Montana State University

NASA scientist to lecture May 5 on life on Mars

April 19, 2010 -- MSU News Service

Several NASA rovers have discovered evidence that leads scientists to believe that habitable environments once existed on Mars.   High-Res Available

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
BOZEMAN--A visiting scientist from NASA will discuss the evidence of life on Mars at a free community lecture on Wednesday, May 5, in Bozeman.

Dave Des Marais of NASA's Ames Research Center in California will discuss why researchers believe that habitable environments probably existed on Mars more than three billion years ago. The Opportunity rover found evidence of saline lakes and groundwater on Mars, while the Spirit rover discovered rocks altered by liquid water and pure silica formed by hydrothermal activity. Orbiters have discovered widespread additional mineralogical evidence of ancient watery environments.

Des Marais is a member of the science teams of NASA's 2009 Mars Science Laboratory mission, 2005 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter mission, and the 2003 Mars Exploration Rover mission, a role that earned him the honor of throwing out the first pitch at a San Francisco Giants baseball game later in May. Des Marais also heads the Ames Research Center NASA Astrobiology Institute, and, as such, collaborates with MSU's astrobiology center to study the origins, distribution and evolution of life in the universe.

The free public lecture begins at 7 p.m. at the Emerson Center for the Arts and Culture, 111 S. Grand Avenue in Bozeman. Light refreshments will be served.

The presentation is part of the Community Lecture Series sponsored by Montana State University's Thermal Biology Institute, Astrobiology Biogeocatalysis Research Center and NSF-EPSCoR.

For more information, visit

Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or