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Mars: The Planet that Lost an Ocean’s worth of Water

Event Details

Event Dates: 

Monday, April 4, 2016 - 4:00pm

Seminar Location: 

  • JILA Auditorium

Speaker Name(s): 

Geronimo Villaneuva

Speaker Affiliation(s): 

Seminar Type/Subject

Scientific Seminar Type: 

  • Astrophysical & Planetary Sciences Seminar

Event Details & Abstract: 

We recently established that Mars lost an ocean’s worth of water by mapping the water isotopic signatures on the planet (Villanueva et al., Science, 2015), while the Curiosity rover has recently detected organics on the Martian surface and in the atmosphere. If Mars had a rich chemical and diverse past, how much of these volatiles were lost to space, and how much are currently stored in the sub-surface? Are sub-surface habitable niches connecting now with the atmosphere?

The answers to these fundamental questions of Mars evolution and habitability lie in isotopic ratios and in the organic inventory. In this talk, I will present our latest maps of water and organics on Mars obtained employing high-resolution spectroscopy at three extremely powerful observatories (Keck, VLT, ALMA), and the important synergies with MAVEN.