Signs of Life: Exploring the Lost Lakes on Mars

with Tanja Bosak
Wednesday, January 26, 2022 • Wednesday, February 2, 2022 • Wednesday, February 9, 2022
4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. EST

Apply or nominate here.
Deadline: January 10, 2022.

How has the search for life on Mars been guided by our understanding of life on Earth? In this class, Dr. Tanja Bosak will share how scientists are using their knowledge of mineral formation and organic preservation in Earth’s modern lakes to better study samples from Mars. Attendees will discuss observations that suggest the presence of different minerals and former habitable environments on Mars’ surface. The class will also briefly cover processes that form, erode, and destroy rocks and determine the water chemistry in habitable environments, including parts of Earth that are studied as analogs of Mars’ past. The class will then consider the Perseverance rover’s 2021 mission to the Jezero crater, and discuss where the rover might find samples that preserve some organic matter or microbial fossils.

This is a three-session master class. In the first two sessions, teachers learn from the master. In the third, participants have a rare and valuable opportunity to exchange ideas with other brilliant teachers. Participants are assigned a small amount of homework to prepare for each session.

Tanja Bosak is a professor of geobiology in earth, atmospheric, and planetary sciences at MIT, and a Return Sample Science Participating Scientist on the Perseverance rover mission to Mars. Born in Croatia, she graduated from Zagreb University with a degree in geophysics, and earned a PhD in Geobiology from the California Institute of Technology, as well as a Microbial Initiative postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard. Bosak’s work interprets the record of life on the early Earth by asking how microbes shape sedimentary rocks, leave biogeochemical patterns in sediments, and help fossilize microbes and organic matter. She is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union (2011), the American Academy for Microbiology (2020), and a subject editor in Geobiology, Frontiers of Microbiology, and Geochemical Perspectives Letters. Bosak has received many awards and accolades, including the Subaru Outstanding Woman in Science Award from the Geological Society of America. 

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