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  • -= Mercurious Chat =- (hubbard2006 Chat Log)During this online chat, 314 questions were asked by 22 schools. There were 31 adults and 72 students involved in this chat.

    Hosted by Scott Hubbard of SETI Institute

    Elizabeth Schmeisser - Moderator at Space Explorers, Inc. from De Pere, Wisconsin comments:
    Room opened by Moderator on 12/13/06 at 12:32.

    Elizabeth Schmeisser - Moderator at Space Explorers, Inc. from De Pere, Wisconsin comments:
    Space Explorers would like to welcome Scott Hubbard as our host today. All of your questions will be viewed by a moderator. We will try to get through as many questions as possible during the chat period. Ask away!

    Gater - Guest Student at Great Meadows Regional from Great Meadows, New Jersey asks:
    Did you study space when you were little? (Matthew)

    I read books by scientists such as George Gamow and Fred Hoyle when I was as young as 10 or 11 years old.

    Heidi Sutter - Teacher at Chistochina Elementary School from Gakona, Alaska asks:
    What evidence do you look for when searching for life and signs of life in space?

    This is a great question and a hard question. We begin by looking for a "habitable environment" which has the right temperature for liquid water.

    Gater - Guest Student at Great Meadows Regional from Great Meadows, New Jersey asks:
    What did you do before you worked for NASA? (Tim)

    I was a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National laboratory and the manager of a small high-tech startup company. I also was a consultant for Stanfor Research Institute for a while.

    Patricia Novy - Teacher at St. Francis Xavier School from Merrill, Wisconsin asks:
    What planet in our solar system do you think is most likely to have life?

    Mars first, followed by the putative Europa ocean under the ice

    Ben - Student at Estherville Lincoln Central from Estherville, Iowa asks:
    do you think there is life in space, if so do you think they are inteligint enough to communicate with us

    There is almost surely life elsewhere in the Universe. Whether other civilizations arose is a matter of speculation, but our SETI group is listenting.

    Taylor - Student at Estherville Lincoln Central from Estherville, Iowa asks:
    are we going to send a man to mars within 20 years?

    It is a matter of cost, technology readiness, biomedical solutions to micrograv and radiation and mostly political will. I would say the time horizon is more like 30 years.

    Gater - Guest Student at Great Meadows Regional from Great Meadows, New Jersey asks:
    Is it hard to design a robot that goes to other planets? (Gage Colucci)

    Spce exploration is a "one strike and you are out" effort. The engineers must be very rigorous and careful, but it can be done!

    Linda Colman - Chat Guest at Cuero High School from Cuero, Texas asks:
    Is there evidence that we have been contacted by extraterrestrials?

    There is no solid evidence of that.

    Gater - Guest Student at Great Meadows Regional from Great Meadows, New Jersey asks:
    What are you proudest of making? (Juliana)

    All of these large scale efforts are team efforts. However, the accomplishment which has thus far stood the "test of time" is my role in successfully restructuring the Mars Program.

    Gater - Guest Student at Great Meadows Regional from Great Meadows, New Jersey asks:
    What is your favorite planet? (Nicholas)

    Earth! That's where we live and we need to take care of it.

    Ashley Atkinson - Chat Guest at D.C. Everest Junior High from Weston, WI asks:
    What type of rockets would be best to use for a trip to Mars? (Ryan)

    Right now we have mostly chemical propulsion with a small capability in solar-electric propulsion. I would like to see more work on a nuclear-electric drive.

    Jake - Student at Estherville Lincoln Central from Estherville, Iowa asks:
    What do you think about Pluto not being a planet anymore. By Jake and Jeffrey

    This is an academic exercise in semantics. Pluto should have been "grandfathered in".

    Heidi Sutter - Teacher at Chistochina Elementary School from Gakona, Alaska asks:
    What kind of robots does SETI use? (Coleen)

    None - the radio astronomy scientists only use big antennas to listen.

    Jake - Student at Estherville Lincoln Central from Estherville, Iowa asks:
    Do you like the idea of a space station on the moon. By Jake and Jeff

    A lunar base is valuable if it can be used as a stepping stone to exploring Mars.

    Patricia Novy - Teacher at St. Francis Xavier School from Merrill, Wisconsin asks:
    What planets do you think have life?

    There may be life under the surface of Mars where liquid water almost certainly exists.

    Patricia Novy - Teacher at St. Francis Xavier School from Merrill, Wisconsin asks:
    What tools do you use in your search?

    We ues ground based exploration in ares called "mars analogues", as well as airborne observatories and of course space borne satellites and robots.

    Taylor - Student at Estherville Lincoln Central from Estherville, Iowa asks:
    how would a solar powered rocket work? would it have enough power?

    Solar powe can be used to create an ion drive. It is very low thrust but continuous. Useful for sending small spacecraft to very distant objects.

    Taylor - Student at Estherville Lincoln Central from Estherville, Iowa asks:
    do you think life on pluto is possible?

    No - too cold

    Ashley Atkinson - Chat Guest at D.C. Everest Junior High from Weston, WI asks:
    Do you think that Mars will become a vacation spot in the future?

    In about 50 years it will be (at our current rate of exploration).

    Jake - Student at Estherville Lincoln Central from Estherville, Iowa asks:
    How do we have more gravity than other planets.

    Newton (and Einstein) showed mass creates gravitational attraction. Massive planets have higher gravity and so on.

    Gater - Guest Student at Great Meadows Regional from Great Meadows, New Jersey asks:
    Is there life on Venus?(Tim)

    Probably not - at surface temperatures of 700 deg., it is way too hot.

    Ashley Atkinson - Chat Guest at D.C. Everest Junior High from Weston, WI asks:
    If you were to get to Mars, what would be the first thing you would research?

    I would dig under the surface at some spot we have identified as having liquid water today.

    Patricia Novy - Teacher at St. Francis Xavier School from Merrill, Wisconsin asks:
    Is your job fun? What do you like best about it?

    Yes! Finding out things no one has known before. Discovery is a lot of fun.

    Taylor - Student at Estherville Lincoln Central from Estherville, Iowa asks:
    why doesn't SETI use robots like a rover?

    The SETI radio astronomy search is only listening, but our Sagan Center Scientists participate in NASA's missions which do use rovers.

    Patrice Lee - Teacher at Tanana Junior High School from Fairbanks, Alaska asks:
    how did you become interested in extrsterestrial life studies?

    By reading both science and science fiction when I was very young (9-10 years old) and I was about 9 when Sputnik was launched. This had a powerful effect on the whole country.

    Jake - Student at Estherville Lincoln Central from Estherville, Iowa asks:
    If you could live on another planet, which would it be?

    Probably Mars

    Patrice Lee - Teacher at Tanana Junior High School from Fairbanks, Alaska asks:
    do you like your job

    Yes I do!

    Taylor - Student at Estherville Lincoln Central from Estherville, Iowa asks:
    have you ever been on the discovery channel?

    I have been a part of a number of Discovery channel programs. the last one was probably a piece about the Columbia disaster.

    Taylor - Student at Estherville Lincoln Central from Estherville, Iowa asks:
    im looking to become a NASA engineer. how should i go about it.

    A good place to start is by working in the summer or during the year as a student with either a NASA Center or an aerospace firm like Lockheed or Boeing. Find out if there is one of these near you and then ask about student internships or summer programs.

    Taylor - Student at Estherville Lincoln Central from Estherville, Iowa asks:
    could you walk on satern's rings?

    Nope - they are scattered pieces of rocks and dust

    Gater - Guest Student at Great Meadows Regional from Great Meadows, New Jersey asks:
    Do you think there are lifeforms in other planets? [Jesse ]

    We don't have direct evidence, but microbial life may have evolved on Mars and if Europa has an ocean under the ice, life could be there as well.

    Patrice Lee - Teacher at Tanana Junior High School from Fairbanks, Alaska asks:
    How long have you had your job?

    I've been in the space related research and development area for more tha 30 years.

    Heidi Sutter - Teacher at Chistochina Elementary School from Gakona, Alaska asks:
    What is the best thing you have ever discovered?

    I think the finding of both ancient and modern water on Mars is the discovery which I find most satisfying.

    Patrice Lee - Teacher at Tanana Junior High School from Fairbanks, Alaska asks:
    Are the parachutes for the rovers, when landing, difficult to make

    Yes - parachute design is a tricky business. The Mars parachutes had to open at supersonic speeds and that is very difficult to test on Earth.

    Heidi Sutter - Teacher at Chistochina Elementary School from Gakona, Alaska asks:
    WHat is Europa?

    A moon of Jupiter

    Patrice Lee - Teacher at Tanana Junior High School from Fairbanks, Alaska asks:
    what is the columbia disaster?

    The loss of the Shuttle Columbia and 7 astronauts on Feb. 1st 2003.

    Ashley Atkinson - Chat Guest at D.C. Everest Junior High from Weston, WI asks:
    how much fuel would you need to go from earth to mars and back?

    Depends on the size of your spacecraft. Look up the "rocket equation"

    Patricia Novy - Teacher at St. Francis Xavier School from Merrill, Wisconsin asks:
    How do you know it it's life when you see it?

    Great question. There is no agreed upon definition of life. There are about 8 or 9 attributes of living systems that most biologists use (reproduces, responds to stimuli, evolves, etc.)

    Ben - Student at Estherville Lincoln Central from Estherville, Iowa asks:
    did you see the rocket launch on saturday

    Nope, but I have seen others and they are always impressive

    Ashley Atkinson - Chat Guest at D.C. Everest Junior High from Weston, WI asks:
    since you can recycle water on a space shuttle, how much water would you really need to bring? (Anna)

    This is a huge part of the challenge of human exploration beyond low earth orbit. the fact is that today we do not have a truly closed cycle life support system for air and water. If you can invent one that would be great.

    M-dawg - Chat Guest at dceverest jh from krony, wi asks:
    Where did you grow up?

    In a very small town in Kentucky

    Taylor - Chat Guest at DC Everest Jr. High from Weston, Wisconsin asks:
    Would landing in the South Pole Aitken be a resonable place for a stepping stone to Mars.(Taylor)

    Looks like on of the best choices - maybe near Shackleton crater

    Heidi Sutter - Teacher at Chistochina Elementary School from Gakona, Alaska asks:
    How many years before we can explore Pluto?

    The New Horizons mission will be there in about 12 years.

    Tracy Robinson - Teacher at Lake Placid Middle School from Sebring, Florida asks:
    Do you feel that aliens portrayed in science-fiction movies are anything like what might actually be found on other planets?

    Unlikely - the most likely first discovery will be a microbe or bacteria

    Patrice Lee - Teacher at Tanana Junior High School from Fairbanks, Alaska asks:
    Do you think there are fossils of life on mars? (Jeremy)

    Possibly, but we have learned that we need to understand Mars as a system and the location of liquid water habitats first.

    Taylor - Student at Estherville Lincoln Central from Estherville, Iowa asks:
    do you think there is life in the ice caps of mars?

    Life as we know it cannot metabolize (live off of) ice. So any life forms are probably under the ice or in fissures where the ice melts

    Patrice Lee - Teacher at Tanana Junior High School from Fairbanks, Alaska asks:
    By landing the Rovers on Mars do you think that we could be able to land on other planets in the future? (Juan)

    Yes - we might land on again on Saturn's moon Titan, or maybe Venus and possible Jupiter's moon Europa

    Michael - Chat Guest at D.C.Everest from , asks:
    Are astronauts training right now to go to Mars?

    No - the current astronaut traing is primarily to go on the Shuttle to finish the Space station

    Marcia Egeland - Chat Guest at Corpus Christi School from Sturgeon Bay, WI asks:
    How many home computer users are currently linked up with the SETI at home project? Could you explain that project, please?

    SETI at home is a UC Berkeley project. Suggest you Google on their website.

    Jack - Chat Guest at from , Texas asks:
    Is it possible to drink the water on Mars?

    Any water we find on ther planets would have to be purified by distillation, filtration or some similar technique.

    Patrice Lee - Teacher at Tanana Junior High School from Fairbanks, Alaska asks:
    What's the hardest the hardest part of the robot to build? (Steven)

    The most challenging part of a robotic space system which goes to the surface of another planet is the atmospheric entry, descent and landing system.

    Linda Colman - Chat Guest at Cuero High School from Cuero, Texas asks:
    Do you think that all life forms encountered will be carbon-based?

    It is the best assumption to begin with. Silicon does not allow for nearly as many chemical bonds as carbon and the silicates are all very high temperature compounds.

    JESSE - Chat Guest at STEVENS POINT UNIVERSITY from STEVENS POINT, WI asks:
    What was the number one robot mallfuction of the mission?

    which mission?

    Gater - Guest Student at Great Meadows Regional from Great Meadows, New Jersey asks:
    What do you think extraterrestrials look like? (Theo)

    The most likely is a bacteria or microbe

    Tracy Robinson - Teacher at Lake Placid Middle School from Sebring, Florida asks:
    Do you think there is an end to the universe? - Iley

    The question of a bounded or unbounded Universe is a hot topic on cosmology. The current data on dark matter suggests a Universe which will expand forever, but the jury is still out

    Heidi Sutter - Teacher at Chistochina Elementary School from Gakona, Alaska asks:
    Have crystals been discovered on mars?

    Yes, in the rock samples we see crystallized minerals

    Tracy Robinson - Teacher at Lake Placid Middle School from Sebring, Florida asks:
    Do you think there is any validity to the flying saucers that people claim to see? - Ivan

    None that I know of.

    Heidi Sutter - Teacher at Chistochina Elementary School from Gakona, Alaska asks:
    What would be the most challenging thing about sending people to Mars?

    The main issues with people are biomedical and life support. We need to counteract the effe cts of long exposure to weightlessness and radiation. In addition we need a truly closed life support sustem so we don't have to carry as many supplies.

    Ashley Atkinson - Chat Guest at D.C. Everest Junior High from Weston, WI asks:
    did the columbia crash affect the design of your mars shuttle?

    Yes. The replacement for the shuttle will do two things: separate crew and cargo into two different vehicles and NASA will also put the crew vehicle on the top of the rocket - not the side.

    Jenny - Chat Guest at D.C.Everest from Schofield, WI asks:
    Who was the person who decided that Pluto was not a Pluto anymore?

    It was the International Astronomical Union (many scientists voted)

    Heidi Sutter - Teacher at Chistochina Elementary School from Gakona, Alaska asks:
    Why does Saturn have a ring around it? (Coeleen)

    Bits of rock, ice and dust left over from the formation of the solar system are trapped by Saturn's gravity

    Tracy Robinson - Teacher at Lake Placid Middle School from Sebring, Florida asks:
    What do you see the future of space exploration going? = Iley and Haley

    There will be much more private space exploration like SpaceShip One and Bigelow's inflatable habitats.

    Elizabeth Schmeisser - Moderator at Space Explorers, Inc. from De Pere, Wisconsin comments:
    The chat room will be closing in approximately five minutes. At this time, we would like to thank everyone for joining us for this special event. We would especially like to thank Scott Hubbard for hosting our chat today.

    Jake - Student at Estherville Lincoln Central from Estherville, Iowa asks:
    How do feel about living on the moon. By Jake and Jeff

    It has value, but only as a stepping stone to Mars - in my view

    Jack - Chat Guest at from , Texas asks:
    Thank You!

    You are welcome!

    Patrice Lee - Teacher at Tanana Junior High School from Fairbanks, Alaska asks:
    How many missions have you helped out with? (Matt)

    perhaps 10 or so

    Tracy Robinson - Teacher at Lake Placid Middle School from Sebring, Florida asks:
    If the Big Bang Theory is true, do you think the opposite could happen? - Kevin

    There is a theory of an oscillating universe, but it is not in favor at this time

    Heidi Sutter - Teacher at Chistochina Elementary School from Gakona, Alaska asks:
    Thank you for your time. It was great chatting with you.

    It was fun! Goodbye for now and Happy Holdays!

    Elizabeth Schmeisser - Moderator at Space Explorers, Inc. from De Pere, Wisconsin comments:
    Please join us again on Wednesday, January 31, 2007, for a chat with Michael "Rich" Clifford, a former NASA astronaut. During this chat, you will have an opportunity to discuss spaceflight.

    Elizabeth Schmeisser - Moderator at Space Explorers, Inc. from De Pere, Wisconsin comments:
    12/13/2006 1:41:38 PM - Room closed by Moderator. Thank you for your participation.

     
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