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Alien Oceans and the Search for Life in the Depths of Space

July 5 @ 5:00pm-6:30pm


Where is the best place to search for alien life beyond Earth? It may be that the small, ice-covered moons of Jupiter and Saturn harbor some of the most habitable real estate in our Solar System. Life loves liquid water and these moons have lots of it. These ‘alien oceans’ of the outer solar system have likely persisted for much of the history of the solar system and as a result they are highly compelling targets in our search for life beyond Earth. Dr. Hand will explain the science behind why we think we know these oceans exist, and what we know about the physical and chemical conditions on these worlds. He will focus on Jupiter’s moon Europa, and Saturn’s Enceladus, which are top priorities for future missions. Dr. Hand will also detail how the exploration of Earth’s ocean is helping guide our understanding of the potentially habitable oceans beyond Earth.

Bio: Dr. Kevin Peter Hand

Dr. Kevin Peter Hand is a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where he directs the Ocean Worlds Lab. His research focuses on the origin, evolution, and distribution of life in the solar system with an emphasis on Jupiter’s moon, Europa. From 2011 to 2016 he served as Deputy Chief Scientist for Solar System Exploration at JPL, and from 2015-2023 he was Project Scientist for the NASA’s Europa Lander mission concept. He is the Principal Investigator of the SHERLOC spectrometer onboard the Mars Perseverance rover, which is tasked with seeking signs of habitability and past life on Mars. He is also a Co-I on the Europa Clipper mission, and a Co-I on the Titan Dragonfly mission. His work has brought him to the Dry Valleys of Antarctica, the sea ice near the North Pole, the depths of the Earth’s oceans, and to the glaciers of Kilimanjaro. Dr. Hand was a scientist onboard James Cameron’s 2012 dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, and he was part of a 2003 IMAX expedition to hydrothermal vents in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. He has made nine dives to the bottom of the ocean. In 2011 he was selected as a National Geographic Explorer. His book ‘Alien Oceans: The Search for Life in the Depths of Space’, was published in 2020 by Princeton University Press. He was born and raised in Manchester, Vermont.


July 5
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