Join astrobiologist Sarah Stewart Johnson as she traces our centuries-old obsession with the red planet – and her personal quest to discover life “as we don’t know it” out there in the universe.
Since the beginning of time, mankind has dreamed of distant lands and yearned for a connection to far-away worlds. For HG Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs, the search for life on other planets was no more than heady imaginative fiction – but that quest is no longer a fantasy. Right now, spacecraft are circling Mars, sweeping over the dunes of Elysium, Terra Sabaea and Mare Sirenum – on the brink, perhaps, of a discovery that would inspire humankind.
Sarah Stewart Johnson is dedicated to understanding the presence and preservation of traces of life in plantary environments – and has helped develop life detection techniques on some of Earth’s most hostile environments, as well as on three NASA rovers.
She joins us to explore the evocative history of our explorations of Mars, interlacing her personal journey as a scientist with tales of others who have searched the planet for signs of life.
Ultimately, she will show how the story of Mars is also a story about Earth: it is a mirror, a tell-tale reflection of our own anxieties and yearnings to find – if we’re lucky – that we’re not alone.
Praise for Sarah Stewart Johnson:
“The inside story of the exploration of Mars and the search for life there. A young woman scientist shows what it is like to be in the thick of exciting and ground-breaking research.” – Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Oxford
“A lyrical chronicle … Johnson’s skilful narrative will engage serious students of planetary science as well as armchair adventurers.” – Publishers Weekly
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