Categories: Weekly Space Hangout

Weekly Space Hangout: Apr 17, 2019 – Dr. Dorothy Oehler Talks “No Methane on Mars?”

Hosts:
Fraser Cain (universetoday.com / @fcain)
Dr. Pamela Gay (astronomycast.com / cosmoquest.org / @starstryder)
Dr. Kimberly Cartier (KimberlyCartier.org / @AstroKimCartier )
Dr. Morgan Rehnberg (MorganRehnberg.com / @MorganRehnberg & ChartYourWorld.org)
Dr. Paul M. Sutter (pmsutter.com / @PaulMattSutter)

Dr. Dorothy Z. Oehler is a planetary geologist and Precambrian paleontologist. She is interested in using martian geomorphology to better understand the history of the planet and identify regions where accumulations of organic materials including methane could occur. To this objective, she is applying concepts of facies prediction to prioritize habitable sites on Mars that could preserve remnants of an early biosphere. She is additionally using concepts of subsurface organic maturation (from her experience in petroleum exploration) to locate areas on Mars of potential methane generation, accumulation, and release to the atmosphere.

Dr. Oehler is also interested in seeking ways to identify biosignatures of potential extraterrestrial life. This includes establishing new criteria for identifying bona fide biosignatures of fragmentary remains of primitive life forms. In this regard, she has studied some of the oldest organic microfossils on Earth, using both Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS) to determine their carbon isotopic composition (to assess their origin and significance to evolution of life on our planet) and Nano-scale SIMS (NanoSIMS) to chemically map, at the sub-micron scale, some of Earth’s earliest life forms. Results from these studies provide insights into the most primitive lifeforms on Earth and, as such, may be applicable to recognizing poorly preserved remnants of primitive life that might be encountered in planetary exploration. Read her latest publication “”No detection of methane on Mars from early ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter observations”” https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1096-4

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The All Stars Party, featuring Dr. Paul Sutter, Fraser Cain, Dr. Pamela Gay, John Michael Godier and Skylias, will be in Joshua Tree National Park this June – information is here at astrotours.co/allstars.

If you’d like to join Dr. Paul Sutter and Dr. Pamela Gay on their Cosmic Stories in the SouthWest Tour in August 2019, you can find the information at astrotours.co/southwest.

We record the Weekly Space Hangout every Wednesday at 5:00 pm Pacific / 8:00 pm Eastern. You can watch us live on Universe Today, or the Weekly Space Hangout YouTube page – Please subscribe!

The Weekly Space Hangout is a production of CosmoQuest.

Susie Murph

Susie Murph is the Communications Specialist at CosmoQuest. She also produces Astronomy Cast and the Weekly Space Hangout, and is the former producer of the Parsec Award-winning Guide to Space video series.

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