One small step for man, one giant leap for the career fair — meet a space archaeologist!
TEDxSydney speaker Alice Gorman might have one of the coolest job titles ever … space archaeologist. To have known that was a career option back in second grade!
Yep, Alice doesn’t research the things we don’t normally associate with archaeologists — clay pots or ancient weapons or old bones. Instead, she takes on the artifacts we leave beyond our planet: footprints, abandoned satellites, debris, even the American flag.
In her talk at TEDxSydney, Alice lets us in on some of the cool parts of her job, and explains just what space archaeology is all about:
In 1969, the Apollo 11 mission landed on the surface of the moon and changed the way we view the moon forever.
The moon has always been a huge part of human life: it governs the tides; it’s the light in the sky that we see at night; so many myths and legends are centered on the moon.
But now it’s a human landscape. Tranquility Base, where those astronauts first set foot on the moon, is an archeological site. They’ve left artifacts there; they’ve left footprints; we [can] analyze those footprints and artifacts to learn something about that very extraordinary kind of encounter with the landscape…
These artifacts and places, these are human, material interactions with the solar system, with the space environment … They remind us that space isn’t just empty and vast and black and dark and somewhere else out there. We’re actually part of it. We connected to the Earth’s orbit, to the very edge of the solar system.
Space archaeology is something that connects us to our past in space … and to our future in the stars. And that future is yours and mine to decide.
So, next time someone asks what you wanna be when you grow up, you can totally blow them out of the water (or outta this world). And if you’d like to learn more about the cultural history of space, check out Alice’s talk here. (Above, thanks to NASA, the Earth as seen from the moon, Neil Armstrong’s famous lunar footprints, and Mars Curiosity's first tracks on the Red Planet.)
Scientists identified sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon — some of the key chemical ingredients for life — in the powder Curiosity drilled out of a sedimentary rock near an ancient stream bed in Gale Crater on the Red Planet last month.
"A fundamental question for this mission is whether Mars could have supported a habitable environment," said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. "From what we know now, the answer is yes."
As we all wait with baited breath for more groundbreaking (pun intended) discoveries from the world’s most powerful rover to land on Mars, celebrate this incredible discovery with 4 TEDx Talks about the Red Planet:
How we landed a car on Mars: Jordan Evans at TEDxMidAtlantic In this talk from TEDxMidAtlantic, Jordan Evans, Engineering Development and Operations Manager for the Mars Rover Curiosity project explains what it was like to be behind the scenes as the rover landed on Mars, making sure one of the greatest achievements in the history of space exploration was a success.
Why is there water on Earth? Why not Mars?: Maria Sundin at TEDxUniversityofGothenburg In this talk, astrophysicist Maria Sundin discusses the importance of water to supporting life on our planet — and possibly others — and provides us with a look into the surprisingly watery history of our neighbor planet, Mars, a history which could have maybe included life.
No life on Mars? No problem; we’ll bring it: Bas Lansdorp at TEDxDelft Bas Lansdorp is the head of the Mars One project, an endeavor to establish a human settlement on the planet Mars in 2023. At TEDxDelft, he lays out the project’s plan for a manned mission to Mars, explaining the drive behind this very ambitious goal.
Live like a rocket scientist: Charles Elachi at TEDxBeirut Charles Elachi is the director of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the outlet responsible for the Mars Science Laboratory, which launched and maintains Mars rover Curiosity. Just 100 days after Curiosity’s landing, he spoke at TEDxBeirut about how a sense of curiosity and a willingness to collaborate drive not only missions to Mars, but also all great things in life.
And a bonus — with absolutely no relation to TEDx — David Bowie’s seminal hit, “Life on Mars”: