On August 19, we held our second Roundtable on Current Issues. This session, entitled “Oceans in the Solar System: exploring the origin of life and habitability of water bodies on Mars, Europa and Earth”, discussed the evidence for water bodies outside the Earth, and their implications for the origins of life and planetary habitability. Our first speaker was Dr. Timothy Goudge from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin and the UT Center for Planetary Systems Habitability (CPSH). He reviewed the current geologic and geochemical clues that point towards a Martian surface that may have been entirely covered by rivers, lakes, and oceans. He will also discussed our next steps forward in planetary exploration, namely the scientific goals of NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover, which will explore an ancient water body. Dr. Krista Soderlund, also from UT Austin and UT CPSH, journeyed us further into the depths of the Solar System to explore the present-day possibility of oceans in Europa, one of Jupiter’s icy moons. Her work comprises planetary fluid dynamics and geophysical numerical simulations, and will play a key part in the upcoming NASA Europa Mission. Lastly, Dr. Mary Voytek, Director of the NASA Astrobiology Program, focused on the possibility of life in the exciting habitats outlined by Dr. Goudge and Dr. Soderlund.
On July 22nd, 1-3 PM UTC, we will start a new Webinar series. This first session will have a unique group of speakers: Fabien Cousteau, Jacques Rougerie and Peter Weiss. The moderator will be Gui Menezes, Regional Secretary for the Sea, Science and Technology of the Government of the Azores. They will discuss human life in extreme environments, From the Deep Sea to the Outer Space.