Broadcast 2629

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Guest:  Dr. William (Bill) Farrand; Topics:  Mars rovers, remote sensing, mission instrument design & 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,   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  For those listening to archives using and rating the programs, please email me as to why you assign a specific rating to the show. This will help me bring better programming to the audience. 

We welcomed back to the show Dr. William (Bill) Farrand to discuss the Mars rovers, particularly Spirit and Opportunity which landed on Mars 12 years ago this month.  In the first segment of our 1 hour 29 minute show, Dr. Farrand, a member of the Spirt/Opportunity team, updated us on the latest info coming back from Opportunity and he again told us what happened to Spirit to cause it to cease operating.  Opportunity is very exciting and to see it still working 12 years later when it had an original life expectancy of about six months is quite amazing.  We talked about the Opportunity team, the new information coming back from the rover, the science being done & the discoveries made by these two rovers over the past dozen years.  Our guest took some questions about the move The Martian.  While liking the movie, he said that the Martian landscape and terrain were not very realistic nor was the Pathfinder landing site.  Later in the program, he was asked about Martian dust storms and he explained why the dust storm in the movie's opening scene was inaccurate.  Don't miss his comments.  Karen asked our guest to list off some of the top Opportunity discoveries which Dr. Farrand did do.  He was asked about Opportunity detecting signs of past life but said no because it was not designed to identify organic materials.  In his response, he focused on the upcoming Mars 2020 mission which would be better designed for organic and other life detection type experiments.  As part of this discussion, Charlie in Atlanta asked what life detection instruments on a robotic space mission would consist of & wondered why such instruments were not on other Mars rovers. 

Before the segment ended, another series of questions fielded by our guest dealt with comparing Mars geology to Earth geology.  Dr. Farrand talked about similarities between Mars and Earth geology but he also identified differences in rocks & geologic features.  One of the major differences focused on the absence of tectonic plates and movements on Mars which are largely responsible for earthquakes here on the home planet.  He talked about Mars faults and mars quakes but its nothing like what happens on Earth.  Volcanic issues between Earth & Mars were also discussed with comparisons made between the two planets.

In the second segment, BJohn asked about mission instrument selection differences based upon destinations such as our Moon, Mars, Martian moons, or an icy moon of Jupiter.  Luis from Venezuela wanted our guest to compare Martian exploration by virtual reality as compared to astronauts on the ground.  Bill was then asked to update us on Curiosity, address Martian remote sensing from orbit, then a listener asked him to describe his perfect science mission.  Don't miss what he said about his concept of a perfect mission.

Later, he was asked about his work in hyperspectral imaging and remote sensing.  Our guest defined hyperspectral remote sensing plus he talked about spectrometry in general and specifically for Mars, especially on the different Mars rovers.  Randy sent in a note asking him about both Martian and lunar settlement, then it was Jane who brought up the question about the Martian dust storms given the opening scenes in the move The Martian.  Dr. Farrand went into detail to tell us about Martian dust storms and why the scene in the movie was a big error.

Mars 2020 came up again but this time he talked about spectrometry plans for the rover.  As the program was ending, I asked if the Opportunity team was planning a 12th year birthday party for the rover.  He said they had a celebration at the ten year point and would probably have another at the 15 year point assuming the rover continues to work and operate.  Note that it has lost some instrumentation over the years but as pointed out earlier, it still sends good science information back to Earth.

Please post your comments/questions on the comments section for this archived show on TSS website as that is our new blog.




Mars rover updates and more

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22 Jan 2016 Dr. William Farrand
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