Astrobiologists study ancient lakes on Earth in order to help us search for life in our solar system and beyond. Subscribe to our “Gravity Assist” podcast for this episode and more: www.nasa.gov/gravityassist
As the Perseverance Rover flies toward Jezero Crater on Mars, which once hosted water, astrobiologists are interested in places on Earth that are similar to the rover landing site. Kennda Lynch, scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas, has been doing fieldwork in an ancient lake location in Utah called the Pilot Valley Playa. In this episode of Gravity Assist, she describes her recent discoveries and why she’s excited about Perseverance. She also explains how all life forms create waste products, even bacteria, that could leave tracers or “biosignatures” for scientists to detect. By looking at how microbes survive in extreme environments on Earth, scientists can explore the bigger question of how life could sustain itself on other planetary bodies like Mars and Jupiter’s moon Europa.
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Producer: Sonnet Apple