AstRoMap: The Astrobiology Road Mapping

Astrobiology and space exploration have received growing attention within the last phase of Framework Programme 7 of the European Commission, e.g., with EuroPlaNet (European Planetology Network), CAREX (Coordination Action for Research Activities on life in Extreme Environments), THESEUS (Towards Human Exploration of Space: a EUropean Strategy) and HAMLET (Human model MATROSHKA for radiation exposure determination of astronauts). In addition, ESA has initiated an intense research program by providing and operating several space exposure facilities (Spacelab cargo bay, ERA on EURECA, BIOPAN on Foton, EXPOSE on ISS) to study  the responses of chemical and biological test systems to space.

Article 189 of the TFEU (Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union) specifically mentions that the Union should “promote joint initiatives, support research and technological development and coordinate the efforts needed for the exploration and exploitation of space." more information

EU Framework Programme

ESSC-ESF is advising the European Commission Directorate General for Industry and Entreprise for the definition of the Space component of Horizon 2020 and its future Calls.

Foresight activities

ESSC is now using dedicated ESF instruments called Forward Looks to address issues linked to (a) space-related technological breakthroughs for scientific progress (TECHBREAK); (b) human exploration of the solar system in an inter-disciplinary fashion (with the Humanities and Social Sciences Standing Committees).

Planetary protection

ESA asked the ESSC-ESF to provide independent scientific advice on defining an acceptable risk level for the possibility of introducing a potential Martian life form into the terrestrial biosphere in the context of a Mars Sample Return mission. See the report


The objective of THESEUS was to develop a European integrated life sciences research roadmap (see the document) enabling human space exploration, taking advantage of the expertise available in Europe and identifying the potential of non-space applications on Earth, and dual research and development. The ESF Space Sciences Unit coordinated this FP7 Coordination Action (n° 242482) running from 1 January 2010 to 31 March 2012 when the Final Launch conference took place. Clusters reports can be downloaded in the publications centre

ELIPS Evaluation

Evaluation of ESA’s ELIPS programme

ESA has approached the ESSC secretariat to inquire about the possibility to conduct a fourth evaluation of its life and physical sciences in space programme in 2011-2012. The goal was to provide the final report from this evaluation in time for the ESA Executive to inject these conclusions into their proposal to the ministerial conference at the end of 2012.See the report


CAREX was a FP7 Coordination Action (n° 211700) which tackled the issue of enhancing coordination of life in extreme environments research in Europe. It was funded through the EC FP7 programme for the period 2008-2011.
Go to the CAREX website