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Meteorites on Mars tell a climate story


October 08, 2012

What meteorites on Mars tell us about its climate history will be the topic of a talk given by James Ashley, a postdoctoral research fellow in the School of Space and Earth Exploration, at 7 p.m., Oct. 12, in the Marston Exploration Theater, in the new Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building 4 (ISTB4), ASU Tempe campus.

The free lecture is sponsored by SESE. After the lecture, students will be scattered throughout the interactive exhibits in ISTB4 to explain the displays and answer questions.

“The pursuit of an answer to the time-honored question ‘Are we alone in the universe?’ leads scientists down many paths that cross a multitude of disciplines," says Ashley. “In the planetary sciences, the quest can result in the careful engineering of robotic spacecraft designed to answer specific questions about the habitability of planets they are sent to explore.

“Mars is a world that is both easily accessible at reasonable costs and potentially habitable. We are interested in the role that water may have played in Mars' geologic history because of its importance to astrobiology.

“Each of the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) spacecraft was designed to last for 90 days on Mars in 2004. One of the two rovers (Opportunity) continues exploring today, almost nine years later.

“Among the many discoveries made during this mission are several large, iron meteorites that show dramatic signs of water interaction near the martian equator. We will take a close look at these rocks and discuss their significance to climate on the Red Planet.”

The next astronomy event open to the public is an Open House scheduled from 8 to 10 p.m., Oct. 26, on the roof of the Bateman Physical Sciences Building H-Wing, Tempe campus. For more information, astopenhouse.com.

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