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Dr. Farouk El-Baz, Friday, 8-24-12 August 24, 2012

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Dr. Farouk El-Baz, Friday, 8-24-12


Guest:  Dr. Farouk El-Baz.  Topics:  Apollo lunar landing site selection, lunar geology, Mars-desert analogs and more.  You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. 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 welcomed Dr. Farouk El-Baz to The Space Show.  Please visit his website for lots more information on the topics we discussed, lots of great pictures, plus many additional important topics, www.faroudelbaz.com. We started our discussion with Dr. El-Baz having a Star Trek shuttle craft named in his honor. Its a great story you will enjoy hearing. From Star Trek, we got down to business and wanted to know about the Apollo lunar landing site selection process. Dr. El-Baz told us how they did it, especially given the absence of any real information about the lunar geology and surface.  Three of the concerns he mentioned included the site being free of rocks, absolutely flat, and making sure the Lunar Lander would not sink in the lunar dust.  What’s more, Dr. El-Baz was 29 years old when he was in charge of doing this.  As you will hear, age is an important part of this discussion in the second segment near the end of the program.  I did ask Dr. El-Baz about selecting sites using Egyptian mythology as conspiracy theories suggest, plus his response to those who do not believe we ever went to the Moon. With the latter point, he had much to say about Moon rocks as proof of our lunar visits.  His comments on Orion and mythology were very interesting.  Another question asked him dealt with the shutting down of the program.  NASA risk averseness was the top reason.  Nels asked many questions about a possible Apollo polar orbit and lunar ice.  Our guest had much to say about this, the sun angles needed for landing, lighting, and more.  As we moved to lunar commerce, our guest talked about mining titanium and HE3 but not at this time.  I asked Dr. El-Baz about the Apollo-Soyuz Test Flight (ASTF) and working with the Soviets, then we returned to the plausibility of lunar commerce at this time.

As we started the second segment, we talked about commercial ROI opportunities for cargo to the ISS by the private companies but he suggested everything else was more distant and would probably need testing & seeding by the government.  I then asked him about his work studying deserts and using Earth deserts as analogs for studying Mars.  Dr. El-Baz had much to say about deserts, Mars, about their formation by rivers that had dried up & were buried under sand and how they know that.  We talked about Earth movement, especially the SaharaDesert, and the impact of natural geological events on climate change.  Imaging satellites were discussed & I asked our guest if we would have been able to have today’s knowledge were it not for the space program.  Don’t miss his fascinating answer.  At another point in our discussion, Dr. El-Baz mentioned 126 separate university research projects during Apollo.  The last listener question asked our guest about the extremely young age of the Apollo scientific & work force.  Dr. El-Baz had much to say about this, said that the work could only have been done by people in their 20’s and 30’s.  He said the older folks need to step aside and let the young people go forward, make the mistakes & solve the problems.  In the end, age made a huge difference for the good of the Apollo program.  Our guest also commented on our present day aging space & technology workforce.

Please post your comments/questions on the blog.  If you want to email Dr. El-Baz, send your note to me & I will forward it to him.