Curiosity rover selfie at Mont Mercou

Starts With A Bang Podcast #93 – Mars from the ground (Big Think)

One of the most exciting possibilities for life beyond Earth doesn’t require us going very far. While Mercury and the Moon have no atmosphere and Venus is an inferno-esque hellscape, Mars offers a tantalizing possibility for a new line of life, independent of Earth, here in our Solar System. With the same raw ingredients and more than a billion years of a watery, wet past, Mars could have had, or might even still have today, some form of life on its surface.

Part of the reason Mars is so exciting for us is that we’ve been there: at least, robotically, with a series of orbiters, landers, and even rovers. We’ve seen and learned so much about the red planet, including some tantalizing hints of what might be biological activity. But there’s so much more to learn, and we’re reaching the limits of what we can accomplish without having human beings walk on the Martian surface.

On this episode of the Starts With A Bang podcast, we’re joined by Mars expert Dr. Tanya Harrison, who’s worked on three generations of Mars Rovers and is a strong advocate for a variety of future missions to Mars. Join us for this fascinating conversation where she lays out what we know, what remains uncertain, and what we’ll need to do if we want to take those next, critical steps. (And, as a bonus, she corrects one or two of my misconceptions along the way!)

Read more: Starts With A Bang Podcast #93 – Mars from the ground by Ethan Siegel

One thought on “Starts With A Bang Podcast #93 – Mars from the ground (Big Think)

  1. Tanya – I tried to send an email to you about your podcast with Ethan. I was hoping he would ask if you ever wanted to visit Mars someday. You are young enough and now (I think) recovered from your back problem. So, would you like to actually visit Mars sometime in your life and why/why not? I just watched a couple of your video interviews. You are really a very good communicator. You think and then say things in full sentences which many can’t do. Kudos to you for that. In your speaking about your career, we have two areas of intersection: 1) I have had bad lower back problems most of my life but with surgeries and epidurals I’ve been able to function Ok and 2) I wrote the code for the (now declassified) Air Force Satellites that controlled the when to take a photo with input from weather, location and different Govt. agencies priorities. Is your Fellow at the Outer Space Institute give you solid income from which you can carry forward your work? If not, why not work on planning the missions to Mars for SpaceX in either Hawthorne or Florida (I live in Boca Raton and love living here and the weather! I hope your successful career continues! I was really upset to hear about your significant harassment problem in your Dark Days. I hate to hear that ever happening. i wished who ever it was could have learned to help you succeed without penetrating your private life – especially if you told him you didn’t want that. I have managed many women and have always tired to help them be successful and only asked how I could assist. I recall I had a very capable EA and worked to get her promoted into a product management position with almost double her pay. Good luck to you! Gerry

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