“Life on a Higher Plane”: Astrobiologist Nathalie Cabrol
I define myself as a ‘grounded mystic’: that’s how I feel when I am in the desert. I’m trying to understand the Universe we are living in and how to search for life in it. That’s the ‘grounded’ aspect. The ‘mystic’ part is that I’m not afraid of letting my mind wander in those spaces.
I am an astrobiologist who specializes in planetary science, and my team and I study analogues of early Martian environments that might have been habitable for life as we know it. We want to understand the distribution and abundance of life in very, very harsh conditions — similar to what Mars might have been like 3.5 billion years ago — to determine how life forms survived under intense ultraviolet radiation. And we want to know how to detect and identify those life forms.