LIFE was initiated in 2017 and officially kicked-off in 2018 with the goal to develop the science, the technology and a roadmap for an ambitious space mission that will allow humankind to detect and characterize the atmospheres of hundreds of nearby extrasolar planets including dozens that are similar to Earth. Thanks to NASA's Kepler and TESS missions and dedicated, long-term exoplanet searches from the ground, we know that small, rocky exoplanets are ubiquitous in the Milky Way and also in the immediate Solar neighbourhood. Detecting the nearest exoplanets, scrutinizing their atmospheres and searching for habitable conditions and indications of biological activity is a cornerstone of 21st century astrophysics. LIFE will allow us to empirically assess our place amongst our neighbours in this vast Cosmos.

 Of the four terrestrial planets in our Solar System, Venus, Earth and Mars possess significant atmospheres.

Will exoplanets with similar properties in size and mass have also similar atmospheres? How common are habitable exoplanets?

(Image credit: ESA 2001. Illustration by Medialab.)