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Institute of Advanced Study

Professor Monica Grady's Public Lecture

Date: 2 February 2010

Time: 8.15pm

Venue: Kenworthy Hall, St Mary's College

Title: The History of Water on Mars

'Scientists find evidence for water on Mars' is a headline that has been appearing in newspapers at intervals since the Mariner 9 mission of 1971-72. The headlines have come with increasing frequency (but smaller typeface) in the last decade, as a series of missions has explored the surface of Mars in greater detail. What has changed over the years is the interpretation of the timing and extent of water on Mars: when was water present on Mars (4 billion years ago? 4 million years ago?) and how much water has there been (global oceans? inland seas?). There are three methods by which we can investigate, not just the evidence for water on Mars, but also the effects that water has had on the martian landscape, the temperature and composition of the water.

In this lecture, Monica Grady will discuss observations from imagery of the surface of Mars acquired by orbiting spacecraft, the findings made by craft that have landed on the surface and results acquired through laboratory analysis of martian meteorites. She will bring these three sets of results together to construct a history of water on Mars - and see whether it is possible that life might have arisen on the Red Planet.