Nature's Narrators: The 2018-2019 John H. Ostrom Series
David Weintraub (Photo Credit: Steven Green)
Mars (Photo Credit: NASA)

Life on Mars: What to Know Before We Go

David Weintraub

Professor of Astronomy, Vanderbilt University


Thursday, January 31, at 5:30 pm

Yale Peabody Museum


Free admission


Does life exist on Mars? The question has captivated humans for centuries, but today it has taken on new urgency. NASA plans to send astronauts to Mars orbit by the 2030s. SpaceX wants to go by 2024, while Mars One wants to establish a permanent settlement there in 2032. As we gear up for missions like these, we have a responsibility to think deeply about what kinds of life may already inhabit the planet and whether we have the right to invite ourselves in.


David Weintraub, the author of Life on Mars: What to Know Before We Go (2018), will discuss why, of all the celestial bodies in our solar system, Mars has beckoned to us the most. In addition to discussing some of the evidence for past and possibly present life on Mars, he will make the case that we have some profound moral and ethical questions to confront as we prepare to travel to Mars and introduce an unpredictable new life form—ourselves—into the Martian biosphere.


Book signing to follow. Proceeds support educational initiatives at the Yale Peabody Museum (books are price-matched to Amazon).