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Adam Steltzner: The Possibility of Living on Mars

Adam Steltzner: We evolved on this planet. We're well suited for this planet. Mars is very different and the history of Mars in its lifetime we believe it was once wet, but it is now very dry and has very little atmosphere. It's very different than Earth and so you'll have to do either live in isolation, underneath the ground perhaps or in protective shelters.

Val Zavala: Like some kind of biosphere?

Adam Steltzner: Some kind of biosphere protecting you against the radiation. It would be a very different life than the life we have here on Earth. It would be even different from a life we might have underneath the water living under the ocean. So I mean it is, Mars is a dangerous and fairly inhospitable place; it's a place to visit, it's a place to explore, but just like the top of Mt. Everest, it may not be the best place to live. Curiosity landed in 2012, it's 2017, she's been on there for five years, and in fact shortly the five-year celebration of landing will come up. She has taught us a lot about Mars; she taught us that the wet Mars of the ancient past, so we had known from previous missions that Mars was wet in a time in its past. But we didn't know some important features of that wet Mars; was the water sweet or salty, acidic, basic? Was it in short habitable for life? Curiosity has taught us that the water was probably present for a long time, that's important for the possibility of life and that the conditions of that water would have supported life.That is the ancient. The rocks that are formed in the presence of that water, billion, three and a half billion years ago, show the record of the conditions in which they were formed, and that leads scientists to understand that the conditions would have been habitable for life.

Val Zavala: And they can tell that because what Rover is able to? 

Adam Steltzner: Because of what the measurements that the Curiosity Rover has made and then the analysis of the data, by human scientists here on Earth. 

Adam Steltzner, JPL Chief Engineer for the Mars 2020 Project, discusses what it would take to live on the Red Planet. 

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