One of the most exciting possibilities for life beyond Earth doesn’t require us going very far. While Mercury and the Moon have no atmosphere and Venus is an inferno-esque hellscape, Mars offers a tantalizing possibility for a new line of life, independent of Earth, here in our Solar System. With the same raw ingredients and more than a billion years of a watery, wet past, Mars could have had, or might even still have today, some form of life on its surface.
Part of the reason Mars is so exciting for us is that we’ve been there: at least, robotically, with a series of orbiters, landers, and even rovers. We’ve seen and learned so much about the red planet, including some tantalizing hints of what might be biological activity. But there’s so much more to learn, and we’re reaching the limits of what we can accomplish without having human beings walk on the Martian surface.
On this episode of the Starts With A Bang podcast, we’re joined by Mars expert Dr. Tanya Harrison, who’s worked on three generations of Mars Rovers and is a strong advocate for a variety of future missions to Mars. Join us for this fascinating conversation where she lays out what we know, what remains uncertain, and what we’ll need to do if we want to take those next, critical steps. (And, as a bonus, she corrects one or two of my misconceptions along the way!)
Mars expert Tanya Harrison shares the details on some of the newest discoveries about Mars’ history, including the discovery of an impact crater thought to be linked to a megatsunami in Mars’ ancient ocean and the discovery of opals, a water-rich gem, in Gale Crater. Stick around for What’s Up as we let you know what to look for this week in the night sky.
Tanya Harrison never thought she was going to be an astronaut. But she was determined to go to space. And she did just that – through satellites, first to Mars, and now looking back at our own third rock from the Sun as she uses satellites to map places near and far. We talked with her about what it’s like to be a Martian, making science more accessible to those with disabilities, and what it’s like to view some of the most beautiful places on Earth.
Mars may be the most studied, most discussed planet in our universe. What is this fascination?
On this edition, Dean and Anna welcome Dr. Tanya Harrison – geologist, planetary scientist, and purveyor of Professional Martian LLC. She’s a science communicator and educator known on social media as Tanya of Mars.