We are fortunate to have a second member of LAB be interviewed by Alien Crash Site! Dr. Heather Graham, a Research Physical Scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, was interviewed for the Alien Crash Site Podcast on September 2, 2021. This podcast, from the Santa Fe Institute, is an InterPlanetary interview series that dives into what a scientist would risk their life to investigate if they were able to explore an alien crash site! You can hear the entire conversation here! Included at the bottom of this post is the full synopses from their page highlighting the interview.
Dr. Heather Graham being interviewed for Alien Crash Site on September 3, 2021.
What do we look for, when we don’t know what we’re looking for? As we announce more missions seeking life in the universe, and as we build new technologies to assist in that pursuit, how do we ensure we don’t miss it when we come across it? How can we best prepare ourselves to recognize life unlike our own? This week, Heather Graham fills us in on exactly how she is seeking out these “agnostic” Biosignatures. Heather is a researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. She’s an organic geochemist and she’s also an astrobiologist. Earlier this summer she published two papers proposing two very cool and very different methods for life detection. We discuss both in this conversation, as well as how easily fooled we might be in our pursuit of past life by the clues we have today. We talk about the rigorous ways space missions are managing contamination, the intersection of art and science, the difference between information and meaning, and we end with a discussion of heather’s ideal alien object, which could definitely change our understanding of the universe, so long as we handle it properly.