The search for life in oceans beyond Earth

7.00pm to 8.30pm, Tuesday 15 March

The Theatre

The Royal Institution of Great Britain GB United Kingdom W1S 4BS 21 Albemarle Street London

This event has already taken place

  • Europa

    Europa, a moon of Jupiter

    Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute
  • Type



Standard £14

Concession £10

Discounts for Ri Members

Event description

Where is the best place to find living life beyond Earth? It may be that the small, ice-covered moons of Jupiter and Saturn harbor some of the most habitable real estate in our Solar System. Life loves liquid water and these moons have lots of it!

Kevin Hand will explain the science behind why we think we know these oceans exist and what we know about the conditions on these worlds. He will focus on Jupiter’s moon Europa, which is a top priority for future NASA missions. Dr. Hand will also show how the exploration of Earth’s ocean is helping to inform our understanding of the potential habitability of worlds like Europa. Dr. Hand was a scientist onboard James Cameron’s 2012 dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, and he was part of a 2003 IMAX expedition to hydrothermal vents in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. He has made nine dives to the bottom of the ocean.


About the speaker

Dr. Kevin P. Hand is Deputy Chief Scientist for Solar System Exploration at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. His research focuses on the origin, evolution, and distribution of life in the solar system with an emphasis on Jupiter’s moon, Europa. His work involves both theoretical and laboratory research on the physics and chemistry of icy moons in the outer solar system. His work has brought him to the Dry Valleys of Antarctica, the depths of the Earth’s oceans, and to the glaciers of Kilimanjaro. In 2011 he was selected as a National Geographic Emerging Explorer. Hand earned his PhD from Stanford University and bachelors degrees from Dartmouth College. He was born and raised in Manchester, Vermont.

About the chair

The event will be chaired by physicist and oceanographer Helen Czerski. She currently works at UCL (University College London) and is a science presenter for the BBC.

Helen graduated from Cambridge University in 2001 with a first in Natural Sciences (Physics), and then was awarded a PhD in experimental explosives physics at Cambridge in 2006. She currently researches the bubbles underneath breaking waves, both in the lab and at sea.

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