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Dr. Gil Levin, Friday, 9-25-15 September 26, 2015

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Dr. Gil Levin, Friday, 9-25-15

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Guest: Dr. Gil Levin. Topics: Live on Mars per the Viking Labeled Release experiments plus modern research analysis. 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. 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 Dr. Gil Levin back to the show to discuss Mars new updates, the possibility of life on Mars, and news based on his Viking Labeled Release life detection experiments from the two Viking missions to Mars in 1976. During the first segment of our 93 minute show, Dr. Levin told us about three important announcements that have either happened or will happen. The first was is by the ISRO in India saying they would release their methane experiment data from their Mars orbiter on Oct. 1. We discussed the implications of Martian methane later in the program. The second announcement which will take place on Monday, Sept. 27 with an afternoon NASA press conference is expected to announce the confirmation of flowing water on Mars. All NASA will say is they are going to finally disclose answers about a significant Mars mystery that has finally been answered. The speculation all points to water. The third news announcement was that the Viking 1 landing site from 1976 has been selected by the appropriate NASA team as the first landing site for the Mars human mission. Dr. Levin spent most of the rest of the first segment talking about the Viking Labeled Release experiments, why the science continues to be rejected today and some theories behind the rejection. Some of this discussion followed us into the second segment. I asked Gil to describe what a modern life detection experiment would consist of and he went into that in some detail. Gil was asked if he believed in conspiracy theories. He did not want to go there but we did talk about them from time to time during the show. BJohn for example suggested NASA did not want to announce life on Mars for fear of planetary protection rules and policies stopping their humans to Mars program. We also talked about that being a possible stumbling bloc for wealthy private sector space entrepreneurs to launch their own life detection experiment because planetary protection rules would impact their plans just as they would NASA. The 25 year NASA Roadmap to Mars program came up and like many others, Dr. Levin did not think it was credible. We spent mor time discussing wealthy private sector people possibly funding their own Mars science and eventual human missions. Gil addressed methane on Mars in some detail and what finding it on Mars may mean for life detection. He was also asked if he could propose experiments for missions from other national space agencies. He said he could but then told how he was doing that for Russia in 1996 & then the mission was cancelled because the US blocked him from exporting and talking about Carbon 14. As the first segment ended, Gil identified scientists that had published credible research in support of life on Mars. Don’t miss what he had to say about the scientists, their work, and what happened when it was published.

In the second segment, Gil suggested that possibly his work was dismissed because he was an engineer, not a scientist. He talked about this possibility in some detail. I asked him to support his contention that life existed on Mars now. For a significant part of this segment, he listed experiment after experiment, solid evidence, some solid theory, all in support of and to back up his claims. It was a convincing impressive list so don’t miss this part of the discussion. Ben from Chicago challenged Gill with a few hard hitting questions about his work being dismissed. Essentially he asked Gil if he might just be dismissed because he is seen as an old, angry guy, fighting for his decades old experiment to be valid so his claims and efforts are pretty much dismissed for those reasons. Gil agreed with part of it and said he was looking and hoping for younger, more open minded researchers to take a fresh look at the data. We talked about open minded researchers, their organizations, and institutions for a good portion of this segment. As the show was nearing its end, we talked about NASA life detection experiments that flirted with detecting past or present live as compared to experiments designed to confirm once and for all life or no life. As the show was ending, BJohn asked why everyone was in such a hurry to do the life detection experiments given Mars was not going anywhere. I thought Gil gave a terrific answer to this question which also served as his conclusion to our discussion. Don’t miss his response to BJohn. Let us know what you think by posting your thoughts on the blog.

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog above. You can reach Dr. Gil Levin through me.

Dr. Albert Carnesale, Monday, 1-28-13 January 28, 2013

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Dr. Albert Carnesale, Monday, 1-28-13

http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/1938-BWB-2013-01-28.mp3

Guest:  Dr. Albert Carnesale.  Topics:  The NRC study, “NASA’s Strategic Direction And The Need For A National Consensus.”  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.  We welcomed Dr. Albert Carnesale, Chair of the Committee on NASA’s Strategic Direction to discuss the National Research Council Report, their analysis of NASA, their findings, and their recommendations.  You can download the pdf form of the study report at www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=18248.  We started our 1 hour 34 minute discussion with Dr. Carnesale introducing us to the National Academies and the NRC, then this specific study.  We talked about its origins, its source of funding, its methodology, objectivity, and how it addresses issues within NASA, Congress, and the Executive Branch of the government.  Dr. Carnesale talked about the study Statement of Task.  We learned that it was equally important as to what they were to do as to what they were not to do. For example, the were not tasked to opine on what NASA should be, rather they looked at NASA’s current status and evaluated and reported on what they found.  Also, the study was a fast track study completed over seven months.  This is in contrast to an NRC-NASA Human Spaceflight Study spanning two years.  You can get information on the HSF study at http://sites.nationalacademies.org/DEPS/ASEB/DEPS_069080.  Dr. Carnesale went over their findings and you will hear constant references back to the NASA 2011 Strategic Plan.  There were three main findings including the vision statement for the 2011 NASA Strategic Plan did not articulate “a national vision that is unique to the nation’s space and aeronautics agency,” that the mission statement in the 2011 Strategic Plan does not “articulate a mission unique to the nation’s space and aeronautics agency” and finally, that both the NASA vision and mission statements are so plain vanilla that they could apply to almost any part of the government.  These findings can be found on page 31 of the study.  Dr. Carnesale then discussed some of the specific findings and recommendations for the NASA program areas including human spaceflight, robotics, science missions, and technology.  NASA funding was discussed along with Congressional control and the congressional role in making space policy.  Our guest received questions about the value of space advocacy, its place in the study, and public feedback/commentary. One of the points made by our guest was that overall, most people they talked with seemed to think the ultimate HSF goal was Mars and that the Moon would be of value as a stepping stone in going to Mars.  However, there was no strategy for this, nor was there a strategy or policy or even funding for an asteroid visit or program.  We also discussed the gap which exists between the public’s liking the space program and the level of interest in congressional funding for NASA and its programs.  Listeners asked about pork spending projects and related inefficient characteristics of the congressional & NASA administrative practices.
In our second segment, the subject of sequestration came up and our guest said most thought it would impact NASA on the margins.  Dr. Carnesale got a question about getting NASA to focus on RLVs but something that specific was outside the scope of their study parameters.  Lots of comparisons were made with the Defense Department in terms of efficiency changes, including applying DOD like BRAC reductions to helping make the NASA centers more efficient, perhaps even to consolidate them.  Another listener wanted to know about the study suggesting NASA take on more frontline research such as in the earlier NACA.  Here, our guest talked about JPL which has a somewhat different structure than other NASA centers & suggested it was one of the management and organizational models that could be considered in streamlining NASA for the future.  Later in the segment, I asked what the methodology was for implementing the study findings.  He talked about the need for strategy, goals, and objectives with consensus in NASA.  Support and direction from both the Administration and Congress was essential.  Don’t miss his outline for implementation of the study findings and conclusions.  Throughout our discussion, we talked about the leadership role of NASA and the value of the contributions NASA has made to the nation and the world, looking forward to how best to see NASA continue in this light.  We also talked about partnerships with other government agencies, the private sector, and international players, especially for something as expensive as a Mars mission.  Toward the end of our discussion, Dr. Carnesale took a listener question about the need for better NASA communication to take the space story to the public.  He said the weakness was not in the communications, the weakness was in the lack of the NASA vision.  He cited outstanding communication from JPL and NASA regarding MSL and Curiosity.  Our last caller was from Dave Huntsman, a 38 year NASA veteran.  Dave raised some excellent points regarding what NASA could do on its own without Congress and the Administration.  He talked about programs put in place since the Challenger accident, all with mixed results.  The three of us took time to acknowledge remembering the Challenger accident on this day in history, January 28, 1986.

      Please post your comments/questions about this program and the NRC Study on The Space Show blog URL above.