Nordic-NASA Summer School

Water, Ice and the Origin of Life
in the Universe

Iceland, 29 June-13 July 2009

Application deadline 1 March 2009 !

Aims and contents of the summer school

Water is fundamental to life as we know it on Earth. Among the central issues in astrobiology are the questions:

  • How it was  water formed in space?
  • What role does it play in planet formation ?
  • How did it finally reached Earth’s surface ?
  • How did life finally emerge in water under the extreme conditions prevailing on early Earth ?

The summer school “Water, ice and the Origin of Life in the Universe”, which will be held in Iceland from 29 June to 13 July 2009, aims to give participants a thorough high-level introduction into the role of water in the evolution of life in the cosmos, starting from formation of water molecules in space and ending with evolution of the first organisms. Lab work on extremophiles (especially organisms living in very hot or cold water) will complement the teaching, since a lot can be learned about the evolution of life under the very harsh conditions prevailing on early Earth by studying such species.

The Summer School will bring together students and researchers from a multitude of different science branches, making it a truly multidisciplinary event. It will be organised by the Nordic Network of Astrobiology Graduate Schools together with the NASA Astrobiology Institute.  Iceland is an ideal venue for such an event, providing ideal habitats for cold- and hot water extremophiles (subglacial lakes and hot springs).

Please click on the links for the summer school programme, a schedule in .doc format and information about the teachers.


Participation , funding & credits

The Summer school is mainly intended for graduate students and post–docs in astronomy, physics, geology, chemistry, biology and other related subjects. There will be about 40 participants.

Food, accommodation, excursions and teaching material will be provided free for students accepted by the Scientific Committee as participants from  Nordic Institutions by the Nordic Network of Astrobiology Graduate Schools and by the NASA Astrobiology Institute for participants from US institutions. A limited amount of funding for students from other  countries is available. 

Travel allowances (for a maximum of EUR 400,- for participants from Europe and USD 1000,- for participants from Eastern US as well as USD 1500,- from Western US. Please note: Non-Nordic and non-US participants studying or employed at universities outside the Nordic countries and the US will not be eligible for travel allowances. All these people, will however, bee entitled to free accommodation, food excursions and teaching material.

For successful participation at the summer school (including successful lab course) 4 ECTS points wil be awarded.

Credit awards for US students will be applied for by the course organisers. You will be formally registered as a student at the University of Iceland, therefore please bring a piece of identity to the registration. 


Venue and access

The  first (lectured) and third (lab work) part of the school will be held at the University of Iceland, Reykjavik. In the mid of the course, a 5-days excursion to inner Iceland (Hrauneyjar) will be undertaken. For further information about the venue and the access to it, click here.



Application deadline is March 1st 2009. Application forms can be downloaded here.


Course organisers

The summer school will be organised by Karen Meech (University of Hawai’i, USA) and Wolf D. Geppert (University of Stockholm, Sweden) in cooperation with the University of Iceland and the other scientists involved in the Nordic Network of Astrobiology Graduate Schools.


Practical infos