Looking for Life on Mars

In the News

holeThey say that practice makes perfect and, in Lyle Whyte’s case, practice has made him the perfect candidate to join the elite team of scientists picked by the European Space Agency (ESA) to work on the ExoMars 2018 project.

Whyte, a professor in the Department of Natural Resource Sciences, has worked in the extreme cold of the high Arctic for over 14 years, conducting research on polar microbial ecology and biodiversity,  low-temperature biodegradation and bioremediation, and cold-adapted microorganisms.

“Knowing the cold temperature limits of Earth microbial life, and the adaptations used by these organisms in regions where liquid water is scarce or seasonal, will allow us to identify areas that are most likely to contain detectable levels of life,” says Whyte.

As part of the ExoMars Landing Site Selection Working Group, Whyte will be responsible for creating a short list of three or four possible landing sites. These will be used to direct research over the next few years, as the sites are studied intensively using existing data and with new data from the spacecraft currently in orbit around Mars.

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