Hikaru Yabuta is a professor at Hiroshima University (Japan). In 2002, she obtained her PhD in chemistry from University of Tsukuba (Japan) where she studied the organic geochemistry of the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event and Neogene oil formation. After her PhD, she began to investigate the chemical evolution of organic molecules in meteorites and comets. She was awarded a JSPS postdoctoral fellowship for Tokyo Metropolitan University (Japan) and Arizona State University (USA) from 2003 to 2005, and a Carnegie postdoctoral fellowship at the Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution of Washington (USA) from 2005 to 2008. She worked as an assistant professor at Osaka University (Japan) from 2008 to 2016. For more than a decade, she has been devoted to the carbonaceous asteroid sample–return mission, Hayabusa2, which returned the asteroid Ryugu samples to the earth in December, 2020. She is a leader of organic macromolecule sub-team of the initial analysis team.
André Antunes is an Associate Professor at the State Key Laboratory of Lunar and Planetary Sciences at Macau University of Science and Technology (MUST) in Macau, China and is the leader of the Astrobiology group. He is an expert in microbiology of extreme environments, having specialized in deep-sea and high salinity locations. His research and teaching career has included periods of work in several countries across Europe, as well as in Africa, and in the Middle East. His current research focus revolves around biodiversity and bioprospection of unexplored extreme environments, adaptation to environmental extremes and environmental gradients, geomicrobiology, and astrobiology.