Q&A with National Geographic Explorer Kevin Peter Hand

Planetary scientist and astrobiologist Kevin Peter Hand has been a member of the National Geographic family since 2011, and his field work has taken him to the most extreme environments on Earth. Working in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Hand and his team have created technology that is capable of traveling millions of miles through space in an effort to determine whether there is life beyond Earth.

NASA’s Galileo mission, launched in 1989, led scientists to believe there is a subsurface ocean on Jupiter’s fourth largest moon, Europa. This distant ocean may harbor conditions suitable for life as we know it. In order to assess whether there are habitable environments in alien oceans, Hand conducts his research in the deepest parts of our own ocean and in our planet’s harshest climates.

Hand will be sharing how his team’s discoveries could provide insight on whether we are actually alone in the universe at tonight’s Exploring Ocean Worlds event at the National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C. Before he takes the stage, he answered some questions we had about ocean and space exploration: