Broadcast 2940 Barry DiGregorio

03 Jul 2017 Barry DiGregorio
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Guest:  Barry DiGregorio; Topics:  Mars rock geology, rock varnish, Mars life detection instruments, NASA & life detection, & 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 Barry DiGregorio back to the show for this two segment 1 hour 48 minute discussion which was a continuation of our discussions with Barry on Mars rock geology.  Barry talked about MSL and all of the Mars rovers and the finding of rock varnish on rocks on Mars.  I asked Barry to explain to us what rock varnish was which he did using Earth models since rock varnish is prevalent here on Earth.  Our rock varnish discussion and the implications for it spanned a good part of our first segment.

Planetary protection and Article 9 of the OST was an additional topic in this segment.  Barry very much supports Mars sample returns going to an off Earth lab, perhaps on the Moon, to avoid the risk of contaminating Earth.  Additionally, Barry spoke about continued Earth missions and even humans going to Mars contaminating Mars to the point that we would be unable to evaluate Mars conditions, microbes (if they are found) and more due to human and Earth contamination.  Barry's position was disputed by several listeners.  I also mentioned the upcoming program with attorney Laura Montgomery and the fact that Article 9 may not be legally applicable to the US as of this time. Don't miss all of what Barry said about planetary protection, Mars-Earth and Earth to Mars cross contamination and risks.  Tell us what you think with your comments on the blog.  Before the segment ended, Dr. Doug sent in a note asking how likely it would be for a microscope on a Mars rover be able to find microbial tracks clearly indicative of past life.  Don't miss what Barry said about this.  In addition, life detection instrumentation became a significant part of the second part of our program.  Before the segment ended, B John also asked about what type of life detection instrumentation was going on Mars rovers or would be needed for life detection. B John was one of the listeners asking Barry about planetary protection.

In the second segment, NASA life detection experiments and equipment for the Mars program was a major theme.  For example, Doug wanted to know if Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity rovers had microscopes on them and if so, why has there been no reports of microbial track.  B John sent in an additional email getting in on the life detection experimentation discussion.  Eventually the discussion focused on why there were no life detection experiments on the Mars rovers and why none were planned on the future rover programs.  He was consistently asked by listeners and myself for an explanation of this.  He suggested a few ideas, even the conspiracy theory about NASA not wanting to declare some sort of life on Mars.  Barry talked about comments Dr. Gil Levin has made on this subject plus he repeated Gil's experiences which Gil himself has told us on his Space Show programs.  I told everyone the pat answer given on Space Show programs by NASA and academic guests when this subject comes up.  Frequent listeners to this program will recognize what I said as you have probably heard it many times over. 

Doug called us to give us his theory of why no life detection instrumentation has been on the rovers.  Don't miss what he said.  I asked Doug why he was rejecting the NASA and academic explanation which I repeated earlier in our discussion.  Doug said he did not believe them and thus dismissed their explanation.  He further said things like the video microscope he was suggesting were not that expensive and could be on a mission.  I don't know the truth of all of this nor do I know what Doug and Barry said about microscope costs and mission plans was accurate let alone relevant.  I am not much on conspiracy theories so what NASA folks have said on the show sounds plausible to me as much as I am unhappy with the answer.  I do believe some due diligence is in order regarding the TRL and economics of what Doug and Barry were suggesting about video microscopes.  However, without the mission planning component, just knowing the TRL and costs would not tell the whole story.

Barry then started talking about the NASA Director for Mars Exploration.  Doug found him on the NASA website and I agreed to send the person an invitation to discussion Mars exploration on The Space Show.  I will let everyone know if Dr. Meyer will be a guest on a future program.  Discussing the Mars exploration program with the director of the program would be a fascinating and very interesting Space Show program so I will pursue it. 

As the show was ending, more was said about planetary defense and life detection instrumentation and experiments for the Mars exploration programs.  Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this program.  You can reach Barry through me or his website, www.buckingham.ac.uk/latest-news/publication-of-the-week-barry-digregorio-et-al.  

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