Dallol in the Danakin Depression, Ethiopia
Dallol in the Danakin Depression, Ethiopia

Cosmic Queries – Alien Worlds and Extremophiles with Kennda Lynch

Sharanbhurke, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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About This Episode

What will life be like on other planets? On this episode, Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Chuck Nice explore the origins of life on alien planets and extremophiles right here on Earth with astrobiologist Kennda Lynch. 

We dive into the salty acidic waters of the Dallol in the Danakil Depression and Kennda’s appearance in Netflix’s Alien Worlds. How is it that life can live in these extreme conditions? Find out about extremophiles. How does one even become an astrobiologist? Kennda walks us through all the hats she wears in her field and her experience growing stuff in space. Would Matt Damon really have been able to grow potatoes on Mars and life? What is regolith? 

Next, we start our Cosmic Queries: What is Kennda’s favorite extremophile? Are we biased for our own conditions for life? Could there be life the size of planets or quantum lifeforms? How do we think about life as we don’t know it? Could life come from a liquid other than water? Is it possible that biology is the same across the universe? What are the requirements for life? Could we find life in our own solar system? We break down planetary protection rules and what science we would like to explore Enceladus. 

What’s the difference between exobiology and astrobiology? What is the Allan Hills rock? We discuss meteorites and what we learn from them. Could microbes take over the whole planet? Find out why larger lifeforms will likely continue to prevail on Earth. Does all life need heat from the sun? Discover how astrobiologists are reimagining life on other planets. All that, plus, are there bugs that eat rocks somewhere?

Thanks to our Patrons Alex Chadwick, Eric Gross, Tamara Michael, Gerald Johnson, Jordan Shelley, Brendan Barbieri, David Bell, Costa Cad Creations, Tim Costella, and Adam Baker for supporting us this week.

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free.

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