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Guest: Dr. Chris Impey; Topics: Humanity in space, humans to Mars, exoplanets, life detection, scarce resources, advanced life likely very rare, Starship, Musk and NASA variations on the Mars mission and more.
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We welcomed Dr. Chris Impey, the University Distinguished Professor of Astronomy from the University of Arizona in Tucson back to the show. We started with his interview on the Humanity in Deep Space Flash Class titled "Possible Futures of Human Space Exploration." You can find this YouTube video at www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&index=1&list=PLtjQFXd6YYj-j2zbWqeIj-wII_T2XIk8g&v=vNCer6Nxrlc. Please watch this video because what Dr. Impey talked about during the interview was covered during the first part of this Space Show interview. In talking to Chris about the interview, I asked about his commentary about realistic timelines for humans to Mars. In addition, we talked about the Musk timeline humans to Mars and the seemingly disconnect between a NASA timeline and a Musk/SpaceX timeline for getting people to Mars. Listen to how Chris explained this timeline variation.
As a way of summarizing this program, once again I believe it is best to zero in on the many topics discussed as represented by the tags. For your convenience, I am copying the tags here:
Tags: Dr. Chris Impey, Humanity in Deep Space Flash Class, Possible Futures of Human Space Exploration, long term Mars missions, Martian moons for Mars exploration, selling the Mars vision, the Musk Mars vision, Starship, Musk depends on fleet of Starships, NASA timeline to Mars, China and Mars, no humans to Mars perspective, Moon treaty, naysayer movement, space mining, long timeline, NASA DART Mission, questioning of scarce Earth resources, market risk, space mining needs infrastructure, light pollution from satellite constellations, space debris concerns, first humans to Mars by end of decade, conducting astronomy from Mars, lunar astronomy, exoplanets, bio signatures, JWST & Hubble for exoplanets, terrestrial telescopes, adaptive optics, terrestrial telescope mirror construction, mirror technology, insufficient information for life determination with exoplanets, challenges to image an exoplanet, how is space exploration helping humanity, off Earth manufacturing, robotics, AI, space elevator, lunar elevator, more planets than stars, 400 billion planets, timeline for exoplanet life detection, intelligence and very advanced life is likely rare.
In addition to talking about timelines for humans to Mars by either Musk or NASA, much was talked about regarding the essential role of Starship, the Moons of Mars for Mars exploration, and Musk timelines versus NASA timelines for humans to Mars. In addition, I thought the commentary contrasting the Musk Mars vision with the NASA Mars mission was most interesting.
Another part of the discussion I appreciated was the exoplanet portion of the program and the search for life or biosignatures. You don't want to miss it. One more part that I found most interesting was the discussion on ground based telescope and space telescope mirror technology with Chris explaining the two different types of mirror technology and manufacturing. Also included in this portion of our program was a bit about today's adaptive optics which enable ground based telescopes to often be better and sharper than the big space telescopes. Chris also went over the large ground based telescope locations explaining the attributes for each location.
As for the exoplanet discussion, our guest did say there were more exoplanets than stars, estimating 400 billion planets in our solar system. When he was asked about detecting the bio or life signatures, he was also asked if any these ground based telescopes or the space scopes could actually image an exoplanet. No for now was the answer and confirmation of an exoplanet remains done through the detection methods such as transit that we have talked about on many shows. The timeline for improvements in this area is likely long, probably longer out than ten years.
Please post your comments/questions for Dr. Impey on our blog for this program. You can reach our guest through me or his University of Arizona faculty page.