Professor Jesús Martínez-Frías from Complutense University of Madrid (UCM), will be giving a talk on Mars on Tuesday 19th May, 7pm at Café Moderno in Madrid.
Professor Martínez is a researcher at the “Instituto de Geociencias” (the School of Geosciences), which is a collaboration between Spain’s National Research Council, “Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)” – “The Higher Board of Scientific Research” – and UCM. A scientist with ample experience in many areas, he founded the Spanish Network of Planetology and Astrobiology, REDESPA, which is a free network created partly to involve young people and society in scientific research and communication; he has been part of the teams involved with the Curiosity rover; he directs the Commission for Geosciences Education of the International Union of Geosciences (http://www.iugs.org/); he is the coordinator for Spain of the foundation Earth Science Matter; he has taught occasionally at the other university in Madrid, and he leads research of Meteorites and Planetary Geosciences with CSIC. Currently, he is officially focused in the area of astrogeology.
After deciding to work with space, he began his training which included studies in Leeds in the UK, Canada, and the US. His studies abroad helped him to develop not just in his specialist area, but also to perfect his English. In fact, he says he liked England very much, which he describes as a “marvellous country” with whose scientists he is always in contact. Then in 1998 he was working in the National Museum of Natural Sciences when a professor asked him to help in the development of a centre of astrobiology in connection with NASA and since then he has worked in many places.
In his day-to-day work he is a research professor. He is currently taking part in the mission of the Curiosity rover on Mars, which he says is an “honour” and one of the most important projects of his scientific life. In fact, recently he published a group paper which was on the cover of the scientific journal “Nature and Geoscience”. This study said that all the models suggest that it is possible that there is short-lived liquid water on Mars right now. This publication is one of the achievements which stand out in his high-profile scientific career.
In the Pint of Science talk, Professor Martínez is going to present to the public what he is doing right now in Spain, sharing his day to day work, and the importance of studying terrestrial analogues/similarities with Earth. He explains to me that the study of the analogues is the third way to study Mars (the other two are via meteorites and through missions, for example rovers). Certain parts of the Earth (for example the Río Tinto in Spain) are unique and have “real peculiarities that allow us to test prototypes” and validate the relationships of scientific models with Mars here on Earth. That is to say, the studies done here with analogues will later help to understand the environment on Mars, in order to find out more on the idea of life on Mars. He explained this to me (as a non-scientist) in simple terms to understand, and this is what he wants to offer at Pint of Science also.
Martínez likes very much to collaborate with other experts from all over the world and from various disciplines, because he says that “There is a scientific component and a human component”. I hope that they continue investigating so we will know whether there is life on Mars, we still only know that there are simple organic compounds in meteorites that are related with life…