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Dr. Pascal Lee, Tuesday, 9-24-13 September 25, 2013

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Dr. Pascal Lee, Tuesday, 9-24-13


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Guest:  Dr. Pascal Lee.  Topics:  Dr. Lee discussed HSF for Mars, pending Mars mission, Mars science, Earth analogs & his new book, “Mission Mars.”  Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, https://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 www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm.

We welcomed Dr. Pascal Lee back to the program to discuss HSF to Mars, pending Mars programs, his new children’s book, “Mission Mars” (www.scholastic.com/missionmars).  During the first segment of this 1 hour 58 minute program, Dr. Lee talked about our operating Mars rovers, Opportunity and Curiosity.  He talked about Curiosity looking for organics and the confusion over not finding methane.  I then asked our guest about the two potential HSF missions to Mars, Mars One and Inspiration Mars.  As you will hear, Dr. Lee was highly skeptical regarding Mars One and suggested it might not be good for the “cause.”  He was supportive of Inspiration Mars and had much to say about that mission and the likelihood of survival for the astronaut couple on board.  I asked him what he thought the impact on HSF and especially humans to Mars mission would be if the Inspiration Mars crew died.  He offered an interesting perspective on this depending where along the mission the crew died.  We also talked about possible NASA involvement in Inspiration Mars plus the challenges in the reentry given the capsule’s high speed coming back from Mars and entering our atmosphere.  I also asked if Inspiration Mars put a damper on many of the Phobos-Deimos mission plans.  Pascal was asked about the Mars One business plan modeled on the Olympics and virtual reality TV shows.  Pascal was not optimistic that such a plan could drive a Mars mission but did think there might be a place in a human Mars mission for a TV show.  Pascal then described the hostility of the Mars environment for human life. This is an interesting factual analysis of what the Martian environment is like & what it would mean for human survival.  Near the end of the first segment, we talked about Pascal’s first book, “Mission Mars” which is aimed for the 9-12 year old market.  Make sure you visit the book’s interactive website, www.scholastic.com/missionmars.  The book is officially released in November but teachers & others can order it now from the Scholastic site.  I also asked how he explained the potential for alien and microbial life to young kids, along with the risks to humans going to Mars.

In our second segment, we started off discussing the Drake Equation. Dr. Lee explained in detail why he believes that N in the equation is a very small number.  In summary, even if there are other intelligent worlds out there, they may be so few in number and so far away that for all practical purposes we are alone in the universe so we better be good stewards of what we have with Earth.  Pascal mentioned the dinosaurs in terms of the evolution of life on Earth and he noted how long it took for something like modern day humans to evolve (around 4.5 billion years).  Some listeners asked him if we were not so different from the dinosaurs given the violence and killing humans do to one another.  Next, we talked about the Humvee expedition as a Mars analog across the North West passage.  Known as the Northwest Passage Drive Expedition, this was an amazing trip.  A documentary was made and will be available next year. I will let listeners know when it is available.  From fuel to cold to polar bears to almost losing the Humvee by falling through the sea-ice, this was quite the expedition over a three year period.  Note what Dr. Lee said about the expedition challenges in comparison to what it would be like to living on Mars.  Briefly, as hard and challenging as the North West Passage Expedition was, it would be nothing compared to living on Mars!

Please post your comments/questions on The Space Show Blog per the above URL.  You can email Dr. Pascal Lee at pascal.lee@marsinstitute.net.