Results of the Phoenix Mission to Mars and Analog sites on Earth
Phoenix landed at 68N in the ice-rich ground on Mars and investigated the chemistry and geology of a polar site on Mars for the first time. The site is particularly interesting for astrobiology because 5 Myr ago the tilt of Mars' axis was 45 and the amount of sunlight reaching the Phoenix site at summer solstice is 2x the present value - Earth like levels. Understanding the microbial activity in high elevation dry permafrost in Antarctica provides a basis for considering habitability conditions on Mars during these periods of higher obliquity.
Speaker: Chris McKay, NASA Ames Research Center
Dr. Christopher P. McKay, Planetary Scientist with the Space Science Division of NASA Ames. Chris received his Ph.D. in AstroGeophysics from the University of Colorado in 1982 and has been a research scientist with the NASA Ames Research Center since that time. His current research focuses on the evolution of the solar system and the origin of life. He is also actively involved in planning for future Mars missions including human settlements. Chris has been involved with polar research since 1980, traveling to the Antarctic dry valleys and more recently to the Siberian and Canadian Arctic to conduct research in these Mars-like environments. Dr. McKay is a recepient of the prestigious Kuiper Award from the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society for his contributions.
Google Tech Talks
October 6, 2008