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Dr. Gilbert (Gil) Levin, Friday, 8-15-14 August 16, 2014

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Dr. Gilbert (Gil) Levin, Friday, 8-15-14


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Guest:  Dr. Gilbert (Gil) Levin.  Topics:  Life on Mars, Viking Labeled Release Experiment & more.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com.  Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See http://www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm.  For those listening to archives using live365.com and rating the programs, please email me as to why you assign a specific rating to the show. This will help me bring better programming to the audience.

We welcomed back Dr. Gilbert (Gil) Levin who was the designated Experimenter of the Viking Labeled Release Life Detection Experiment (LR) on the two NASA Viking missions in 1976.  During the first segment of our 90 minute discussion, Dr. Levin talked about his latest research and paper which was delivered at this year’s Mars Society Conference.  His paper, “MARS: Dead or Alive,” can be found on his website for download at http://www.gillevin.com.  Scroll to the bottom of the Mars Research for all his papers or use http://www.gillevin.com/Mars/Levin-Straat_Mars_Society_Paper_8-8-14.pdf.  I asked Dr. Levin about criticisms to the findings published in his paper and he said the controversies centered around liquid water being on mars and for fossil references.  Gil also talked about the difficulty in getting NASA information on Mars mission experiments and his use of the Freedom of Information Act.  He also told us stories of his efforts to propose Mars life detection experiments with other national space agencies.  His theory as expressed in his latest paper is that there are microorganisms on Mars with a similar biochemistry in water similar to what is on Earth.  We received lots of email questions from listeners ranging to questioning the significance for us here on Earth in confirming microbial life on Mars, to the impact in our science, academic and religious communities.  One interesting email came from Joe in Denver asking if Gil was maybe too close to his own research thus possibly skewing his objectivity. Gil brought this up near the end of the second segment as well but listen to how he responded and the challenge he put out to listeners and others interested in this issue.  You decide if you think he is too close to life detection on Mars to be an objective scientist.  Near the end of the first segment, Doug emailed in wanting to know if microbes in the rocks could be imaged by a microscope instrument on a rover.  He was not satisfied with Gil’s response so he asked it again as we started the second segment.  Before we ended the first segment, we talked about possible reasons why some life detection experiments that could be done by Curiosity had not been done or at least not reported on were they done.

In the second segment, aside from Doug’s modified repeat question about microscope image detection, Gil talked about the newer LR analysis using complexity analysis by a scientist at Sienna University. He also mentioned updated analysis by Dr. Joe Miller at USC.  Another listener again asked about challenges to his Mars Society paper and Gil listed the three mail areas of challenge for us to consider.  BJohn from Sweden asked a series of questions about a Mars sample return mission and the risks of bringing a Mars sample back to Earth or using an orbiting station or the Moon to evaluate it due to the possibility of risk to Earth. As mentioned earlier, toward the end of our program, Gil’s objectivity came up & he challenged listeners to contact him with objections to his research which he will respond to via email as he gave out his email address.  Charles Pooley called in near the end to raise ethical issues about HSF to Mars were some form of life discovered there.

If you have questions/comments, post them on TSS blog above.  You can contact Dr. Gil Levin through me, his website, or the email address he gave out during the program.

John Batchelor Hotel Mars, Wednesday, 12-12-12 December 13, 2012

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John Batchelor Hotel Mars, Wednesday, 12-12-12


Guests: John Batchelor, Dr. Paul Mahaffy, Dr. David Livingston:  Topics:  Mars soil samples with Curiosity.  You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright. We do not permit the commercial use of any Space Show program or part thereof, nor do we permit Space Show programs to be edited, placed on YouTube, or other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted in news articles, papers, academic & research work but must be cited or referenced in the proper citation format. Contact Dr. Livingston for questions about our copyright and trademark policies which we do enforce.  This program is archived on The Space Show website, podcasting, and blog sites with permission from John Batchelor. Please visit the John Batchelor Show website for more information about this fine program, www.johnbatchelorshow.com. During our 11 minute plus discussion, we specifically talked with Dr. Mahaffy, the PI of SAM, about Curiosity, the first Mars rover able to scoop soil into analytical instruments. The specific soil sample we discussed came from a drift of windblown dust and sand called “Rocknest.” The site lies in a relatively flat part of Gale Crater still miles away from the rover’s main destination on the slope of a mountain called Mount Sharp. The rover’s laboratory includes the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) suite and the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument. SAM used three methods to analyze gases given off from the dusty sand when it was heated in a tiny oven. One class of substances SAM checks for is organic compounds — carbon-containing chemicals that can be ingredients for life. No definitive detection of Martian organics has so far been detected but as you will hear, it is way too early in the Curiosity exploration to rule out the possibility of organics on Mars. Dr. Mahaffy did say that perchlorics had been found based on questions by John, Paul talked about findings from Viking, Oppy, and Phoenix.  In looking for organics, Paul told us that they needed to make absolutely sure that nothing being measuring came from Earth.  Our guest of honor then explained the procedures being used to make sure there is no Earth contamination.  Dr. Mahaffy had much more to say in this short segment so don’t miss it.

You can contact Mr. Batchelor or Dr. Paul Mahaffy through me at drspace@thespaceshow.com.  Post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog.


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