Speaker: Kevin Hand, PI & Director, Ocean Worlds Lab, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Host: David Goldstein
Title: Ocean Worlds of the Outer Solar System
Abstract: Where is the best place to find living life beyond Earth? It may be that the small, ice-covered moons of Jupiter and Saturn harbor some of the most habitable real estate in our Solar System. Life loves liquid water and these moons have lots of it. These oceans worlds of the outer solar system have likely persisted for much of the history of the solar system and as a result they are highly compelling targets in our search for life beyond Earth. Dr. Hand will explain the science behind why we think we know these oceans exist and what we know about the conditions on these worlds. He will focus on Jupiter’s moon Europa, which is a top priority for future NASA missions. Dr. Hand will also show how the exploration of Earth’s ocean is helping to inform our understanding of the potential habitability of worlds like Europa.
Biography: Dr. Kevin Peter Hand is a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where he directs the Ocean Worlds Lab. His research focuses on the origin, evolution, and distribution of life in the solar system with an emphasis on Jupiter’s moon, Europa. His work involves both theoretical and laboratory research on the physics and chemistry of icy moons in the outer solar system. He served as co-chair for NASA’s Europa Lander Science Definition team and he is the Project Scientist for the Pre-Phase-A Europa Lander mission. From 2011 to 2016 he served as Deputy Chief Scientist for Solar System Exploration at JPL. He is a staff scientist and campaign science lead for NASA’s Perseverance mission on Mars, a Co-I on the Europa Clipper mission, and a Co-I on the Titan Dragonfly mission. He served as a member of the National Academies Committee on Astrobiology and Planetary Sciences. His work has brought him to the Dry Valleys of Antarctica, the sea ice near the North Pole, the depths of the Earth’s oceans, and to the glaciers of Kilimanjaro. Dr. Hand was a scientist onboard James Cameron’s 2012 dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, and he was part of a 2003 IMAX expedition to hydrothermal vents in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. He has made nine dives to the bottom of the ocean. In 2011 he was selected as a National Geographic Explorer. Hand earned his PhD from Stanford University and bachelors degrees from Dartmouth College. He was born and raised in Manchester, Vermont. His book ‘Alien Oceans: The Search for Life in the Depths of Space’, was recently published by Princeton University Press.