COSAM » Events » 2019 » August » Physics Colloquium: Dr. Geronimo Villanueva

Physics Colloquium: Dr. Geronimo Villanueva (NASA)
Time: Aug 30, 2019 (03:00 PM)
Location: Leach Science Center 3142

Mars: Probing its past habitability and preparing for its exploration

We recently established that Mars lost an ocean’s worth of water, while the Curiosity rover has recently detected organics on the Martian surface and in the atmosphere. If Mars had a rich chemical and diverse past, how much of these biomarkers were lost to space, and how much are currently stored in the sub-surface? Are sub-surface habitable niches connecting now with the atmosphere?

The answers to these fundamental questions of Mars evolution and habitability lie in robotic investigations of the planet’s surface and atmosphere. In the last decade, we have obtained the most comprehensive search for organic material in the Martian atmosphere, permitting us to test for regions of active release and their evolution over time.

We are preparing for the human exploration of Mars, and these recent insights about Mars’ past habitability are greatly assisting us in identifying the most promising research sites. In this talk, I will present our latest discoveries with ExoMars/TGO and I will discuss the future steps taken by several space agencies in the exploration of the red planet.

Last updated: 08/30/2019