the European Astrobiology Institute. To facilitate the discussion, we have created a Google Group on the EAI. To join please do the following:

  1. Access the Google Group “European Astrobiology” at https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/europeanastrobiology
  2. Ask to join

Alternatively, write a message to wgeppert[at]hotmail.com and you will be sent an invitation. To join you should be affiliated to a Research and/or Higher Education Institution or research organisation in Europe. The Interim Board, however, reserves the right to refuse participants to the forum if their connection to astrobiology or research in general is unclear. In accordance with general regulations of Google any kind of insult and slander against individual persons or Institutions and groups will result in the sender being removed from the Google Group.

Relevant documents (Action Plan, Executive summary, Communiques of the meetings of the Interim Board, a promotional folder for the EAI and a proposed time plan for the implementation of the institute) can be downloaded at the webpage: europeanastrobiology.eu/documents.html

We are looking forward to reading your viewpoints and discussing the future EAI with you.

Best regards,
Wolf Geppert

in the name of the Interim Board (the full list of the Interim Board can be found at http://europeanastrobiology.eu/interim-board-1.html)

Astrobiology and Society in Europe Today

This White Paper describes the state of Astrobiology in Europe today and its relation to 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:

It recommends the establishment of a European Astrobiology Institute (EAI) as an answer to a series of challenges relating to astrobiology and also to European research, education and society at large.
It acknowledges the societal implications of astrobiology, and thus the role of the social sciences and humanities in optimizing the positive contribution that astrobiology can make to the lives of the people of Europe and the challenges they face.

Τhe document illustrates the societal implications of astrobiology and the positive contribution that astrobiology can make to European society.

Αstrobiology enjoys a great deal of interest among the public, probably more than most other fields of research. It also has implications for human life outside the laboratories and lecture halls. It has the potential of being a flagship of European cooperation in science. It provides an ideal ground for collaborative European projects which support the ethos of cooperating countries. Astrobiology is inherently interdisciplinary and based on collaboration between disciplines, universities and countries. For Europe to take a leading role in this research, it is very important to have a stable structure that can coordinate research, research infrastructure, funding and relations to the surrounding society in an efficient way. The establishment of a EAI, as a consortium of institutions, will provide the perfect forum for such collaborative efforts and should be a key priority for European research institutions as well as the European astrobiology community and the EU. To have an active astrobiology research programme, coordinated and fostered by such an institute, will enhance the international standards of European space research, and of European science in general.

Αstrobiology enjoys a great deal of interest among the public, probably more than most other fields of research.

The EAI will be able to promote astrobiology research, assist in the decision-making processes of relevant European institutions, be involved in mission planning, engage in science dissemination, education and communication, as well as outreach and media work in a much more efficient way than individual research institutions. The EAI will act as a strong voice for the astrobiology community in dialogue with decision makers, funding agencies, the media, other stakeholders and the general public. It will be proactive in the debate on important legal and ethical issues in astrobiology and space research.

The EAI will act as a strong voice for the astrobiology community.