How do we find meaning in the universe?

“So many cosmic things had to happen for this moment to be here.”

I’m so pleased to share this beautiful, thoughtful episode of Dispatches from The Well from Big Think in which host Kmele Foster discusses the future of our planet and humankind with Sean Carroll, Kevin Kelly, and me. This is the last episode in the seven-part series. I loved every single episode, and have found myself thinking about many of them long after I finished watching.

At the Monaco Yacht Show 2023

It’s not every day that I find myself at the Yacht Club de Monaco (YCM), but in late September I had the pleasure of representing the science of the Explorers Club as they signed a new agreement with YCM committing to shared environmental and scientific goals on the opening day of the Monaco Yacht Show. I was invited to say a few words about what we can learn about Earth’s oceans from the geologic histories of our nearest neighbors, Mars and Venus.

From La Gazette de Monaco (translated from the French by our friend Google):

A “sustainable” commitment to the planet

This agreement once again reflects our Club’s commitment to environmental issues but also the link that unites Monaco and The Explorers Club ,” underlines Bernard d’Alessandri, general secretary of the Yacht Club. “ Our desire is to bring together witnesses to climate change and those who are working to combat this problem, ” he added.

The ocean is not “an eternal and unlimited resource”

Also featured at the luncheon was Dr. Nina Lanza, Space and Planetary Exploration Team Leader in Space and Space Remote Sensing and Data Science (ISR-6) at Los Alamos National Laboratory. “ The ocean has long captured our imagination. We have always considered it an eternal and unlimited resource. But appearances can be deceiving. The oceans are much more ephemeral than we often think ,” explained the researcher. “ The oceans are probably the cradle of life. This is why exploration is so important: it teaches us about ourselves and our future ,” the scientist continued.

Sir William Roseman, Dr Nina Lanza et Bernard d’Alessandri © mesi_BD

Lift the Ice

I’m so excited that Lift the Ice is now released! Many of you may recall that I seemed to spend a lot of time in the Arctic last summer. I was fortunate enough to be able to go to the far north twice. One of those times was to film for this incredible new series out now: Lift the Ice.

This is a six-part documentary about six aspects of the Earth’s cryosphere.

You’ll find me in episode 4, “The Ice Is Alien,” for which I traveled to Axel Heiberg Island in the Canadian Arctic to better understand how icy, habitable environments on Earth can be analogs for planetary environments on Mars and beyond.

On Earth, life finds a way (🦖) to thrive in these seemingly inhospitable places with incredibly sparse resources—could similar environments on other planets also harbor life? What kind of signatures should we look for? Come with me as I explore these remarkable places with outstanding polar scientists as we lift the ice on Earth to catch a glimpse of what life might be like on Mars. Streaming on Curiosity Stream.

Dr. Tanya Harrison joins the Explorers Club 50

Dr. Tanya Harrison was selected as one of this year’s Explorers Club 50: she’s “one of 50 people changing the world.” I am thrilled to see my friend in this group of remarkable explorers! Congratulations on this very well-deserved honor!

The Club is truly a special organization, one of very few dedicated entirely to field science.  As a planetary scientist, I believe that exploration is one of the most important human endeavors, and it’s field research right here on our home planet Earth that prepares us for exploring other worlds. The Explorers Club is filled with like-minded explorers who cherish our beautiful planet and love learning more about it. I’m lucky enough to be a Club Fellow and also a recipient of the Explorers Club Discovery Expedition Grant Program. Through the Club, I’ve met so many fascinating people doing impactful work, and I love learning from all of them. I can’t wait to work more closely with Tanya on new exploration-related projects!

Interview in Santa Fe Institute’s ExtraTerritorial

I had a remarkable conversation with David Krakauer for the Santa Fe Institute‘s latest issue of ExtraTerritorial! Check it out, along with two other fascinating, thought-provoking interviews.

DAVID KRAKAUER: Your work focuses on the far reaches of space. What is your emotional response to the solar system?

NINA LANZA: Incredible awe and fascination. I was never afraid of space. A lot of people imagine their tininess in the universe and they feel horrible and they never want to feel that way again. But I love that feeling of smallness. I think it puts every problem that I have into a perspective that’s man- ageable. Here we are, these tiny creatures on this tiny rock in this tiny solar system. Whatever problem I have here on Earth is not as big as what’s out there. The universe is…

Dust devils recorded on Mars (and a quote in The Atlantic)

Dust devils form on Mars for much the same reasons that they form on Earth: Turbulence in the atmosphere. Today, the surface of Mars is dominated by these wind-related processes. We can see in real time how wind moves materials across the planet and how these materials can gently scour rocks and accumulate, thereby changing the landscape.

I got to speak about Martian wind processes with Marina Koren at The Atlantic: “The Luckiest Rover” — Perseverance Captures Mars Dust Devil Sound, December 2022

Briefing the Secretary of Energy on Mars!

During Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm’s recent visit to Los Alamos, I was lucky enough to chat with her about the latest results from the Perseverance rover and the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars.

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