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Guest: Robert Walker. Topics: Planetary protection and human spaceflight to Mars. 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 show Robert Walker from the UK to address questions about human spaceflight to Mars, planetary protection, Article IX of the OST, and human contamination of Mars if life or past life is found on Mars. During the first segment of our 1 hour 48 minute discussion, Robert described the problem and he expressed his opinion that not only should humans not go to Mars if simple life, complex organics, or past life are found to be there as due to the high risk of human contamination and the damage to science. Robert spent most of our first segment going into detail about the problem, explaining why human contamination would be spread around the planet by winds & dust storms so no location would be OK for humans given the Mars life scenario. He also spent time during this segment talking about options for humans including lunar settlement and asteroids. Robert has also written extensively on this topic. You can read his material at www.science20.com/robertinventor.
Several listener questions challenged Robert given SpaceX and Elon Musk plans for HSF to Mars, the Mars One venture and even the NASA Roadmap to Mars. In addition, Robert was asked about very bright space aware professionals working for humans to go to Mars and live there including Dr. Zubrin, the Explore Mars organization, and others wanting to change our National Space Policy to focus on settlement, especially settlement on Mars. Robert talked about a disconnect with these plans and their rhetoric from the planetary protection, UN policies, and the Outer Space Treaty.
Robert took time during this segment to talk about planetary defense and the risk of an impact on Earth because he wanted to debunk the idea that we had to start a settlement on Mars to save the human species by having a backup on Mars. What do you think of what Robert had to say on this topic? Post your thoughts on TSS comments section for this show on the website as we want to know how you view these issue.
In the second segment, I asked Robert if he would approve of humans to the Martian moons, orbiting Mars in a Martian space station like vehicle, and robotic exploration of the Martian surface. Robert thought this was how Mars exploration should be carried out. Listen to what he said for these alternative exploration plans. Do you agree with him?
Also in this segment, we talked about the sterilization process and why he thought humans could not be made contamination free with current technology. He addressed the issue of space suit leakage by design as well, including the loss of some atmosphere through the airlock to Mars which might have the potential of transferring contaminants to Mars. Later in this segment, Rhonda asked about rogue nations offering to launch humans to Mars for money despite planetary protection rules and policies. In addition, Robert added science fiction to the mix because he said it had much to do with fueling the idea of humans to Mars and living there.
Before the program ended, I asked Robert about Martian settlement which he said would not happen. Don't miss his explanation for his position. As we approached the end of our discussion, Robert said we needed a dialog on these issues to sort them out. He also said it was possible for technology to change so that in the future humans might be able to go to Mars due to new scientific information or technologies. He concluded with a summary that pointed us to his website (listed above) plus he talked about the importance of collaborating with scientific discussion and that is what he said he wanted to achieve with his articles on his website.
Please post your comments/questions in the comments section of this archived program on The Space Show website. You can reach Robert Walker through the website I provided or me.