Astrobiology in the Early Solar System

Organisateur :

Date prévue : 18-20 Avril 2011
Date définitive : 2011-04-18

Organisateurs : John Robert Brucato, Elisabetta Dotto (INAF, Italy) et Antonella Barucci (LESIA)


Monday 18 April

14:30 - 15:00 Welcome and Opening

Laboratory studies of Solar System materials (chairperson: J.R. Brucato)

15:00 - 15:30 P. Ehrenfreund

"Astrobiology field research in the Utah desert"

15:30 - 16:00 R. Saladino, J.R. Brucato, A. De Sio, G. Botta, E. Pace,

INFN-LNF, L. Gambicorti

"Photochemical Synthesis of Citric Acid Cycle Intermediates

Based on Titanium Dioxide"

16:00 - 16:30 G. Libourel, Marco Delbo, Guillaume Thomas

"Regolith formation on asteroids: an experimental study"

16:30 - 17:00 Coffe Break

17:00 - 17:30 G. Strazzulla

"Ion irradiation effects relevant to Astrobiology"

17:30 - 18:00 R. Brunetto

"Laboratory studies at the "IAS - Astrochimie et Origines" team"

18:00 - 18:30 J. M. Trigo-Rodríguez

"Aqueous alteration in carbonaceous chondrites: is the extent of

hydration and the link between clays and soluble organics

talking us about a prebiotic chemistry?"

18:30 - welcome glass

Tuesday 19 April

Solar System(s) formation and evolution (chairperson P. Michel)

9:30 - 10:00 F. Marzari

"Dynamics of growing planets"

10:00 - 10:30 H. Rauer

"Extrasolar planets: Putting the Solar System into context"

10:30 - 11:00 P. Michel

"The impact history on Earth and potential consequences for the

delivery of water and organics"

11:00 - 11:30 Coffee Break

Observations (chairperson M. Fulchignoni)

11:30 - 12:00 A.C. Levasseur-Regourd

"Commonalities between cometary nuclei and pristine asteroids:

implications for dust particles impacts during the LHB"

12:00 - 12:30 L.M. Lara

"Equilibrium and disequilibrium chemistry of exoplanetary


12:30 - 13:00 J.P. Emery

"Searches for organics on outer Main Belt asteroids, Trojan

asteroids, and Kuiper Belt objects"

13:00 - 15:00 Lunch and tour of Meudon

Search for signs of life (chairperson E. Dotto)

15:00 - 15:30 H. Cottin, M. Delbo, G. Thomas

"Toward high resolution mass spectrometry in space for the

search of complex organic molecules"

15:30 - 16:00 S. Branciamore

"Mineral matrices as a cradle of primordial genetic material"

16:00 - 16:30 Coffee Break

16:30 - 17:00 F. Gomez Gomez

"Remote and "in situ" identification of biosigantures in the

search for Life"

17:00 - 17:30 David Cullen

"The Life Marker Chip experiment on ExoMars"

17:30 - 18:00 John Robert Brucato

"Astrobiology with primitive asteroids"

18:00 - 18:30 Frances Westall

"Life in the early Solar System"

18:30 - Cocktail

Wednesday 20 April

MarcoPolo-R (chairperson M.A. Barucci)

10:00 - 11:00 Working Groups and Open Discussion

11:00-11:30 Coffee Break

11:30 - 12:30 Final Considerations and Actions

Astrobiology seeks answers to three basic questions: How does life begin and evolve? Does

life exist elsewhere in the universe? What is the future of life on Earth and beyond? To

attempt to answer these three profound questions, a detailed study of origin and evolution of

our Solar System as well as of the other planetary systems is requested. Precious information

is obtained studying the nature of small bodies population in our Solar System, such as

comets, asteroids and satellites as well as of disks and planets around other stars.

Small bodies of the Solar System, as primitive leftover building blocks of the planetary

formation process, offer clues to the chemical mixture from which the planets formed some

4.6 billion years ago. Abundant within the inner solar system and the main impactors on

terrestrial planets, small bodies may have been the principal contributors of the water and

organic material on Earth. In fact, current exobiological scenarios for the origin of life invoke

an exogenous delivery of organic matter to the early Earth. It has been proposed that primitive

bodies could have brought these complex organic molecules capable of triggering the prebiotic

synthesis of biochemical compounds on the early Earth. Small bodies can therefore be

considered to be equivalent to DNA for unravelling our solar system’s history, offering us a

unique window to investigate both the formation of planets and the origin of life. Morevoer,

the study of debris disks around stars, as well as the analysis of extra-solar planets can give us

important hints to understand how our own Solar System is peculiar and how the mechanisms

so far invoked for its formation can be extended to the whole sample of known planetary

system. Thus, it is necessary to investigate how solid planets formed, how they acquired

liquid water, other volatile species and organic compounds, and how processes in planetary

systems and galaxies affected their environments and their habitability. The use of theoretical

and observational studies of the formation and evolution of planetary systems and their

habitable zones is essential to predict where water-dependent life is likely to be found in such


One of the major achievements in meteoritics over the past 20 years has been in the isolation

and detailed analyses of a wide range of different pre-solar grains found in primitive

meteorites. They have offered insight, which was previously undreamed of, into specific

nucleosynthetic processes and the thermo-physical conditions of the accompanying

circumstellar shells associated with a wide variety of such processes. The latest and

potentially the most important group of grains identified in meteoritic material is the one

composed of interstellar silicates. Next future will offer the opportunity to investigate the

abundance of pre-solar grains accreted in the parent body and to search for new, less robust

grains that have not survived the meteorite formation processes.

The aim of the proposed atelier is therefore to have a heterogeneous scientific community

composed by scientists working on planetary science, chemistry, biology, and astrobiology to

have the status of the art of the present knowledge in the early Solar System and other

planetary systems and to discuss the road map for the next future.

Participants will confront the various issues related to how organic molecules are formed and

evolve in space, how much and what kind of processing occurs as material enters the

primordial solar system, the extent to which small objects preserves the original organic

makeup of interstellar grains, in what way such material has been further processed, whether

comets and asteroids are a good candidate for delivering bulk of Earth’s pre-biotic organic

inventory, and what is the extent and complexity of organic chemical evolution in interstellar

versus solar system material.

The tentative list of topical areas in which these issues will be addressed include:

· Astronomical, theoretical, and laboratory investigations to support planning for and

interpretation of data from missions designed to detect and characterize Solar System

objects and extrasolar planets.

· Characterize the exogenous and endogenous sources of matter (organic and inorganic)

in our Solar System and in other planetary and protoplanetary Systems.

· Determine how to recognize signatures of life on other worlds.

· Identify biosignatures that can reveal and characterize past or present life and remotely

measured planetary atmospheres and surfaces.

· Observations of interstellar molecules,

· Analysis of extraterrestrial samples,

· Modeling of chemical/physical processes in cloud/disk/small objects environment.