Science & Tech

Mars: Exploring Mars, Geology, and Astrobiology

Chris Hadfield

Lesson time 15:04 min

Chris discusses how finding life on Mars could deepen our understanding of the universe and illuminate our place within it. Learn how we’re working with robots to search for life and build an outpost on Mars.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Life on Mars? • Study the Makeup of Our Solar System • Join the Pursuit of Life in Space • Mars: Humans vs. Robots


CHRIS HADFIELD: What would happen if you discovered life on Mars? It's interesting to think about. What would you do if you saw this fossil and it's got, I don't know, nine legs or no legs at all, or it looks like, you know, some weird shape? It looks like a boiled egg or a fried egg or something, but you can recognize that this is a fossil in a Martian shale. What would your reaction be? But maybe, more importantly, what would the world do? What would people think-- to know that we are not alone in the universe? That life is not unique to planet Earth. It would affect a lot of people's fundamental beliefs-- their assumptions as to the preciousness and the uniqueness of life itself. A lot of their sort of unspoken belief system, maybe all wrapped up in the fact that Earth is somehow an expression of what life is, and everything else is nothing. To know that there's life on Mars, it's a very small step to then realize that all of those little points of light in the sky are just as probably places where life either has existed or does exist. And you just have to look around and realize there's not just bugs here on earth, but there is intelligent life. There's sentient beings has developed on this planet, and if there can be life on Mars, no matter how primitive, then there can be intelligent life out in the universe. And there are essentially-- our best satellites and telescopes have told us, there are essentially an unlimited number of stars and planets out there, but right now we're just guessing. But if we can actually find true evidence of life, even as close as Mars, then we could look up at the night sky with confidence that there is life all through that sky, and it's been going on for billions of years. And then the question is, what do we do with that information? How does it affect me personally? How does it affect what we should be doing scientifically? How does it affect the future of our own planet? How should we be taking care of this planet the same way? Does it reinforce our necessity? Maybe that other life is a threat to us. Maybe they have made inventions that we haven't got to yet. Maybe there's a way that we can figure out how to cross the vast gulf of distances between here and there and learn directly from them. Should we be concentrating more on trying to communicate across the vastness of space? Listening more carefully to the quiet signals that are coming from the universe. It will be a great moment of introspection for humanity, I think, if you're the person that finds that one little fossilized flower on Mars. If you get hired as an astronaut, you're probably going to work in the astronaut office for 10 years minimum, maybe 15. In my case, I was an astronaut for 21 years. It's really difficult to predict what is the space program going to be doing 15 years from now. The knowledge that we teach you today, is that going to be the knowledge that you're going to need a dozen years from now? Ma...

About the Instructor

Impossible things happen. At age nine, Chris Hadfield knew he wanted to go to space. He eventually went there three times, becoming a commander of the International Space Station. In his MasterClass, Chris teaches you what it takes to explore space and what the future holds for humans in the final frontier. Learn about the science of space travel, life as an astronaut, and how flying in space will forever change the way you think about living on Earth.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Chris Hadfield

The former commander of the International Space Station teaches you the science of space exploration and what the future holds.

Explore the Class
Sign Up