Why would geologists be studying bacteria at the bottom of a lake in Antarctica to better understand whether life once existed on other planets? Learning how microbial communities affect the shaping of bio-chemical structures called stromatolites could help researchers understand whether living bacteria was present in the formation of geological structures on Mars, where NASA scientists currently have access to sedimentary rocks.
Joining us to explain the science is UC Davis Professor of Geology Dawn Sumner, who has headed the mission to Antarctica in past years, but is staying on campus this year. Antarctic diver and Ph.D. candidate at UC Davis Tyler Mackey will be going to Antarctica to collect data this year with Natomas Charter School teacher Lucy Coleman. Coleman is part of a National Science Foundation program called PolarTREC that is dedicated to embedding educators in polar expeditions, where they can help communicate the research and use their experience to develop science curriculum.