ESA Brainstorming on Astrobiology

A pilot for a series of open, focused, and multidisciplinary workshops




What? An open, focused, and multidisciplinary European Space Agency (ESA) workshop on astrobiology, featuring expert discussion as well as public talks.
Who? Uniting ~30 experts from ESA and the science community, including exoplanets, planetary science, and solar/stellar physics
When? 16 - 20 October 2023
Where? The European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC), Keplerlaan 1, 2201 AZ Noordwijk, The Netherlands
Why? Fostering collaboration, connecting ESA with the Zeitgeist of the rapidly growing astrobiology community, brainstorming outside-of-the-box ideas for interdisciplinary science and future missions, and disseminating our findings via public lectures and a publication. Our vision is to form a diverse group in terms of research expertise, gender, seniority, background, institute country, and professional functionality.

Importantly, there is some commitment requested before and after the event (see below); we will select ~15 applicants from the community; travel grants for all participants will be provided (up to 1000 Euro; exceptions may be discussed upon request); and the deadline for submissions is 15 June 2023. Succesful applicants will be contacted and invited shortly after the deadline.


Topical Themes

The topical themes we will address are ESA- as well as science-community-driven: 

  •  Astrobiology in the frame of Voyage 2050 
  •  Optimizing synergies between ESA missions and ground-based facilities for astrobiology 
  •  Seeking astrobiology synergies with other space agencies 
  •  Unresolved, fundamental astrobiology research questions which require new space-based missions


Preliminary Programme








Astrobiology processes (Prebiotic Chemistry, Origin of Life, ...)

Solar system astrobiology (Early Earth, Mars, Icy Moons, Interiors, Geology, Volcanism, ...)

Exoplanet astrobiology (remote sensing, biosignature detection)

Exocomets, comets, delivery mechanisms

Sun/stars and galactic habitability (interactions with planets, disk lifetimes, stellar formation, etc.)

09:00 – 10:00






10:00 – 11:00

Long coffee break for discussions and break-out sessions

11:00 – 13:00

Topical talks**

Topical talks**

Topical talks**

Topical talks**

Topical talks**

13:00 – 14:30

Long lunch break for discussions and break-out sessions

14:30 – 16:30

Topical talks**

Topical talks**

Topical talks**

Topical talks**

Topical talks**

From 16:30

Open-ended coffee break and borrel for discussions and break-out sessions

From 19:30

Joint dinners in town for networking and informal discussions

* Keynote talks by 1-2 selected, experienced presenters to summarise the field. These talks will be live-streamed to the entire ESA Science Faculty and stakeholder community, recorded, and made available on our workshop website.
** Topical, shared talks by groups of 2-4 participants under a common idea. The participants will be put in contact with each other several months before the event to coordinate and curate a shared presentation.


Speaker Commitment

Please note that this is designed to be an interactive workshop with deliverables. We thus expect a certain amount of effort before (e.g., coordinating talks between various speakers for the shared sessions) and after (e.g., contributing to writing a "white paper" style summary addressing the topical themes) the event. This will, of course, not be too much - but the more everyone puts in, the more everyone gets out. 


Local Information

All in-person attendees are invited to ESTEC (Keplerlaan 1, 2201 AZ Noordwijk, The Netherlands) for the whole week. More local information will be provided in due course.


Contact & Organising Committee

Please contact or any individual member with any and all questions, and we will be happy to help. The organising committee is, in alphabetical order:

Nicol Caplin1
Quentin Changeat3
Salma Fahmy1
Maximilian N. Günther1 (Chair)
Laura Hayes1
Ana Heras1
Gaitee Hussain1
Markus Kissler-Patig2
Theresa Lüftinger1
Bruno Merín2
Emily Rickman3
Elliot Sefton-Nash1
Jorge Vago1
Olivier Witasse1



Apply here (Deadline 15 June 2023)