19 September 2008

Public Lecture: Life on Mars: Phoenix & Beyond

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Speaker/Host: Professor Malcolm Walter
Venue: Manning Clarke Centre Lecture Theatre 1, ANU

NASA’s Phoenix lander has ‘tasted’ water on Mars. On Earth, where there is water below about 150 degrees centigrade, there is life. There have long been observations suggesting the presence of water on Mars, but now we have a direct analysis. Phoenix has also given us new information about the “soil” on Mars. There are oxidising compounds, but the soil has nutrients that could sustain life. It is comparable to the soils of the Atacama Desert in Chile, and there is certainly life there. The Phoenix lander discoveries provide further clues that microbial life could have existed on Mars. If it was once there, almost certainly it still is. If such proof could be uncovered then it would be possible to say something about the extent of life elsewhere in the universe. Does that mean we may, one day, find intelligence elsewhere among the stars? Australia has a unique role to play in the quest for life beyond Earth. This presentation explores what we are learning from Australia’s clues to the origin of life on Earth, and the connection to the latest results from Mars.

Professor Walter is a world expert on early life on Earth and its impact in the search for life elsewhere in the universe. He has worked extensively with NASA in helping to lay the groundwork for today’s exploration of Mars by robotic space probes, and in locating the geological circumstances for possible past and present life on Mars. He is Director of the Australian Centre for Astrobiology at the University of New South Wales.

This lecture is free and open to the public.
Refreshments will be served from 6-6:30pm.
This is an ANU Public Lecture in conjunction with the 8th Australian Space Science Conference.

Website: http://aca.unsw.edu.au
Enquiries: Carol Oliver on 0417 477 612

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Swaggie – try this link: http://aca.unsw.edu.au/News&Events.htm

Q: How does one become an Astrobiologist?

Shame that link doesn’t work.

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