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Guest: Dr. Pascal Lee; Topics: Pascal addressed many issues and concerns about searching for life on Mars, Mars being too toxic for long stays/settlement, searching for life in caves, challenges re the lunar south pole, the Drake equation, finding extant life, Roswell, sleep ships for interstellar flight, using TORPOR to learn to hibernate, and more.
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We welcomed Dr. Pascal Lee back to The Space Show for a wide-ranging life on Mars, returning to the Moon and lots more discussion that is a must for you to hear. First, Dr. Lee talked about many topics and some of the discussion was technical while some parts of his comment might be argumentative to some of you who will disagree with a few of his conclusions. While following the Tags will certainly be a good guide for you with this show (the Tags are repeated below for your convenience), also note Pascal's program talking points and suggested topics which he has allowed me to paste into this summary.
Tags: Dr. Pascal Lee, The Mars Institute, life on Mars, searching for life in the solar system, amino acids and life, left handed vs. right handed amino acids, looking for alien life, Mars life might be Earth life, genetics and the Earth genetic tree, ground ice, liquid water, extremophiles on Earth, underground best for Mars life searches, plasma drilling, sparks and CO2, Mars caves are best for life searches, lava tubes, volcanos, gravity issues, concerns over no tectonics, extant life, Musk multi-planetary vision, toxicity of living on Mars, Mars is deadly, Pascal's glacier discovery on Mars, The Mars Relict Glacier, radiation on Mars, Mars temperatures, the Martian temperate zones, robotics to find Mars landing sites, Moon before Mars, SLS for Mars over Starship, lunar south pole too challenging, water ice may not be economic resource, lunar basis with MOBILIT System, listener SLS concerns, nuclear power, thorium, Falcon Heavy, interstellar hibernation flights, TORPOR, multiple decades of flight, Pascal's dog, Pascal's Roswell theory, Pascal and are we alone in the universe, radar as a search tool compared to optic and other methods), so will the talking points and the possible list of discussion topics that Pascal prepared for this program. With his permission, I have copied and pasted these topics and points below to assist you as you listen to this almost two-hour interview.
Pascal's Talking Points and Topics for Consideration:
Exploring Caves on Mars Should Be Our Top Priority In the Search for Life,
& the Moon Should Be Used to Prepare Us For That.
Where Humans Should Land on Mars
Recent discovery of Mars Relict Glacier
Thoughts on Artemis
It would be wiser and far more strategic for humans not to go to the Lunar South Pole before we learn A LOT more, via robots, about where the ice is in this region, and how much water could really be economically extracted.
We should set up a base in a far more benign, exploration-friendly, site than at the poles: ex: Clavius, Philolaus.
NASA's robotic missions to the moon should be entirely focused on surveying the South (and North) Polar regions,.
Hibernation for Interplanetary and Interstellar Travel: Lessons from the Arctic.
Ancient People of the Arctic used to go into hibernative state called "torpor" to survive long Arctic winters.
It would be wise to relearn this technique and train astronauts to enter into "torpor" as a contingency on
long interplanetary voyages.
Arctic Ground Squirrels are Masters at Torpor.
N~1: Alone In The Milky Way
While there is likely plenty of life in the Milky Way, even possibly within our solar system, we are mostly likely alone as an advanced
civilization in our galaxy. That's just how the math comes out when pragmatic values for the various terms of the Drake Equation are
applied. Although we might be alone in the Milky Way, even if there were on average only 1 or so advanced civilization per galaxy,
we would still be in good company in the broader universe. But the implication of N~1 is that SETI searches should focus on extra
galactic surveys in order to have better odds.
We were most fortunate that Pascal prepared the above points and certainly appreciate his giving me permission to make it a part of the discussion.
Rather than summarize what already has been posted via the tags and Pascal's list, I would like to highlight a few of the points and topics that stood out for me. First, I was surprised by the strength of Pascal's statements and arguments about the toxicity and hostility of attempting to live on Mars and that he did not think it would be a settlement location for those reasons. He was asked several questions about this and from talking to listeners after the program ended, I learned that many disagreed given they thought technology would become available to address the challenges he called out and identified. You decide. Post what you think about this issue on our blog.
I was also jolted when Pascal talked about SLS being better suited for going to Mars than Starship. Once again, Pascal offered his full explanation for this perspective and once again many listeners said "no way." Listen to Pascal make the argument in favor of SLS to Mars over Starship, then again, post your comment on the blog and tells us why you agree or disagree with him. The third comment that caught my attention dealt with going to the Lunar South Pole to have water ice for fuel and habitats. He suggested it would be way too challenging, the water ice to the fuel was still untested and at least for the near term, it would be more economic to bring water and fuel from Earth given the decreasing launch costs. After the discussion, I became aware of the recent paper talking about how economic it would be to make fuel on Moon at the south pole which was the focus of a paper on the topic by Dr. Phil Metzger. Phil will soon be invited back to The Space Show to discuss the paper but see the blog post for this show by Fremont John and a preview of the paper which he linked to as he has the paper on his own blog. Clearly Pascal likes to fly against the grain from time to time with development and time being the judges as to who was right sometime off in the future. Hopefully not too far off in the future.
As this was a nearly two hour discussion, lots more was mentioned, discussed and hashed out than what appears in this summary. Thus, listen carefully to all of the show. For those of you going to ISDC 2023 in Dallas-Frisco, Pascal will be there so go meet him and ask him questions or offer him your commentary. ISDC has lots of networking opportunities so I suggest making Pascal a priority assignment.
Please post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog for this program. You can reach Dr. Lee through me here at TSS and through Pascal's Mars Institute site. And of course at ISDC 2023.