Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

Atmospheric Chemistry Program Seminar

Chemistry on Mars: The Search for Habitable Environments with Curiosity
Melissa Trainer,
Planetary Environments Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
"Following on decades of exploration of Mars, our knowledge of our neighboring planet has advanced well beyond observations of canals to the comprehensive characterization of surface topology and regional mineralogy. There are clear lines of evidence for past liquid water and a complex climate history. Yet some of the fundamental questions remain: Was there ever life on Mars? Could there have been life on Mars? The Curiosity rover carries the most advanced analytical laboratory sent to another planet, and over the past four and half years the mission has performed a detailed in situ investigation of Gale Crater. The Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite in particular has quantified geochemical indicators that demonstrate the environment could have supported life, and has achieved detection of the first organic molecules on Mars. Atmospheric measurements by SAM have identified signatures of planetary change over billions of years and monitored modern activity. This presentation will recount the most important findings on the chemistry of Mars to date, and will discuss the implications for our understanding of whether the red planet was ever habitable."


Wednesday, April 25, 2018
2:30pm to 3:30pm