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The Square Kilometre Array and the origins of life

Submitter: Matthijs van der Wiel
Description: The symposium Fundamentals of Life in the Universe was held on August 31st and September 1st. Taking place at the Energy Academy building on the Groningen University campus (see bottom left), the symposium featured presenters from a wide range of scientific disciplines, including astronomers, biologists, geologists, chemists, and physicists. The aim of this symposium -- and the freshly started Origins Center -- is to facilitate interdisciplinary connections to tackle fundamental questions about the emergence of life in the Universe and on Earth.

The symposium was attended by a delegation from ASTRON & JIVE (see top left), who had a fruitful time during the reception and poster session [1], and advertised the capabilities of the planned Square Kilometre Array (SKA) observatory in the context of studying the prerequisites for life [2]. The SKA's capabilities will be ideally suited to study centimetre-size particles in protoplanetary disks, on their way to forming potentially life-bearing terrestrial planets. It will also study prebiotic molecules and exoplanet magnetic fields, map out star and planet forming regions throughout the Galaxy, and take the next step in the search for signals from technological civilizations beyond Earth. At this symposium, we made clear that development of the SKA is important for this field of research, the "Route 4" of the Dutch National Science Agenda.

[1] From left to right: Huib Jan van Langevelde, Matthijs van der Wiel, Joeri van Leeuwen.
[2] In addition to the delegation, credits go to Jess Broderick, Michiel van Haarlem, and the SKA Cradle of Life science working group for providing input for the poster presentation.
Copyright: Matthijs van der Wiel
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