Tuesday 11 June 2019 7:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Little green (wo)men are out; microbes are in. The search for life beyond Earth has accelerated in recent decades since the lull following the Mars Viking missions of the 1970s. Both the 'Goldilocks Zone" and Icy Worlds are receiving intense scrutiny. This talk will cover what, how and why in the quest for extra-terrestrial life in the Solar System in the current and coming decades, especially on the Red Planet. We will also touch on how the search for the earliest fossils on Earth aids exploration for ET-life, the burden of planetary protection for future robotic and human space missions, and plans.
Professor Kathleen Campbell is an astrobiologist, paleoecologist and geologist. She trained in the USA and joined the University of Auckland in 1997 after a post-doc in Exobiology at NASA Ames Research Center. She is the inaugural Director of Te Ao Mārama - Centre for Fundamental Inquiry, a multi-disciplinary group exploring the origin and evolution of the Universe and its life. Her research focuses on life in 'extreme environments' of early Earth, and possibly on Mars. She was recently awarded a RSNZ Marsden Fund grant to conduct scientific drilling to obtain pristine samples of the oldest life on land in ~3.5-billion-year-old hot springs of the Pilbara region, Western Australia. She is on the scientific team advocating a return to Columbia Hills, Gusev crater, for a future robotic Mars mission, to study, collect and cache samples of weirdly shaped silica features discovered by Spirit rover that may possibly preserve fossil microbes on the Red Planet.
Please register for this talk so we can plan seating for the expected numbers. A $5 donation on arrival at the door is appreciated but not compulsory.