Mars Exploration and the Search for Life in the Universe — West Michigan Chapter
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Mars Exploration and the Search for Life in the Universe

When: September 18, 2020
7:00 pm EDT
Where: Zoom (link in event description)
United States
Contact: Derek Schuurman

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Mars Exploration and the Search for Life in the Universe 

The inquisitive nature with which God has endowed humans has led us to search for life elsewhere in the universe. We live in a vast expanse, and it seems uncanny that Earth should be the only place to harbor life. The Drake equation (SETI meeting, 1961) attempts to estimate the number of possible civilizations that could communicate with us, but the equation’s terms are highly uncertain. One such term addresses the likelihood of finding life on any given planet that is in a star's habitable zone. It turns out that our neighboring planet, Mars, was quite habitable in the first several billion years of solar-system history, with freshwater lakes and rivers, and probably an ocean. The Curiosity rover has been studying organic materials on Mars since their discovery in Gale crater in 2013. That work will be continued by the Perseverance rover, being sent to Mars this year. “Percy” is to collect and cache samples for a future mission to return to Earth, where they can be studied more intensively, to understand if any of these organic materials are biological in origin. I am leading the ChemCam and SuperCam laser instruments on these two rovers. I will describe our Mars discoveries so far and plans for upcoming exploration, all intended to address the questions of habitability and life on Mars, and by extension, of life in the universe.

Date / Time of the Event: September 18, 2020 from 7-9:30pm

Presenters: Derek Schuurman, Ralph Stearley, and Roger Wiens

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Meeting ID: 882 7191 5154
Passcode: 061591
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