University of Cambridge > > Institute of Astronomy Colloquia > Searching for Life on Mars

Searching for Life on Mars

Add to your list(s) Download to your calendar using vCal

If you have a question about this talk, please contact scott chapman.

Eddington Lecture 2010

Since at least the 17th century, scientists have wondered about the chances of finding life on Mars. They were taunted by blurry images seen through primitive telescopes that allowed a wide variety of interpretations concerning the surface characteristics. By the early 20th century science fiction writers created fantasy worlds that brought great excitement to the first missions to Mars in the 1960’s. But space missions reveal a dry, cold barren world albeit with a wet and volcanically active past so that any lifeforms could only have thrived in the early years of Mars’ history, that is billions of years ago. Any existing life on Mars is scarce and microbial in size limited to those locations that allow liquid water to be periodically stable. Scientists are encouraged in their search by the diversity of hardy communities populating the most extreme environments on Earth. Despite the dead-planet model a new series of missions is finding habitable zones that may yet contain clues to Martian life. The Phoenix mission is one such attempt to find habitable environments associated with the permafrost in the northern polar region.

This talk is part of the Institute of Astronomy Colloquia series.

Tell a friend about this talk:

This talk is included in these lists:

Note that ex-directory lists are not shown.


© 2006-2024, University of Cambridge. Contact Us | Help and Documentation | Privacy and Publicity