Are We Alone?
Astrobiology, Extreme Environments, and Mars Exploration!
The third seminar in the JPL series, "Are We Alone?", was held on Thursday, February
22, 2007, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. The presenter was Dr. Jack Farmer,
Full Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences and Director of Arizona
State University's Astrobiology Program. Dr. Farmer talked about astrobiology, extreme
environments, and some of the extreme places we have found life thriving, and the
applications of these to Mars exploration.
Sixty (60) participants were present at the live Web Seminar in addition to the
presenter and the NSTA staff. Participating educators represented the states of
Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine,
Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North
Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas. One participant joined the seminar from Puerto
Rico and another attended from Denmark.
Dr. Jack Farmer shared three conclusions with the audience: (1) The search for Martian
life involves two distinctly different paths: Looking for extant life and looking
for fossil biosignatures. (2) Life is found over a much broader range of environmental
extremes than once believed, including extremes of temperature, pH, salinity, water,
and oxygen availability. (3) This fact opens up exploration for life elsewhere in
the Solar System to an equally broad range of surface and subsurface environments.
All participants received a copy of NSTA's SciGuide about A Close-Up Look at the
Red Planet, grades 5-8.
Here are some comments provided by the participants at the end of the Web Seminar:
- "As Solar system Ambassador I need as much information as possible about
topic. Kids and teachers are always asking questions about Astrobiology
now I'm more than ready to answer questions that before the
seminar I could not
- "It gave me a new perspective on the question of what is life? I didn't realize
life could exist in some extreme environments."
- "This was a great overview for the possibility of life on other planets.
information will help me with the Aliens Project my physics students
do every year."
- "We are working on a summer program on astrobiology. So many things
shared will be great hooks for us to get our visitors to think
about and understand
what life might be like in other parts of our solar system
or even in our galaxy."
Thanks to the participants and the presenter for the learning opportunity, the interactions,
and a job well done!
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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Underwritten by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory