IAU and the Astrobiology Commission F3


Astrobiology is an interdisciplinary subject at the frontier of science.  Current research in astrobiology draws researchers from the fields of astronomy, physics, space science, chemistry, biology, geology, humanities, sociology and ethical issues.

Many astronomers in the subfields of star formation, solar system studies, astrochemistry and others, tend to gather around Astrobiology. Science goals of new generation telescopes such as ALMA, SKA, TMT, GMT, E-ELT include search for prebiotic molecules, and detection of bio-signatures in the ever growing sample of extrasolar planets, many of which reside in the habitable zones. Even dedicated flagship space missions have been commissioned, such as the wildly successful Kepler mission, which alone has discovered about 2,000 extrasolar planets, or the soon to be launched TESS and CHEOPS missions.

After the successful joint meeting with ISSOL in Nara, Japan in 2014, the IAU Commission F.3 will meet again in the beautiful town, Coyhaique, Chile in November, 2017.  This key meeting fosters interdisciplinary collaborations for the advancement of Astrobiology, welcoming researchers from disciplines as diverse as astrophysics, biology, geology, humanities, and sociology, among others.

IAU F3 Commission

Founded in 1919, The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has the mission to promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects through international cooperation.
Its individual members structured into Divisions, Commissions, and Working Groups are professional astronomers from all over the world, at the Ph.D. level and beyond, who are active in professional research and education in astronomy.
The International Astronomical Union’s Commission F3 on Astrobiology, was established in 2015 as the successor to “Commission 51 Bioastronomy: Search for Extraterrestrial Life”.

Astrobiology encompasses the search for:

  • Extant life, evidence of past life, or evidence of prebiotic chemistry on solar system bodies, including Mars, Europa, Titan and Enceladus.
  • The search for planets around other stars and potential spectroscopic evidence and for habitability and biological activity.
  • The origin of the biogenic chemical elements and the study of biologically relevant molecules in the interstellar medium and in primitive solar system objects such as comets, undifferentiated asteroids and some meteorites.
  • The search for intelligent signals of extraterrestrial origin.
    The study of the origin, early evolution, and environmental constraints for life on Earth.
  • The coordination of efforts in all these areas at the international level; and the establishment of collaborative programs with other international scientific societies with related interests.

Welcome Messages

On behalf of the scientific organizing committee, I would like to welcome participants to the Astrobiology conference held in Coyhaique, Chile. The astrobiology community in the IAU has the tradition to hold a series of scientific meetings every three years. The former two meetings (in 2011 and 2014) were held jointly with “the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life – The International Astrobiology Society” (ISSOL). Since the ISSOL has decided to hold its scientific meetings separately from the IAU, the Coyhaique conference is organized by the IAU Commission F.3 (Astrobiology) only, as a successor to the former Commission 51 (Bioastronomy).

The Coyhaique conference is the first one held in the southern hemisphere in the history of the series of the astrobiology meetings, which was realized by the invitation from our Chilean colleagues. I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Local Organizing Committee in Chile. Finally I believe that the conference will be a very good opportunity for relevant researchers worldwide, especially in South America, in exchanging new insights in astrophysics, biology, geology, humanities, and sociology, among others.

Dr. Masatoshi Ohishi, Chair of the Scientific Organizing Committee, Vicepresident Commission F3, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.

On behalf of the organizing committee, it will be a great pleasure to welcome you to beautiful Coyhaique, Chile. IAU’s commission F3 will meet again at Astrobiology 2017, bringing together leading scientists from a variety of disciplines to exchange state-of-the-art techniques and to discuss the newest results towards the understanding of life in the universe. Coyhaique, surrounded by unique natural treasures, will certainly be a source of inspiration for such an endeavor. Coastal permanent ice fields and breathtaking hikes are found in close proximity to the city.

I invite you to explore this website to find out more about Astrobiology. You can also register with your email to receive up-to-date news about the conference.

Looking forward to see you next year in Coyhaique!

Dr. Patricio Rojo, Chair of the Local Organizing Committee, Universidad de Chile.