Astrobiology is a highly interdisciplinary science aimed at studying the origin and potential distribution of life in the Universe. The success of Stanley Miller's 1953 experiment triggered a large number of studies that eventually led to the synthesis of important prebiotic molecules through plausible chemical pathways. Then, the discovery of prebiotic material in meteorites contributed to the rising interest in studies of the origins of life. At the same time, the beginning of the era of space missions disclosed the possibility to search for life in the Solar System. The interest in this search is testified by the numerous missions to Mars, which are still in full operation, and is kept alive by the prospect of exploring the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, where underground water oceans and lakes of hydrocarbons have been discovered. Meanwhile, studies of organisms in extreme conditions on Earth, in space, and in Martian-like environments are providing new insights into the physico-chemical limits of life. In the last two decades, the discovery of thousands of exoplanets has given birth to new fields of astrobiology, such as planetary habitability and search for atmospheric biosignatures. Recent, high-resolution images of proto-planetary disks are disclosing the possibility to understand how water and organics, the ingredients of life, are delivered on forming planets. Finally, the current research on the origin of life is also benefitting from the progress in genomic and biotechnological studies. In this general context, it is not surprising that the interest on astrobiology is felt as a priority by a growing number of scientists.
The conference will bring together scientists with widely diverse backgrounds with the aim of discussing fresh results obtained in the above mentioned fields. It will be an ideal continuation of previous astrobiology meetings organized in the Trieste area, such as the Third and the Fifth Workshops of the Italian Astrobiology Society, held in 2010 and 2015, respectively, and the seven Conferences on the Chemical Evolution and the Origin of Life held at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) between 1992 and 2003. The conference will be the XVII International Conference on Science, Arts and Culture, a series dedicated to Paolo Budinich, who played a major role in the establishment of the ICTP and in the subsequent creation of SISSA and other international institutions which make up the so called "Trieste system". For this reason the conference venue is Veli Loinj, Croatia, the town where Budinich was born. The conference will take place from 25th to 29th September, 2017, and is organized by ECSAC (the European Center for Science, Art and Culture), with the scientific support of the Italian Astrobiology Society (SIA), and the sponsorship of several Italian and Croatian Institutions, and of the International Institutions in Trieste.