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European Astrobiology Institute (EAI) - Preliminary Information
Following the discussions over the last years about the establishment of a European Institute of Astrobiology (EAI) an Interim Board consisting of members of the main European organisations involved in Astrobiology has been established which will elaborate a detailed Action Plan for the establishment of such an institute. First discussions focused on the tasks and the structure of the institutes and deliberations about other important issues concerning the institute will follow and informations will be constantly updated. The Interim Board of the European Astrobiology Centre proposes the following tasks and structure for the future European Astrobiology Institute. An official website will be set up soon with more detailed information.
Tasks of the EAI
The tasks of the EAI were discussed by the Board. The Board will propose the following tasks of the EAI to the European astrobiology community and to the General Assembly.
  • To promote and implement multidisciplinary European research projects in all fields of astrobiology.
  • To foster international collaboration in astrobiology inside Europe as well as with other international astrobiology communities.
  • To act as a forum to discuss new findings in astrobiology through organisation of conferences, meetings, and on-line seminars and to disseminate new research highlights among the scientific community and the general public in an apt way after thorough scrutinisation.
  • To form the kernel of a network for institutions, institutes as well as researchers to plan cooperative astrobiology projects.
  • To perform training, education, outreach and dissemination in astrobiology in Europe in a comprehensive, synergistic and collaborative way.
  • To collect and disseminate astrobiology-related scientific and programmatic information.
  • To initiate proposals for grants in order to obtain external financial support (e.g. EU projects).
  • To engender debate on important legal and ethical issues in astrobiology and space research.
  • To interact with European transnational organisations (e.g. ESA) and European Research agencies on programmatic issues and ensure awareness of astrobiology research with decision makers by
    • acting as a strong voice for the European astrobiology community.
    • approaching and informing decision makers in governmental and non-governmental organisations at a national, regional and European level in a coordinated manner in order to promote astrobiology research in Europe as transdisciplinary research activity.
    • contributing to the development of a common European research area and research policy in the field of Astrobiology.
  • To formulate and continuously update a long-term astrobiology research strategy for the European Research Area.
  • To collaborate with astrobiology networks and institutes inside Europe and beyond.
These tasks will be integrated in the Action Plan of the EAI.
Structure
The following main bodies of the EAI will be proposed by the Board:
  • A General Assembly
    • acting as the highest decision-making body of the EAI and responsible,
    • defining the structure and the general policy of the institute,
    • electing the chair and vice-chair,
    • approving budgets and reports by other bodies of the EAI.
    Each participating organisation will send one delegate to the General Assembly.

  • Several Working Groups will be established with responsibility for scientific themes and fields of activities (e.g. outreach, training) of the EAI. Working Group leaders and co-leaders will be appointed by the General Assembly.

  • A Management Committee consisting of the chair, vice chair(s) and the Working Group Leaders responsible for coordinating the activities of the EAI between General Assemblies.

  • An Executive Committee formed by the chair, vice chair(s) and the administrative officer appointed by the Host Organisation (who will be administrating the EAI) which will be responsible for the day-to-day administration of the EAI.
A schematic drawing of the structure is shown on the right side.
Future Actions
Important tasks of the Interim Board for the immediate future include
  • the drawing up of a time plan for the launch of the EAI,
  • the setting up of a web-site providing information to the community,
  • the launch of a dialogue with the whole European Astrobiology community and the recruitment of institutions to the EAI.
Contact
Wolf Geppert, wgeppert (at) fysik.su.se
Muriel Gargaud, muriel.gargaud (at) u-bordeaux.fr
Nigel Mason, nigel.mason (at) open.ac.uk