On March 21st, the first Scientific Roadmap for European Astrobiology has been published.
The European AstRoMap project (supported by the European Commission Seventh Framework Programme) surveyed the state of the art of astrobiology in Europe and beyond and produced the first European roadmap for astrobiology research. In the context of this roadmap, astrobiology is understood as the study of the origin, evolution, and distribution of life in the context of cosmic evolution; this includes habitability in the Solar System and beyond. The AstRoMap Roadmap identifies five research topics, specifies several key scientific objectives for each topic, and suggests ways to achieve all the objectives. The five AstRoMap Research Topics are
• Research Topic 1: Origin and Evolution of Planetary Systems
• Research Topic 2: Origins of Organic Compounds in Space
• Research Topic 3: Rock-Water-Carbon Interactions, Organic Synthesis on Earth, and Steps to Life
• Research Topic 4: Life and Habitability
• Research Topic 5: Biosignatures as Facilitating Life Detection
It is strongly recommended that steps be taken towards the definition and implementation of a European Astrobiology Platform (or Institute) to streamline and optimize the scientific return by using a coordinated infrastructure and funding system. Key Words: Astrobiology roadmap—Europe—Origin and evolution of life—Habitability—Life detection—Life in extreme environments.
The AstRoMap European Astrobiology Roadmap is published in Astrobiology and available open access http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/ast.2015.1441