Professor María Paz Zorzano, member of Luleå University of Technology’s Atmospheric Science Group, is invited to give one of the eight scheduled keynotes lectures at the Dutch Earth Science Congress 2018 (NAC), which on this occasion is being held at Veldhoven, The Netherlands. NAC is intended to provide a discussion forum for representatives from all the disciplines encompassed within the broad field of Earth Sciences.
Professor’s Zorzano lecture is entitled Habitable Mars?, and revolves around the concept of “habitability” which, for the purposes of planetary exploration, must be understood as the capability of an environment to support the thriving of at least one sort of organism, including growth and reproduction. It focuses on the evolution of the habitability on Mars, inferred from the data gathered by Curiosity rover throughout its five years of operations, which have led to conclude that the study area, the Gale crater, met the conditions of a habitable environment between 3.8 billion and 3.1 billion years ago.
As for the present, the lecture pays attention to the current habitability of the planet, which must be carefully assessed with relation to the available information about the environmental conditions, the registered geochemical values regarding carbon, nitrogen or phosphate presence in the soil and, importantly, the availability of transient liquid water, which is one of the hot topics in Mars investigations nowadays. The analysis will be linked to the implications it could entail for further exploration of the planet.