Dr. Pascal Lee

December 21, 2006

SETI Institute Principal Investigator

Pascal was born in Hong Kong in 1964, grew up in France, and came to the United States in 1989. He holds an Ingénieur degree (ME) in Engineering Geology and Geophysics from the University of Paris (1987), a MS in Astronomy and Space Sciences from Cornell University (1993) and a Ph.D. in Astronomy and Space Sciences from Cornell (1997).

Pascal's research interests focus on Mars, asteroids and impact craters. He is particularly interested in the geologic history of Mars, the history of water on that planet, and the geologic and physical conditions allowing life to arise and evolve on planets. He often visits the Earth's polar regions and deserts for Mars analog studies. In 1988 he wintered over in Antarctica for 14 months at Dumont d'Urville Station as station geophysicist. In 1995-96 he was a field team member on the US Antarctic Search for Meteorites (ANSMET) Program. In 1998 and 1999 he was field scientist for the NASA / Carnegie Mellon University Robotic Antarctic Search for Meteorites (RAMS) Project.

In 1997, while a National Research Council postdoctoral Research Associate at NASA Ames Research Center, Pascal Lee initiated the NASA Haughton-Mars Project, an international multidisciplinary field research program focused on the Haughton impact crater site and surroundings, Devon Island, Nunavut, Arctic Canada, viewed as a Mars analog. The HMP investigates possible parallels between the Earth and Mars, in particular in geology and astrobiology, and conducts field studies of the technologies, hardware designs, strategies and human factors relevant to the future exploration of Mars by robots and humans.Pascal Lee has led all HMP expeditions to date. HMP-2000 is the fourth field season of the HMP.

Pascal is also a founding member of the Mars Society, an international non-profit private organization in support of the human exploration of Mars. He serves as Project Scientist for the Mars Society's "Flashline" Mars Arctic Research Station (F.M.A.R.S.) Project, a field research laboratory and simulated Mars habitat to be established at Haughton Crater on Devon Island in July, 2000. The F.M.A.R.S. will enhance the ongoing Mars analog field research at Haughton and help further studies of surface operations and exploration activities on a human mission to Mars. Pascal enjoys flying and photography. He is a FAA-certificated helicopter flight instructor and lives happily in San Jose, CA.


From a research base in the desolate environment of Haughton Crater in the High Arctic region of Canada, planetary scientist Pascal Lee tests the new technologies and strategies that will be needed to explore the surface of the Moon and Mars, whether by humans or robots.  The only meteorite impact site known to exist in a polar desert environment, Haughton Crater presents a unique opportunity to test innovative technologies in a rugged environment that simulates the conditions of other worlds. Lee has led nine expeditions to the Arctic thus far, combining his experience in the field with the scientific knowledge gained through NASA’s missions to explore the solar system by spacecraft.

- SETI Institute Explorer, Special Edition 2005


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