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CAS Dean's Lecture Series: The Exploration of Mars
This lecture is part of the CAS Dean's Lecture Series.
Presenter: By Dr. Bruce Jakosky, University of Colorado-Boulder
Mars appears to meet (or have met in the past) all of the environmental conditions required to be able to support life. Combined with the relative ease of exploring Mars since it is so close to the Earth, this sets Mars apart from all other planets in our solar system or beyond. As a result, the multinational Mars exploration program is geared toward understanding the "habitability" of Mars by microbes, the history of the habitability (and of liquid water), and whether life actually could exist on Mars today or did exist in the past. A discovery of life on Mars would have real significance for our understanding of life in general. In addition, using Earth, Mars, and Venus as examples of the evolution of Earth-like planets, we can learn about the likely distribution of habitable planets around other stars. We have the very real possibility of discovering life elsewhere in our lifetimes, and either discovering life or searching and not discovering it will have profound implications for our understanding of the universe.
About the Speaker
Dr. Bruce Jakosky is a Professor inthe Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) and the Department ofGeological Sciences at the University of Colorado in Boulder, and is AssociateDirector for Science at LASP. His research interests are in the geologyof planetary surfaces, the evolution of the Martian atmosphere and climate, thepotential for life on Mars and elsewhere, and the philosophical and societalissues in astrobiology. He has been involved in Mars exploration sincethe Viking missions in 1976, and is the Principal Investigator of the MarsAtmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) that has been orbiting Mars for twoyears. He headed the University of Colorado's team in the NASAAstrobiology Institute for more than ten years. He has authored orco-authored a number of books, including The Search for Life on OtherPlanets and Science, Society, and the Search for Life in the Universe.
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