Evening Lectures - Ocala

Morgan Cable

THE TALK: Exploring Ocean Worlds

April 20, 2023


Our solar system is host to multiple ocean worlds – planets and moons that contain oceans of liquid, usually water, either on their surfaces or underneath icy crusts. These worlds are prime targets of exploration due to NASA’s quest to ‘follow the water’ and may contain all three ingredients for life as we know it – water, chemistry, and energy. Could life exist in the oceans of Enceladus or Europa? Could even stranger life have emerged in the liquid methane lakes of Titan? Dr. Cable will cover our current state of knowledge of these ocean worlds, and discuss some current missions and future mission concepts to explore their plumes, surfaces, and ocean depths.


Morgan L. Cable is the Co-Deputy PI of the Planetary Instrument for X-Ray Lithochemistry (PIXL) Instrument aboard the Mars 2020 (Perseverance) rover and the Science Lead for the Exobiology Extant Life Surveyor (EELS) Project. She has worked on the Cassini Mission, is a Co-Investigator of the Dragonfly mission to Titan, and is serving multiple roles on the Europa Clipper mission. Currently Dr. Cable performs laboratory experiments to study the unique organic chemistry of Titan. She and colleagues were the first to discover minerals made exclusively of organics that may exist on Titan’s surface. Morgan also conducts fieldwork in extreme environments on Earth, searching for life in places such as the Atacama Desert, ice fields at the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, nutrient-limited lakes at the base of Wind Cave (the densest cave system in the world) in South Dakota, fumarole- generated ice caves of the Mount Meager stratovolcano in Canada, and lava fields of Iceland.

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