Nathalie Cabrol: How Mars might hold the secret to the origin of life
Nathalie Cabrol - Planetary explorer
To determine how life might persist on Mars, Nathalie Cabrol explores one of Earth’s most extreme environments: high-elevation Andean lakes and deserts. Full bio
in the smallest packages.
in the 15 minutes I have,
about questions such as,
not only life in our solar system
in the most impossible places on Earth,
to the brink of survival.
when I'm trying to follow them too close.
in the solar system,
no microbial life nearby.
and moons you see here
and we know that,
on those moons and planets,
because there has been a revolution
of what a habitable planet is,
water can stay stable,
definition of habitability,
dimension to habitability,
where you are very far away from a sun,
deep in the ocean,
for life processes.
at that point, all walls collapse.
at the headlines lately,
discovered a subsurface ocean
on Enceladus, on Titan,
and hot springs on Enceladus,
into a giant spa.
knows how much microbes like that, right?
at the surface of Mars today,
in our understanding of habitability,
in our understanding
of life are on Earth.
between bacteria and rocks,
gases in the atmosphere.
tiny green algae
of those who have been pumping oxygen
in the atmosphere of the Earth.
90 percent of the life
you are breathing this air today.
of all of these things,
we still cannot answer,
to find the physical evidence
on this planet,
is older than four billion years is gone.
where we are coming from.
evidence of our own origin
and this place in Mars.
of the solar system,
by giant asteroids and comets,
from these impacts all over the place.
at each other for a very long time.
been seeded by the same material.
there on the surface and waiting for us.
and try to find traces of our own origin.
at the time when conditions were right.
telling us exactly the same thing today.
appeared on the Earth,
it had volcanoes, it had lakes,
picture you see here.
rover only a few weeks ago.
and this picture tells us something:
for a very long time.
to actually happen.
life will be easy to find on Mars?
at the surface of the Earth,
stripped away by solar winds,
bombarded the surface
and went underground.
of the signatures of life
the impact of each of these events
to know where those signatures are hiding,
to send our rover to the right places
that may be telling us something
that somewhere, independently,
3.5 billion years ago
to go back in the past of our own planet.
in very extreme environments
to those of Mars
to understand what happened.
I'm going to take you with me
we are at 4,500 meters in the Andes,
years after the Earth and Mars formed.
pretty much exactly like that --
evaporating lakes everywhere,
on the shore of those lakes?
of the first organisms
going on, we need to go a little further.
three and a half billion years ago,
and water and ice are disappearing.
when everything changed on Mars,
it's getting more unstable,
and you have a lot more U.V. radiation.
on Mars when everything changed.
a leisurely trip on the time machine.
in that time machine.
of equipment to the summit
in the Andes here.
on 42-degree slopes
be any earthquake that night.
we actually find the lake we came for.
experiencing exactly the same conditions
three and a half billion years ago.
our mountain gear
at the very moment we enter that lake,
in the past of another planet,
the answer came for.
is a living organism.
but everything else.
right now and due to climate change,
were composed of three species,
that have survived so far.
right next to the first one.
is not due to minerals.
of a tiny algae.
is really nasty.
is considered to be extreme.
the U.V. Index reaches 43.
to you over there,
transparent in those lakes
nowhere to hide, really,
their own sunscreen,
is gone from the surface,
you see in that slide here,
living inside rocks
of the translucence of the rocks
actually damage their DNA.
for life on Mars in these areas,
three and a half billion years ago,
to actually protect itself.
is helping us very much
and to prepare missions.
the geology of Mars.
climate of Mars and its evolution,
has discovered traces of organics.
at the surface of Mars.
if the methane in question
that because of the discovery,
life present on Mars today
that Mars is very special to us,
that Mars is the only place
to find potential microbial life.
Mars and the Earth
to their tree of life,
it's not that easy.
is not making it so easy
of material between planets,
life on those planets,
in the solar system.
but I can tell you something:
no matter what that magic number is,
to measure the life potential,
beyond our own solar system.
by our generation.
but only if we dare to explore.
for alien microbes is not cool
a philosophical conversation with them,
you can tell them they're wrong.
is going to tell you
and about diversity.
is going to tell you about adaptation,
about planetary changes
as a microbial pathway
and look at the Earth.
of our own solar system,
for alien life, small and big.
and we are listening,
and one moon at a time,
abundance of life,
how this life has survived thus far
and, indeed, philosophy.
About the speaker:Nathalie Cabrol - Planetary explorer
To determine how life might persist on Mars, Nathalie Cabrol explores one of Earth’s most extreme environments: high-elevation Andean lakes and deserts.
Why you should listen
While hunting for life in the fragile biomes of the Andes, Nathalie Cabrol has braved earthquakes, set a diving record and gathered data on the threats faced by mountain ecosystems in the face of climate change.
But Cabrol’s eyes are always fixed on Mars, which may have once had a climate similar to Earth’s mountain deserts. As a science team member for NASA, Cabrol helps design interplanetary experiments for the Martian Spirit rover, and researches new technologies for future missions to Mars and beyond.
Nathalie Cabrol | Speaker | TED.com