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Guest: Dr. Bruce Jakosky; Topics: Terraforming Mars, CO2 on Mars, the Martian atmosphere and much more. Please direct all comments and questions regarding specific Space Show programs & guest(s) to the Space Show blog which is part of archived program on our website, www.thespaceshow.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 back to the program Dr. Bruce Jakosky for this one segment 71 minute discussion about the possibilities and science of terraforming Mars. Dr. Jakosky, along with his co-author Christopher Edwards of Northern Arizona University, recently published a paper focusing on the amount of possible CO2 on Mars to use for terraforming. A good summary of their paper can be found under NASA Release 18-13 dated July 30, 2018 "Mars Terraforming Not Possible Using Present-Day Technology." The paper can be found at www.nasa.gov/press-release/goddard/2018/mars-terraforming.
Bruce started out by introducing us to his research and commenting on my summary of the findings of his paper and some of the main objections to it coming from the Mars advocate and pro-terraforming community. This opening was a key part of the program so don't miss it. In addition, we would like your thoughts on the idea of terraforming Mars, CO2 and the benefits for doing so. Please post your thoughts and ideas on our blog for this show. During this early part of our program, Bruce went into detail to explain the possible quantity of CO2, the capabilities of today's technology, what the absence of nitrogen means, the challenge to warm up the planet, atmospheric pressure issues and much more. We talked about other greenhouse gasses that might be on Mars including methane and water vapor. He provided us with the measurements that would be needed to change the Martian atmospheric pressure. Bruce was also quick to point out that new missions were planned and underway for Mars so new research might shed more accurate light on the Mars CO2 analysis plus our technology changes and we might be able to do much more in the future and do it differently than today so his analysis and the conclusions of today were certainly subject to change and further study/analysis.
Bruce and I spent some time discussing the global and societal benefits of terraforming Mars as opposed to more localized benefits for space settlement folks, Martian tourists, and those feeling we need to have a backup planet to protect Earth from an impact destructive event. What do you think the global and societal benefits are for terraforming Mars? Please post your comments about this on our blog. While terraforming benefits might be illusive, our guest did talk about the benefits for human exploration of Mars and for going to Mars and in general for human spaceflight throughout the solar system. This was a very interesting discussion with our guest. Bruce was able to put forth quality reasons and explanations for human spaceflight, human exploration of Mars and even human exploration for other potential past life or present life places such as Titan, Enceladus, Europa and even Ceres. This was not just an excellent discussion led by our guest but also a very important one so don't miss it. Bruce also talked about the benefits of doing human Martian exploration as compared to robotic exploration. Don't miss this discussion to see why humans come out on top. Before moving on, I asked Bruce if a small area of Mars could be terraformed, possibly even today. I used an area the size of Los Angeles in my example. What Bruce said in response to my question might surprise you.
Kim called from Mexico and had a lengthy discussion with Bruce about clathrates (www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S003206330700061X). They discussed CO2 on Mars, possible buried CO2 deposits that we do not know about today and more. Bruce spent some time discussing the uncertainties of CO2 and Mars. Kim wanted to know about using the polar regions for humans given the CO2 in the polar ice caps plus the lake that may exist under the southern polar ice cap. Bruce provided reasons why the poles would not be so great for humans so listen carefully to what he said.
Listener Karen sent Bruce an email asking how one might warm up or heat up a planet like Mars. Bruce talked about trapping greenhouse gasses to trap and hold the energy from the sun but it would be a very long process to do it. We then discussed our TRL for doing this today as compared to some distant time in the future. Global benefits again came into question so don't miss what our guest had to say regarding this part of our discussion.
BJohn sent in a note asking about the Martian plume Bruce talked about when he was originally a Hotel Mars guest several years ago. What our guest said about the plume was most interesting. It has not appeared again despite searching for it. We then switched topics to planetary protection and humans going to Mars by the private sector as well as with a government mission. This was a good discussion with Bruce being in support of planetary protection but also telling us about the Viking standard for missions to Mars. Don't miss what he said about the Viking standard given that most Martian oriented missions are not sterilized.
Bruce offered us concluding comments in support of human Mars exploration. Don't miss what he said. Please post your comments/questions on our blog for this show. You can reach Dr. Jakosky through me or his University of Colorado faculty page.