Looking for Life on Mars

Guest Speaker

Thursday, 1st April 2021 (19:45 - 21:00)

Venue: Virtual Meeting

Mars is our closest target in the search for life beyond Earth. 3.8 billion years ago, Mars had significant volcanism, a magnetic field, water on the surface and a thick atmosphere – at a time when life was starting on Earth. Mars now is cold and dry, and has a thin carbon dioxide atmosphere, with a harsh surface. We discuss current and future missions, especially the ESA-Russia Rosalind Franklin (ExoMars 2022)  rover. We will discuss the UK's roles in the mission, including our PanCam.  We will drill to 2m under the harsh Martian surface for the first time, to search for signs of past or even present life.

Speaker: Prof. Andrew Coates

Professor Andrew Coates gained a BSc in Physics from UMIST in 1978, and MSc (1979) and D.Phil. (1982) in plasma physics from Oxford University. He has been at UCL’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL) since 1982, with temporary guest positions at Max Planck Institute for Solar System Physics (Germany), University of Delaware (USA) and the BBC World service (media fellowship). He is now Deputy Director (solar system) at UCL-MSSL. Space mission involvements include the Rosalind Franklin (ExoMars 2022) rover where he leads the PanCam team, Cassini, where he leads the electron spectrometer team (part of the Cassini Plasma Spectrometer), Venus Express, Mars Express and Giotto. Scientific interests include the solar wind interaction with planets and comets, and space instrumentation; he has authored and co-authored over 530 publications, including over 430 refereed. He is currently a member of STFC Science Board. He is a active in space and science outreach, and is incoming President of the Society for Popular Astronomy.

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