Astrophysicist helps seek answers to the big scientific questions

A University astrophysicist has played a leading role in the launch of a new European institute seeking answers to some of the big scientific questions, such as whether there is life on Mars.

Professor Nigel Mason joined scientists from all over Europe in the Czech city of Liblice on 29 May for the launch of the European Astrobiology Institute (EAI).

The EAI will seek to take an interdisciplinary approach to dealing with fundamental questions in current science, such as ‘How and when did life emerge on Earth?’, ‘How did our solar system and life evolve and how will it develop in the future?’ and ‘Is there life on other celestial bodies?’.

Professor Mason said: ‘The questions of the origin of life, evolution of the solar system or existence of alien life, which are of utmost interest for scientists as well as all of humanity, will not be answered by one discipline alone and cannot be easily tackled by small research communities.

‘They require a coordinated approach involving many researchers with wide scientific backgrounds like physicists, astronomers, planetary scientists, geologists, biologists and many others’.

Professor Mason, Head of Kent’s School of Physical Sciences, is also Chair of the Europlanet Consortium, which promotes the advancement of European planetary science and related fields for the benefit of the community.