Life on Mars? Visiting astronomer searches for answers
RELEASED: Nov. 3, 2005
DANVILLE, KYWorld-renowned astronomer Steven Squyres, Cornell University Goldwin Smith Professor of Astronomy, will unveil some of the mysteries about Mars in a free public lecture titled "Roving Mars: Spirit, Opportunity, and the Exploration of the Red Planet" on Nov. 10 at 8 p.m. in Newlin Hall.
Squyres' research focuses on Mars and the moons of the outer planets. He is currently the principal scientist for the Mars Exploration Rover Project.
Spirit and Opportunity, two remote-controlled rovers, have been exploring sites on opposite sides of Mars since January 2004. Once referred to as the "Energizer Bunnies of planetary exploration," the rovers were only expected to operate for 90 days. To this day the rovers continue to send exquisite postcard images back to Earth. This gives scientists hope that they will be able to discover whether there is life on Mars and that astronauts will someday be able to explore the planet.
Squyres says, "Finding evidence that life arose independently on another planet would be one of the most profound discoveries that humans could ever make. If you only know that a miracle has happened once, then it may be a rare, or even singular, event. But if you can prove that it happened twice in the same solar system—recognizing that there may be countless solar systems out there—it means that, while no less wondrous a miracle, it may be a universal one."
Philip Lockett, Centre associate professor of physics, says, "Centre College is fortunate to have Dr. Steven Squyers visit our campus. Dr. Squyers is not only one of the world's leading planetary astronomers but also an outstanding advocate and spokesperson for the field of astronomy."Squyres's lecture will be the capstone event of "Centre Science Day." Members of the Centre Science Fellows, a group of alumni, friends, faculty, and staff who have made generous donations in support of science and math initiatives at the College, have been invited back to campus to tour the laboratories and to speak with Centre faculty about what is happening in those laboratories today. Gifts from the Fellows, along with a generous grant from the Kresge Foundation, have resulted in an endowment fund to upgrade and maintain laboratory equipment.
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