Extreme life detection on Earth: Informing the search for life in our universe

Conversation Date: 
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM PT (3:00 PM - 4:30 PM ET)
Extreme life detection on Earth: Informing the search for life in our universe

Courtesy of the Solar System Ambassadors.

Join Dr Jackie Goordial as she discusses the search for life on other solar system bodies and how it will be a major focus of planetary exploration in the coming decades. The primary targets for astrobiology investigations of other solar system bodies are Mars, in the short term, as well as Europa and Enceladus, in the mid to longer term. Extremely cold temperatures characterize these targets, and surface conditions are considered largely inhospitable. As such, the best analogues may be permanently cold polar regions, and deep subsurface environments on Earth. Significant progress is being made in the development of the next generation of low cost life detection instrumentation with much smaller size, mass and energy requirements. I will discuss results of recent life detection investigations in extreme analogue environments on Earth such as permafrost located in the Canadian high Arctic, and oceanic crust from the Atlantis Massif in the Atlantic ocean. Tools that will be discussed will be the minION, a miniaturized DNA sequencer which fits into your pocket, and methods to identify active and viable life from environmental samples.



Jackie Goordial  Dr Jackie Goordial's research pertains to how microbial life evolved, persist, and acquire energy in extreme environments such as the deep biosphere and in polar environments - environments in which nutrients, energy and biomass are scarce, and life is potentially operating at its limits. She works on detecting and measuring microbial activity in such extreme environments, as well as the insight that Omics technologies can give us into the functionality and viability of microbial ecosystems in these environments, which are difficult to study using traditional culture based methodology.

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