Nathalie Cabrol How Mars might hold the secret to the origin of life
While we like to imagine little green men, it's far more likely that life on other planets will be microbial. Planetary scientist Nathalie Cabrol takes us inside the search for microbes on Mars, a hunt which counterintuitively leads us to the remote lakes of the Andes mountains. This extreme environment — with its thin atmosphere and scorched land — approximates the surface of Mars about 3.5 billion years ago. How microbes adapt to survive here may just show us where to look on Mars — and could help us understand why some microbial pathways lead to civilization while others are a dead end.
Charles Elachi The story behind the Mars Rovers
At Serious Play 2008, Charles Elachi shares stories from NASA's legendary Jet Propulsion Lab — including tales and video from the Mars Rover project.
Stephen Petranek Your kids might live on Mars. Here's how they'll survive
It sounds like science fiction, but journalist Stephen Petranek considers it fact: within 20 years, humans will live on Mars. In this provocative talk, Petranek makes the case that humans will become a spacefaring species and describes in fascinating detail how we'll make Mars our next home. "Humans will survive no matter what happens on Earth," Petranek says. "We will never be the last of our kind."
Lucianne Walkowicz Let's not use Mars as a backup planet
Stellar astronomer and TED Senior Fellow Lucianne Walkowicz works on NASA's Kepler mission, searching for places in the universe that could support life. So it's worth a listen when she asks us to think carefully about Mars. In this short talk, she suggests that we stop dreaming of Mars as a place that we'll eventually move to when we've messed up Earth, and to start thinking of planetary exploration and preservation of the Earth as two sides of the same goal. As she says, "The more you look for planets like Earth, the more you appreciate our own planet."
Armando Azua-Bustos The most Martian place on Earth
How can you study Mars without a spaceship? Head to the most Martian place on Earth — the Atacama Desert in Chile. Astrobiologist Armando Azua-Bustos grew up in this vast, arid landscape and now studies the rare life forms that have adapted to survive there, some in areas with no reported rainfall for the past 400 years. Explore the possibility of finding life elsewhere in the universe without leaving the planet with this quick, funny talk.
Joel Levine Why we need to go back to Mars
Planetary scientist Joel Levine shows some intriguing — and puzzling — new discoveries about Mars: craters full of ice, traces of ancient oceans, and compelling hints at the presence, sometime in the past, of life. He makes the case for going back to Mars to find out more.
Nagin Cox What time is it on Mars?
Nagin Cox is a first-generation Martian. As a spacecraft engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Cox works on the team that manages the United States' rovers on Mars. But working a 9-to-5 on another planet — whose day is 40 minutes longer than Earth's — has particular, often comical challenges.
Lynn Rothschild The living tech we need to support human life on other planets
What would it take to settle Mars? In a talk about the future of space exploration, Lynn Rothschild reviews the immense challenges to living elsewhere in the universe and proposes some bold, creative solutions to making a home off planet Earth — like "growing" houses out of fungi or using bacteria to help generate electricity.