Searching for the Origin of Life across the Universe

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 Hilmar Ott

Hilmar Ott

Researchers from European countries discuss life in the Universe at the University of Vienna

Astrobiology is a young, rapidly developing branch of science that seeks to address the question of whether life exists, or has existed, elsewhere in the Universe. It is by nature an interdisciplinary science that explores the origins of life, the conditions, and processes that support or challenge life, the influence of different environmental conditions on preservation and detection of biosignatures of past and present life. On Thursday, 26th and Friday, 27th September, international experts will address the topic under the title "Life in the Universe", highlighting the latest astrobiological findings.

We are at the cusp of an age of discovery for potential life on other planetary bodies. Efforts are being made to couple exoplanet discovery, the study of asteroids and comets, ground-based analyses of recovered meteorites with biosignature detection. Series of microbial exposure experiments have been successfully performed on board and outside of the International Space Station under the environmental conditions of low Earth orbit or mimicking planetary constraints. Exposure experiments at ground-based simulating facilities have enabled the investigation of the effects of space-related parameters on microbial survival and adaptation capacities.

"Being a few steps away from retrieving and returning the first samples from the surface of Mars, we have already gained extensive knowledge from the field, laboratory, and space exposure experiments. This should enable a comprehensive characterization of the first Mars returned samples in terms of potential exobiology", explains Tetyana Milojevic, Astrobiologist at the University of Vienna. Revealing unknown boundaries for prokaryotic life under the multiple extremes is a prerequisite to our efforts to understand the extent of biology on Earth, and to discover its wider presence in the Universe.

Under the overarching theme "Life in the Universe", scientists from various disciplines will meet in the Natural History Museum Vienna from Thursday, 26th to Friday, 27th September to present the latest research findings in areas such as space biology, the origin of life, exoplanets and space missions. The scientific contributions to this workshop will be collected in Research Topic of "Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences, Astrobiology Specialty Section".

"Life in the Universe"
Time: Thursday, 26th to Friday, 27th September 2019
Venue: Natural History Museum Vienna, NHM, Burgring 7, 1010 Vienna
Registration via E-mail kindly requested

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