2020 International Summer School in Astrobiology: Searching for Life on Mars

The Josep Comas i Solà International Astrobiology Summer School is co-sponsored by the NASA Astrobiology Program and the Centro de Astrobiologia. Held annually in Santander, Spain, it has become a tradition in the astrobiology community. The week-long program for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows provides lectures from international experts, round-table discussions, student projects, night-sky observations, and a half-day field trip.

This year two Mars spacecraft, one from the United States and the other from Europe, will launch towards Mars. Both are expected to significantly advance our search for life on Mars. The 2020 International Summer School in Astrobiology will review and assess the types of techniques that are necessary for detection of biosignatures on Mars, including Raman spectroscopy, the isotopic and chirality analyses that the ESA and MSL rovers will perform, and the techniques that can analyze samples both in-situ and also on Earth-based laboratories for follow-up analysis. The central question will be “how can we unequivocally detect biosignatures on Mars?” and the discussions will involve in-situ rovers, optimal sample collecting and return, laboratory analyses with returned samples here on Earth, follow-on robotic exploration, and the experiments that future human explorers may be able to perform. Lectures will be focused on instrumentation and techniques. In addition to the lectures, during the week the students will participate in discussions about the theme, participate in group projects, and take part in an excursion to a local and relevant geological site near Santander. The school is primarily aimed at graduate students in science or engineering, but is open to anyone interested in the origin of life and astrobiology. Applicants must be students affiliated with US institutions.

The school will be held from June 15 – 19, 2020, and the focus will be Searching for Life on Mars: Techniques and Challenges. The application deadline is March 16, 2020, and selections will be made by April 15, 2020. .

More information about the school can be found here: https://astrobiology.nasa.gov/career-funding/astrobiology-summer-school/

Questions can be directed to Melissa Kirven at Melissa.kirven@nasa.gov