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Guest: Dr. Nathalie Cabrol; Topics: The Carl Sagan Center, SETI, astrobiology, Mars, ET searches, high lakes in the Andes as Mars analogs, humans on Mars, and a lot 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 Dr. Nathalie Cabrol to the show for a 1 hour 40 minute two segment riveting astrobiology, Mars, searching for life off Earth and much more discussion. We started our discussion by asking Dr. Cabrol about SETI and in particular, The Carl Sagan Center since she is the director of the Center. Dr. Cabrol spent a significant amount of time in the first segment talking about the multi-functions of SETI and the Carl Sagan Center (As you will hear, SETI does far more than search for ET). Our guest described in detail the three components of their program so listen to all of what our guest talked about. It was new and certainly a learning experience for me so perhaps it will be the same for you. This was a detailed discussion about the full range of the SETI Institute activities so don't miss it.
In addition to talking about SETI and the Carl Sagan Center, we talked about the work conducted by our guest in the field of astrobiology, specifically the high altitude lakes in the Andes. I asked her why this area was a good analog for Mars and suggested that since this region had O2, gravity, and other supporting infrastructure for life and Mars did not in its early days or now, it might be a stretch to use it as a Mars analog. Don't miss what Dr. Cabrol said in her reply to me. She took issue with many of my assumptions and explained in details why this region in the Andes was a good Mars analog, especially for the early history period on Mars. This was a terrific discussion you do not want to miss. Also, it was a huge eye opener for me.
Another first segment topic was searching for life on Mars. Dr. Cabrol said that so far only the Viking 1&2 missions searched for life on Mars. All subsequent Mars missions have not been life detection missions. Dr. Cabrol had much to say about this and the Viking findings. When asked by a listener if the current Mars mission InSight was a life detection mission, she said it was not. The upcoming Mars missions, Mars 2020 and ExoMars will be looking for complex organic molecules and life detection evidence. Next, the topic moved to lakes in the high Andes and why were they applicable to Mars now or in the early days of Mars. The answer rested in the description given us of the early Mars environment with lots of volcanoes and thermal systems. Dr. Cabrol talked about biodiversity, UV radiation, DNA issues and more. During this part of the discussion, our guest described the "shuttle biosphere theory."
Before the first segment ended, Carl in Denver asked our guest about living on Titan given his hearing about this from another listener who has been contacting TSS over the past few weeks supporting Titan as the place for humans to go to for settlement and such. Don't miss what Nathalie had to say about Titan as a place for humans to live and settle. If that were to happen, it would be a long way off in the future requiring currently unknown human adaptation mitigation strategies. In addition, getting to Titan would require significantly different transportation than we have now or in the near future.
In the second segment, I asked our guest about her developing exploration strategies for different locations in the solar system including Mars, Titan, and the Outer Solar System icy moons. I wanted to know if the strategies for the different places had similarities or were they unique for each destination. Don't miss what our guest said in reply to my question. Here we talked about extremophiles, habitable zones, mineralogy, essential discovery and learning robotic missions and biosignatures. Our guest broke it all down to a main question with subparts to the question. Listen carefully to her description and explanation of the main question. What do you think? Make sure to let us know by posting your thoughts on our blog.
Later in this segment, Beverly in Salt Lake City asked if a human crew on Mars for a few weeks could do the work necessary to answer the live detection questions whereas it might take many additional robotic missions at very high costs over a long period of time to get the same or similar information. Don't miss what Dr. Cabrol said about humans to Mars, the mission costs, the time that would be spent on Mars, the issues involved, and the need to undertake AI and robotic precursor missions before the humans arrived. Our guest did answer Beverly's question but only as part of a detailed and comprehensive discussion of humans on Mars. As part of this discussion, we talked about Mars tourism, Mars settlement, planetary protection, human cross contamination, Mars sample return missions and should we bring Martian material directly back to Earth or not (hint: our guest preferred labs on Mars, in orbit or on the Moon)
As we were nearing the end, a listener asked if the Moon was interesting for astrobiology purposes. Our guest said yes and had much to say about the role the Moon could and should play. Don't miss this discussion. It was a good and important one. Before the show ended, a Boston listener asked if radio and optical searches were really a good way to search for ET. Our guest said this would be a good lead in to an additional show but she did say SETI was looking at broadening how it searches for ET. Again, don't miss what she said in response to this question and yes, Nathalie will be back on a future Space Show program.
Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog for this show. You can reach our guest through me or her SETI Institute scientist page.