The Quest for Life on Mars

Dr Paulo de Souza

Research Director, CSIRO Centre for Information and Communication Technologies

16 April  2010, 12:30 pm

Theatrette, Launceston College (F Block)


ABSTRACT: Mars has inspired us in many ways: its colour, polar ice caps, channels, and all the Martians invading our imagination.

The first signs of life on Mars came from Schiaparelli’s interpretation of telescopic images from  in 1877. Orson Welles, with his novel radio broadcast in 1938, caused public panic taking interstellar war drama as fact. Intriguing images came from NASA’s Mariner fly-by in 1966, and ten years later the Viking orbiters sent us images of a face on Mars that increased our interest in Mars. Later, the Martian meteorite collected in Allan Hills, Antarctica in 1984 showed evidence pointing to fossilised bacteria: our first encounter with a possible organism from Mars.
Finding evidence of life on Mars would change the way we think about life on Earth. It will radically change the way we see ourselves and our place in the universe.
This talk is an invitation to a journey on our quest for Life on Mars.  What do we know? What is still to be discovered? What are the limitations of our science and technology today in confirming life on another planet?


Paulo de Souza is a Physicist with a PhD in Natural Sciences. He is Research Director of Tasmanian ICT Centre at CSIRO, and a collaborator scientist on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rovers Project. He has worked in industrial research centres in Brazil and Europe, and received many international awards as a result of his research in industry. Paulo has written over 100 scientific papers, and co-authored a series of papers identified as ‘Breakthrough on the Year: 2004’ by the prestigious magazine Science.

Lecture sponsored by  the Australian Institute of Physics.