Jun 6, 2020

From Ferdinand Magellan’s voyage to the first mission to Mars

Posted by in categories: alien life, chemistry, geopolitics, habitats, physics, robotics/AI, sustainability, treaties

Pleased to have been the guest on this most recent episode of Javier Ideami’s Beyond podcast. We discuss everything from #spaceexploration to #astrobiology!

In this episode, we travel from Ferdinand Magellan’s voyage to the first mission to Mars with Bruce Dorminey. Bruce is a science journalist and author who primarily covers aerospace, astronomy and astrophysics. He is a regular contributor to Astronomy magazine and since 2012, he has written a regular tech column for Forbes magazine. He is also a correspondent for Renewable Energy World. Writer of “Distant Wanderers: The Search for Planets Beyond the Solar System”, he was a 1998 winner in the Royal Aeronautical Society’s Aerospace Journalist of the Year Awards (AJOYA) as well as a founding team member of the NASA Astrobiology Institute’s Science Communication Focus Group.

Bruce web:
Distant Wanderers Book:
Renewable Energy World:
Bruce’s Twitter:

Podcast website:
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Full episodes playlist:

01:21 — Magellan’s journey to the indies; first circumnavigation of the earth — Risk: today vs previous centuries.
02:15 — On route to the Spice Islands — Moluccas — Treaty of Tordesillas.
03:07 — Spain and Portugal on top of the world.
03:41 — Reaching philippines and the wrong side of things.
05:20 — Killed in the Philippines.
06:08 — The reasons behind the expedition: trade and religion.
07:23 — Casualties — Magellan’s expedition vs today.
07:58 — Early astronauts, challenging missions — minimal computing power.
08:40 — Mission to Mars and tolerance to risk today.
10:03 — First Mars mission attempt — the odds.
10:37 — Watching the Apollo launches live.
11:23 — The uniqueness of the moment — Apollo 8.
12:12 — Putting risk in perspective: astronauts of the Apollo program vs today.
13:05 — Psychological risks of space missions — Harrison Hagan “Jack” Schmitt (last person that walked on the moon) — the impact of being on the moon.
15:54 — Psychological factors on a trip to Mars — can we predict them? — Experiences on the International Space Station.
17:03 — Shortening the trip to Mars.
19:02 — The drive to do these missions today vs the Apollo times.
20:00 — The lost time in the moon — natural resources, astronomy, practicing for future missions to mars.
20:37 — Terraforming Mars
22:33 — Second homes, platforms in space (example: at Lagrange points).
23:43 — Exoplanets — detecting signs of life.
26:18 — Methods of detection & verification vs going there (detecting microbial life through analysis of color, surface reflectivity and other means)
27:50 — Enceladus: plumes of gas and liquid — potential insitu analysis by probes.
28:43 — microfossils on Mars.
29:00 — Impact of finding life in another planet of our solar system, even if microbial.
29:54 — Intelligent life — David Kipping, Columbia University — 3:2 odds that intelligence is rare.
30:31 — Probability of finding life — 400 billion stars in our galaxy.
33:24 — Facing the discovery of new forms of intelligent life.
35:50 — People’s resilience and attention spans / Inter-species communication.
38:26 — Could we miss new kinds of lifeforms due to them having different structures, chemical arrangements, etc?
40:30 — What is life — lack of agreement.
41:48 — Scratching the surface on any topic — a neverending search for an ultimate truth.
43:50 — ALH 84001 Allan Hills meteorite
47:26 — Asteroid mining — natural resources — Planetary Resources startup (acquired by ConsenSys).
48:52 — Commercializing space travel — trips to go around the moon — translunar flights.
51:22 — Progress since the Apollo era and next steps.
52:55 — Spending a weekend on the moon.
54:00 — Next decade in Space — putting a crew on mars, robotic sample return missions, permanent or semi-permanet settlements on the lunar surface, optical and radio-based astronomy on the far side of the moon, space tourism, space based interferometers, etc
56:22 — will other intelligent life forms want to communicate? gregarious vs non-gregarious civilizations.
57:35 — Consequences of the pandemic.
59:06 — conclusion — “Distant Wanderers — search for planets beyond the solar system”

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