Europe launches into astrobiology European Space Agency

Is our planet an oasis of life in an otherwise dead universe? Twenty years ago, the scientific consensus was “yes, probably”. Now it has shifted to “probably not” and the field of astro- (or exo-) biology is burgeoning. This growth of interest is evident this week at ESRIN, ESA’s European Space Research Institute in Frascati, Italy, which is hosting the first European workshop on exo/astrobiology. About 200 scientists from fields as diverse as astrophysics, geology, environmental sciences, biology and chemistry are attending. Yesterday, they took the opportunity to set up the European Exo/astrobiology Network to coordinate their growing efforts.