Northern California Science Writers Association

Mars: What NASA missions tell us about the Red Planet's past

  • Tuesday, December 14, 2021
  • 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
  • Free Zoom event


Registration is closed

In 2021, three scientific missions went into orbit around or landed on the surface of Mars, sent by the U.S., China and the United Arab Emirates. As planetary exploration becomes a global enterprise, scientists — not to mention future colonists — are eagerly awaiting new data from these missions. Yet previous missions — mostly launched by NASA, which has successfully landed five rovers on the planet — have already rewritten the history of the Red Planet. Rover based observations have confirmed satellite-based interpretations of significant hydrologic activity on Mars, but have also provided key evidence of habitability and detected complex carbon compounds in sedimentary deposits.

Two UC Berkeley scientists currently involved with Mars missions will bring us to date on these discoveries and preview some of the potential discoveries by current and future missions. Including the one question that's on everyone's mind: Was there ever life on the planet?

William Dietrich, a geomorphologist, is a member of the science team for the 2011 Curiosity mission who has focused on constructing climate history from erosional and depositional features in Gale Crater and is now actively helping guide the rover to an ancient alluvial fan. David Shuster, a geochronologist, is a member of the science team for Mars 2020, which is directing the Perseverance rover to pick up rock samples that for the first time will be returned to Earth by an upcoming NASA sample return mission. Dietrich and Shuster are UC Berkeley professors of earth and planetary science.

Please join us as these experts discuss the discoveries, challenges and implications of exploring our solar system.

See below for Zoom call details.

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