The Curiosity Mission is exploring Mars in a whole new way, with discoveries that are providing a more vivid picture of current and ancient Mars. The rover's search for habitable environments, for organic material, and for proof of once-flowing water has been remarkably successful. Next up is a climb of portions of three-mile high Mount Sharp, in order to read the eons-old mineral record. NASA's Pamela Conrad will focus on habitability—what conditions must be met to declare that an area had the capacity to support life. Marc Kaufman, author of "Mars Up Close: Inside the Curiosity Mission" will provide a mission overview. Carnegie's Andrew Steele will discuss the effort to identify organic material—the building blocks of life— in the desiccated and irradiated Gale Crater. The group will discuss new discoveries.
Dr. Pamela Conrad, Planetary Environments Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Pamela Conrad is an astrobiologist and mineralogist. She has worked for the past several years on the development of approaches and measurements for assessment of habitability in planetary surface environments and the development of non-invasive optical methods for the in situ chemical and mineralogical surface assessment of potential rock sample targets. Her planetary science interests include the comparative early evolution of Earth and Mars and the measurement of habitability potential on rocky bodies in the solar system.
Dr. Andrew Steele, Carnegie Institution for Science, Geophysical Laboratory
Andrew Steele uses traditional and biotechnological approaches for the detection of microbial life in astrobiology and solar system exploration. A microbiologist by training and Astrobiologist by choice, his principal interest is in developing protocols, instrumentation and procedures for life detection in samples from the early Earth and elsewhere in the Solar System
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