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Evolution, Exploration of Mars Focus of Free Florida Tech Lecture

Planetary Geologist Kevin Cannon
to Speak Friday at 8 p.m.           

MELBOURNE, FLA. — Mars will be the focus of Florida Tech’s first Public Science Lecture of the fall 2018 semester.

Kevin Cannon, a postdoctoral researcher at University of Central Florida’s Planetary Sciences Group, will present, “The Evolution and Exploration of Mars”  at 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24 in the Olin Engineering Building Auditorium, Room 118. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Cannon has a Ph.D. in earth, environmental and planetary sciences from Brown University. He also has a degree in geological sciences from Queen’s University in Canada. His research focus at UCF includes diverse topics within planetary science, particularly surface mineralogy, comparative planetology and resource utilization. He is currently working on creating realistic Mars and asteroid regolith simulants.

Considering this small, frozen, desert planet with billions of years’ worth of hindsight, and applying a bit of chance and probability, Mars very easily might not have formed at all, or it could have ballooned to the size of the Earth and evolved quite differently than it did, researchers suggest. The discovery of thousands of exoplanets allows us to see how those alternate realities did play out around distant stars and gives scientists additional insight into Mars.

Beyond figuring out the red planet’s evolution, another major question Cannon and others are tackling is whether we should attempt to go there. Is it worth the cost and risk, especially with so many challenges on Earth? The potential rewards are enticing, as a sustained, human-led science campaign on Mars could shed light on fundamental questions about the origin of life in our solar system and help determine how rare life is in the universe as a whole.

Cannon will discuss these and other topics related to Mars.

Following the lecture, at approximately 9 p.m. and weather permitting, Florida Tech’s Student Astronomical Society will open the 32-inch Ortega telescope atop the Olin Physical Sciences Building for public viewing; three smaller telescopes will be on hand, as well.

The Olin Engineering Complex is located on West University Boulevard. For more information, call 321-674-8795 or visit http://cos.fit.edu/pss/aapls.php/.

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