Sherwood Lollar, an Earth Sciences Professor from the University of Toronto has been awarded the renowned Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering regarding her studies on ancient Earth water and for progressing the exploration for life on other planets.
Sherwood Lollar has been examining and researching ancient water from under the surface of the Earth, more exactly in mines on the Canadian Shield, but also across the world. By identifying the chemistry of that water, studies on other planets’ moons such as Europa or Enceladus could be conducted because by using the Earth one can understand other approaches that might exist on other planets, Lollar said.
Lollar and her research team discovered what was thought to be the oldest water on our planet, at an age of two billion old back in 2016, and the discovery won her the NSERC’s John C. Polanyi Award.
Geologist Awarded With Top Canadian Science Prize for Discovering the Most Ancient Water on Earth
Searching this deep underneath the soil enables Lollar and her research team to discover how life could bloom in these environments. The science world was taken aback by the finding that some life didn’t require photosynthesis to exist, but it could also thrive within the chemistry of water-rocks.
Lollar’s pinpoint study grounds are cooler regions such as Canadian Shield, not the hydrothermal vents, which most researchers would indicate as a focal area for studying life. The reason why? There are still chemical reactions going on in the water found under the rock.
Her studies can greatly aid in astrobiology and astrophysics’ searching for life within the solar system. For example, a team of Italian researchers issued a paper that implied that there is a water body underneath Mars’ southern polar ice crown. Lollar said that Mars and the Canadian Shield are very similar, in the terms of both being full of billion-year-old rocks on their surface. Sherwood Lollar said she is greatly honored to be awarded the Herzberg Medal and also added that she is eager to continue her research and to seek for life not only on Earth but outside of it as well.
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