The ORIGINS Action addresses three basic questions that fascinate and intrigue scientists, and the general public alike, questions that are pivotal to our understanding and appreciation of our place in the Universe:

  • Where, when and how did life emerge and evolve on Earth?
  • What are the conditions under which life can exist?
  • Does life exist elsewhere in the Universe and, if it does, how can it be detected and identified?

Today, for the first time it is possible to develop a robust scientific programme to explore these fundamental questions. This requires a transdisciplinary alliance drawing on researchers from astronomy, biology, chemistry, engineering, geosciences, physics, and philosophy.

For example, physicists and chemists can simulate the prebiotic conditions existing on interstellar ices or on the early Earth but can only do so if provided with data from astronomical observations and models or, in case of early Earth, ancient geological records provided by geologists. Hence, to develop the transdisciplinary research programmes necessary to explore the above three fundamental questions it is vital to assemble interdisciplinary teams that will provide a forum for effective exchange of information and this is best done on a European scale, pooling national resources. The TDP COST Action “ORIGINS” intends to provide the roadmap and framework to answer these questions.

This endeavour is extremely timely since in the last decade the European Research Area (ERA), with the European Space Agency (ESA) has established itself as a competitor to the larger (and, until now, better funded) National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) space research programme thanks to successful missions such as the Mars Express (the first purely European mission to another planet), the launch of Rosetta to study and land on a comet, the ongoing success of the European Instrument packages on the joint ESA/NASA Cassini-Huygens mission to the Saturnian system and the European Union’s (EU’s) major commitment to the European Southern Observatory (ESO) through the use of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) and Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA). Together with the development of the European Aurora programme to explore the solar system and ultimately send humans to Mars, the ERA will have the opportunity to establish itself as a leader in exploration of the solar system and the Universe. In this context, the Action will also play its part in stimulating younger Europeans and to produce not only a scientifically skilled workforce but also a scientifically literate public capable of appreciating and supporting its industry and encouraging their children to study the sciences. Indeed few scientific topics provide the opportunity for developing public engagement in the importance and appeal of science as the exploration of our origins and searching for life beyond Earth.

Our action is divided into five themes, corresponding to the five Working Groups (WGs) set out in the “Action Structure

WG1 : Understanding the formation and evolution of planetary systems and habitable planets

WG2 : Searching for the origins of the building blocks of life

WG3 : Tracing the origin and evolution of life on Earth and finding its limits

WG4 : Detecting life on other planets and satellites

WG5 : History and philosophy of science

The very important aspects of “training and education” and “dissemination and outreach” ( which are common to all WGs) will be lead by two teams: 

Team 1 : Education and Training

Team 2 : Dissemination and Outreach






CSO Approval date: 14/11/2013
Starting date: 15/05/2014
Ending date: 14/05/2018

Action Chair:
Dr. Muriel GARGAUD (FR)

Vice chair:
Prof. Wolf GEPPERT (SE)

STSM Manager:
Prof. Nigel MASON (UK)

Web Manager:



Grant Holder Financial Representative:

Mrs Annick Caperan

Science Officer:
Dr. Mafalda QUINTAS

Administrative Officer:
Ms Ange Marie Ina Uwase



A Trans-Domain Action supported by COST.

COST is supported by the EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020



Involved countries

View the Interactive Map
of Member Countries

Participating Countries
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom

COST International Partner Countries
Canada (UQAM), South Africa (Univ. of Johanesburgh), Russian Federation (Institute of Geology, Petrozavodsk), Australia (University of Sydney), United States of America (University of Hawai)

Specific Organisations
European Space Agency (ESA)

Short Term Scientific Missions (STSMs)

Aiming at fostering collaboration, sharing new techniques, and infrastructure that may not be available in other participants' institutions or laboratories. STSMs are intended especially for young PhD researchers, but they are open to senior researchers as well. View the documents at this link.

 It should be explicitely noted that Master students are not eligible for STSMs which are for PhD students and more experienced researchers.

The life-Origins COST Project

Life-ORIGINS (TD1308) is a Trans Domain European COST Action dedicated to the scientific investigation of the origins and evolution of life on Earth and habitability of other planets.

The Action has specifically excluded the search for intelligent extraterrestrial life in its portfolio. Creationist theorems are also outside the Action’s remit.

Individuals are not allowed to use the name of the Action, its logo or any corporate identity of COST TD1308 in any communication without prior approval of the Management Committee.

All publications referencing the support of the Action should be sent to the appropriate Working Group chair at the time of submission.