About: Richard B. Hoover established the Astrobiology Research Group at the NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in 1997. He is currently Astrobiologist at Athens State University and Visiting Research Professor with the Centre for Astrobiology at the University of Buckingham in the United Kingdom. Richard B. Hoover joined the NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center in 1966 and began his scientific research in astrophysics and solar physics. He was Co-Investigator for the SKYLAB S-056 Grazing Incidene X-Ray Telescope that produced high resolution x-ray images of the Sun from America’s first Space Station. He developed the Multilayer X-Ray Telescope that produced the first High-Resolution image of the Sun (Cover of Science, Sept. 30, 1988) ever obtained with a telescope using Normal Incidence X-Ray Mirrors. He holds 12 US Patents for novel X-Ray Telescopes, Spectrometers and Microscopes. He was NASA Inventor of the Year in 1992 for his Invention of the Water Window Imaging X-Ray Microscope.
Richard B. Hoover is internationally known for his work on diatoms; the discovery of several important microbial extremophiles; and his research on microfossils in meteorites. He conducted the Inventory of the diatoms of the Henri Van Heurck Museum at the Invitation of the Royal Society of Zoology of Antwerp, Belgium. Since 1997, his Astrobiology research at NASA/MSFC has concentrated on microorganisms that inhabit extreme environments and the study of evidence of microfossils in carbonaceous meteorites. Hoover has led scientific expeditionst to collect meteorites and microbial extremophiles from some of the planets most hostile environments (Thiel Mountains, Lake Untersee, Schirmacher Oasis, Ice caves and South Pole of Antarctica, Siberian Permafrost; Glaciers and Volcanoes of Iceland; Death Valley and Soda Mono Lake in California; Pleistocene Fox Tunnel, Alaska. He was Science Team Lead for the Antarctica 2000 Expedition (recovered 20 Antarctic meteorites) with Apollo Astronaut James A. Lovell (Gemini 7 & 12; Apollo 8 & 13) and Skylab Astronaut Owen K. Garriott. They currently housed in the Field Museum in Chicago. Collaborating with Dr. Elena V. Pikuta, he emended the description of the important Genus Spirochaeta (unchanged since first described by Ehrenberg in 1835) and validly published two new genera (Anaerovirgula and Proteocatella) and ten new species of bacteria and archaea. Hoover was elected Fellow National of the Explorers Club for leading many scientific expeditions to extreme environments.
Richard B. Hoover was made honorary Life Member of Planetary Studies Foundation in 2003 for his research on microfossils in carbonaceous meteorites. He has Authored/Edited 42 books and over 300 scientific papers on X-Ray/EUV optics, diatoms, cyanobacteria, extremophiles, meteorites, and Astrobiology. His research was featured in films by National Science Foundation, BBC; The Discovery Channel, The History Channel, National Geographic and NHK Japan Television. Hoover was 2001 President of SPIE, the International Society for Optical Engineering. In 2009, he was awarded the SPIE Gold Medal of the Society for his contributions to SPIE and to the science of X-Ray Optics and Astrobiology. In January, 2013, he interviewed eyewitnesses to the Dec. 29, 2012 fireball and observed fall of the Polonnaruwa stones. He collected samples of the Polonnaruwa meteorites from paddy fields in North Central Sri Lanka and obtained FESEM images and EDS data on diatoms and other microbial remains found embedded in-situ in the stones.
Talk Synopsis: Is Life Restricted to Planet Earth — Or Is Life More Widely Distributed Throughout the Universe?
In his presentation, Richard Hoover will analyze the fundamental questions of astrobiology. Valid evidence for living or fossil organisms elsewhere in the solar system would establish existence of extraterrestrial life and provide a positive answer to this profoundly important question of whether life is restricted to planet Earth. This presentation will describe evidence for present day water, complex organic molecules, and fossilized and living organisms detected on the Red Planet obtained by ESA Missions and the NASA Viking, Phoenix, Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity Orbiters, Landers, and Rovers. Astonishing images of a complex form with detailed morphological characteristics of known species of a fossil crinoid was found on Mars in 2004 by the NASA Opportunity Rover will be presented and discussed, as well as evidence for biomolecules and microfossils in a variety of carbonaceous meteorites.
Date: Thursday, February 13th
Time: 2:30 – 3:45 PM