November meeting: Fossils on Mars and in Meteorites

NASA scientist Richard Hoover displays growing moss that remained alive yet dormant while frozen for 40,000 years in Siberian permafrost. (NASA/MSFC)

Plan to join us on Tuesday, November 19 for our monthly meeting. It starts at 6:30, but feel free to show up around 6:00 to meet and chat with other club members. Check out our Meetings page for the address and directions. This month we have a very interesting presentation planned called Fossils on Mars and in Meteorites, presented by Dr. Richard Hoover, a long time employee of Marshall Space Flight Center.

This is a short description of his presentation:

A major component in the search for ancient or recent evidence of extraterrestrial life, the presentation will describe evidence for present day water, organic biomolecules, fossils and living organisms on Mars obtained by European Space Agency (ESA) Missions and the NASA Viking Landers and the Opportunity and Curiosity Rovers, and evidence for biomolecules and microfossils in carbonaceous meteorites.

Here is a biography of Dr. Hoover from the NASA/MSFC web page. You may also visit that page to read a chat transript:

Dr. Richard Hoover, a Marshall employee since 1968, is the Astrobiology group leader at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL. Hoover is recognized for his work in X-ray and extreme ultraviolet light optics – ranging from microscopes to telescopes. His full-disk images of the sun in the x-ray and ultraviolet wavelengths are among his many innovative advances for the field of Astrobiology.

Hoover has collected meteorites and microbial extremophiles from Antarctica; novel bacteria from Glaciers and permafrost of Antarctica, Patagonia, Siberia and Alaska and from haloalkaline lakes, geysers, and volcanoes of California, Alaska, Crete and Hawaii. He has discovered three new species of bacteria from Mono Lake in California – Spirochaeta Americana, Desulfonatronum thiodismutans and Tindallia californiensis – and another, Carnobacterium pleistocenium, which survived for 32,000 years in a frozen Alaskan pond.

He holds 11 U.S. patents and in 1992 was named NASA’s Inventor of the Year. He served on editorial boards of several scientific journals and the boards of directors of the American Association of Engineering Societies, and the Council of Scientific Society Presidents. He is the author or editor of 33 books and some 250 papers on astrobiology, extremophiles, diatoms, solar physics, X-ray/EUV optics and meteorites. He co-directed the NATO Advanced Study Institute on Astrobiology in Crete, for which he published the book “Perspectives in Astrobiology” in 2005.

Please plan to join us for this fascinating presentation!

Make reservations for our Christmas dinner Dec. 17

Every December our meeting is a Christmas/holiday dinner instead of our regular business meeting. We will have a caterer bring in some great food for us to enjoy, then we can eat, mingle, and talk about rocks, gems, jewelry, and fossils! This year our Christmas dinner will be Tuesday, December 17 starting at 6:00. The dinner menu includes a salad, baked ham and baked chicken, baked potato, green beans, dinner rolls, apple cobbler, and a variety of drinks. We welcome and encourage visitors to join us for this dinner!

The cost to cover the catering is $13 per person. If you’re interested in joining us for the dinner, you need to make reservations so the caterer can bring the correct amount of food. You can make a reservation at our next meeting on November 19. If you would like to attend the dinner but can’t attend the November meeting, please contact Lowell Zoller at Lzol (at) comcast.net. The club pays for each meal we order. If you make a reservation but then cannot come, we would appreciation your contribution to cover the costs.

To have a bit of fun at the dinner, we have an optional gift exchange related to our hobby. Examples of gifts people bring include gem and mineral specimens, fossils, pieces of jewelry, or slabs for lapidary work. As a suggestion, bring something between the $10 and $20 range. Wrap up your gift or put it in a gift bag and make a note on the box or bag if the gift is for men or women only. For example, if your gift is a bolo tie, just write “Man” on the box. Or, if the gift is a wire-wrapped pendant appropriate for a woman, write “Woman” on the box. If it’s gender neutral, like a box of beautiful rocks, you don’t need to write anything on the box! Only those who bring a gift participate in the gift exchange.

The December meeting is a fun way to kick off the holiday season and we hope to see each of you there!