Sponsored by: Ruen Drilling, Inc.
The Latest News from Mars
Peter Smith, Lunar and Planetary Sciences Department, University of Arizona
Abstract: With the release of the hugely popular movie, “The Martian,” there has been a renewed interest in Mars for its promise as a destination for astronauts and for the possibility that it hosted a second genesis. This talk will review our current knowledge about its geology and hydrology with emphasis on potential habitability both for humans and for microbes. I will discuss the new missions that are being prepared for launch next year and beyond to follow up on the exciting discoveries made over the last few years. NASA is already planning for a human mission in 2035 and potential landing sites are being considered.
Bio: In 1995 my team at the UA delivered the Pathfinder camera called IMP to the Jet Propulsion Lab little knowing that 20 years late it would be starring in a Hollywood movie. My career started shortly after the first astronauts walked on the Moon and continued throughout NASA’s incredible exploration of the solar system. Having been closely involved with a multitude of missions to various planets, my Mars experience started with Pathfinder (1997) and led to my becoming the Principal Investigator of the Phoenix Mission that landed on the northern plains of Mars in 2008. I am currently retired, but still a co-investigator of two Mars missions as well as an imaging scientist on OSIRIS-REx, a sample return mission to an asteroid named Bennu.