Nordic-NASA Summer School “Water, Ice and the Origin of Life in the Universe”

This Summer School aims to give students a thorough high-level introduction into the role of water in the evolution of life in the Cosmos, starting from formation of water molecules in space and ending with evolution of the first organisms. Field work on colonisation of new lava fields (in the Eyjafjallajökull area) will complement the teaching.

Water is fundamental to life. Nevertheless, quite a few fundamental questions about water are still unsolved, i.e.:

  • How were the atomic and subatomic building stones of matter (including water) formed in the Cosmos?
  • How and where is water produced in space?
  • What is the role of water and ice during the formation of stars and planetary systems?
  • Was water delivered to the early Earth from space or generated on our planet?
  • How did water affect the climate of early Earth?
  • What can microbes living in very hot and cold water tell us about the evolution of life?
  • Is there a possibility of water-based life on other planets?
  • Which role does water play in the colonisation of new habitats by life?

These crucial issues can only be solved by intensive collaboration of researchers from a multitude of disciplines (astronomy, physics, chemistry, geology, biology etc.).

Moreover it is important to train a new generation of scientists who are able to work in an interdisciplinary environment to tackle these fundamental questions. The Summer School will bring together students and scientists from various different science branches, making it a truly multidisciplinary event.

Iceland is an ideal venue for such an event, possessing a variety of astrobiology-relevant environments like new lava fields, hot springs, glaciers and sub-glacial lakes as well as Mars-like landscapes. A similar summer school was organised in 2009 with great success.

The course is organised by the Nordic Network of Astrobiology together with the NASA Astrobiology Institute, July 2-15 2012. Read more about the event here!

Facts about the project
Project leader

Wolf Geppert, University of Oslo, Norway