White Paper on the Social Impact of Astrobiology

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To be published in September 2018 in the SpringerBriefs series.




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:


   1. 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.


   2. 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.


Astrobiology enjoys a great deal of interest among the public, pobably more than most other fields of research. It also has implications for human life outside laboratories and lecture halls. It has the potential to be 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 European Astrobiology Institute 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 European Union. Having 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.


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. A European Astrobiology Institute 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



Co-Lead Editors: K. A. Čápová4* , E. Persson24*


Language Editor: T. Milligan20


Chapter Editors

J. Arnould2 , K. A. Čápová4 , H. Χατζηθεοδωρίδης (E. Chatzitheodoridis)5 , D. Dunér7 , M.

Gargaud8 , W. Geppert9 , N. Mason18 , E. Persson24


Section Editors

J. Arnould2 , K. A. Čápová4 , H. Χατζηθεοδωρίδης (E. Chatzitheodoridis)5 , L. Dartnell6 , D.

Dunér7 , M. Gargaud8 , W. Geppert9 , A. Kereszturi12 , P. Laine14 , J. Martínez-Frías16 , N.

Mason18 , T. Milligan20 , E. Persson24 , K. Smith26 , S. Tirard27 , M. Waltemathe28




A. Anglés1 , J. Arnould2 , L. Billings3 , K. A. Čápová4 , H. Χατζηθεοδωρίδης (E.

Chatzitheodoridis)5 , L. Dartnell6 , D. Dunér7 , M. Gargaud8 , W. Geppert9 , E. Hemminger10 , Z.

Kaňuchová11 , A. Kereszturi12 , G. Kminek13 , P. Laine14 , A. Losiak15 , J. Martínez-Frías16 , Z.

Martins17 , N. Mason18 , A. Melin19 , T. Milligan20 , P. T. Mitrikeski21 , E. Nabulya22 , L. Noack23 ,

E. Persson24 , S. Ramos25 , K. Smith26 , S. Tirard27 , M. Waltemathe28


Advisory Board

O. Chon-Torres29 , K. Denning30 , S. Dick31 , A. Gupta32 , S. Kwok33 , L. Mix34 , A. Pross35 , K-U.




1. University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.

2. Centre national d’études spatiales (National Centre for Space Studies), France.

3. Consultant to NASA’s Astrobiology Program, USA.

4*. Durham University, United Kingdom, *k.a.capova@durham.ac.uk.

5. Εθνικό Μετσόβιο Πολυτεχνείο (National Technical University of Athens), Ελλάδα (Greece).

6. University of Westminster, United Kingdom.

7. Lunds universitet, Sverige.

8. Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Bordeaux, France.

9. Physics Department (Fysikum), Stockholm University (Stockholms universitet), Sweden.

10. Evangelischen Hochschule Rheinland-Westfalen-Lippe, Germany.

11. Astronomický ústav SAV (Astronomical Institute SAS), Slovensko (Slovakia).

12. Csillagászati és Földtudományi Kutatóközpont (Research Centre for Astronomy and Earth

Sciences), Hungary.

13. European Space Agency, Noordwijk, The Netherlands.

14. Jyväskylän yliopisto, Suomi (Finland).

White Paper on Astrobiology and Society in Europe Today 1

15. Polska Akademia Nauk (Polish Academy of Sciences), Rzeczpospolita Polska (Poland).

16. Instituto de Geociencias, IGEO (CSIC-UCM), Madrid (Spain)

17. Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal.

18. School of Physical Sciences, The Open University, United Kingdom.

19. Malmö universitet, Sweden.

20. Department of Theology and Religious Studies, King’s College London, United Kingdom.

21. Institut za istraživanje i razvoj održivih ekosustava (Institute for Research and Development of

Sustainable Ecosystems), Hrvatska (Croatia).

22. Makerere University, Uganda.

23. Freie Universität Berlin (Free University Berlin), Deutschland (Germany).

24. Lunds universitet, Sweden, *erik.persson@fil.lu.se

25. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico.

26. Clemson University, USA.

27. Université de Nantes, France.

28. Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany.

29. Universidad de Lima, Peru.

30. York University, Canada.

31. 2013-2014 Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology, USA.

32. Assam University, India.

33. Faculty of Science, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.

34. Harvard University/CTI Princeton, USA.

35. Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel.

36. Director General’s Cabinet of the European Space Agency, France.






CSO Approval date: 14/11/2013
Starting date: 15/05/2014
Ending date: 14/05/2018

Action Chair:
Dr. Muriel GARGAUD (FR)

Vice chair:
Prof. Wolf GEPPERT (SE)

STSM Manager:
Prof. Nigel MASON (UK)

Web Manager:



Grant Holder Financial Representative:

Mrs Annick Caperan

Science Officer:
Dr. Mafalda QUINTAS

Administrative Officer:
Ms Ange Marie Ina Uwase



A Trans-Domain Action supported by COST.

COST is supported by the EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020



Involved countries

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of Member Countries

Participating Countries
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom

COST International Partner Countries
Canada (UQAM), South Africa (Univ. of Johanesburgh), Russian Federation (Institute of Geology, Petrozavodsk), Australia (University of Sydney), United States of America (University of Hawai)

Specific Organisations
European Space Agency (ESA)

Short Term Scientific Missions (STSMs)

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 It should be explicitely noted that Master students are not eligible for STSMs which are for PhD students and more experienced researchers.

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Life-ORIGINS (TD1308) is a Trans Domain European COST Action dedicated to the scientific investigation of the origins and evolution of life on Earth and habitability of other planets.

The Action has specifically excluded the search for intelligent extraterrestrial life in its portfolio. Creationist theorems are also outside the Action’s remit.

Individuals are not allowed to use the name of the Action, its logo or any corporate identity of COST TD1308 in any communication without prior approval of the Management Committee.

All publications referencing the support of the Action should be sent to the appropriate Working Group chair at the time of submission.