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College of Science & Mathematics

Dr. Geronimo Villanueva, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, visits Rowan

Date: February 19, 2010

Description:

Dr. Geronimo Villanueva from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center visited Rowan to present the second lecture in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Dean's Distinguished Lecture Series.  

Dr. Villanueva discussed his recent discovery of abundant methane and other biomarkers on Mars and whether the methane related to biology or geochemistry?  Given that methane is destroyed in the open martian air in a matter of years, the present existence of the fragile gas indicates that it is currently being released, somehow, from the surface of Mars. One prospect is that microbes living underground are creating it, or created in the past.  If true, this opens the exciting possibility that life might be present under the surface of Mars even today. Given the present data, however, it is also possible that a purely geologic process, potentially involving volcanism or rust and not involving any life forms, is the methane creator.  

The lecture was well-attended by students, staff and administrators at Rowan.