Summer School: Impacts and their Role in the Evolution of Life

The course “Impacts and their Role in the Evolution of Life” will take place from 5 to 14 September 2023 in the picturesque city of Nördlingen which is situated inside the world-famous Ries crater in southern Germany.  It aims to give students a thorough introduction in the role of meteorite and comets impacts in the formation of Earth, its atmosphere and the evolution of life. The course consists of lectures, pratical exercises and student-led discussions. Participants will also have the possibility to display their own research results in one or two poster sessions. The European Astrobiology Institute  and the Stockholm University Astrobiology Centre, the Ries Crater Museum and the University of Neu-Ulm will function as co-organisers of the course and the following subjects will be covered by the lectures:

  • Roles of impacts in the formation of habitable planets
  • Physical and chemical properties of comets and meteorites
  • Detection and investigation of impact craters by geological methods and remote sensing from space
  • Ecological consequences of impacts and the role of impacts in mass extinctions
  • Transfer of life through meteorite impacts
  • Threat of life on our planet by near-Earth asteroids and comets

The lecture programme will be complemented by practical exercises concerning:

  • Investigations of Suevite formations
  • Analysis of pollen indicators impact events.
  • Microscopy of impactites
  • Outreach work for a conference on “Impacts and their role in the evolution of life” in Nördlingen in autumn 2024

We also will have two one-day excursions, one around the Ries Crater and one to the Steinheim crater with its famous central uplift feature.

Participants will also have the possibility to display their own research results in two poster sessions.

Eligible Participants

The event is aimed for graduate (masters and Ph. D.) students and early career scientists. Senior scientists are also welcome! Citizen scientists are also eligible but have lower priority, The event is open to applicants from all nationalities. Detailed information about the summer school and the application procedure (deadline 31 May 2023) can be found here. Successful applicants,  will however. have to organise financial means for their travel , meals and lodging themselves. We will offer meals and both youth hostel and hotel accommodation at very good prices to attendees. Course credit awards (ECTS points) for undergraduate and Ph. D. students will be recommended to students to their home institutions by the course organisers. Please see the Application page  for details about the application.

Confirmed Lecturers

Alexis Brandeker

Stockholm Univeristy Astrobiology Centre, Sweden

Elmar Buchner

University of Applied Sciences, Neu-Ulm, Germany

Bethany Ehlmann

Caltech, USA

Ludovic Ferrière

Natural History Museum, Vienna, Austria

Martin Hilchenbach

Max Planck Institute for Solar system Research, Germany

Stefan Hölzl

Ries Crater Museum, Vienna, Austria

Anna Łosiak

Polish Academy of Sciences

Kai Wünnemann

Museum of Natural History, Berlin Germany

Lidia Pittarello

Natural History Museum, Vienna, Austria

Wolf Geppert

Stockholm University Astrobiology Centre, Sweden

Vivi Vajda

National Museum of Natural History, Sweden

Course Fees

Participants from Institutions Inside EAI

Participants from Institutions outside EAI

Course fees coverall most every thing, namely:

  • Lodging in en-suite rooms (apart from for day guests) with shower/bath room and separate WC
  • Breakfasts (not for day guests though), dinners and lunches and coffee breaks from 4 September evening to to 15 September morning.
  • Free mineral water and fruits at thesumer school site
  • Soft drinks with meals
  • Excursions and exercises
  • Course material

For a list of institutions participating in the European Astrobiology Institute, click here. Sadly, we cannot financially support attendees to the summer school.

Instructions for payment will be given to participants in due course.

School Venue

Klösterle Nördlingen hotel

Beim Klösterle 1, 86720 Nördlingen, Germany

Lectures and poster sessions will take place in the Klösterle Hotel in the city centre of the medieval town Nördlingen, Germany. The venue is only a 10 min walk ride from the Nördlingen railway station.

Accommodation for participants will be either at this hotel or at the  JUFA hotel, which is only a 5 min close to the railway station). Exercises will take place at the Ries crater and Steinheim crater sites. Please see the Venue & Access page for details.

Reserve your spot today!

Summer School
Nördlingen, Germany
5 - 14 September 2023


The main organiser of the event will be the European Astrobiology Institute will be Dr. Wolf Geppert from Stockholm University. For scientific questions he will serve as the main contact person. For administrative issues (e.g. payment) please contact Mariette Vandermersch. The organisers are looking forward to welcoming you at the course. See you in Nördlingen in September 2023 !