Death Valley Dark Sky Festival Field Talks

A woman wearing a sun hat, holding a photo talks to a group of people while standing on a wooden boardwalk with salt flats and snow-capped mountains in the background.
Visitors attending a Dark Sky Festival Field Talk learn how Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park is similar to deposits on the dwarf plant Ceres.

NPS/Stephanie Lamar

Enjoy Death Valley and learn about other worlds by joining a scientist at locations around the park!

2023 Field Talks:

Searching for Signs of Ancient Life on a Cold and Desolate Mars
Michael Tuite (JPL)
Exploration of Mars has revealed that the cold and arid planet was once much warmer and wetter - a place potentially hospitable to the emergence of life. Might life have arisen on early Mars like it did on Earth? If it did, what signatures of ancient life might be preserved in rocks on Mars’ surface? Today, the Perseverance rover is collecting geological samples on Mars that may contain evidence of ancient life. Those samples are scheduled to be returned to the Earth within a decade so that scientists can use the most sophisticated, state-of-the-art instruments to address one of science’s Big Questions: Are we alone?
9:30AM-10:30AM Saturday & Sunday, Mars Hill (park on shoulder of road near Artists Drive Exit)

Who’s Swimming in Salty Waters?
Meghana Kumar (JPL)
Come learn about the harsh, hydrologic environments of Badwater Basin and Jovian moon Europa. We’ll discuss how organisms are able to survive in Badwater Basin, the geological features of Badwater Basin and Europa, and how NASA’s Europa Clipper mission will determine if Europa harbors conditions suitable for life beneath its icy shell.
11AM-12PM Saturday & Sunday, Badwater Basin

Mars-like Places on Earth: A Journey into the Ubehebe Crater
Rosalba Bonaccorsi (SETI INstitute/ NASA Ames Research Center)
Places in Death Valley appear similar to places on the Red Planet. Come learn how research in Death Valley can help guide us in our understanding of Earth's neighbor. Strenuous hike into the bottom of the crater.
11AM-1PM Saturday Only, Ubehebe Crater

Ubehebe Crater: An Explosive Analog for Planetary Volcanism
Marie Henderson (Goddard)
Volcanism is a geologic process that connects many planetary bodies across the solar system. Come for a short walk to learn about the explosive eruptions that created Ubehebe Crater and how they can teach NASA scientists about the volcanic history of the Moon and Mars.
11AM-12PM Sunday Only, Ubehebe Crater

Dantes View: SunRISE and Parallels to Humans Hiking
Shannon Berger (JPL)
SunRISE is a constellation mission that will have 6 space vehicles spread across 7 miles to study coronal mass ejections from our sun. Learn how keeping space vehicles flying is similar to how humans function.
1PM-2PM Saturday & Sunday, Dantes View

Dune Stories: Earth, Mars, & Titan
Michael Malaska (JPL/CalTech)
Dunes are everywhere! Mars, Titan, Pluto, and even on Comet 67P! Come out to Mesquite Dunes and we’ll learn about the sediment cycle, how dunes form, what clues to look for in a dune field, and compare and contrast dunes on Earth with those on other worlds.
3:30PM-4:30PM Saturday & Sunday, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

Last updated: January 13, 2023

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Death Valley , CA 92328


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