About the talk:
The wealth of data provided by robotic spacecraft continues to revolutionise our understanding of the Solar System. However, observational data alone cannot provide this understanding without context. One approach to contextualising spacecraft data is through the study of natural analogues: locations on Earth which bear similarities to an extraterrestrial feature or process of interest, and which, unlike the planetary environment itself, are accessible for detailed study. Using this approach, planetary scientists and astrobiologists are able to gain insights into the geology, geochemistry and potential habitability of distant planetary bodies. In this talk, we will draw on examples from our own research to outline the benefits and limitations of natural terrestrial analogues and their role in planetary exploration.
About the speakers:
Dr Mark Fox-Powell
Mark is an AstrobiologyOU Research Fellow and his research centres around the oceans of ice-covered moons in the outer solar system, such as Europa and Ganymede (moons of Jupiter), and Enceladus and Titan (Saturn). He focuses on how material delivered to the surface by 'cryovolcanism' can be used to learn about the oceans below. His work involves experimental simulations of cryovolcanic processes and an array of spectroscopic, microscopic and geochemical techniques to track how ocean chemistry and microorgansisms can be delivered to the surface.
Dr Sevasti Filippidou
Sevi an AstrobologyOU Postdoctoral Research Assistant and is a Microbial Ecologist specialising in survival in extreme environments. She currently studying saline and desiccated ecosystems as Martian analogues. Sevi has previously worked at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, UK, at the German Aerospace Centre, and at the Laboratory of Microbiology in Neuchatel, Switzerland, where she also did her PhD on spore-forming bacteria in extreme environments. She has a degree in Molecular Biology and a MSc in Molecular Genetics/Cytogenetics.