Learn about the search for intelligent life in the universe, conducted by the NASA Ames Research Center, and the search on Mars.
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Female: Dr. Heldman is working with Dr. Golick and investigates water tracks on the surface of Mars. Dr. Heldman: Well I’m a team member on a high rise camera team and that’s the high resolution imaging camera that’s on the Martian reconnaissance orbiter. And for that team what I do is I am working on looking at some larger outlet channels in the big floods that happened long ago in Mars. and trying to understand why those floods formed and how that was possible on a planet that’s now completely dry today. Female: Similar to many studies in cosmology, investigations usually starts on earth. Dr. Heldman: I’m a geologist and so what I do is I actually look at the earth and how floods occurred on earth and see what kind of similar things we see on Mars. Female: Earth has a history of large floods. In many ways, studying earth helps the team to better understand the floods on Mars. Dr. Heldman: There lots of examples of ancient floods on earth like the large floods that carved the channel DeCaplan of the Washington, that’s an example of the huge flood that’s now all gone its completely dry and there’s a lot of, when those water rushed across the surface of the planet they left at marks. Using this really high resolution camera on Mars, I’m able to see what parts of it are similar to the things we see on earth and so we can tell a little bit about what the energy of these floods were and how long ago they occurred. Female: Data accumulated by NASA support the theory that there is water in the red planet. Dr. Heldman: There’s so much evidence that shows that water was all across the planet at some point, I think. It’s exciting to look at Mars, it’s such a foreign planet with a completely different personality to it than earth. But in a lot of ways, the more and more we look at it the more similar it is to earth. And that’s neat and exciting. Female: There are other places within the solar system which hold the potential for life which continues to inspire scientific research. Dr. Heldman: Some of the moons around Jupiter have this huge geysers and an entire surface covered in ice. So there’s just a lot of really interesting things to see in the solar system.