Astrobiology is the study of life in the universe and encompasses the origins of life and its presence elsewhere in our Solar System and beyond. Astrobiology seeks answers to the question "Are we alone in the universe", the answer to which will have profound implications for the human race.

Fundamental Questions


What are the Origins of Life?

The origins and nature of the first living organism are unknown. Was the first replicating organism an RNA molecule or a loose association of proteins? In what environment and under what circumstances did the first living organism on Earth arise? IARC's research examines the formation of the early Earth and its environment to help answers these questions.

Building Blocks

How are the Building Blocks of Life Created?

Organic molecules used in living organisms, such as amino acids and sugars, are present in meteorites and cosmic dust. Were these chemicals used as the building blocks of the first organisms, and how did they form? IARC's research involves examination of the formation of organic components in interstellar space and the changes they underwent in the Solar System.

Fundamental Q.s 2


Is there Life on Mars?

Did living organisms arise on the planet Mars and do they survive today? IARC is activity involved in the search for life on Mars through space missions, studies of terrestrial micro-organisms and the analysis of the chemical, isotopic and mineralogical signatures of microbes within rocks.


Is there Life on Europa?

Does life exist in the subterranean oceans of Europa, one of the Moons of Jupiter? IARC's research on the nature of impacts and impact craters on icy moons, like Europa, will help us constrain the nature of oceans on these planetary objects and their potential as habitats.

Research Areas

  • Antarctic cryptoendolithic micro-organisms as analogs of martian life.
  • Microbial organisms in geothermal systems on Earth and Mars.
  • Detecting organic molecules on the surface of Mars
  • Seismic investigation of the surface of Mars
  • Organics in asteroids and comets