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2024 Geodynamics Program

THURSDAYS: 1:30 – 2:30 P.M.

(Unless otherwise noted on speaker schedule)

Exploring Ocean Worlds Beyond Earth

Earth’s oceans have long been recognized to be critical to our planet’s life support system, and key to how our habitable planet and the life it supports have co-evolved. Now, it is becoming clear that comparably large oceans may be widespread across our outer solar system – and, by inference, among the multitude of exo-planet systems surrounding other stars. Water has long been considered one of the essential ingredients for life, but key to whether most other ocean worlds may be habitable rests upon their potential to sustain seafloor fluid flow systems that can host chemosynthesis (as opposed to photosynthesis) like those on Earth. Thus, to search for life in Space, now recognized as technologically achievable within the next human generation, requires a better understanding and adaptation of knowledge of processes from our deepest oceans, from the sub-seafloor to the overlying cryosphere and atmosphere.

The main goal of this Geodynamics Seminar Series will be to provide insights into: the ways that understanding different aspects of Earth System Science can be applied to the hypothesis-rich but data-limited field of Ocean Worlds exploration; the technologies that will be required to pursue those investigations; the missions that NASA (among other agencies) have approved and/or prioritized to be implemented in the coming decade and beyond; and the essential roles that the next generation of ocean scientists and engineers will have to play in bringing this hugely ambitious, but potentially society-changing endeavor to fruition.

The Study Tour to accompany this year’s Geodynamics Seminar Series will be to Northern California, starting and ending in San Francisco and working north across the Golden Gate Bridge to study uplifted ocean crust and mantle rocks, the hot springs that they host - pertinent to the search for life beyond Earth, and taking advantage of other cultural opportunities specific to the area.  We plan for the Study Tour to also include an opportunity to visit the Center for Life Detection at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley.

Sarah Das 
Geodynamics Program Director

Meg Gresh
Geodynamics Program Coordinator

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