One of the most fundamental questions that we can ask is whether we are alone in the universe. This talk will make the case that the best chance of finding life remains with Mars, despite ongoing exploration of our own Solar System and recent discoveries of exoplanets. In essence, studies of water and the habitability of Mars will drive and constrain the search for life in the coming decade and beyond. There is compelling evidence that the atmosphere and climate of Mars have affected the global distribution and chemistry of water, ultimately controlling the habitability of the planet. Martian stratigraphy provides a rich record of the paleoclimate and paleohydrology of the planet, revealing changes in the surface environment over a range of timescales. The current paradigm presents a Mars that has become less habitable with time. This talk will discuss the evolution of water and habitability on Mars in light of recent results and the importance of landing site selection for the ESA ExoMars 2020 rover. Finally, previous attempts to detect life will be discussed with respect to future studies and the chance of success.
Peter’s research is broadly concerned with understanding the evolution of the terrestrial planets and icy moons. He uses techniques from different disciplines to address the key questions in planetary science that can only be answered with a cross-disciplinary approach. By studying the key processes that affect the evolution of different planetary bodies, Peter’s research addresses the majority of the recorded history of the Solar System. His current focus is the evolution of water and habitability on Mars.