Planetary Science Seminar - fall-2020


Exploring Ocean Worlds

Oct. 7, 2020
1 p.m. - 2 p.m.
Zoom

Presented By:

Our solar system is host to multiple ocean worlds - planets and moons that contain oceans of liquid, usually water, either on their surfaces or underneath icy crusts. These worlds are prime targets of exploration due to NASA’s quest to ‘follow the water’ and may contain all three ingredients for life as we know it - water, chemistry, and energy. Could life exist in the oceans of Enceladus or Europa? Could even stranger life have emerged in the liquid methane lakes of Titan? We will cover our current state of knowledge of these ocean worlds, and discuss some current missions and future mission concepts to explore their plumes, surfaces, and ocean depths.


Inferring the “Laws of Life” at a Planetary Scale

Oct. 14, 2020
1 p.m. - 2 p.m.
Zoom

Presented By:

In 1943 Erwin Schrodinger famously delivered a set of lectures at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies aiming to tackle the question “What is Life?” from the first-principles approach of a theoretical physicist. Over 70 years later, we’ve still made little headway in coming up with a general theory for what life is. While many definitions for life do exist, these are primarily descriptive, not predictive, and they have so far proved insufficient to explain the origins of life from non-living matter, or to provide rigorous constraints on what properties are universal to all life, even that on other worlds. Yet, as NASA and other space agencies are setting sights on life detection as a goal of upcoming robotic missions and space observatories, more rigorous understanding of the universal properties of living matter are becoming increasingly vital to uncover. In this talk I discuss new approaches to understanding what universal principles might underlie living matter and how to generate it, based on studying biochemical networks on Earth from the scale of individual organisms to the planetary scale.


The Endgame of Planet Formation

Oct. 21, 2020
1 p.m. - 2 p.m.
Zoom

Presented By:

  • Professor Eugene Chiang - UC Berkeley, Depts. of Astronomy and Earth & Planetary Science

Speaker: Professor Eugene Chiang, UC Berkeley Bio: Eugene Chiang is a faculty member at Berkeley in the Departments of Astronomy and Earth and Planetary Science. He received his bachelor's in Physics from MIT and his PhD in Astronomy from Caltech. He is a theorist with interests in all things planetary. He served as Director of Berkeley's Center for Integrative Planetary Science from 2011-2015 and as Astronomy Department Chair from 2015-2018. He has received Berkeley's Noyce Prize for undergraduate instruction in the physical sciences, and the Berkeley Distinguished Teaching award which is the highest recognition for teaching on campus. He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Abstract: Super-Earths/Sub-Neptunes are planets ~1--4 Earth radii and ~1--20 Earth masses, composed of solids and gas in proportions of 100:1 by mass. We describe how super-Earths/sub-Neptunes form: the assembly of their rocky cores, the accretion of their atmospheres, and the distribution of their orbits inside and outside of mean-motion resonances.


Planetary Heat Flow—InSight on Mars and InSights into the Moon

Nov. 4, 2020
1 p.m. - 2 p.m.
Zoom

Presented By:

Dr. Matthew Siegler will present an overview of new work in measuring and modeling planetary geothermal heat flow on the Moon and Mars. He will give us an update on insitu measurements from the Mars InSight lander and plans for a Lunar Geophysical Network as well as an overview of exciting new remote measurements from LRO, Chang'E-2 and the VLA that show promise of constraining subsurface temperatures of solid planets from orbit and Earth-based radio observations.


Characterizing the Incision of Ancient Lake Outlet Canyons on Mars

Nov. 18, 2020
1 p.m. - 2 p.m.
Zoom

Presented By:

Some of the best geologic evidence for liquid water on the ancient surface of Mars (>3.5 Ga) is its record of paleolake basins. Of the >250 early Mars paleolake basins identified from orbit, the majority (>85%) have an outlet canyon that drained the lake. The formation of such outlet canyons requires a transition from an originally enclosed topographic basin to an open lake hydrologically connected to the exterior terrain via incision of an outlet. In this talk I will present analyses of the topography and geometry of martian paleolake outlet canyons to test whether they were incised by catastrophic lake overflow flooding or long-term outflow that balanced inflow to the lake. Included in this analysis is a comparison of our results to observations of breached lake basins on Earth to test whether observed geometric scaling relationships are consistent across the two planets.


Moon Diver Mission Concept

Nov. 25, 2020
1 p.m. - 2 p.m.
Zoom

Presented By:

Moon Diver is a lunar mission concept aiming to send an extreme terrain rover to explore deep caverns on the Moon. On its journey, Moon Diver would examine the Moon’s ancient lava layers in order to understand the nature and origins of the Solar System’s most extreme type of volcanic eruption. Dr. Kerber will discuss the mission, its goals, and the challenges that a mission concept faces on its way to becoming a selected mission.