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Plenary - David Flannery - The Search for Ancient Microbial Life on Mars

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Event description

Please join us for this Plenary talk by David Flannery at the State Library Theatre.

Abstract: Several decades of study, notably including ancient rocks in Australia’s Pilbara region, have led to the revelation that complex microbial ecosystems were ubiquitous on Earth for at least the last three and a half billion years. Earth’s first billion years, which presumably saw the origin and early evolution of life, seem destined to remain a mystery since no well-preserved sedimentary rocks have survived from this time period.

Technological progress is now allowing us to look further afield to rocky planets elsewhere in our solar system. Mars retains sediments that were deposited four or more billion years ago, and recent Mars rover missions have discovered habitable environments preserved in this record. The race is now on to collect and return samples that may contain evidence for life on an early Mars, the keys to understanding life’s origin on Earth, and ultimately our place in the universe.

Bio: David is a planetary scientist with an interest in ancient habitable environments of the inner solar system and the technology needed to explore them. Formerly based at Caltech and NASA JPL where he developed science instrumentation for space missions, he now lives in Brisbane, Australia, where is a long term planner for NASA’s Perseverance Rover mission.

The talk will be 45-50 minutes long followed by questions.

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