Thu, 13 August 2020

6:30 pm - 7:30 pm GMT


The Sirens of Mars – Searching for Life on Another World

Sarah Stewart Johnson

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

Books will be shipped within two weeks after the event. Please note that due to the challenges of distribution during the global pandemic, some books may be delayed. If we experience any delay in getting your copy to you, we will contact you by email to let you know. Thank you for supporting a local London business, Primrose Hill Books.

Sarah Stewart Johnson

Planetary science professor for Georgetown University and NASA.

Sarah Stewart Johnson is an assistant professor of planetary science at Georgetown University, where she oversees an astrobiology research group. Her work is driven by the goal of understanding the presence and preservation of traces of life within planetary environments, including life “as we don’t know it.” She has helped develop life detection techniques and technologies; conducted field research in some of Earth’s most hostile environments, such as the Dry Valleys of Antarctica, the Atacama Desert, and the salt flats of Western Australia; and worked on NASA’s Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity rovers. She is also a visiting scientist with the Planetary Environments Lab at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.