The planet Saturn setting below a horizon
An artist’s rendition of the view of Saturn from its moon Titan. Earth scientists can help find possible signs of life on Titan. (Image source: iStock.)

Earth sciences isn’t just for Earth

Extending their expertise into the solar system, Earth scientists aid in the exploration of our planetary neighbors, including the search for signs of extraterrestrial life.
ByDaniel P. Smith

Truth be told, W. Bruce Banerdt dreamed of becoming an astronaut. Space fascinated him as a young boy, and the thought of rockets and satellites surging through the universe sparked curiosity and excitement.

But Banerdt’s academic career pushed in other directions. He earned an undergraduate degree in physics in 1975 followed by a PhD in geological sciences in 1983, both from the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and he seemed tethered to studying the history, nature, materials and processes of Earth, not outer space. That is until a graduate school colleague mentioned a summer internship studying the moon at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

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