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Guest: Dr. Robert (Bob) Zubrin; Topics: Searching for life on Mars, sample returns, planetary protection nuclear energy, student design contests, Mars Society programs and upcoming convention, gravity prescription determination, human spaceflight, NASA, Starship, SpaceX and much more.
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We welcomed back to the show Dr. Bob Zubrin for a broad discussion on multiple topics. For a good and quick summary of the discussion, follow the tags which have been repeated here for your convenience:
Dr. Robert (Bob) Zubrin, The Mars Society, New Atlantis Article How To Search For Life On Mars, NASA, RNA molecule, planetary protection, fear mongering, human Mars missions, Mars microbes, panspermia, Covid pandemic, Starship, taxes, SpaceX, Elon Musk, nuclear power to Mars, nuclear waste disposal, subsea, fusion energy, entrepreneurial fusion, government sponsored fusion reactors, alternative fusion fuel, fusion spacecraft, Mars sample return, sample return to the Moon, science mission, Bob's better way to do Mars missions, Mars Society High School Design Project, design class benefits, a better way of teaching, time line for searching for life, presidential politics, Ukraine is a space war, Starship launch date, Starship crew to Mars, Mars Society Conference, children on Mars, O'Neill space colonies, gravity prescription, earlier gravity experiment proposal to Musk, planetary protection public debate, HE3, Venus and human spaceflight, China's space program, Mars Society Call For Papers.
Our program started with Bob discussing his recent July 22 essay for the New Atlantis and the Mars Society website (www.marssociety.org), "How to Search for Life on Mars: First, stop refusing to look." If you have not yet read the article, please do so, even if you disagree with Bob. Here is a link to the story: www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/how-to-search-for-life-on-mars. Our guest started out talking about RNA as the molecule for life. He went on to say that NASA has not been searching for life despite their doing science on and about Mars. Among his comments were that NASA has avoided sites where life might be found and that the only life searching missions were the two Viking missions from 1976. Bob jumped forward to talk about planetary protection which he said would assure no searching for life on Mars. He explained this in detail during our discussion plus it was a recurring topic on the program.
Regarding planetary protection, Bob spent time defining the types and debunking it. For those of you familiar with Bob's arguments, you likely won't hear anything new or different during our discussion. Please continue to post your thoughts on planetary protection for Mars on our blog. As Bob continued talking about this subject, he said the topic was nonsense, he talked about bacteria and 40 degrees C temperatures and the likelihood of bacterial survival. Bob had much more to say about contamination on Mars by humans and a Mars pathogen or bacteria attacking humans in a similar way Covid attacked us. In fact he was asked about the Covid pandemic and he had lots to say about the differences between Covid and a bacteria from Mars.
Bob had much to say about Musk, SpaceX and Starship. This led to commentary about nuclear power, benefits, waste disposal and related topics. Listeners asked him about fusion, both from government researchers and the entrepreneurial fusion researchers using alternative fuel. What do you think of fusion and do you concur with Bob that the entrepreneurial groups are likely to be the ones to establish fusion, not the government? Post on our blog about this. Marshall called to ask Bob about the sample return and would it not be safter to send it to a space station for analysis or to a special Moon lab. Bob was very much opposed to those ideas. He said the entire purpose of bringing a sample back was to spread it around to researchers, universities, and scientists around the world to study it. That would not happen on a secluded lab on orbit or on the Moon. He repeated his earlier comments that there was no risk of contamination by bringing the sample to Earth. He even talked about Mars samples already coming to Earth on meteorites over the centuries or long. As we were moving on, Sherry asked Bob for a timeline that he thought reasonable for really starting to search for life on Mars. Listen for his comments. This question led us to a short presidential election discussion. From here, Bob jumped to the war in Ukraine saying it was a space war. He went on to explain why so don't miss it. Tim jumped ahead by asking Bob what he thought the initial crew size would be on the Starship to Mars. After a few comments, Bob suggested 10-12.
Freemont John jumped in with a call to ask Bob about the gravity RX, humans on Mars, children on Mars, pregnancy and fetal development in Mars gravity and a rumor he had heard where Bob made an effort to get Musk to do a gravity RX experiment when Musk was just starting out. You want to hear all of what Bob said in reply to John's questions. He also confirmed the rumor story and told it to us from start to finish. John asked Bob that if it turned out that children on Mars was a problem, did he have a backup plan for Mars settlement. He asked Bob about a 1g rotating O'Neill installation. Bob was not the least bit enthusiastic or supportive of the O'Neill idea but listen to what he said.
We changed directions for Bob to talk about a new way of teaching which was by design class and contests. He told us about the current high school international design contest designing a mission to Mars based on certain specific parameters. You can see the designs on the Mars Society website so follow Bob's instructions to check them out. Bob also talked about the upcoming October conference at Arizona State. You can find out more about the conference by going to the Mars Society website. Before closing, a listener asked Bob how he got interested in space and Mars. Bob told the story. Don't miss it. Listener Jack sent in an email asking Bob for his analysis of China's space program. Do not miss what Bob had to say about China and space.
Please post your comments/questions for Bob on our blog for this show. You can reach Bob through me or the Mars Society website.