Dr. Brad Sutter

December 22, 2006

SETI Institute Principal Investigator

Knowing where conditions were suitable for life on Mars,” explains soil scientist Brad Sutter, “will allow future missions to target such areas, with the capabilities to test for the existence of past life.” His approaches to exploring the habitability of Mars are diverse. Working with the Mars Underground Mole (MUM) team to develop a self-propelled device for probing the subsurface soil on Mars, he determines which sites on Earth will provide the best testing grounds for the MUM. This will help MUM designers anticipate the instrument’s performance when deployed on the surface of Mars. Through studies of subjects ranging from the soils of the hyper-arid Atacama Desert to the dusty snowpacks of Mars, Sutter is exploring a panoply of questions about the interaction of water and soils on Mars. “These questions are important,” Sutter says, “because the underlying theme of these questions is whether conditions were ever suitable for life to exist on Mars.”

- SETI Institute Explorer, Special Edition 2005