Thought Leader Series

Ignite your curiosity and grow your passion for space and science at our monthly Thought Leader Series. The best and brightest minds examine the significance of historic missions, share the latest news in space exploration and look ahead to the future of space travel. This immersive series takes guests beyond our walls to provide inspiring, engaging and educational learning experiences.

Upcoming Thought Leader Series presentation

Our Future on Mars
Oct. 29 | 6 p.m. CT

Since Galileo first saw Mars through a telescope in 1610, the red planet has captivated astronomers and explorers. As one of our closest neighbors, scientists hope they can find answers to some of the greatest questions in history just beneath the Martian surface.

In our October Thought Leader Series, presented by The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), experts Dr. Kirsten Siebach, Dr. Scott Solomon, and retired astronaut Bill McArthur will discuss humanity’s future on the red planet.

During this unique time, we are still passionate about sharing science and space exploration with our community. To continue our commitment to bring dynamic science learning experiences to the public, please join the October Thought Leader Series virtually at 6 p.m. CT Oct. 29. The presentation will be available on this webpage and our YouTube channel.

About the speakers

Dr. Siebach is an Assistant Professor in the Rice University Department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary Sciences and specializes in Martian Geology. She researches "source-to-sink" sedimentary processes on Mars and early Earth to interpret the history of water and surface environments early in our solar system. She is currently a member of the Science and Operations Teams for the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity, and previously worked on the science and engineering teams for the Phoenix Lander and the two Mars Exploration Rovers. Dr. Siebach completed her PhD in Geology at Caltech, and then did postdoctoral research in geochemistry of Martian sediments at Stony Brook University.

Dr. Solomon is a biologist, professor, and science communicator. He teaches ecology, evolutionary biology, and scientific communication as an Associate Teaching Professor at Rice University. Dr. Solomon is also a Research Associate at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. He has a Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior from the University of Texas at Austin, where his research examined the evolutionary basis of biological diversity in the Amazon Basin. Before coming to Rice, he worked as a visiting researcher with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC and São Paulo State University in Rio Claro, Brazil.

Colonel McArthur was assigned to NASA Johnson Space Center in 1987 after graduating from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and being designated an experimental test pilot. McArthur logged 224 days and 22 hours in space, including over 24 hours of spacewalk time, during three space shuttle missions and one long-duration stay at the International Space Station (ISS). He made his first flight on board space shuttle Columbia, as part of the STS-58 crew in 1993. McArthur then flew on space shuttle Atlantis for his second mission, STS-74, in 1995. McArthur made his first visit to the ISS in 2000, as part of space shuttle Discovery’s STS-92 mission. McArthur became a six-month resident of the space station on his final mission, Expedition 12, in 2005 and 2006.

Why Mars

There are practical and scientific reasons for humans to explore Mars. Among them, we know Mars is the most accessible place in the solar system. Exploring Mars provides the opportunity to possibly answer origin and evolution of life questions, and could someday be a destination for survival of humankind.

Additionally, we know Mars is unique across the entire solar system in that it is a terrestrial planet with an atmosphere and climate, its geology is known to be very diverse and complex (like Earth), and it appears that the climate of Mars has changed over its history (like Earth).

Overall, many of the key questions in solar system science can be addressed effectively by exploring Mars. This endeavor also serves to inspire the next generation of explorers and dramatically expand human knowledge.

Be part of our virtual Thought Leader Series presentation by submitting your questions to questions@spacecenter.org by 5 p.m. CT Aug. 13.

Past Thought Leader Series presentations

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Growing Organs in Space

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Growing Organs in Space

Though Space Center Houston theaters are temporarily closed, we are still passionate about sharing science and space exploration with our ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Earth from Above: Explaining the Overview Effect

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Earth from Above: Explaining the Overview Effect

Though Space Center Houston theaters are temporarily closed, we are still passionate about sharing science and space exploration with our ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Space Tourism For All: Overcoming Challenges

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Space Tourism For All: Overcoming Challenges

Though Space Center Houston theaters are temporarily closed, we are still passionate about sharing science and space exploration with our ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Human Robotic Interaction

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Human Robotic Interaction

Though Space Center Houston is closed, we are still passionate about sharing science and space exploration with our community. That’s ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Astronaut Selection and Training Process

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Astronaut Selection and Training Process

Though Space Center Houston is closed, we are still passionate about sharing science and space exploration with our community. That’s ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Evidence of Human Presence on the International Space Station

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Evidence of Human Presence on the International Space Station

Though Space Center Houston is closed, we are still passionate about sharing science and space exploration with our community. That’s ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Designing for Human Performance

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Designing for Human Performance

It takes time and intense collaboration to design and build a safe, efficient and productive spacecraft. Learn how human factors ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Challenges of Building the Space Station

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Challenges of Building the Space Station

Explore the challenges of building the International Space Station (ISS) from retired NASA astronauts Scott Parazynski and Mike Foreman in ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - How the Space Station shapes research, exploration and international cooperation

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – How the Space Station shapes research, exploration and international cooperation

Explore the International Space Station with industry experts Kirk Shireman, Mark Mulqueen, TJ Creamer, and Tamara Cougar in the this ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Lessons from Apollo 12

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Lessons from Apollo 12

The Apollo 11 mission made history. But it didn’t mark the end of NASA’s work. Less than five months after ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Astronauts from Around the World

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Astronauts from Around the World

Space is a truly international endeavor. In this Oct. 16 installment of our ongoing Thought Leader Series, presented by the ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - The Future of Spaceflight

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – The Future of Spaceflight

The future of spaceflight will be here sooner than you think. NASA’s plans currently have humans traveling back to the ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Inside Mission Control with Current Flight Controllers

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Inside Mission Control with Current Flight Controllers

What is it like to sit at the helm of human spaceflight and work with a variety of highly-trained teams ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Cognition Here and Beyond

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Cognition Here and Beyond

Watch the May 3 installment of our ongoing Thought Leader Series. Titled Cognition Here and Beyond, a panel discusses autism ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Apollo 10 with astronaut Tom Stafford

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Apollo 10 with astronaut Tom Stafford

Apollo 10 set the stage for Neil Armstrong’s historic steps on the Moon. It did so with a bit of ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Life Beyond Earth in Space and Time

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Life Beyond Earth in Space and Time

Water. Energy. Organics. Is there life on other planets? Those three things could help NASA answer that question. NASA chief ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Applications of lessons learned from human space flight tragedies

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Applications of lessons learned from human space flight tragedies

Space exploration takes courage, tenacity and innovation. Tragically, it also claimed the lives of 17 brave souls in the Apollo ...
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ISS

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – International Space Station

In his State of the Union address on Jan. 25, 1984, President Ronald Reagan directed NASA to build an international ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - An Evening With Glynn Lunney

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – An Evening With Glynn Lunney

In the Nov. 15, 2019 installment of our Thought Leader Series, the center hosted a special evening with Apollo flight ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - STS-95: John Glenn’s Second Spaceflight

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – STS-95: John Glenn’s Second Spaceflight

Space Center Houston brought in experts from the space shuttle mission STS-95 to discuss the anniversary of John Glenn’s second ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Apollo, The Golden Age of Spaceflight

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Apollo, The Golden Age of Spaceflight

Walt Cunningham, an astronaut from the first crewed Apollo spaceflight, shares his unique perspective on a remarkable era of exploration, ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - NASA Johnson Space Center Director Mark Geyer

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – NASA Johnson Space Center Director Mark Geyer

NASA Johnson Space Center employs nearly 10,000 people and covers nearly 1,700 acres. Running JSC is a big job. Luckily, ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Leading Women of NASA

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Leading Women of NASA

From hidden figures to leading lights, these women are shaping the future of space exploration. This Aug. 24, 2018 installment ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Pioneers of Space Exploration

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Pioneers of Space Exploration

Forty years ago NASA recruited its first six women astronauts. Three of those trailblazers share their mission memories in this ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - Alan Stern and David Grinspoon discuss the New Horizons mission

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – Alan Stern and David Grinspoon discuss the New Horizons mission

In 2015, the New Horizons spacecraft made interplanetary-travel history by taking the first up-close photos of Pluto. Dr. Alan Stern ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - ESA Director General Johann Woerner

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – ESA Director General Johann Woerner

How are NASA and the European Space Agency working together? Learn all about this partnership and more in this April, ...
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VIDEO: Thought Leader Series - A Conversation with Apollo 13 Astronaut Fred Haise

VIDEO: Thought Leader Series – A Conversation with Apollo 13 Astronaut Fred Haise

In this March 16, 2018 installment of our ongoing Thought Leader Series, Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise discusses that fateful ...
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