Bill Gephardt Show: Ep. 16 – Westminster College professor’s work may be key in NASA’s search for life on Mars

Westminster College Professor Dr. Bonnie Baxter, Ph.D, discusses the role her research on the Great Salt Lake may play in NASA's search for life on Mars via the Perseverance Rover mission. Photo: Gephardt Daily

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Feb. 22, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — A distinguished professor’s work at Utah’s Westminster College could prove key in the search for life on Mars.

Dr. Bonnie Baxter, Ph.D, has spent a career sleuthing ancient life forms, many of which reside in the microscopic world of salt-tolerant bacteria found in crystals buried deep beneath the earth’s surface, or at the bottom of the Great Salt Lake.

Some of these life forms, Baxter explains, leave only a genetic footprint, including strands of DNA. Other microbes, however, are alive and kicking, including some found in collected samples more than 250 million years old.

In an eye-opening interview on the Bill Gephardt Show, Baxter, chair of the Biology Department at Westminster College and director of the Great Salt Lake Institute, talks about the nature of NASA’s latest Mars mission and the role her work will play in determining if life forms are lurking, or have lurked, beneath the surface of the mysterious Red Planet.

For a fascinating glimpse into Baxter’s work in association with NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover mission, click on the video player below.


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