Dr. Pascal Lee is a planetary scientist with the SETI Institute, the Mars Institute, and NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. His research focuses on water on Mars, caves on the Moon, and the origin of Mars’ moons Phobos and Deimos. Dr. Lee is also internationally recognized for his work on advancing human exploration of the Moon and Mars. He has led over 30 expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctica to study the Moon and Mars by comparison with the Earth and since 1997 has directed the NASA Haughton-Mars Project (HMP), the leading Moon/Mars analog field research project, situated on Devon Island in the High Arctic. As part of the HMP, Dr. Lee led the Northwest Passage Drive Expedition, an epic vehicular journey on sea-ice along the fabled Northwest Passage and the subject of the award-winning documentary film Passage to Mars (2016).
Dr. Lee has also been studying ice-rich lava tubes in Iceland as analogs for potential ice-rich caves on the Moon and Mars. He is pioneering the use of new robotic technologies – in particular, drones and inflatables – to explore planetary surfaces and caves. His first book, "Mission: Mars", won the 2015 Prize for Excellence in children’s science books from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In his free time, Pascal likes to be walked by his dogs, fly, and paint. He is an FAA-certified helicopter commercial pilot and flight instructor, and an artist member of the International Association of Astronomical Artists.
Kathryn Bywaters’ work encompasses a wide range of interdisciplinary projects, including the development of life detection instrumentation for future space exploration, investigating the nutrient constraints microbes would have on Mars, and performing experiments in Mars analog environments.
Kathryn has extensive fieldwork experience in some of the most extreme environments on Earth. She spent four months on Devon Island in the Canadian High Arctic looking at the winter to spring transition in the active layer above the permafrost. She recently completed fieldwork in the Yungay region of the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on Earth, to work on increasing the technology readiness level of nanopore technology.
“I love being a part of the SETI Institute community because they understand the importance of, and whole-heartedly support, my research and leadership role in the field of astrobiology and life detection,” said Kathryn.
Kathryn completed her PhD at the University of Nevada at Reno in Environmental Science. She conducted her graduate work at the Desert Research Institute in the field of biofuels investigating lipid production in algae. Kathryn has also published a young adult fiction novel. Educational outreach is important to Kathryn; in particular, inspiring students in the STEM fields.