Monday, March 7, 2011

Sunday's Space Show

The Guests were Chris Carberry- executive director and co-founder  of Explore Mars, Inc. and Artemis Westenberg- President and Director for Explore Mars.

First question: what's new.  Giving prizes to winning science teachers.  Lessons of how to do science using Mars as an example.  How to plan for driving a Mars rover, using research materials.  For grades 9-12 for US teachers only for now.  Not a space convention, but a teacher's conference in San Francisco.  Over 10,000 attended.  NSTA conference in San Francisco this week, can google it if interested.  Invitation only though.  But contact by interested parties are welcome.

Listener question: Who does the questions? NSTA arranged for a group of judges. Each entry is judged by at least five judges.  Vetted for scientific accuracy.  One question was what is the nature of the Martian surface? The aim was to make these lessons available for teachers across the country.

A conference is coming up on April 6-7.  Can ISS be utilized for Mars mission?  ISS not always popular in Mars community.  Trying to change this point of view because not politically helpful.  Good discussion seems to have had progress in that regard.  This is in Washington D.C.  Is open to public, can register.  Speakers include Lori Garver at NASA.  Director of human spaceflight in European Space Agency and somebody from the Russian space program will also be there.  Bill Gerstenmeir will be interviewed in a TV talk show format. A two day conference.  Deadline for hotel reservation by March 10 and for conference itself first come first served basis.

Email question: How much longer to human mission to and from Mars?  By 2020-2030 timetable.
Another question: How do you justify costs in this economy?  Ans: can't predict economy.  Feeling is a lack of confidence needs to be countered by something like this.

What about spending the money?  There was a certain amount of angst over the budget.  He thinks most people on the Hill want to do it.

Can we broaden the appeal of Mars exploration?  Public hears negative attitudes, but realize are much closer than is what is assumed.  Public is misinformed, according to Westenberg.  Need to do more to help public understood.

Livingston calls media "puppets of crap".  (I agree)  Westenberg: media doesn't know what's going on. Don't keep abreast of everything.  Space is something to the effect of leaving up to NASA, but NASA buys European space products.  Europe doesn't have to wait for NASA, she says.

Livingston calls politicians "idiotic".  Same true in Europe.  Westenberg agrees.

Human factors taken very seriously in European Space Agency.  Stays on ship for 500 days.  For four weeks, pretend that they on Mars.  Low G and radiation are two of the factors.  If can't handle these, you won't know these things, timetable will slip.  Won't know how to solve these problems until we commit to a program.


Talking about the ISS and Mars conference- will send reports to Washington; and then there will be at least one more lower level conference in Huntsville in May.  Will discuss DC conference and MIT panel.  Not mentioned in detail earlier in this program.  MIT one is on website.  ISSMAR-1 on YouTube?  Five technologies that can be advanced by ISS.  Strong interest in doing Mars agriculture.  Mars airplane concept.

Registration 185 dollar plus the dinner.  (Everything cost money!)

Does this cause of sending human to Mars get more complex or illusive, or is there a way to work around the fact.  Ans:  Everything is still in the air.  Admin shifting to Congress viewpoint.  Not any closer this year than last, though.  { Comment:  It would seem that you need to commercialize space first.  With tight budgets and such, increased spending is not in the cards.  Space will have to start pulling its own weight}

A Zubrin type question arose about Mars Direct.  A lot concepts can have an influence, but not a Mars Direct.  Tethers, in situ resource utilization will have positive impact, though.

Do we need to go to the Moon first?  Don't need to go to Moon first, Carberry says.  Will have value, but isn't necessary.  {Don't agree with this.} {Must  be a commercial mission because the government won't do it.}

Leadership crisis comment came up.  Hurray for that.  Couldn't agree more.  No Kennedy type leadership.

Need a different kind of leadership than we had in Apollo era.

Nuclear propulsion question came up, a caller named John in Atlanta.  {me: Good question}  Carberry says will help, but isn't necessary.   Ad Astra in Washington now, (VASIMR) {me: energy hog, no}.  Advanced propulsion more doable in short term, John says. John brings up NERVA in Apollo Era. {good observation} {Good call}


If we had a National Policy for going to Mars- will be opposed, Dr Livingston observes.  But such a mission would in his opinion would transform the nation.   He can't think of any project that would do more for this country than this.  {I agree, the politicians don't serve us, they serve themselves.}

Westenberg responds  "how can political leaders talk about lack of interest in science on one and and then cut programs on the other."  It is an investment.  It isn't just spending.  It make things better on Earth.  {exactly}

Dr. Livingston mentioned the magazine.  Online magazine, Mars Exploration Magazine.  How to get to it.  Can't google it?  Linked it above, maybe that will work. Quarterly publication.

Barney Frank story:  Not a fan of Mars.  A few digs at Barney.  He isn't easy to convince.  How to spend money, what is his objection? Has different priorities.  He supported commercial space, though.

Would life on Mars change Frank's mind, asked Ron in an email.  Didn't come up, he said.  Didn't discuss that.  Wouldn't it make it easier.  Westenberg said it would be easier and more difficult.  Can get into trouble do we have the right to trample existing life?  A new ballgame.  {me: Environmentalists would stop this too.  Screw them.}

Caller Tim in Huntsville:  Has to be perfect world first before we go, on the other hand he has got to invent problems in order to get elected {yep}  He says invalid argument (Frank's)

Abdication of leadership- Barney get slammed here pretty good.  Yeah, he lived off the housing crisis that he helped create, it was said.

Observation by email:  Bacteria on Mars: we kill bacteria on Earth all the time.  Not intelligent life we are talking about.  {This question bores me.}

Odds on finding life on Mars?  Speculation came up.

Followup:  Pearls of wisdom: Start of a new era.  Anyone interested can help shape it.  Mess in Washington, but opportunities exist.

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