CONTACT 2014 Keynote Speaker: Chris McKay
Chris McKay, Phd.
Chief Scientist, Planetary Systems Branch (Code SST) NASA Ames Research Center, Moffet Field, Mountain View, CA
Dr. McKay's research focuses on the evolution of the solar system and the origin of life. He's also actively involved in planning for future Mars missions including human exploration. He's been involved with polar and desert research, traveling to the Antarctic Dry Valleys, the Atacama Desert, the Arctic, and the Namib Desert to conduct research in these Mars-like environments.
He's done research on extraterrestiral planetary atmospheres, particularly the atmospheres of Titan and Mars, and on the origin and evolution of life. He is a co-investigator on the Huygens probe, the Mars Phoenix lander, and the Mars Science Laboratory. He also performed field research on extremophiles, in such locations as Death Valley, the Atacama Desert, Axel Heiberg Island, and ice-covered lakes in Antarctica. McKay is the Principal Investigator of the proposed Icebreaker Life astrobiology mission to Mars.
He is a member of the board of directors of the Planetary Society, a past member of the board of Directors of CONTACT:Cultures of the Imagination, works with the Mars Society, and has written and spoken on space exploration and terraforming. He is also an adviser for the Microbes Mind Forum.
McKay majored in physics at Florida Atlantic University, where he also studied mechanical engineering, graduating in 1975, and received his PhD in astrogeophysics from the University of Colorado in 1982