2010 Annual Science Report

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Reporting  |  SEP 2009 – AUG 2010

EPO Activity: Harvard Museum of Natural History Family Astrobiology Program

Project Progress

E/PO Coordinator and paleontologist Phoebe Cohen presented a family day program at the Harvard Museum of Natural History (HMNH) in Cambridge, MA, entitled:

From Trilobites to Extraterrestrials: Exploring Life on Earth and Beyond

Description published in the HMNH calendar:
Millions of years ago, long before the dinosaurs, many strange organisms inhabited the Earth and sea; yet fossils are all that remain. Join paleontologist Phoebe Cohen, (Harvard Ph.D.,’10) and Education and Outreach Coordinator at the MIT NASA Astrobiology Node, to explore the questions paleontologists and astrobiologists face every day. How do we know if fossils were once living animals? What is life, when did it start, and how do we search for life on other planets such as Mars?

The hour long program took participants from Earth’s deep past to the future of life on other planets and back. Hands-on aspects included fossil specimens, a live horseshoe crab, models of non-biological sediments and microbially-bound sediments, and demonstrations of the relationship between heat from a star and the distance to a planet. The enthusiastic audience asked dozens of questions throughout the program and took home NASA NAI Astrobiology posters.