Dr. Janice Bishop

December 19, 2006

SETI Institute Principal Investigator


Even before oxygen was present in Earth’s early atmosphere, organisms used sunlight for energy. But the same ultraviolet radiation that drives photosynthesis is also dangerous to life in high doses. As a member of the SETI Institute’s NAI team, chemist Janice Bishop is exploring the role that iron oxides may have played as a sunscreen for early life. “We're exploring the links between the iron oxides, the photosynthetic organisms, and the oxygen in the atmosphere,” she explains. “This will help us understand if certain kinds of iron oxides might have enabled the photosynthetic organisms to really take off and grow, and survive better than before.” In addition to helping understand the evolution of life on our own world, Bishop’s research will provide insights into the habitability of iron-rich Mars .

 

- SETI Institute Explorer, Special Edition 2005



Martian surface alteration processes are under study through analysis of spectral, magnetic and chemical data from Mars and analysis of analogue materials in the field and laboratory. Basaltic volcanic islands are often good field sites to study alteration of the kinds of volcanic material we might expect on Mars. We have permits for in situ study with a spectrometer and to collect samples in the Kilauea crater region on the big island of Hawaii and at Haleakala National Park on Maui.
















Janice measuring spectra of a lava flow from Haleakala on the island of Maui.




Janice measuring spectra of altered volcanic ash near sulfur vents at sulfur bank site near Kilauea crater, Hawaii.

 











Janice collecting samples of altered ash near sulfur vents at south end of Kilauea crater, HI.

 


 

 

 

 

 

Lukas measuring spectral radiance at south end of Kilauea crater, Hawaii.


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