Distinguished research professor of Astrobiology at the Laboratory of Plasma Chemistry and Planetary Studies of the Institute of Nuclear Science of the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
Dr. Rafael Navarro-González obtained his B. Sc. in biology in 1983 at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and his Ph.D. in chemistry in 1989 from the University of Maryland at College Park working under the supervision of Dr. Cyril Ponnamperuma. His current research interest focuses on the origin and evolution of life on Earth and other planetary environments. Dr. Navarro-González is also active in future space missions to Mars and Europa, and in terraforming Mars. His studies on Mars brought him recently to Mars-like environments such as the Atacama Desert in Chile, one of the driest places on Earth, and Pico de Orizaba, Mexico, a volcano with the highest treeline in the world. Dr. Navarro-González has been a visiting professor at the University of Maryland, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Universities of Paris 7 and 12. Dr. Navarro-González has been awarded the 2009 Alexander von Humboldt Medal from the European Geosciences Union for his outstanding achievements in the discovery of Mars-like soils in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, a location now being tested by NASA and ESA for new methodologies and/or instrumentations to be sent to Mars in the search for life. He is co-investigator of the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Instrument Suite that will be on board of the NASA Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover that will search for organics on the martian soil in the search for life during two years after landing on the spring of 2012. His interest on the campagne BIG (Biodiversité et Interactions à Guaymas) is to study organic compounds in cold seeps and hydrothermal vents on the Mexican sea floor as an astrobiological mission to Earth in the search signatures of life using the analytical protocols that SAM will use on Mars with the NASA MSL rover.