Special Guest Presentation, 25th October, 2016. Professor Steve Pointing, AUT.

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On Tuesday October 25th, the Tauranga Astronomy is proud to host a presentation by Professor Steve Pointing from the Auckland University of Technology.

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He has been to every desert on the planet including Antarctica and to the highest point on earth that still supports life. He has worked with NASA for ten years and that work took him to the deserts to study life in dry, unforgiving environments as a proxy for Mars. The closest thing to Mars is Antarctica, where he conducts most of his work now, so he looks at where things grow in Antarctica and uses that information to inform NASA engineers. The engineers use this information to programme where the probes on Mars go as they search for former life there.

Professor Pointing has a particular interest in Astrobiology, and as well as giving us an insight into the above work with NASA on Extremophiles he has been asked to address such questions as :- the minimum essentials for life and how close we are to finding an exoplanet with these essentials; the extent to which the physics and chemistry of the universe constrain the possible nature of life forms elsewhere to those we have here on earth; possible pathways to the origin of first life and how close we are to anything plausible; where extremophiles fit into this pathway – do their special adaptations mean they are unlikely candidates for the initial, and presumably simplest life forms; what are the simplest (minimal DNA/RNA ?) lifeforms we know of; etc? At the September forum on Great Barrier Island, addressing the subject “Is There Life Out There?”, Professor Pointing was one of the guest speakers, alongside top US Planetary Scientist Dr Faith Vilas, and the Director of the Vatican Observatory Guy Consulmagno.

We invite you to join us for an authoritative discussion of this fascinating subject.

(Adults $5; Students and TAS Members – no charge)

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