Bill Nye and Planetary Society to Host “Past Life? Present Life? The Future of Solar System Exploration” Event on Capitol Hill

Media, Public Invited to Senate Discussion of the Astrobiological potential of Mars and Europa

Media Advisory
November 18, 2014

Erin Greeson
Phone: +1-626-793-5100

Washington, D.C. – The Planetary Society, the world’s largest space interest group, and its CEO Bill Nye The Science Guy will host expert scientists to explore about the astrobiological significance of exploring Mars and Europa in the United States Senate on Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014. Open to the media and public. The event’s full title is “Past Life? Present Life? The Future of Solar System Exploration.”

WHO: Confirmed Speakers:

Bill Nye, CEO, The Planetary Society
Dr. Kevin Hand, Deputy Chief Scientist of Solar System Exploration, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Dr. Michael Meyer, Lead Scientist for the Mars Exploration Program, NASA

WHEN: 2 - 3:30pm, Tuesday, December 2, 2014 (Doors open at 1:30pm)

WHERE: Room 562, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.

WHAT: Mars was once warm and wet, with water you could drink. Did life ever take hold here? If so, how would scientists find it in the vast, dry deserts of Mars today?

Europa, a small moon of Jupiter, is wet now. Very wet. Current estimates suggest that Europa has more than twice the volume of water of all Earth’s oceans combined. Recent observations from the Hubble Space Telescope suggest there may be plumes of water shooting off into space. Could life be present in the vast oceans of Europa? How could we begin to look?

For the first time in human history, we have the technology to attempt to answer these questions. Proposed and upcoming robotic missions at NASA can help unlock the astrobiological secrets of our solar system. Learn how NASA could return samples of Mars to the greatest laboratories on Earth to analyse them in ways impossible by small rovers. Hear how could begin to explore the fractured, icy surface of Europa to better understand this enigmatic moon and even find a way to land, or even swim in its oceans. This isn’t science fiction—it’s science, but only if we choose to pursue it.

Join the The Planetary Society and its expert guests for an engaging, uplifting, and exciting look into the potential for discovery in our solar system. A Q&A period for the audience will follow the main program. Seating is limited. Guests are urged to arrive early. Doors open at 1:30pm.

WHY: As exoplanets are discovered by thousands, humans naturally wonder if some of them are bastions for life. Better understanding the possibility of life on Mars and Europa help us understand where and how life could—or could not—take hold. We have exoplanets in our own cosmic backyard.

PRESS RSVP: The Planetary Society welcomes attendance by credentialed journalists, photographers, and videographers. Seating is limited. RSVP to secure media seat: [email protected]

MEDIA RESOURCES: We are pleased to offer resources to support journalists' reporting needs.

Bruce Murray Space Image Library

About The Planetary Society

With a global community of more than 2 million space enthusiasts, The Planetary Society is the world’s largest and most influential space advocacy organization. Founded in 1980 by Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray, and Louis Friedman and today led by CEO Bill Nye, we empower the public to take a meaningful role in advancing space exploration through advocacy, education outreach, scientific innovation, and global collaboration. Together with our members and supporters, we’re on a mission to explore worlds, find life off Earth, and protect our planet from dangerous asteroids. To learn more, visit