Origin of Life

Explore life on Earth, and beyond?

Understanding the emergence of life on Earth and searching for life elsewhere in the universe are among the main challenges of modern science.

The question of the origin of life on Earth, and its possible presence around other stars, has been a dream for philosophers and thinkers from past centuries. Yet it is now becoming a real scientific issue that can be addressed thanks to recent progresses in several scientific fields. Space exploration has generated considerable interest for the question of current and past habitability of the solar system’s planetary bodies. The discoveries of thousands of new exoplanets have in parallel revolutionized our ideas about the possibilities for life beyond our solar system.


The Origin of Life project aims to understand the chemical processes “before life” on Earth: to define habitability conditions for both solar system planets and exoplanets, and to detect the few most favorable exoplanets to test for presence of life in a near future. These focuses will allow us to place Earth into context (as a habitable planet among others), to explore our origins as living beings, and to take a fresh look at our planet.


The quest for the origin of life as a research topic is naturally at the crossroads of many disciplines, involving research in chemistry, biology, planetology, astrophysics, geology, palaeontology... Grenoble brings together a large community of researchers in these disciplines, working together to bring major scientific advances on the emergence of life on Earth and the search for life elsewhere.

Project's organization...

The IDEX funding will enable the Origin of Life project’s community to work together on strong interdisciplinary themes. Our teams are at the forefront of several thematic areas and are now ready to meet new challenges that require cross-fertilization of disciplines. The aim of this financing is to enable Univ. Grenoble Alpes to become an essential center for this field at the European level.

... and its international visibility

Origin of Life will enable Grenoble to be a strong node in a national, European or even global strategy. It will strengthen our position in major international life research projects. This project is part of a global ambition (first priorities for most space agencies around the world) and is ideally structured to lead, participate in or exploit major instruments to explore habitability and search for life, such as ALMA/ESO, JWST/NASA, SPIRou/CFHT, ExTrA, TESS/NASA, CHEOPS/ESA, JUICE/ESA, ExoMars/ESA, MARS2020/NASA... 

The organization of our community, thanks to the IDEX funding, makes the Grenoble pole a very important center for the discipline of the origin of life. The results from our project will ensure high academic visibility. 

The theme of the origin of life on Earth and its detection around other stars has a very high exposure with the general public, since it concerns a fundamental issue for a large part of humanity. The results of this project will be taken up in part by the press or in centers for scientific culture, ensuring high visibility to the citizen.

Updated on  February 28, 2023