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Astrobiology group

Cost Action ORIGINS

Cost Action ORIGINS

EU COST Action = COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) is one of the longest-running European frameworks supporting cooperation among scientists and researchers across Europe.

ORIGINS = Origins and Evolution of Life on Earth and in the Universe

Main coordinator: M. Gargaud (France)

Belgian Representatives:
  • Flemish: Philippe Claeys (VUB, WG3, traces of life)
  • Walloon: Emmanuelle Javaux (ULg, WG3, traces of life)
  • Substitutes: Veronique Dehant (ROB, WG1, planets), Dominique Lambert (UNam, Trans-WG)
  • Others: Annick Wilmotte (ULg)


To answer questions such as Where, when and how did life appear on Earth? Has life developed elsewhere in the Universe?

Main objectives:
  • build a large-scale platform for scientific and technological exchange,
  • have regular meetings and STSMs (Short-Term Scientific Mission) (prompt exchange of knowledge),
  • plan upcoming European space missions and design mission proposals,
  • train the next generation of astrobiologists (STSMs and summer schools),
  • deal with philosophical issues in astrobiology at a European level,
  • have a starting point to apply for joint project-based funding, at the European level (Marie Curie Action: Initial Training Networks, …),
  • Creation of a European Astrobiology Institute.


  • WG1: Planetary systems and habitable planets:
    • Formation and evolution of planets and host stars
    • Habitability of exoplanets and Early Earth
    • Internal structure and atmospheres of (exo)planets
  • WG2: Origins of the building blocks of lifelessly
    • Link pre-biotic chemistry to geo- and astro-chemistry
    • Transition from chemical to biological evolution
    • Identify biosignatures for detection of life on (exo)planets
  • WG3: Life on early Earth and limits of life
    • Archean environments (Nature, dynamics and diversity)
    • Distinction between Archean biotic and abiotic processes
    • Early evolution of life and its adaptation to extreme conditions
  • WG4: Detecting Life in the Universe
    • Geological history of water and ice on Mars
    • Identify candidate landing sites for ExoMars
    • Database of chemical and geological targets for JUICE mission
  • Trans-WG
    • History of planetary sciences and astrobiology
    • From which level of complexity can we talk about life ?
    • Find coherent critical set of boundaries for life in different ecosystems
    • Ethics of planet exploration, planetary protection