After a few hours of overnight rest and a comforting breakfast we left the marae to visit the Waimangu Volcanic Valley, a unique hydrothermal setting formed by violent eruptions, in 1886, 1900-1904, and 1917, and still active today. Along the way we could see a palette of colors from the combined action of biology and geology.
Along the margin of the streams brightly colored blue green algae, cyanobacteria, and other heat-loving microbes enjoy their existence at temperatures exceeding 50-80 C. More colors orange, red, brown, white and yellow results from mineral deposition and high temperature weathering of volcanic materials.
We returned to the marae around 6pm and gathered for lectures and discussion topics in a number of working groups: 1. Life in the extremes, 2 Planetary environments, Planetary Protection, exploration of Moon and Mars, Robotics and technology, and art and culture.
The robotic group has been involving local Maori kids, which are super curios to learn on about anything we do. Tomorrow, several kids from the surrounding marae will be visiting us!
Last but not least, we are planning for the field trip to Tongariro Volanics, aka Tongariro Crossing, better know as “Mordor” of the Lord of the Ring.
Stay tuned for a day of Astrobiology in Mordor……
An expedition through New Zealand with Rosalba Bonaccorsi