Michael Phillips is a planetary geoscience Ph.D. student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. His dissertation covers a wide range of topics including strange sublimation pits on Mercury called “hollows”, microbial habitats in the Atacama Desert of Chile (the world’s driest desert), and the composition and origin of the most ancient rocks on Mars as seen from orbit. His work is furthering our understanding of the planets, what happens on their surfaces, how they formed, and whether any of them besides Earth ever harbored life. He’s also a rock climber, on-again-off-again runner, and very mediocre stringed instrument player.
Title: Inhabited subsurface wet smectites in the hyperarid core of the Atacama Desert as an analog for the search for life on Mars Authors: Armando Azua‑Bustos, Alberto G. Fairén, Carlos González Silva, Daniel Carrizo, Miguel Ángel Fernández‑Martínez, Cristián Arenas‑Fajardo, Maite Fernández‑Sampedro, Carolina Gil‑Lozano, Laura Sánchez‑García, Carmen Ascaso, Jacek Wierzchos, & Elizabeth B. Rampe. First Author’s Institution: Centro de Astrobiología (CSIC-INTA), 28850 Madrid SpainStatus: Published on November 5, 2020 in Nature: Scientific Reports, open access available.
Humans have been searching for life on the surface of Mars with robots since the 1970s. Besides addressing that fundamental question “are we alone?”, finding ...