HAL5 monthly program on "Evidence for Extraterrestrial Life" with Mr. Richard B. Hoover. The event will take place on a special date Wednesday, October 7 at 7 pm at the Huntsville - Madison County Main Public Library's Auditorium.

Talk Summary:

Is Life restricted to the Planet Earth? or Does life exist elsewhere in the Cosmos? The question of the existence of extraterrestrial life represents the fundamental problem of Astrobiology. Detecting evidence for living organisms beyond our planet is even more difficult than finding evidence of fossilized remains of ancient biology. Microbiological investigations during the past century have established the fundamental physical and chemical requirements and limits for life on Earth. It is now known that life requires only water, a source of energy and a small suite of biogenic elements under a surprisingly wide span of environmental conditions. The discovery that microbial extremophiles live and grow over a very broad range of temperature, pH, salinity, pressure and radiation levels has greatly enhanced the possibility that life may be present on many bodies of our Solar System. Recent discoveries by Space Missions, Landers and Rovers have invalidated many long held paradigms regarding the distribution of water, organic chemicals and the possibility of life elsewhere in the Cosmos.

This talk considers the discovery of water, ice and organics on distant planets, icy moons and comets and evidence for fossil organisms on Mars and in SNC and carbonaceous meteorites. Instruments and methods for using spectroscopy and fluorescence to remotely detect photosynthetic pigments for remote detection of conclusive evidence for extraterrestrial life is advanced. Optical Video Microscopy is discussed for direct means detection of extraterrestrial life with a small Optical Video Microscope with sufficient magnification to observe living organisms in samples collected by Rovers or Landers. Locomotion of living, swimming cells of bacteria, algae, diatoms or other microorganisms requires great expenditure of energy and can be readily distinguished by video microscopy from the movements (caused by Brownian Motion or Current Drift) of dead cells, dust particles or abiotic mineral grains.

About Richard B. Hoover.
Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology, University of Buckingham,
Buckingham, MK18 1EG, United Kingdom
Athens State University, Athens, Alabama USA

Richard B. Hoover established the Astrobiology Research Group at the NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center in 1998. He is currently Visiting Research Professor with the Centre for Astrobiology at the University of Buckingham in the United Kingdom and Astrobiologist at Athens State University. Richard B. Hoover joined the NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center in 1966. He developed the Grazing Incidence X-Ray Telescope that produced x-ray images of the Sun from America's first Space Station, SKYLAB and the Multilayer X-Ray Telescope that produced the first High Resolution images of the Sun with Normal Incidence X-Ray Reflecting Mirrors. Hoover was selected NASA Inventor of the Year in 1992 for the Invention of the Water Window Imaging X-Ray Microscope. He is internationally known for his work on diatoms and conducted the Inventory of the diatoms of the Henri Van Heurck Museum at the Invitation of the Royal Society of Zoology of Antwerp, Belgium.

Since 1997, his Astrobiology research at NASA/MSFC has concentrated on microorganisms that live in extreme environments and the search for evidence of microfossils in ancient rocks and carbonaceous meteorites. Hoover was Science Team Lead for the Antarctica 2000 Expedition with Apollo Astronaut James A. Lovell (Gemini 7 & 12; Apollo 8 & 13) and Skykab Astronaut Owen K. Garriott (Skylab III, Spacelab 1). This expedition recovered 20 meteorites that are currently housed in the Field Museum in Chicago. Working in collaboration with Dr. Elena V. Pikuta, he emended the description of the important Genus Spirochaeta (Ehrenberg, 1835). He has published two new validated genera (Anaerovirgula and Proteocatella) and ten new species of bacteria and archaea from samples collected during these expeditions.

Richard Hoover was elected Fellow National of the Explorers Club for the leading scientific expeditions to some of the planet's most hostile environments. In 2003, Hoover was made and honorary Life Member of the Planetary Studies Foundation for his research on microfossils in carbonaceous meteorites. He has Authored/Edited 40 books and over 300 scientific papers on X-Ray/EUV optics, diatoms, microbial extremophiles, meteorites, and Astrobiology. His research has been featured in films by the National Science Foundation, BBC; The Discovery Channel, The History Channel, National Geographic, National Science Foundation, and NHK Japan Television. Richard B. Hoover was 2001 President of SPIE, the International Society for Optical Engineering. In 2009, he was awarded the SPIE Gold Medal of the Society for his contributions to SPIE and to the science of X-Ray Optics and Astrobiology. On January 29, 2013, Richard Hoover (in collaboration with colleagues from the UK) interviewed eyewitnesses to the Dec. 29, 2012 bolide and observed fall. He collected samples of the Polonnaruwa stones from a paddy fields in Aralaganwila, North Central Sri Lanka and obtained FESEM images and EDAX data on diatoms and other ancient microbial remains found embedded in-situ in the stones.

The event is free and open to the public. A social will follow the program.