archiv~1.txt: Re: SETI Highlights from the Space 2000 Symposium

Re: SETI Highlights from the Space 2000 Symposium
Thu, 25 Mar 1999 18:39:50 -0600 (EST)

hrm. didn't they do this in the movie total recall? ;).

On Thu, 25 Mar 1999, Larry Klaes wrote:

> By Alan Boyle
> March 24, 1999 — Scientists have turned carbon
> dioxide into oxygen in a simulated Martian
> atmosphere, NASA’s chief reported at
> Wednesday’s “Space 2000” symposium. The
> technique could represent one small step
> toward eventual human missions to the Red
> Planet.
> DURING A WIDE-RANGING talk on the future of
> space exploration, NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin
> referred to an experiment in which scientists processed a
> mixture of gases mirroring the composition of Mars’
> atmosphere, which is 95 percent carbon dioxide.
> “Out of that atmosphere, we built oxygen out of the
> carbon dioxide,” Goldin said.
> Using robots to convert Martian materials into air,
> water and fuel plays a major part in the planning for human
> missions to Mars. Scientists hope to demonstrate techniques
> for in-situ production of rocket propellant during a Mars
> mission to be launched in 2001.
> Eventually, mission planners hope robots will be able to
> convert Mars’ atmosphere, rock and soil into resources to
> be stockpiled for use by human visitors — not only to
> survive on Mars, but also to get back to Earth.
> Goldin did not elaborate on the oxygen-production
> experiment, but said further details would be provided
> Thursday.
> 1999/headln-022499.html
> Making the leap beyond Earth emerged as a major
> theme for Wednesday’s all-day symposium at American
> University in Washington, which was aired by NASA and
> broadcast over the Internet by MSNBC. Conference
> organizer Richard Berendzen, an American University
> professor and consultant to NASA, said the “Space 2000”
> Web site recorded more than 1.5 million hits in the weeks
> leading up to the event.
> The list of speakers included students and scientists as
> well as “Star Trek: Voyager” actor Robert Picardo and Bill
> Nye (“the Science Guy”).
> What do you think
> about the idea of
> settling other worlds?
> * 245 responses
> It's pure science fiction.
> 1%
> We need to solve the
> problems on our own
> world first.
> 12%
> It's a necessity.
> 82%
> None of the above
> (share your view on the
> Space News BBS).
> 5%
> Survey results tallied
> every
> 60 seconds. Live Votes
> reflect respondents'
> views
> and are not scientifically
> valid surveys.
> Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin discussed his ShareSpace
> venture, which would set up a lottery to put ordinary people
> on space vehicles. Astronaut Franklin Chang-Diaz outlined
> his concept for using plasma propulsion to send humans to
> Mars. Donna Shirley, former manager of the Mars
> Exploration Program, gave a boost to the Mars Millennium
> Project — which is enlisting students to create plans for a
> human settlement on Mars in 2030.
> Several panelists portrayed interplanetary travel as a
> long-term insurance policy for humanity — a way to avoid
> having all of the species’ eggs in one planetary basket.
> “Once every hundred million years, we face the
> possibility of a significant impact from an asteroid or a
> comet” that could lead to a mass extinction, observed Jill
> Tarter, senior program scientist for the SETI Institute.
> “Suppose that humankind had more than one home —
> that we used more than one body in our solar system for
> habitation,” she said. “That would allow humanity a species
> to survive.”
> NASA engineer Homer Hickam, whose autobiography
> was turned into the recently released movie “October Sky,”
> said a deep impact was not the only threat.
> “It doesn’t have to be from the outside,” he said.
> “We’re quite capable of creating calamity by ourselves.”
> Tarter said the colonization team wouldn’t have to be
> large: “You could get by with as few as 16 individuals ...
> with very strict breeding rules about who can breed with whom.”
> Goldin begged the audience’s indulgence for
> Wednesday’s flights of fancy: “Let yourself float a little bit.”
> He said that humans would work in concert with
> “robotic colonies” to explore other worlds. He sketched out
> an ambitious decade’s worth of robotic missions:
> An airplane flight over Mars in 2003; a landing on the Saturnian
> moon Titan in 2004; the arrival of an orbiter at Europa, a
> moon of Jupiter, in 2006; the return of samples from Mars
> in 2007; and the launch of a space observatory in 2008 that
> could observe planets circling distant stars.
> He said humans could journey to other worlds via
> “total-immersion virtual presence” — using near-real-time
> video links and simulators to reproduce a rover trip over
> the Moon or an underwater ride through Europa’s depths.
> And he pointed out that space exploration was likely to
> yield valuable spinoffs in robotics, medicine, materials
> science, power and propulsion, and information technology.
> The symposium was dedicated to the late astronomer
> Carl Sagan, author of “Cosmos” — and panelists freely
> delved into the cosmic questions that Sagan loved:
> For example, Tarter acknowledged that the decades-long
> search for extraterrestrial intelligence, a quest in which she
> has played a prominent role, could come to the ultimate
> conclusion that humans were indeed the Universe’s only
> intelligent species.
> “Practically, pragmatically, there might come a time
> when we look around and say, ‘Well, it’s just us, and we’d
> better do a better job with what we’ve got at hand — that
> is, our planet, our solar system, our resources.’”
> But others doubted that the quest would end that way.
> “I don’t think we’re ever going to give up looking,”
> Hickam said. “It’s too much fun to look, for one thing.”