Talk on the search for life in the solar system is April 20

Talk on the search for life in the solar system is April 20

Dr. Dana Backman of the SOFIA Project (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) and the SETI Institute will speak on recent progress and discoveries in the search for life in the solar system. Her talk, titled “Looking for Life in All the Right Places: An Astrobiological Tour of the Solar System,” will be given from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, April 20, in the ,O’Shaughnessy Educational Center auditorium. A question-and-answer session will follow the talk.

This event is free and open to the public. Leave a message on the University of St. Thomas Division of Sciences phone, (651) 962-5215, to reserve spaces for your party.

About the lecture
Are we alone in the universe?  If not, is there a chance that we may find life in our own neighborhood?

As soon as the Copernican revolution made humanity aware that the Earth is one planet among many, speculation began about the possibility that other planets might be inhabited. The main focus of interest always has been Mars, with the most Earth-like surface conditions of any planet. Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, recently have found clear evidence that Mars was once wetter and warmer than at present.

In addition, Viking Mars lander soil-test results from the 1970s indicated possible biological activity, and some investigators believe Mars rock ALH84001 contains fossil microbes plus their metabolic products. Beyond Mars, there is evidence for liquid water under ice crusts on Jupiter’s moons, Europa and Ganymede, and Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, as well as abundant organic compounds in the atmosphere and on the surface of Saturn’s moon, Titan.

Could any of these worlds harbor Earth-like water-and-carbon-based life? Astrobiology research and planetary exploration may reveal answers within just a few decades.

Read more about Backman on the SETI Institute Web site.

This talk is part of a series titled “American Astronomical Society Shapley Lecture Series,” sponsored by the University of St. Thomas Physics Department, Physics Club and by the American Astronomical Society Shapley Lecture Program.

Questions? Contact Dr. Joshua Nollenberg, (651) 962-5207.