Is there life on Mars?
As part of the Astrobiology Lecture Series, a NASA research scientist with expertise in Martian studies is coming to McGill University to share his ideas about life on other planets and his plans for future manned missions to Mars.
Dr Christopher McKay, a planetary research scientist with the Space Division of NASA's Ames Research Centre will deliver a Beatty Memorial Lecture at McGill University entitled The Quest for Life on Other Worlds. It will take place on Wednesday, March 19, 2003 at 5:00 pm, in the H. Noel Fieldhouse Auditorium, Leacock Building Room 132, 855 Sherbrooke Street West.
Christopher McKay focuses his research on the evolution of the solar system and the origin of life. He is actively involved in planetary investigations to find evidence about the possibility of extraterrestrial life. McKay has done extensive work on the atmosphere of Titan (the largest moon of Saturn and second largest moon in the solar system) and past conditions on Mars.
Here on Earth, Dr McKay conducts his search for life in the most hostile environments. He has traveled to the Antarctic, Siberia, the Canadian Arctic and the Gobi desert to study the robust organisms that survive these extreme conditions. His findings are helping to form the basis of ongoing planning for future Mars missions, including human settlements.
In his public lecture, McKay will discuss the strategy and planning to search for evidence of past life on Mars and Europa (a moon of Jupiter whose resources indicate it may harbor life) and how we could determine if life on Mars represented a second genesis of life. While at McGill, McKay will also meet with staff, faculty and students of Earth and Planetary Sciences.
McGill University is actively engaged in teaching and research of astrobiology, which is defined as the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe. The University is an Associate member of the Astrobiology Institute at NASA Johnson Space Centre and the Canadian Space Agency. Under the direction of Professor Wayne Pollard, of the Department of Geography, McGill has established a research field station in the Arctic as an analogue site for Mars. In 2000, Dr Hojatollah Vali, Professor in Biomineralogy in the Departments of Earth and Planetary Sciences, and Anatomy and Cell Biology, and Director of the Facility for Electron Microscopy Research, created an interdisciplinary course in Astrobiology. The class, consisting of 100-150 undergraduate students every year, is exposed to the most current research in this exciting new field.
The Beatty Memorial Lectures offer free public lectures by renowned international researchers and speakers on topics of a broad range of interest.