Broadcast 1488 (Special Edition)

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Guest: Dr. Christopher (Chris) McKay. Topics: Mars, astrobiology, planetary exploration, Moon bases, search for life. Please note that you are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. We welcomed back Dr. Chris McKay of NASA Ames discuss Mars, lunar bases, the possibility of organics and even life on Mars, and humans to Mars missions. We started our first segment by talking about Constellation as Dr. McKay was the deputy program scientist for Constellation. As you will hear, as one program closes, other doors open. We then talked about the upcoming Mars Science Lab (MSL) mission scheduled to launch in November 2011 and the efforts to restudy the possibility of organics in the Martian soil and the possibility of molecules given updates since the Viking missions. With the discovery of perchlorates in the Martian soil and Viking having probably destroyed organics, scientists are excited about the coming results expected from MSL. Dr. McKay even rated the likelihood of finding organics on Mars as well as actually confirming life on Mars. You don't want to miss his comments on this. We then discussed why humans should go to Mars. Listen carefully to this discussion. Listener Darrell wanted to know about the use of heavy lift in exploring Mars and more. As you will hear, to go to the Moon to stay and on to Mars, heavy lift would be important for Martian exploration & settlement. Listen carefully to what Dr. McKay had to say about heavy lift. Later in this segment, Chris from Argentina asked about his differences with the Zubrin Mars Direct program. Dr. McKay said he was less concerned with how fast we get to Mars as he was with being able to stay. Again, do you do not want to miss this discussion. Several times during our discussion, Dr. McKay talked about the South Pole/Antarctic model for both lunar and Martian research outposts. Our second segment kicked off with Chris calling us from Argentina with questions about terreforming Mars. Here, Dr. McKay had much to say about what we should do with terreforming if life was discovered on Mars. Other topics in this segment included Titan, human missions to NEOs, ISRU development, Moon bases and even human missions to Mercury. Near the end of the program, we asked Dr. McKay to comment on the recent Mono Lake arsenic life form announcements by NASA. Don't miss what he had to say about this science. I also asked our guest to outline the program he would undertake were he in charge of our civil space program. Dr. McKay mentioned three things including a human mission to a NEO, sample return missions from Mars, and setting up a longer term research base on the Moon to be able to do long term research on Mars. Dr. McKay was asked how to make the space case he was talking about to the American people and to Congress. What do you think of his suggestions? Near the end, a caller asked about the economics of the vision and plan Dr. McKay was discussing. We talked about economic growth and Chris suggested focusing in on a Moon base with a budget to not exceed 25% of the NASA budget and to force development of lower costs for doing these programs. He even referenced applying Moore's Law to space development to lower the cost of space access and development, not just the cost of space hardware. Trent called in to discuss the nature and duration of planning, specifically long term planning. At the end of the program, I asked Dr. McKay to describe for us the differences in the Arctic and the Antarctic. Don't miss this added discussion. If you have a question or comment for Dr. Chris McKay, please post it on the blog URL above. You can also email Chris at



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03 Jan 2011 Dr. Christopher P. McKay
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