Skip to main content

tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  October 1, 2015 2:00am-4:01am EDT

2:00 am
childhood education is very important on the other side. the k-12 system has served us pretty well for the past century. i think it is vastly inadequate for the next century. many other nations around the world have come to this conclusion faster than we have, and it worries me from a competitiveness standpoint that we're behind them. this wasn't the president's idea. it wasn't my idea. it wasn't a democratic idea. it came from a republican in tennessee, who has made it free for tennesseeians who saw the value in doing that. these are not -- this should not be a partisan fight on these things, but we're going to continue to try to challenge congress to invest here.
2:01 am
we're going to continue to challenge states to hold universities accountability. we're going to get much more information out to young people and their families to make good choices. we hope they'll go places that are not just serious about creating access, but about completion. there's a number of things we're going to do to help people make choices and to get more resources to places that are doing the right thing by their young people. >> this questioner suggests that the administration has pulled back a little bit on that effort to evaluate and rate colleges and universities wondering if the administration was bowing to from higher education institutions or what happened there. >> we can be accused of lots of things. it was an interesting process that was -- we learned as we were going through it.
2:02 am
it's almost like an old school versus new-school approach and the idea of having a federal government do an annual report card and come out with a seal of approval, that used to maybe make some sense. it doesn't make much sense anymore. data is changing so fast. there's so much information out there. we think the best thing we can do is maximize transparency. let folks do their own data in realtime analyses. get that information out. we think that's the way the world is moving, so this was a different way of doing business than us. but the idea of a one-time seal of approval doesn't quite make sense anymore. it would be interesting to see -- the number of folks coming to that site has been stunning. we're going to try to do a lot more going forward. this is just the starting point. maximizing transparency, maximizing data.
2:03 am
we think that will drive behavior and provide a level of accountability that a static report card wouldn't. >> we must have some educators writining essay questions. yesterday, a bipartisan group of governors and education groups told members of congress to do their jobs and reauthorize the elementary and secondary education act or esea and they released conference priorities for negotiating a final bill. those priorities are silent on the role of standardized tests and measuring whether students have mastered state standards. how do you think we should update the accountability regime introduced by no child lift behind? >> that is a very difficult question. we think where states and districts are overtesting, where's there redundancy, they should cut back. we would love to see a cap on
2:04 am
annual testing. put some money behind places that want to do that the right way. we think there's an important role for assessing students' learning every single year. we need to know not just in ninth grade and 11th grade are students are track to be ready for college or not. take one second on this. massachusetts is our highest performing state academically. they're number one. despite that fact, about 1/3 of their high school graduates who go on to two and four-year universities have to take remedial classes in college. that means they're not ready. having high standards and having honest assessments of students' ability to hit those standards, we think there's a common sense middle ground there. that's a very important piece, but that's one piece of a potential fix to the no child left behind law. that law has been broken for a long time.
2:05 am
unfortunately, congress has also been broken. we are hoping a couple of years ago congress would fix the law. we're hoping now. having speaker boehner step down before that happened, we were maybe 50/50. i think our odds of having it pass now have gotten worse but not better, but i would be very happy to be proven wrong there. the goal is to get a strong bill, a bipartisan bill, that would fix the law for children, fix the law for educators, and the president could be proud to support. i hope we can get there. i think that task, that journey, just got harder in the past week. >> with so many states opting out of testing, will the u.s. education department continue to insist that new york state continue to consider student test scores in evaluating teachers and if so, how much weight should be given to test scores? >> first to be clear, no states are opting out of testing. every state assesses student. no state has opted out.
2:06 am
all we have tried to do -- and there's a level of complexity and detail here -- is to say student learning has to be a part of evaluating teachers. anyone who says that somehow teacher evaluate and student learning should be divorced from each other i think really demeans the profession of teaching and the goal of great teachers is not just to teach, but to have their students learn. how are you measuring student learning and how is that just a piece of how you evaluate teachers? we say multiple measures. anyone who says we're only interested in test scores is not telling the truth. >> this questioner asks aren't teachers forming unions still the best way to raise teachers' salaries and do you think charter operators should remain neutral during union drives?
2:07 am
>> i think unions are an important way of raising wages, whether it is in the education sector or in others. but i also want to be clear. hopefully it was very implicit in what i've said is that every teaching job is not created equally. and we have a teacher that we have here. that's a very different job than teaching in northwest d.c. in chicago, a teacher teaching in en inglewood is a very diffet job. we would love to find ways -- again, no one goes into education to make a million dollars. teachers are the most altruistic people we know, but how we
2:08 am
better compensate them, how we better support them, how we get them more respect, and how we get great talent to the kids who need the most help -- the most extreme example i saw was on a native american reservation and no child deserves a better chance or a real chance at an education than our native american children where they could simply not find enough teachers to teach in that community. half of their teachers came from teach in america and half came from the philippines. they could not find u.s.-born teachers to work on that reservation. as part of a package to get more talent where we need it most, i think compensation and other things have to be on the table in very, very different ways. again, there are great schools that are led by union teachers. there are not great schools led by union teachers. there are great schools on the other side of that as well. whether a charter is a union school or not, i think is
2:09 am
irrelevant. what are we doing to increase graduation rates, reduce dropout rates? we need to support teachers. we need to support educators. we need to compensate them. all of this needs to be about reducing academic failure and increasing success. >> what should common core advocates be doing to make sure that state standards don't revert back to the old system inconsistent from state to state? >> again, the media loves the noise and the controversy, but over the past couple of years something unprecedented happen. the overwhelmingly majority of states decided we're going to stop dumbing down standards and stop lying. what those standards are called doesn't matter, but the goal is
2:10 am
to keep those standards high. what the press hasn't covered is how many states have high standards relative to a couple of years ago. this has been talked about educators and by governors since the 90s. governor clinton worked on this. governor riley worked on this. what we have seen is political leaders from across the political spectrum, democrat and republican, are now in the process of raising standards. that's a huge deal. that by itself is not enough. how you support teachers and teaching those higher standards, how you talk about higher standards for children, this is going to be a rocky couple of years. test scores may go down. that's okay. it's important to tell the truth. it's important to have high standards. the second part of that question is how do we have transparency and look at one state versus the other. we're not competing for jobs in the state of indiana anymore by itself.
2:11 am
we're competing with jobs with singapore and south korea and china. who is getting better faster? we're all in this together. who is doing a better job in inner city communities? who is doing a better job in rural communities or on native american reservations? if we can't compare or talk to each other, it is hard to shine a spotlight on success. we have to find ways to get better faster. for every educational challenge we're facing, i promise you it is being solved somewhere today with educators. being able to measure and talk and communicate across the nation and across the globe, i think, will speed up, will accelerate the pace of change, which i think we desperately need to do. >> a couple of similar questions i'll combine. one asking how the department of education can be proactive to make sure what happened in ferguson and baltimore doesn't happen again. i know that's part of what your
2:12 am
speech was about today. another questioner says the department has already issued civil rights guidelines for schools. is there anything else the administration can or will do to offset the racial bias that fuels the school to prison pipeline? >> first, i'll tell you what we cannot do. i always try to be very honest. on the k-12 side, our nation is funded at the local level. usually half is from the state. 40% is the local level. our levers there as not as strong as some might like them to be, but the fact of the matter is since we're so property tax-based throughout the nation, the children of the wealthy get dramatically more spent on them than the children of the poor. until we become uncomfortable with that truth, until we really start to believe that black and brown children and poor children
2:13 am
actually can contribute to society, we'll continue to have huge disparities. i'm not an expert. i spent some time in ferguson, but ferguson didn't happen overnight. that was decades of neglect and abuse and mistreatment and underinvestment. decades in the making and it finally, finally boiled up to the top. as long as children in ferguson are getting less than half the money spent of them, we're going to leave a lot of talent on the sidelines and we're going to lock up people coming from communities like that that we don't have to do. until we become uncomfortable with this reality, until we challenge it, not talk about it, not admire it, but do something different we'll continue to have huge disparities in educational funding. it is impossible to justify children of poor communities getting half the money of
2:14 am
children of wealthier communities. 85% of our children lived below the poverty line. 90% of our children came from the minority community. we sued the state. when unsuccessful, but it's criminal. it's criminal that our kids and the children we serve have less than half the money. think about the 13-year impact of having much less resources than other spaces. that's going to happen much more at the local level. it has to happen at the federal level. what we can continue to do is try to put out guidance and spotlight leaders of courage. as we challenge everyone else, i want you to come back to this. we have to look in the mirror and challenge ourselves. that has to be a piece of this. where we are doing things that are contributing to these problems, we have to make ourselves vulnerable. we have to ask the very hard questions and try and do
2:15 am
something different. that meeting with the police, i will never forget that meeting. it was like it was yesterday. i was stunned, stunned, that we were contributing to this problem in a major way, but that was reality. two years ago, we announced with eric holder that across the nation we were suspending and expelling 3 and 4-year-old black and brown boys from pre-k. i had no idea. we have to continue to shine spotlights on leadership and courage. we have to continue to put out guidance. we have to challenge local folks to think is it good enough that the children of ferguson have less than half the money spent on folks like them. >> you have a reputation of being able to work with people of all ideologies, yet the past seven years the debate over
2:16 am
education has become more divisive than ever. why do you think that is? >> i don't think i agree with that characterization. what folks like to cover is the noise. the vast majority of states have raised standards. they don't cover that 43, 44 states are the top gets all of the press, 4 million. we invested $5 billion more in turning around the nation's under performing schools. people said that was hard, impossible, can't happened, black and brown kids can't learn. we've seen huge progress. that story has been massively unreported. the media is drawn to the noise and controversy. the media does not go to collaboration. and there's an extraordinary story just underneath the surface that lots of media folks
2:17 am
here, i'm trying to throw a not so subtle hint here. there's extraordinary stories. i just went on a back to school bus tour, traveled throughout the midwest. was in cedar rapids, idaho. they've thrown out traditional teacher contracts and step increases, putting all of their money in teacher leadership and investing in teachers. it's virtually unheard of. 15,000 school districts. we'll be lucky if we have 100 school districts doing that. no one tells that story. amazing collaboration. nobody knows. so i think again, there's an important debate to be had. that's a great debate to be head. not to go on too long on this, i think what we debate is important. so much of what we debate is small ball.
2:18 am
with the presidential campaign coming up, a few basic questions they would love the media to ask. one, what are you doing to increase investment in early childhood education. two, what are you doing to reduce dropout rates. three, what's your plan to increase high school graduation rates. and not just what your goals are, what political capital, a what resources and investment are you willing to make. and all of the other questions are noise. it's silly. everything else, all means to an end. if we can get folks focused on those and have an honest debate amongst all of the candidates, then we should vote on those things. because we focus on the silly stuff and the noise, it gives politicians a pass to deal with the real hard issues. and i don't blame them. i blame us as voters. that's on us. >> you mentioned questions you'd like to ask the candidates. in the three hours of the lst
2:19 am
republican presidential debate, nothing was said about education. it doesn't seem to be a priority issue in the election. why do you think it's not being talked about on the campaign trail. >> again, i don't blame the politicians. i blame us. it wasn't -- in the 2012 presidential debates, education barely came up. things get discussed on what folks vote on. until more folks go to the voting booth voting on education, these topics aren't going to be talked about. again, i'm repeating myself. democrat, republican, doesn't matter. lots of great education ideas along the political spectrum. but until we insist that mayors and governors and congress folks, folks in the senate and folks running for president, until we insist that they don't just kiss babies and actually try and improve education, then
2:20 am
we'll continue to just sort of not make the kind of progress we need. and the consequences from our country are getting bigger and bigger. not to go on too long. our nation now, our nation's public schools are majority minority. majority minority. a watershed moment in our nation's history. we're not going back the other way. this isn't the right thing to do for the black community or the hispanic community, this is the right thing to do for our country. if we continue to leave the talent on the sidelines, we will not be competitive in other nations who believe in every single child and giving them a chance. there's a sense of urgency, flat world competing for high school jobs. the only way we're going to keep the middle wage jobs is to keep the graduates.
2:21 am
if we're all fighting to get there, let's have a healthy debate about what the best strategies are to do that. we're not at that point yet. we're debating silly stuff. it's a distraction. it's counter productive. >> before i ask the final question, i have some hou housekeepi housekeeping. the national press club is the world's leading professional organization for journalists and we fight for a free press worldwide. to learn more about the club visit our website and to donate, visit i also want to remind you about some upcoming lunch programs. tomorrow, october 1st, the president will address the club. on friday, utah governor, chair of the national governor's association will address the
2:22 am
luncheon. and on october 7th, baltimore mayor stephanie rawlings blake will address the national press club. i would now like to present our speaker with the cherished national press club mug. i know you've been here before so you're developing a collection. >> thank you so much. >> they look great in a set of four in the china cabinet. final question. (w you were confirmed in 2009. you're one of two cabinet secretaries left. we can see the end out there. is it safe to say you're going to stick around until they turn the lights off on the administration? >> working hard every day and we have an amazing team. and the amount of unfinished business and the president has talked about the fourth quarter and we're proud of the progress we've made. but there's so much work we need to do, not just for the next 14
2:23 am
months but for the next 14 years as a nation. it's incumbent upon all of us to work hard and give our kids a chance. thank you for having me. >> one more you were the longest serving heads of chicago schools and now one of the longest serving secretaries of education. when you do step away, what do you envision next for yourself? >> i have no idea. i've tried to be pretty tunnel visioned. my job is to focus on what we're doing every single day and when it's time to do something else, i worry about that at that point. if anybody has any ideas, let me know. >> let's give a round of applause to our speaker. [ applause ]
2:24 am
i would like to thank staff members of the national press club and the journal lichl institute for their work in preparing for today's event. for a copy of today's program or to learn more about the national press club, visit that website thank you very much. we have adjourned. on ur next washington journal we'll get your comments on the funding measure. ken buck will join us to talk about the republican agenda, speaker boehner's resignation and the upcoming gop leadership contest. then california congressman ted lieu will give his take on the continued resolution to fund the
2:25 am
government through december and the debate over planned parenthood. washington journal lye every morning at 7:00 eastern on c-span. the c-span cities tour working with our cable affiliates and visiting cities across the country. this weekend we're joined by comcast to learn more about the history and literary life of santa rosa, california, considered part of napa wine country, we'll look at the evolution of the wine industry in sonoma county. >> the agricultural history began with wine. the first vines planted here were at the mission in sonoma probably in the late 1820s or early 1830s, which is a very long time ago. they were mission grapes and nobody in their right mind would make wine out of them now.
2:26 am
but, you know, with the wine country label that started in the '70s, by the '80s and 1990s we were becoming to be better known. >> when my folks first purchased the ranch in the late '50s, they didn't know it at the time but they saw quite a change in the ag industry happening just in our little valley here. it hasn't always been quote unquote wine country. we have a wonderful storied agricultural history here and in sonoma county also. >> we visit the jack london state park, author of "the call of the wild" and "white fang." >> this is where jack london lived until his death in 1916. jack london probably would have
2:27 am
been writing long hand when people came upon him in his office. he was very productive here. two thirds of his writing was published after he moved here. books like "white fang" was published in 1906. a year after his bought his ranch property. "the valley of the moon" was published while he was living here. jack london claimed that he worked two hours a day writing thousand words a day before breakfast. but i think a lot of his time was spent because he was trying to build the beauty ranch so it could be a model and that took a lot of his time. >> see all of our programs saturday at noon eastern on c-span 2's book tv and sunday afternoon at 2:00 on american history tv on c-span3. and a house science space technology hearing.
2:28 am
discussing the potential of life on other planets and the recent discovery of liquid water on mars. lamar smith chairs this hour and 40 minute hearing. >> science space and technology will come to order. without objection the chair is ordered to declare recesses of the committee at any time. welcome to today's hearing, astrobiology and the search for life beyond earth in the neck decade. let me make a couple of announcements. one is to say we expect more members shortly but at least on the republican side, all of our members are in the republican conference that i left early in order to start on time here. but other members will be arriving shortly. and the same may be true of our colleagues on the other side of the aisle as well. we have a new member of the science space and technology committee and i would like to introduce him. he is darren lahood, the first member to my left whose father i served with in congress some
2:29 am
years ago. he represents a district in illinois. he's a former state senate or serving as a state senator when was elected to congress. before that he was both a state and federal prosecutor. so we welcome his many talents to the committee. he's going to be serving on two swub committees, research and technology and oversight where he will be bringing all of the legal skills to bear. so we are pleased to have him join us today. and permanently on this committee. welcome, darren to you. i'm going to recognize myself for an opening statement and then i'll recognize the ranking member. edwin hubble once said equipped with his five senses man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure science. there are few greeter ad ventures than the search for life beyond earth. when the hubble telescope was launched in 1990, planets around
2:30 am
other stars had not been discovered. the only planets we knew were those that orbited our sun. since 1995, however, the rate of d discovery of the external solar systems have been remarkable. today we've found nearly 2,000 confirmed planets that orbit around other stars in our galaxy. of these 306 lie within the hab itable zone so they orbit where water could exist. and 14 are almost the size of the earth. whether life exists beyond sert a critical question. if definitive evidence of life is found, it mie be the most significant scientific discovery in human history. the search for life in the universe is a priority of nasa and the u.s. scientific community. seeking habitable planets is an
2:31 am
object of the national research council on as tron any and astrophysics. the united states pioneered the field of astrobiology and continues to lead the world in this type of research. nasa has explored the cosmos for life beyond earth and conducted scientific research. nasa's astrobiology program continues the scientific endeavors to improve our understanding of biology. just yesterday nasa announced it identified flowing water on mars. this past april, nasa's chief scientist dr. ellen stofan made global headlines saying, quote, we're going to have strong indications of life yond earth in the next decade. i'm glad that dr. stofan has joined us today. the question of whether life
2:32 am
exists or existed on mars continues to capture the public imagination. nasa's recover made several scientific discoveries relevant to the search of life on mars. it detected other organic molecules and drill samples from a mud stone that once sat at the bottom of a lake. and jupiter's moon shows strong evidence of liquid water under its surface. nasa selected nine science instruments for a future mission to jupiter's moon. one from the university of texas in austin. these instruments will help scientists investigate the chemical makeup of u rope pa's environment. last july, scientists confirmed
2:33 am
this discovery of kepler 452 b the first near earth size plan net the habitable zone around a sun like star. this discovery marks another milestone in the journey to find another earth. the transiting exoplanet survey which will launch in 2017 and the telescope in 2018 will help scientists discover more planets with biosignatures in their atmosphere. around the world a relatively small number of astronomers monster radio emissions throughout the universe. they try to filter out the cosmic noise and interference to find anomalies that could mean life. this motivates students to study math, science, engineering and computer science. a few months ago astronomers
2:34 am
confirmed that tom wag, a 15-year-old student discovered an exoplanet which orbits a star 1,000 light years away. it is in our few man nature to seek out the unknown and discover the universe around us. the stars compel us to look upward and lead us from this world to another. many americans often gaze into the beauty of the night sky in awe. some may wonder if there is life beyond our pale blue dot. i thank your witnesses open look forward to hearing their testimony today particularly about recent developments in the field of astrobiology and the search for life. and now i will recognize the gentle woman from texas, ms. johnson, the ranking member for her open statement. >> thank you very much and good morning. let me welcome our distinguished panel of witnesses today. i do look forward to your testimony. i want to welcome mr. lahood to
2:35 am
the committee and simply say that the first week of this month i visited the curiosity team in france and the excitement is beyond measure. administrator bolden stated that when we explore the solar system and the universe, we gain knowledge about the dynamics of the sun and the planetary system and whether we are alone. with respect to the question of whether we are alone, then search for life beyond earth is a topic this committee has devoted a lot of attention to=ñ over the past few years. i don't know if we plan on taking life up somewhere else, i don't know where our chairman wants to go but i'm interested in following him. the purpose of today's hearing is to get an update on that topic. it is my hope that our witnesses will also take om time to
2:36 am
discuss how their research activities can be used to help foster excitement in our young people and spur them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math. that's important because these young students are the future scientists and leaders who will be critical of our growth going forward. while it's exciting to search for intelligent life in the universe, i hope we don't neglect nurturing the intelligent life we have right here in our country. i want to recognize that this is a return visit by dr. lunine. one year ago he and governor mitch mcdaniels testified before the committee on the national research council's report entitled "pathways to
2:37 am
interaction. a review of the future of human exploration." and that was completed pursuant to nasa authorization act of 2010. i highly recommend that our newer colleagues on the committee and the rest of the congress as a whole, for that matter, read this report as i found it to be objective in the ens dorsment of the goal of sending humans to mars and thoughtful in his recommendations for an exploration program to send human to the surface of mars. a central goal established by this committee and passed nasa authorization act of 2015. i want to thank our witnesses and i yield back. >> thank the ranking member for those nice comments. let me introduce our witnesses. our first witness is dr. ellen ç stofan, nasa's chief scientist. he serves as principle adviser
2:38 am
to nasa administrator on the agency science programs and strategic planning and investments. this is dr. stofan's second term at nasa as she recently held a number of senior scientists positions at the jet propulsion laboratory. a recrip yent of the early career award. earned her bachelor's degree from william and mayry and her master and dock troll degree from brown university. our second witness is dr. january than lunine, the director of the cornell center for astrophysics and planetary science at cornell university where he specializes in astrobiology. dr. lunine has extensive experience in the search for life on other planets. he worked on a mission that showed that one of saturn's
2:39 am
moons. dr. lunine received his bachelor's degree in physics and astronomy from the university of rod chester and his masters and ph.d. in planetary science from the california institute of technology. our third witness is dr. jacob bean, at the university of chicago. dr. bean also is the leader of the bean exoplanet group which uses telescopes to detect and characterize exoplanets. dr. bean's work has used the hubble telescopes to make breakthroughs in astrobiology. dr. bean also develops new instruments for exoplanet detection and characterization and helping to design the giant m ma jell len telescope. our final witness today is dr. andrew siemion.
2:40 am
dr. siemion is an astrophysicist at the university of california berkeley. dr. siemion's research interests include studies of time variable, astronomical sbr instrument meatio instrumentation. dr. siemion received his ph.d. in astrophysics from the university of california at berkeley. we welcome you all. you're clearly experts in the field and dr. stofan, will you beg begi begin? >> thank you. i'm pleased to appear before the committee to discuss astrobiology and the search for life after earth.
2:41 am
with future technology and instruments currently underdevelopment we'll explore the solar system and beyond and could indeed in perhaps as little as ten to 20 years discover some form of life, past or present. our search is making amazing progress. when i was a ph.d. student, scientists suspected that planets might be there. today, thanks to nasa's space missions and ground based telescope, we've identified 5,000 planets orb biting stars and we believe that the vast majority of stars in the universe have planets around them. on mars, a series of mass emissions culminating in the recover which touch down nearly three years ago have allows us
2:42 am
to make fundamental discoveries. we know that marsz was much like a water world much like earth with clouds and a water cycle and some running water on the surface. for hundreds of millions of years, half of the mars had an ocean, possibly a mile deep in portions. we live in a soggy solar system. for instance, jupiter lies outside the habitable zone and we would expect the water there to be frozen. yet we have evidence of liquid oceans on three moons of jupiter. and using the hubble telescope we've found signs of water in the atmospheres of planets around other stars. what lies ahead in the next decade? ie like to describe some of the highlights. life as we know it requires water, liquid water that's been stable on a planet for a long time. that's why mars is our primary destination for the search for
2:43 am
life. the mars 2020 rover mission will seek signs of ancient microbial life. if we find evidence of life, it will likely be fossilized. as a field geologist, i can tell you it's going to be hard to find. that's why i believe it will take human explorers who can move quickly and make decisions on their feet to really identify it and in doing so, inspire the next generation of explorers. our journey to mars involves the development of a commercial crew capability, the space launch system and orion to go lower in orbit. beyond mars the president's fy 2016 budget request supports the development of a new motion to the moon uropa.
2:44 am
hubble has opened plumes of water at one of its poles. a mission here could analyze the water plumes to determine the composition of those oceans. beyond our solar system, there are countless other world that could harbor life. in 2017 nasa will launch the survey satellite to look for rocky planets near the habitable zones. we'll use the telescope to measure the at mos fierce. the president's fy 2016 budget request supports the wide survey telescope with the capable of directly imaging planets around the stars. since earth remains for now the only instance of an inhabited planet, it also requires that we further develop or understanding of life on earth. we've learned that life is tough, and highly adaptable to
2:45 am
local environmental conditions. we've discovered life in numerous extreme environments and extraordinary forms, from bacteria that consume chemicals that would be toxic to most lives. perhaps even more interesting is the possibility that life could exist in the absence of liquid water. that's why scientists are interested in exploring some of the more unusual places in our solar system and beyond, such as saturn's moon. ultimately, of course, the search for life is a cross-cutting theme in all of nasa's endeavors bringing together researchers. astrobiology is guided by a community constructed road map generated about every five years with the next road map slated for release later this year. in addition in april nasa announced the formation of ann a mission dedicated for the search
2:46 am
for life on plan planets out of or solar system. this is an interdisciplinary effort that connects top research teams and provides a since tiezed approach. from research to our knowledge of where to go and what to look for to the cape nlts of finding it both within our solar system and beyond, we are making great discoveries. thank you for the opportunity to testify today. >> thank you, dr. stofan. dr. lunine? >> thanking you chairman smith, ranking member and members of the community. thank you for your opportunity to present my views. these views are my own and the they come from 30 years of work in the field of planetary science at various institutions in the u.s. and abroad. one of the most important outcomes of the last two decades of solar system exploration is
2:47 am
the identification of four bodies in our solar system that appear capable of harboring life. these bodies possess chark risices that make them the best leads. the fist of these bodies is mars. in its first billion years, it had abundant liquid water protected by a much denser atmosphere than the tenuous cell we see today. during this time life might have begun, survived on the surface and then was extinguished or retreated undergrown as the atmosphere was lost. the second f these objects is jupiter's moon. it's a bod the size of our own moon with a large salt water ocean, twice the water that we have in our ocean. this is in contact with a rocky core and abundant sources of energy. we don't know where organic
2:48 am
molecules exist inside of this ocean but we strongly suspect they're there. equally important we don't know how far below the surface lies. knowing that will allow a strategy to be formulated for searching for life there. next slide is titan, a moon that's larger than the planet mercury and the only noon in our solar system to host a dense atmosphere of nitrogen and methane. methane clouds, rain gullies, river valleys. we cannot resist asking whether some by yo check cli novel form of life might have arisen in this exotic frigid environment. titan is a test for the outcome of life as a result of cosmic evolution. what the ga lap gos islands did for the theory of evolution by national selection, titan might
2:49 am
do for exobiology. this small moon has a large plume of material emanating from a series of fractures in its south polar region. make a list of the requirements for terrestrial type life, chemical grade yents, and we've found evidence of all of them. so how do we find the signs of life in these bodies? the evidence will not be entire living organisms. much more like lick we'll detect signatures that life is at work or was at work in these environments. in contrast to nonbiological prosepszs, biology is built from a limited selected set of molecules. and so if we can recognize patterns in the makeup of organic molecules, we have strong evidence of biology at work. in mars finding sources of methane and measuring the ie so
2:50 am
toeps is one way to get to this question. other is to seek organic materials in the soil. and the mars 2020 rover will do the heavy lifting here. forup ter's moon, this will provide the essential information needed to decide, among other things, whether organics and water are welling up through the cracks on the surface. doing this mission, doing it now is absolutely crucial to any general strategy for the search for life. for titan, the search should target one of the great met thane seize by dropping a capsule capable of floating across the surface. a generalized search for patterns is molecular structures and abundances that indicate deviation from check tri-is appropriate. and finally, this provides us
2:51 am
with the most straightforward way of looking for life. nearly flying through the plume with modern instrumentation intended to detect the signatures of life is sufficient to do the search. the long flight times and the utter solar system in particular dictate the planning for missions must begin now and must be pursued with vigor if they're to happen within the next two decades. it's remarkable that we've found four destinations in our own solar system where life might actually exist or have existed for quite some time in the past. and now is the time to actually go search for that life. thank you. >> my testimony today will be focused on the context of the
2:52 am
search for life beyond earth. the main point i want to convey is that in an expanded exploration program with the flagship telescope as its center piece could answer one of the most fun mental questions, is there life outside of earth. planets outside of earth's solar system, this year marks the 20th anniversary of the first detection of an exoplanet. but progress in the field has been rapid in the intervening years. in particular, the launch of nasa's kept lar telescope revolutionized the field. we're focused on finding et size planets orbiting their stars in the habitable zone. a handful of earth size habitable zone exoplanets have been found other the last few
2:53 am
years. these discoveries grabbed the attention of the scientific community and the public because they suggest that planets may exist and we have it within our grasp to search for other life. the next step towards determining if there are any truly habitable planets is to study the atmospheres using this technique. planetary at mos fierce control the habitability of a planet because they're reservoirs and regulators. fut more planetary at atmospheres may be a marker itself. astronomers have made progress revealing the nature of the atmospheres of hot using the hubble and spitzer space telescopes. these investigations have yielded constraints on the abundances of key chemical
2:54 am
species were the determinations of temperature maps. astronomers eagerly await the launch of the james telescope in 2018. the webb telescope will dramatically extend the reach. it may have the capability to determine the major molecules and measure the temperatures of the exoplanet atmosphere. however webb will be hard pressed to detect evidence of life, only made possible with fortuitous planets and large amounts of by yo signature gases on the planets itself. the astrophysics community is currently ramping up for the survey that will prioritize large space missions to follow the webb telekeep. community is currently developing concepts for
2:55 am
telescopes in preparation for the selection process. the top priority space telescope from the previous survey will have capabilities that lay a foundation for a future life finder telescope. one of the goals is to obtain improved statistics. in addition, nasa is currently considering including an exoplanet spectrometer on the telescope. this would not have the capability of making measurements for earth like planets but would advance the technology. it's important to keep in mind that a future life finder mission cannot be a success in the absence of other projects. the need for knowledge is why i think that ultimately an expanded program would be the best way forward. although a flagship space
2:56 am
telescope would be the crown jewel, it should be guided by the instruction of life. it would take all of us working together to act on the vision to see it through. but our ability to rise to this kind of challenge is what makes america exceptional. from the apollo program, voyager, hubble and mars programs, with the recent stunning success of the rise mission to pluto, our country leads the way in space exploration. the search for life beyond our planet represents the next great space exploration challenge that we continue this legacy. mr. chairman and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to be here as a witness and i would be happy to take questions. >> thank you, dr. bean. mr. siemion. >> thank you for the opportunity to testify today. searches for extraterrestrial
2:57 am
intelligence seek to determine the distribution of advanced life in the universe through detects the presence of technology, usually by searching for electromagnetic radiation from communication technology but also by searching for evidence of large scale energy usage. technology is thus use as a proxy for intelligence. if an advanced technology exists, so does the advanced life that created it. we know of no way to directly detect intelligent life. but if other intelligent life exists and possesses a technological capability similar to our own, we could detect the technology using the techniques of modern astronomy. large telescopes such as the one in west virginia are suburb facilities for a wide range of astronomy. improving mapping the gas in nearby galaxies and probing the
2:58 am
earliest epics of the universe. these facilities are among the world's best of searching for the faint whispers of distant technologies. a variety of experiments are underway at the green bank telescope and the observatory. in a technique we called piggyback observing. several ore telescopes are being used for radio study, including the private allen telescope in northern california, the low frequency array in europe and the mer chan son wide array in australia. many are taking advantage of the wealth of new information on our galaxy's exoplanet exploration now being revealed by spacecraft. in an exciting new project, a group base at the university of
2:59 am
s san diego are searching. these experiments are funded by a combination of government and private sources including notable contributions from the john templeton foundation. ensuring that facilities like the green bank telescope and the observatoriries continue to exist as world class astronomical facilities, is critical to their continued use. one of the most exciting prospects is the break through listen initiative, a $100 million ten-year effort fund bid the break through prize foundation that will conduct the most sensitive, comprehensive search for advanced intelligent life on other world. i have an animation i would like to show you illustrating some of the components of break through listening. here we see the milky way
3:00 am
galaxy. hosting plan es with liquid water on their surface. if intelligent life developed son om of these planets, the emissions from their technology would proceed at the speed of light out into the mig ki way. but for how long? life may arise, it may develop intelligence and finally a communicative technology. but the final stage may only last for a few thousand years. but the evidence of their technology, the bubble of their electromagnetic radiation will continue to prop l gait throughout the galaxy and could be detectable at the earth. with break through listen, we'll conduct deep observations from one million of the stars of the earth. these observations will cover at least five times more of the radio spectrum than any previous experiment.
3:01 am
we'll conduct these observations using the green bank telescope in west virginia wf as well as the parks radio telescope in australia. it is undoubtable that the next decade will be an exciting time for astrobiology. data provided by missions from the james webb space telescope virtually guarantee dramatic new insights, including identifying and characterizing some of the newest exoplanet to the earth. at the same time we'll continue to learn more about the development of life on earth and the potential for life elsewhere in our sewn solar system. if history is any guide, these discoveries will only heighten our imagination about the possibilities of advanced life elsewhere in the universe. thank you. >> thank you, dr. siemion. as you might guess, we have all thousands of questions and we're somewhat limited in our time by five minutes. dr. stofan, i would like to
3:02 am
address a couple of questions to you. one i'm astounded by the announcement by nasa that running water may be on the surface of mars. is that the case? when mars curiosity rover reported no evidence of water, i thought that was the end of it. but if we have water on the surface of mars, why do we not have any photographs of the water? >> indeed the new results that we just got show that the recurring slope, the features on the sides of the tracraters. we've been able to put the evidence together, including chemical observations to say okay that's really what's forming these things, which we're excited about. the problem is these features are transient. there's not a whole lot of water. so it's very hard to see with the resolution of spacecraft that we see. but we can certainly trace the
3:03 am
chemical signatures. we also at the phoenix landing site were able to see the evidence of liquid water, including a little droplet on the spacecraft. so water is there on mars. it's not in huge abundance right near the surface but we know it's at the poles. >> when will we have evidence of liquid water, anytime soon? >> i'm afraid i can't answer exactly -- we feel that the evidence we showed yesterday is good evidence of liquid water. when it's flowing on the surface, it's very, very hard to detect. >> thank you. next question is where are we, in your opinion, most likely to detect any kind, any form of life, even if it's bacteria or mie skroebs or whatever. it is going to be mars, jupiter's moon, an exoplanet, is it going to be some technological communication? where do the best prospects lie. >> i certainly believe it's going to be mars. you heard from me and dr.
3:04 am
lunine. we're optimistic about the 2020 rover. that's not the most exciting in a lot of people's terms to find fossilized mie kroebs, but i'm really optimistic. i think it's going to take humans on the surface of mars to get at the definitive evidence. >> dr. lunine, how would you rank the -- you mentioned four locations were mars, jupiter's moons, ie tan, one of saturn's moons. was that in order of likelihood or do you have a preference or a prediction as to where we might most likely find evidence of some form of life? >> well, that was actually in order moving outward from the sun. there was no implied order. you know, the question is
3:05 am
whether in any environment that can support life does life actually begin. does it form. and i don't know the answer to that and no one else does. and that's why in my view we need to look at all of these bodies where there is very strong evidence, compelling evidence of what's called a habitable environment, an environment where life could actually be sustained. >> when we find out what the thickness of the ice is on jupiter's moon, that's the time to send a probe there? >> yes. there's a lot of ground work that needs to be done. we don't know if there are organic molecules. the mission will tell us whether there are fresh organics in the cracks. if there are, that's the place to go. >> dr. bean, when do you think we'll have the capability of detecting biosignatures in the atmospheres of exoplanets. >> i think the james telescope planned to launch in 2018 is the
3:06 am
first chance to do that. if we get lucky, we may be able to search for -- >> with james web webb? >> yes. >> not before? >> definitely not before. >> what do you think the are of finding a biosignature in the next ten years, likely or unlikely? >> i'd say that's unlikely. but we are optimistic that we can take important steps towards doing that over the next ten years. >> okay. thank you, doctor. i was hoping you'd be a little more optimistic than that. one out of three? one out of four? what would you say? >> one out of five. >> that's better than otherwise. dr. siemion, last question for you. could you briefly tell us the advantages and disadvantages of radio and optical atrston astro.
3:07 am
there's advantages an disadvantages to both. do you have a preference or not and what are the advantages and disadvantages js i think you're absolutely right that historically they've concentrate odden the radio portion. but as we've developed technology on earth, it's allowed us to communicate to the wave lengths. the truth is we don't know what part of the electromagnetic system that we might receive some evidence of a technological situation elsewhere. it behooves us to search as much of the spectrum as we can. that's why we focus on the radio and the optical. >> my time has expired. dr. bean, you know that 20% is actually pretty high considering how historic that would be. i think we all might agree it might be the most interesting news in say the last 20 years. that 20% is something that i
3:08 am
think is not i guess significant. the ranking member, the gentle woman from texas is recognized for her questions. and let me say, going back to her opening statement, that it's not often than the chairman hears the ranking member say she's going to follow the chairman. >> if you go to mars. >> all yours. >> thank you, very much, mr. chairman. dr. lunine, today we are speaking primarily about astrobiology that can be carried out robot cli. however, humans will one day return to deep space and carry out scientific exploration on bodies such as mars. to that end, it has been over a year since the national academy has released the path ways to exploration study. which you co-authored. that report found that the horizon goal for human space exploration is mars and as you
3:09 am
may know, this committee agrees with that. has nasa been in discussions with you on the results of that report? and if so, what is the status of the response of that report and how can this committee be helpful? >> well, the nasa advisory committee did actually have a session at one of their meetings on the suggest of our report. and one of our committee members was there and had a dialogue with the committee and also folks from nasa. so i think there's some dialogue and thinking going on. i look guard to having more dialogue with nasa on the report. i think it's still very fresh and has a lot to contribute to the question of how and when humans will move beyond lower orbit. i look guard to the dialogue. >> good. in your view, what if any of the
3:10 am
issues does this committee and the congress need to address? >> in the context of that report? >> yes. >> well, you know, to quote from that report, we were concerned about the question of flight rates and the near term. and the question of how the destinations or pathways might be chosen. i still think those are the key operative elements in the recommendations from our repwo o >> 30 years from now elementary school children will be leading the scientific exploration of the solar system and beyond. our knowledge of other bodies near and far will have changed. humans may have visited mars and even the two of us here in this committee won't be around. but life beyond earth may have been detected by them. as we think about where we are today and where we might be 30
3:11 am
years from now, is there anything that congress should be considering to ensure that today's school children are well-equipped to lead a new era that could include knowledge of life beyond earth? >> i'm a strong believer that nasa plays an incredibly important role in inspiring the next generation. and charlie bolden loves to say that everything that we do at nasa is about s.t.e.m. education, every time we launch a rocket or every time we do something like encountering pluto. we're inspiring the next generation to want to explore, to question why. i would like to see nasa stay on the steady course to continue that exploration and move forward with moving humans out below lowerth orbit. >> one example that excites school kids is the spacecraft
3:12 am
can actually probe the large methane seeds of titan and determine their depth by sending radio signals as it flies by. we're doing ocean exploration abillion miles away from the earth. that's only one example. school kids are fascinated by that. they want to be a part of it. in order for them to be a part of it, we have to have continuity in exploration. we have to continue the wonderful missions so there isn't effectively a generation long gap in these discoveries. >> to get back at chairman smith's earlier question about putting a number on the chance of finding life, i want to emphasize that scientific process is step by step deliberate process. and so being able to maintain, like jonathan said, a continuity in funding these programs and continuing this deliberate approach i think is extremely
3:13 am
important. >> i think the only thing that i have to add to what my other panel members have said is that the search for life, i think, has a particularly compelling aspect to it for young people. and i think to the extent that that can be highlighted and taken advantage of to encourage more young people to enter careers into space and science and technology is wonderful. >> thank you very much. my time has expired. >> thank you, ms. johnson. the gentleman from texas, the chairman of the space subcommittee is recognized for his question. >> thank you, mr. chairman and welcome all of you panelists. we appreciate it. it's very fascinating to hear your testimony. in my district texas 36, the johnson space center astromaterials facility provides services for all returned planetary materials that do not require the protection laboratories. this facility has been in operation since the apollo lunar
3:14 am
samples were returned. each of the new sample collections will require new cure ration laboratories. while the facilities for the older collections require routine maintenance and upgrades. samples returned from mars require greater requirements. dr. stofan, what steps is nasa taking to upgrade its curation facilities? >> we have two different committees at nasa, certainly the planetary protection group where we take the issues extremely seriously for the guard contamination from mars and backward contamination when we eventually return the samples to the earth. that's one aspect where we're doing research. we're doing testing of all of our mars spacecraft in the
3:15 am
planetary protection area. we have another group where we reach out into the community and bring experts in to advise us on our cure ration. it's an amazing facility, really fun to look at the apolo lunar samples, meteorites from antarctica. so we certainly work closely with the community to understand what is needed and to make sure that we will eventually when we do return samples from mars we will have a plan in place. >> thank you very much. and this is directed to everyone. what proportion of astrobiology research in the united states is funded directly or indirectly by na nasa? does anyone know? okay. >> no, we at nasa can certainly
3:16 am
take the question for the record. i will say i was just talking with someone a few weeks ago, i was at a conference at aims research center where we were thinking about climate on extra solar planets. it's within of the reasons that i mentioned in my testimony that this whole area of astrobiology is an amazing one and makes me think it will be hard to pull the about, for example, habitable conditions on stars, you have to do heel owe physics to understand the stars, solar wind, the sbeen your of the planet. the work we do here on earth to understand extremeophiles and pulling from so many disciplines and makes it so incredibly exciting and fruitful. it's truly interdisciplinary. >> absolutely. okay. and also, what are the most
3:17 am
important technological advan advancements that are needed to further astrobiology research and what advancements should be our highest priority to continue this? >> well, i'll one crack at this. i don't want to prioritize these but in my area is miniaturize instrumentation to detect the chemical signs of life and another biological activity. the smaller the instruments, the easier it's going to be to send them to the planets. >> from the standpoint of studying exo planets, i talked about a flagship mission. that's a very high-tech thing to do to take direct images of planets that we can take spectra from and look at the bio signature gases. that involves the construction of large space telescopes, rockets to put those telescopes into orbit, instrumentation to block the blinding glare of the stars those planets orbit and perhaps even the manned space program to service the
3:18 am
telescopes or even construct the telescopes in orbit. >> thank you. >> i think in the search for extra terrestrial intelligence, the low hanging fruit is very much dig tall signal processing technology. the streams produced by radio telescopes and some optical telescopes and receiver technology to use old facilities in a new ways. >> thank you. mr. chairman, i'll yield back the balance of my time. thank you. >> thank you. the gentle woman ms. esty is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, ranking member johnson for holding the hearing. i joined millions of americans on sunday night watching the blood moon and a blue moon earlier this year. and i have to tell you in a district like mine in connecticut school children are inspired and xomted by the development and we share a
3:19 am
commitment to s.t.e.m. education. congratulations, dr. stofan, we look forward to understanding what that means and as you can hear we have had questions today. dr. stofan, you spoke earlier about the need of human exploration on mars to really understand and to make those subtle intuitive judgment that is are necessary. do you anticipate that yesterday's announcement and the discovery proceeding that changes in any way the priorities or the ordering of that and help us understand in our role as decision makers on help to set priority that is are keeping up with the developing science. >> you know, i think one of the most exciting things about yesterday is the fact that we now know there's near surface liquid water on mars, and so, this idea that jonathan lunine mentioned in the testimony of, you know, again, because of this length of time we know that water was stable on mars and
3:20 am
makes scientists think that mars is the place that life evolved and not only liquid water but you had the time to allow the chemical reactions to take place. the exciting thing about knowing there's near surface water is saying maybe there could still be life forms on mars today, deep underground several meters below ground where the cosmic radiation would not affect them but the idea that it's potentially accessible to be studied, by, again, astronauts and laboratories on the surface of mars, and again, as a field geologist, somebody who likes to go out in the field and crack open rocks, i have a bias thattic takes humans, laboratories, a lot of work. again, it is one thing if you're looking for something large. looking for something small takes type and effort and humans is critical and that's why nasa has chosen to be on this path and we're convinced we're on the correct path.
3:21 am
>> thank you. and i have to confess i have a son who did astrophysics and exo planet things so i have a -- i know he has a personal interest if this manned man keeps up with the fourth project of 5 years ago. dr. lunine, i was particularly struck by your comment that a key issue is whether in a habitable environment life actually does develop. which is sort of an opposite of where we start. we started with this search, is there any life out there? and now it seems to me you're asking a very different question which is we see a lot of components we would think ought to lead to life. does it lead to life or does it not? what are the technological break throughs you see us threading to support, to answer that somewhat different question? it seems to me that's a different question than i certainly would have thought about five years ago. >> well, it's a different question because it's a related
3:22 am
question. we really have no laboratory modelling if how life began on the earth. no one's does this in the laboratory. and so one of the reasons for going out to environments in our solar system where the conditions for life are apparently there and possible is to see whether life actually began essentially to do the experiment in the field instead of in the laboratory and the critical things we need for that are devices to analyze abundance of amy no acids, fatty acids, the look for patterns in other molecules that might be part of an exotic biochemistry, for example, on titan. part of the problem is that it's not entirely clear what we want to look for in some environments. in other environments, like mars, yue rope yeah and sell does, it's railroad clear what we want the look for. chemical analysis is critical and the ability to get out to these planets and sample planets
3:23 am
and moons and sample them is also critical. >> thank you. and if we might be able to follow up afterwards with some more detail because, again, our job is in part to try to set funding priorities and they need to take into account these changes so i think, dr. stofan, your comments about the near surface presence of water compared to yue rope yeah and so deep and presents harder technological challenges may help guide us with i'm afraid we have to say the not enough money to do this research. i wish we had more. we want to make sure it has the most impact and rely on your judgment of guiding us. thank you all very much. >> thank you, ms. esty. the gentleman from louisiana, mr. abraham is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'm a teenager that rushed home to see the original "star trek." so this is fascinating. like the chairman said, we have a million questions. i'll ask dr. stofan, like you,
3:24 am
i'm of the opinion you need boots on the ground sort to speak to finally answer the question. so let's bring it a little closer to home. you referenced the possible meteor asteroid in the antarctica. i think you're referencing the one of 1984. and if we go to a synthetic biology topic, such as ex opposed to rna and dna, would your funding be more appropriate in a realistic term as to funding projects in that realm as opposed to, you know, something that maybe 100 years off as far as timetable or space travel is concerned? >> well, i certainly think that this is a multi -- as i said, it's interdisciplinary that you
3:25 am
need a multi-pronged approach. i think that's what nasa developed. i personally think it's achievable that we meet the president's goal of humans in the mars vicinity in the 2030s and meantime continuing our robotic exploration like with the mars 2020, europa mission. it is an and. we need the research here on the ground, biological research and certainly synthetic biology is an amazing expanding field at this point in time but i think it's all of those things together that help us move forward scientifically and help us refine the scientific questions as we move forward. >> and you've got darpa, you have nasa. you have all these agencies looking for other life forms, doing research on genetic engineering, those type of deals. is there any one agency that is spearheading or that these other
3:26 am
agencies report to? is there any herding of the cat sort to speak where the research can come under one big umbrella and people talk to other agencies and actually come up with some formulations? >> well, i think in the area of astrobiology, this is why community road maps like the astrobiology community road map coming out this year because in my mind going to the community whether it's through the survey process, through the academies, the astrobiology road map is going out to the community who in general the scientists know where all the funding streams are coming from, they're the ones truly pulling and doing the multidisciplinary work and getting the community together and say here's the priorities, here's the areas we think have the most potential for advancement next five to ten years, it is the voice of the scientific community that helps guide it. >> is there a one voice at this point or is anybody at the top of the heap sort to speak? >> in astrobiology, i would
3:27 am
argue that nasa is really guiding what we're doing and what the next steps are. we certainly work closely with other agencies, though. >> does nasa have any rules or regulations they foresee that would limit or harness this potential breakthrough? i mean, i can see where with what we have available even now with some of the generic engineering that, you know, some of this stuff could turn out to be kind of bad stuff. >> we certainly don't have any regulatory authority but i'd have to take that question for the record because i don't know the answer to it. >> okay. thank you. dr. lunine, a quick comment on what you had spoke within the congressman earlier about potential life developing in an environment. just a personal question. what is your theory on handspermia, the bringing of our life forms into the earth
3:28 am
atmosphere on an asteroid or meteor? >> i think it has occurred certainly between the earth and mars. we know that materials are exchanged between the two planets. we have the alan hills meteor it and sud cities slow that amy no acids will survive the trip to the earth and possibly bacteria, as well. there may well have been extensive exchange of life and biological materials between the earth and mars, particularly in the early history of the solar system when impacts were frequent. >> okay. thank you, mr. chairman. i yield back. >> thank you. the gentleman from virginia, mr. buy beyer is recognized. >> thank you very much for structuring this and i look forward to the lower earth. i'm counting on you to do this. dr. siemion, for years we had
3:29 am
the pcs at home following doing the analysis of the work. and it was fun. we have no successful conclusion yet. i'm fascinated by the $100 million for the breakthrough project but what happens when we discover extra terrestrial intelligence? do we have a plan of what happens next? >> the program on pcs is still around and you're all welcome to download it. it runs on cellular telephones and home pcs. i think a lot of people put a lot of thought what to do when we potentially eventually discover intelligent life or any life beyond the earth. i think there will be a range of reactions. i think for my part, my personal opinion is probably the most common reaction will be i told you so. i think many people probably believe that the life is out there and maybe even intelligent life and certainly the more we learn about the exo planet population and water on mars and these kinds of things i think
3:30 am
reinforce the possibility. but the truth is that we really don't know. for now. i think to see what the reaction will actually be will have to wait and see. >> it's interesting to have protocols in place for when we get the breakthrough, what do we say back and the like. yeah. and dr. lunine, you talked about the titan and the methane and ethane and i sort of basically understand elements come from the explosions of stars so you get the carbon. are methane and ethane, can the? >> yes. actually, methane is a very simple organic molecule and so it occurs in many environments in interstellar clouds and they're in comets, it's measured there. and so these are evidently sources of methane that are not from biology. it's simple to make in a laboratory, for example. and carbon's very abun didn't as
3:31 am
you alluded to as a product of stellar intranuclear synthesis. we think titan has an enormous inventory of methane not biological, produced by abiotic sources and the methane also part of the system produced from the methane and that's something that kassini confirmed for us measuring the places in the father where the ethane is produced by the methane by ultraviolet chemistry so titan is a huge repository of abiotic methane. now, does some form of life occur on the surface or arise in the seas of titan s? that's the part we don't know. >> great. thank you. dr. abraham talked about the project that evolved out of harvard mit a few years ago trying to replicate the early
3:32 am
origin of life on earth, you know, the soup, organic soup there. is there much evidence or any evidence life on earth may have started some place else? >> you know, we just don't know the answer to that. you know, we know -- what we do know is life evolved quickly on earth and makes us optimistic there's life elsewhere in the solar system knowing life arose rapidly here on earth and we don't know if, again, did mars, you know, bacteria come from mars, bacteria from mars come to earth and we don't know that. we think it's critical to continue the search for life on mars, the other bodies of the solar system to answer that very question. >> thank you. dr. bean, fascinating the to tos and the fisher and the -- i was trying to -- if you could go a little deeper. are those gases being released through the fis your?
3:33 am
>> so i think that's more appropriate to address to dr. lunine. >> i think it was my slide. in the case of those fissures at the south pole have jets of gas and ice from them and merged to make a very large plume discovered by kasini. once the plume was discovered, kasini directed to fly through the plume many times and sample the material in the plume with the instruments. one of the important lessons we get from this is that the flagship missions with large numbers of instruments are able to respond very flex bring to new discoveries. the instruments that actually tasted the material in the plume were designed to sample the atmosphere of titan. but once the plume was discovered, kasini could actually use the same instruments to tell us what the plume is made of.
3:34 am
>> thank you. chair, i field yback. >> thank you. mr. posey is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank the witnesses for their testimony today. i just wonder if each of you give me your definition of life. >> i think it's something the scientific community really struggles with. you know, certainly there are signs that everybody agrees on. you know? something that is self replicating, something that consumes something and exkruts something else. the problem is life here on earth, what we have learned from doing research here on earth is that life and the boundary of what's not life and what is life is a little blurry and that's why this is going to be so challenging to go find life on other planets. >> life is a self replicating system that undergoes every lugs or mutation and which also seeks
3:35 am
to minimize its local entry pi. maximize its order in the sense that chemically we use a very small fraction of the possible compounds that can be produced from carbon and the fact that we're alive is because we can take in large amounts of nutrients, process them to make this very small specific set of molecules that build our structure, control energy in and out, control the information needed to build these other molecules and then we expel the rest. so for me as a -- with my physics background, it's very high order, very low entry pi in a chemical system. >> okay. thank you. >> i would say that astronomers use a very basic definition of life because the information that we can get when we study the atmosphere is very basic. and so, we use a very earth sen trick and human sen trick point of view for life and that's the
3:36 am
thing that we're looking for evidence for in the atmospheres of other worlds. >> yes. there's some advantage to going last on a question like that. i don't know that i have a lot to add what dr. stofan, lunine and bean same. i appreciate the definition that dr. lunine articulated. i think many of us in the astrobiology community assume that life is something we know we'll see it and hopefully that's true but we're not sure and it's quite possible that the first life we encounter beyond the earth will be very different than any life we have on earth. >> thank you. if you -- each of you, the question for each of you, if you could pick a mission, personally i want a mission to do this, achieve this, you know, what particular type of mission would you choose? >> you know, i'm going to go
3:37 am
with geologists on the surface of mars, looking, cracking open lots of rocks looking for life. that's my big payoff mission. >> okay. >> so i would go with the europa mission and the reason for that is we have so much tantalizing evidence that europa is a habitable environment but there's missing pieces, including if there's organics and where to actually go search for life. i personally and we have been waiting since 1998 for a mission to follow up on the galileo discovery of the ocean under europa and from my point of view, it's a critical mission to do and i would make that my number one right now. >> so i would like to see a large space telescope that can take spectra of other earth-like planets orbiting stars like the proposed and discussed mission, tpf which you may have heard about. i think the advantage of studying extra solar planets is
3:38 am
a chance to look for -- to do an experiment sort to say on how life arises on terrestrial planets in a variety of environments. that's what i would like to see. >> i'm not sure what list i'm choosing from here but as a radio astronomer and someone interested asidia it would be to put a radio telescope on the moon. it's protected from the interference of the earth and allows us to observe at very, very low frequencies very effectively. >> you all make a choices really tough.-/cxa don't you? following up on the last answer, some people think because we have been to the moon we shouldn't return to the moon. there's some obviously some strategic reasons for going there. for future transportation, as a steppingstone to mars but like to ask each of you your opinion
3:39 am
of whether or not we have a lot to learn from our own moon. >> i chaired the interplanet's panel and listed in the new frontiers class of missions is a mission to look at the terrain around the south pole of the moon where we think the lunar mantle is close to the surface to help us origin of the moon and what that tells us about the origin and evolution of our own planet and scientifically we have lots of outstanding questions about the moon that the scientific community has articulated through the decadal surveys. >> thank you. >> the moon contains the geological record of the first billion years of the history of the earth and that record has been more or less lost on the earth because the earth has been so active. and so, that is for me the critical aspect of the scientific value of the moon. that's the time when life began on earth and to understand what was happening geologically we
3:40 am
can do no better than turn to the moon. >> i'd alike to answer in terms of human space flight. dr. stofan and dr. lunine gave great scientific answers but for me to combine science with the human element, i think that's very powerful thing. that reaches out to the public, that will excite the school children to follow math and science and so for me that's an exciting yes to that question. >> i think i would agree with dr. bean. i think a manned mission to the moon would be a wonderful steppingstone to future missions to perhaps mars. >> okay. i want to thank you all again for your testimonies. it's really been wonderful and i think everyone enjoyed it. i thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. the gentleman from california, mr. bear is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and ranking member. i really want to thank both the chairman and ranking member for this topic. you know? it comes at a very timely time
3:41 am
and the witnesses, you know, as a child growing up in southern california at the heart of the aerospace industry in the '60s and '70s, you know, it -- the space race captivated us. apollo missions, apollo suez, sky lab, going to the space shuttle. and, you know, as someone who went into the sciences and became a doctor, you know, it really was pivotal in, you know, fostering curiosity. i mean, if we think about who we are as a race, as human beings, we are naturally curious. we are natural explorers and we want to find those answers and i think it's incredibly important, the work that nasa is doing, the work that our scientists are doing. in fostering the imagination of the next generation. we need to do more of that, in fact, because, you know, in listening to some of your testimony as well as how you answer the questions, we don't know what life is going to look
3:42 am
like. we don't know what we'll discover and what frequencies we should be listening for. but we do know that something is out there. and if we don't, you know, continue to push our imagination, if we don't continue to -- we don't know how we get to mars, let alone how we send a human being to mars and bring them back. we know if we challenge ourselves, we will discover that. we always have. and i think that is an importance of what we're doing here on the science and technology committee but also in congress and also working with our colleagues around this world because this is not just a u.s. mission. it is a human mission to find and discover, you know, where we came from, how life evolves, but also, how life becomes extinct, as well, as we're looking at these planets. the impacts of those discoveries
3:43 am
on what is affecting our own planet right now as we deal with climate change, as we deal with a changing atmosphere. those discoveries will help us manage our own issues on our planet. i'll ask a quick question of each of the panelists and each of you can answer this. in explaining why it is important to search for life beyond our planet, beyond just the philosophical elements, if you're to explain this to elementary school student or the public in general, how might you put why this is such an important endeavor? we'll start with dr. stofan. >> you know, i always mention this fact. i think since people looked up at the sky we wondered are we alone. so there is a huge philosophical piece but i like to talk about the piece of when we find life, does it have rna, dna? cell structure like ours?
3:44 am
how can we take that and try to understand better how life here evolved, what the conditions are? and so, to me, you do get a tremendous learning about life in general by finding life on other planets. obviously, also, i try to point out to audiences, if they don't buy the science and if i love sy stuff, i try to point out to them when we do great human endeavors, whether it's, you know, exploring the moon, building the next great telescope, we challenge technology. we bring good technology jobs to this country. we move this country forward in our reputation both internationally and at home. and i think there's that inspiration part of just doing really hard things, accomplishing great things which this country has demonstrated so ably we are capable of. i like to tell schoolchildren, oh my gosh, you guys have so much work to do.
3:45 am
we have 5,000 plan its we need you to go study. we have entry to landing for humans on mars. you better grow up. we need help. >> great. >> this might be a philosophical question but, you know, for the last 500 years we have lived in a kind of a ka person kus view. it is a planet in the solar system. the sun is not the center of a galaxy. it's a common star in the galaxy. the galaxy is one of hundreds of billions of galaxies in the cosmos. and yet we are singular. i mean, life and intelligent and ourselves, at the moment, we know of no other form of life, intelligent life and the world view would say they're all over the place and it is crucial to test that because if that turns out not to be the case that's going to shatter our world view.
3:46 am
>> so my answer would be more along the lines -- of course, those are excellent reasons why we want to do that. and finding out the answer would be absolutely fascinating and change our world view but i think also the process of doing it tells a lot about ourselves. tells us about our hopes and dreams and about, you know, how we can work together as a country and as a society and the world. so for me, i want to emphasize the process of looking for that answer. whatever the answer may be, if it's a positive or a negative but the process, through the process we find out a lot about ourselves. >> so i may be a bit biassed but i think that life is the most interesting property of the universe. the idea that somehow in this largely mechanical universe that we live in that we understand to great detail some sort of an organism came to be that could
3:47 am
question its own existence, that could wonder about the universe itself and where it came from. you know, if we don't understand that, then i think we don't understand perhaps one of the most fundamental properties of the universe that we live in and so we must answer that question. >> great. thank you. >> thank you, dr. bera. just to follow up, just real quickly, yes or no, do you think life -- intelligent life does exist elsewhere in the universe? dr. stofan? >> maybe. >> okay. >> mr. chairman, am i allowed to answer by saying i honestly don't know? >> members of congress should give that more often themselves. dr. bean? >> i don't know either. >> and dr. siemion? not you know but if you think. >> i also don't know but i think it would be incredibly strange if we were the only example of intelligent life in the universe. and i'll quote stephen hawking
3:48 am
very, very briefly. someone much smarter than i am. a universe in which intelligent life only exists in one place and a universe in which intelligent life potentially exists in many, many places are very, very different places. >> very good. thank you, dr. siemion. now the gentleman from california, mr. swalwell for his questions. >> thank you, chair. thank you to our panelists. congratulations. i have to say it's refreshing to have a hearing about something so big, so exciting and further than the eye can see. and so, you know, in washington it gets quite frustrating here. it feels like we are so to focussed on just very small, incremental things and people at home get quite frustrated that that seems to rule the day here but the work you're doing is so important, so big and will inspire so many future scientists so con i can't imagine la-- congratulations.
3:49 am
i had an opportunity to go to antarctica. one of your colleagues john gunderson joined us on that trip and told us as we went through the dry valleys that that area and he was excited to be on that trip and visit that area because it most closely resembled what we believe many of the parts of mars to be and so this discovery is another step forward in that effort. as far as the water that has been discovered, do we believe it could support life? is it too salty? do we know about its properties to make that conclusion yet? dr. stofan? >> it's certainly makes us concerned that that water in particular had a lot of perc when lorates and salts and so based on everything we say -- based on what we know about life on earth, that would not be a very habitable type of water.
3:50 am
that being said, what we know about the earth is like this. what could be is like that. so fundamentally, we don't know. >> all right. any other thoughts from the panelists on that question? >> well, just for briefly, if i talk about the possibility of looking for exotic biochemistries on titan, i better not say life is impossible on mars which would be a lot easier to biochemistry. life as we know it, bacteria, et cetera, would be sterilized by that solution. is there a form of life that evolved to live there, that's interesting and not impossible. >> according to "the new york times" nasa has no plans to examine closely the places which may contain water or could be potentially habitable places out of fear of contaminating them with earth's my kroebls.
3:51 am
do you think it's time to reexamine the approach to follow up on the latest discovery? >> i think the scientific community in the united states and around the world and planetary protection is governed by international policies and procedures, we want to make sure that if we find life on mars we know we've found life that is martian life, not contamination we brought from the earth and where there are water, we need to be cautious, extremely cautious as we move towards exploring them. however those areas could be the most interesting areas to explore and so i think the scientific community is certainly going through a process right now of saying, okay, right now we don't think that's the place to run to and potentially contaminate so let's take a really measured very scientific approach to how we might get at exploring those regions. obviously, when we eventually send humans to mars, that's going to lead to much likely
3:52 am
broader scale contamination and so i think it's important as we lead up to sending humans to mars we keep mars as pristine as we can. >> great. and finally, 38 million californians are wondering can we get that water to california? >> certainly the california drought is something that nasa is very concerned about. we have been usinging our satellites to do what we can to help to certainly monitor with the data and the alarming reduction in the amount of water in the aquaer ifs. we have been working on some projects with farmers in california that have in pilot projects reduced party usage by as much as 30% and nasa is trying to help. >> that's great. thank you. yield back. >> thank you, mr. swalwell. the jetblue l woman from california, the ranking member of the space subcommittee is recognized for her questions. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you to the members. i was sort of curious, i don't know if mr. foster had a chance
3:53 am
but we were kind of speculating over here as to whether there's value in doing the kind of marking of all of these different sources to determine whether there was at some point of one general dispersion so there's a relationship between potential life that we might detect one place and another and so i don't know if that kind of work is going on and i wondered, dr. lunine, if you could speak to that. >> sure. i would be happy to. i assume you're talking about in our solar system. >> yes. >> so there's been quite a lot of work done, of course, to understand now frequently material has been exchanged between the earth and mars as i alluded to. but also, for europa. is it possible to get material to the earth and vice versa and then others and the answer is the further out you go, the less
3:54 am
likely it is. the most recent studies that have been done and all computer models say that the chance of cross contamination between the saturn system and the earth is very, very small. and the chance of contamination between europa and the earth is higher but still relatively small so one of the advantages of going to the outer solar system and in addition to exploring mars is we may be going to habitable environments which have not been contaminated by either the earth or mars and if we find life there or the signs of life, we have somewhat higher assurance that that life had an independent origin of life on earth and one of the important questions, could life have begun more than once in our own solar system and one of the attractions of going to the outer spo lar system? >> so then that leads me to another question. dr. lunine and dr. bean, in a 2007 national academies report
3:55 am
called the limits of organic life and planetary systems, there was a caution against searching for a model of light that's based on the model that we know here on earth. and a conclusion that life is possible in forms different from those on earth. and so, i wonder if you could talk to me about the recommendations that came from the report to further inform investigations to detect and identify possible forms of life in other planetary environments. and i think, dr. lunine, in your testimony, in your prepared statement you asked whether the seas of titan should be included in the search for life because of titan's use of methane as a working fluid in place of water. so, i guess my question is to what extent would missions to titan and other potentially habitable environments be able? to investigate habitats of life forms that are different, may be
3:56 am
different from those on earth. >> so the 2007 report came out very strongly in favor as you noted of looking in an environments that had the general conditions for habitability. and that if, in fact, those environments were found not to have a form of life that that would tell us there's something indeed very special about liquid water and so that was i think one of the recommendations as i recall of that report. the challenge, of course, is how to look for biochemistry in a methane ethane liquid. there's no guideline that terrestrial biology gives us except for the guideline that life will be very selective in the chemical compounds that it uses for catalysts, for building structures and so on. and so, therefore, if we go back to titan, for example, with a boat or a submarine or whatever
3:57 am
to explore these seas, if we find that the organic molecules in the seas are just like what's in the atmosphere, you know, basically everything, that's not going to be very promising in terms of life but if there's a suite of particular molecules and structure that is are made over and over again then that might suggest that if not life itself at least a chemical evolution toward life is happening in those seas. beyond that, it's hard to say very much because we have our one example of life on the earth. now, just very briefly, in places like europa with very earth-like environments, we would expect many of the basic molecules that terrestrial life uses like amy no acids we would see those in life in other environments. >> dr. bean in the time remaining? >> right. in the context of life on other planets, astronomy is a discovery driven field. we want to build space
3:58 am
telescopes and instrument that is are signed to be able to answer a question and inform the design of those instruments with what we know on earth and we also know we'll find unexpected things and we want to have as flexibility instruments as possible and we want to make as cleat characterization of the planets as we can. just to give you an example, the hub bell telescope was never designed the look in the atmospheres of extra solar plan etds but that's an impactful thing they have done with a suite of instrument that is are very flexible. and so, we have to benchmark our design for these instruments based on what we know and what we know is limited to the earth and we want to remain open minded and flexible and do this complete characterization of the planets to try to answer this question in as holistic a way as possible. >> i have greatly exceeded my time. >> thank you.
3:59 am
the gentleman from colorado is recognized for his questions not with trepidation but with curiosity and expectation because i'm never sure where he's going to go with his questions but he is recognized. >> and, mr. chairman, and to the ranking member, i've served on a lot of committees in the congress and this committee is by far the most exciting, stimulating, energizing committee in the congress and as i'm sitting down here and looking up at the top row and reading tennyson, for i dipped into the future, as far as human eyes could see, saw the vision of the world and although wonder that would be listening. to you all, that's what this is all about. gives me goop bumps. versatility of your instruments or your minds to say, you know what is this this was really intended to do that but we could use it for this. and i just enjoy this committee so. and dr. bera talked about the
4:00 am
challenge and the desire of all of us to explore. i mean, i have some differences with the chairman on prioritizing and actually funding because i see what you all do and your research and your service to be investments in the future. and that will pay for a long time to come. and i don't think it's a zero sum game pitting the astronomers against the physicists and all of that stuff and i don't think the chairman does either but i really would like to see us move forward, obviously, with the orion project and get humans to mars. with that, i'll yield to my friend from maryland for her questions. >> and i thank the gentleman from colorado. we pulled a fast one on the chairman there. dr. stofan, i just had one question about how you're planning to use the astrology road map released later this year and a year later than it


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on