Planetary Radio • Sep 29, 2021

Mars Beckons: The 2021 Humans to Mars Summit

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On This Episode

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Masaki Fujimoto

Deputy Director General of JAXA's Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS)

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Jim Garvin

Chief Scientist for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

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Janet Ivey

President at Explore Mars, CEO of Janet's Planet

Betts bruce headshot 9980 print

Bruce Betts

Chief Scientist / LightSail Program Manager for The Planetary Society

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Mat Kaplan

Planetary Radio Host and Producer for The Planetary Society

Also in this episode:

  • Hessa Al Matroushi, science lead of the Emirates Mars Mission, UAE Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre
  • Greg Chavers, NASA acting deputy administrator for Systems Engineering and Integration in the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate
  • Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division
  • Kathryn Lueders, associate NASA administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate
  • Kavya Manyapu, NASA Flight Systems Operations and Training in the Extravehicular Activity branch
  • David Parker, European Space Agency director of human and robotic exploration
  • Aaron Shepard, electrical and robotics engineer and science communicator
  • Hiroshi Sasaki, Japanese Space Agency vice president and director general for the Human Spaceflight Technology Directorate
  • Sanjay Vijendran, European Space Agency Mars strategy team leaders and future Mars studies coordinator
  • Steve Shereman, chief imagination officer for Living Maths in South Africa
  • Hunter Stanchak, founder and lead developer of Colonize Mars, a blockchain-based game about development of a colony on Mars

Mars all-stars gathered online for September’s annual Humans to Mars summit produced by Explore Mars. Planetary Radio host Mat Kaplan moderated three intriguing panels with participants including leaders from space agencies throughout the world. Then we hear about the 19th century’s biggest telescope in this week’s What’s Up segment with Bruce Betts.

Humans to Mars Summit 2021
Humans to Mars Summit 2021 Poster for the 2021 Humans to Mars Summit.

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Trivia Contest

This Week’s Question:

What moon of a planet has an orbital period closest to 24 hours or one Earth day (sidereal period).

This Week’s Prize:

A safe and sane Planetary Society Kick Asteroid r-r-r-rubber asteroid.

To submit your answer:

Complete the contest entry form at https://www.planetary.org/radiocontest or write to us at [email protected] no later than Wednesday, October 6 at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

Last week's question:

What currently functioning Mars orbiter has the longest orbital period?

Winner:

The winner will be revealed next week.

Question from the Sept. 15, 2021 space trivia contest:

By primary mirror diameter, what was the largest telescope in the 19th century?

Answer:

By primary mirror diameter, the largest telescope in the 19th century was the Leviathan of Parsontown in Ireland, a 72-inch reflector.

Transcript

Mat Kaplan: Mars beckons at the 2021 Humans To Mars Summit. This week on Planetary Radio.

Mat Kaplan: Welcome, I'm Mat Kaplan with The Planetary Society with more of the human adventure across our solar system and beyond. A pandemic couldn't keep Explore mars from once again producing a wonderful gathering of would be martians. I was honored to moderate three panel discussions at this year's summit. You'll hear highlights and moments, including contributions from outstanding representatives at the space agencies of Europe, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States, as we push toward the red planet. A very fun visit with Planetary Society chief scientist Bruce Betts is in store.

Mat Kaplan: I'll get to space headlines in a moment, but I also want to let you know about a terrific opportunity. Our friends at the US Space and Rocket Center outside Huntsville, Alabama, are looking for a few good space nerds, the kind who want to share the PB&J, the passion, beauty and joy of science, with young people. They are hiring counselors for space camp. You don't need a lot of space experience of knowledge, but love of science is probably a must. Anyone 19 or older can be considered. You don't even have to live nearby, the center offers free room and board on a first come first serve basis to some lucky counselors. Training for new counselors is included. I don't have time to share all the great perks, but you can learn more and apply at rocketcenter.com/careers. We'll put that link on this week's show page of course. Heck, I'd apply if I didn't have this pesky show to do.

Mat Kaplan: Now those headlines, drawn from the September 24 edition of The Downlink, the free weekly newsletter from The Planetary Society. Not only will there soon be a VIPER on the moon, but we know where it will be. NASA has chosen Nobel Crater near the lunar South Pole for the Volatile's Investigating Polar Exploration Rover. It's a cute little fellow, especially with its mast mounted headlight, VIPER is slated for launch next year.

Mat Kaplan: Three Chinese astronauts are back on Earth after 90 days aboard that nation's new space station, the next crew may be announced soon. You're about to hear NASA's Lori Glaze mention the ongoing success of the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars. The tiny whirlybird has completed 13 flights, but the change of seasons may make its next forays more difficult. Fly on, little robot. You can always find and subscribe to The Downlink at planetary.org/downlink.

Mat Kaplan: I am so grateful to explore Mars. They keep inviting me back to the Humans To Mars Summit, where I can happily lose myself among scientists, engineers, writers, policy makers and others who keep their sights on the red planet. This year's three day summit had to remain virtual for the usual reason. Explore Mars hopes that the next summit in May of 2022 will finally let us all gather in Washington DC again. In the meantime, you can watch streaming video of this year's sessions including my three. We've got the direct link on this week's episode page of planetary.org/radio, but you can also get there from exploremars.org.

Mat Kaplan: I'll start today's collection of highlights with the panel that has become the traditional close for H2M, we call it Why Mars? It's a chance for an amazing chance of collection of martians to tell us why they do what they do and why they want to see boots on the red planet. I'll give you the line up now so that I can stay out of the way as you listen. We'll begin with Jim Garvin, chief scientist at NASA's fabled Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. Greg Chavers is NASA's acting Deputy Associate Administrator for Systems Engineering and Integration in what used to be the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Director, stay tuned. Kavya Manyapu is with NASA's flight systems operations and training in the Extra Vehicular Activity branch. She is also an adjunct professor at the University of North Dakota, teaching in the Space Studies department and works on space suit technologies. Educator Steve Shereman is the Chief Imagination Officer for Living Maths. As you'll hear, he joined us from his native South Africa. Hunter Stanchak is the founder and leader developer of Colonize Mars, a blockchain based gamed that tells the story of a simulated colony on the red planet. And Aaron Shepard is an electrical and robots engineer, also a science communicator in South Carolina. We'll close with my co-moderator, Janet Ivey of Janet's Planet, educator and the president of Explore Mars. Jim Garvin?

Jim Garvin: Thanks Matt and Janet. And well, welcome to Mars. I want to start with asking the question differently, and I would say it's why Mars now? Because we're in the midst of an absolute revolution in understanding our brotherly planet. In fact, it's nearly the perfect storm in the sense of going somewhere really cool to go to Mars. The scientific exploration of this world over the past 25 years has opened that frontier. We're moving, driving, flying, drilling, sampling, measuring Mars right now as we speak with robots like Perseverance, our partner at Ingenuity giving us drone scapes of this fabulous world, tools that will allow us to ask questions about seriously whether the bio signatures that could tell us about ancient Mars that may or not have been alive are possible there. This is the Mars we've now invented, thanks to masterpieces of engineering. And that frontier 25 years ago was much murkier, but today, thanks to digital exploration, engineering by these robotic emissaries, the Mars we see is even better than we dared hoped. There's even an under-Mars, where part of the planet which we don't see is likely to contain records of ancient ices and other things.

Jim Garvin: So I submit to you, the why Mars is because science and engineering have given us the tools to make Mars ours. And for us as people, as explorers, changing that digital exploration pathway from that which we live now with cycles of command loops to that which we will live today with ourselves there, that's the opportunity we have. I say, Mars here we come.

Mat Kaplan: That was perfect, what a great kickoff for the first of our presentations today. Thanks for bringing us the science and what's behind it. We're going to go on now to, well NASA headquarters basically. Greg Chavers is going to pick up with our second presentation, answering that overarching question. Greg, it's all yours.

Greg Chavers: All right, thank you. Yeah, a lot of people ask, "Why do we need to send humans to Mars? Why can't we use robots to learn everything we need to learn at Mars?" Well, thanks to our successful fleet of robotic missions, we've made important new discoveries about Mars, but human explorers have the benefit of intuition, rapid decision making, and dexterity that are unmatched by robots. Astronauts don't need a common loop cycle to complete tasks. Our human curiosity drives new discovery. The most advanced robots cannot replace human understanding and emotion behind new discoveries, not just the facts, but the cumulative meaning of those discoveries. Humans are intuitive and they're able to make rapid decisions as they take in new information. We can improvise when things don't go as planned. For example, if there are adjustments or physical alignments needed in our robotics or instrumentation, an astronaut can do that real time. What can take years for a robot to accomplish on Mars could take hours for a human to accomplish, and the solar system is full of exciting destinations. But aside from Earth, Mars is the closest to being habitable. It's got day/night cycles similar to Earth, it's got seasons, it's got similar terrain to Earth's deserts and mountains and cliffs and valleys and dunes, and it has abundant natural resources that can be used, such as oxygen from ice or carbon dioxide, water, minerals and sunlight.

Greg Chavers: So one of NASA's longterm goals is to expand human presence into the solar system. And sending humans to Mars is the natural next step for that, and we will use the moon to help us get there. And this is America's Moon to Mars exploration approach.

Mat Kaplan: Thank you Greg, that was great. Boy, that brings up so many questions. Let's go on now to our third presenter, Kavya.

Kavya Manyapu: Thank you, Matt and Janet, it's pleasure to be here. Why Mars? I would actually like to start off with my observations of the world in the last 18 months. Why does it have to take tragedy for us to solve a problem? Why does it have to take tragedy to address human survival? And why does it have to take tragedy for us to come together and help us transcend our boundaries? Let me pause there for a moment for that question to sink in. Why Mars? Mars, because of its rich destination for scientific discovery, a driver for technological advancement, and a platform to really push our understanding of what we are capable of accomplishing together. Why Mars? Mars because it would mean to really understand human survival, to sustain human life on another planet, and not just to survive, but to thrive. Why Mars? Mars because it would mean to develop life support technologies that have to work independently of the resources from Earth, which really in turn would help us solve some of the most pressing problems on Earth for the survival of our species. Why Mars? Because to expand human consciousness that is in each of us from mere personal identity to a global or even a cosmic identity that is naturally inclusive.

Kavya Manyapu: And finally, why Mars? And Mars because it would really take more than just one person, one community, one agency or one nation to make it happen. It would really force us to see beyond our differences, working towards a common goal of making us a multi-planetary species. And really, I cannot think of any other greater goal that can really help us evolve as humans than making humans a multi-planetary species. And if we really need to move that needle in this direction, then let's not think of the limitations of being human, but rather focus on the immense possibilities of being a human and Mars really provides us that frontier. And that's why Mars.

Mat Kaplan: That's a lovely message, thank you so much Kavya. I am hearing so many good reasons for why Mars. Let's go on now to where it is just coming into springtime I believe. Steve Shereman down in South Africa, why Mars?

Steve Shereman: Why Mars? Well, thank you Janet and Matt for this wonderful opportunity to speak to people who are passionate about [inaudible 00:11:55]. First of all, as educators, we teach our children to think critically, to problem solve, to think outside of the box and to innovate. We teach them about the environment, we teach them about caring for others and protecting our future. They learn about technology and how to improve their lives using this technology. What is the point of preparing our students for a future if we have no intention of building one? The exploration of Mars, among many other endeavors like medical advancements, environmental solutions, economic improvements and social equality, et cetera, is an opportunity to put these skills into practical use to build a better future for all. And Nelson Mandela said it best, "It always seems impossible until it is done."

Steve Shereman: Now, if you take the last couple of months, if these are anything to go by, and that includes tonight with the Inspiration4 Mission, we will see far more civilian astro-explorers stepping up to the plate. So when I tell students that they could become an astronaut in the future, it is no longer about motivating them, it's actually about probability. And not only that, who would have thought that space travel could become a mainstream activity? So why not look towards traveling towards Mars?

Steve Shereman: And finally, I bring astronauts and space scientists out to South Africa to give students access to them. I want them to be exposed to role players in the space industry, and I do this in the hope that some of these students will become role players themselves. I do this because I would love us as a species to push the boundaries of exploration and Mars is one of those milestones.

Mat Kaplan: Thank you very much, Steve. And some of you may have caught Steve's live contribution to H2M earlier today as he did exactly what he was telling us about just now, making a space expert, one of our speakers, available to those students. It is an important message building that future. Let's go on now to Hunter Stanchak, who well we had a little preview of some of the images that you're about to see, let's see if they knock your socks off as they have mine.

Hunter Stanchak: Yeah, thank you everyone for having me be a part of this conversation, I'm super excited to be here. But I believe Mars is going to be possibly the most important undertaking of our lifetime because it's going to help us answer fundamental scientific questions, it's going to help satisfy our innate human desire for progress, and sort of like what Steve was eluding to, it's going to really inspire younger generations to explore science and space. So for me personally, the prospect of becoming a space faring multi-planetary civilization is a great reason to get up in the morning. But I do believe that a crucial factor in achieving this is that we really need more people to feel this way. I believe millions more, in fact, really need to be interested in going to Mars. It needs to become culturally relevant and a shared dream amongst people, because human will and imagination are immensely powerful forces and when people are inspired, they can be galvanized to act and accomplish really amazing things.

Hunter Stanchak: So at Colonize Mars, our vision is to catalyze the will of humanity to become multi-planetary. And we're doing this through the powerful medium of story. Colonize Mars is the blockchain based simulation game that will allow players to participate in growing a small Mars base into a self-sustaining city. And players will start by collecting digital trading cars, which represent vehicles, equipment, buildings and astronauts are useful on Mars. Here's a few examples. And all of our work is designed and drawn by our team. The cards are non-fungible tokens, which means they're each unique and tied to the blockchain so players have true ownership of their digital card collections.

Hunter Stanchak: Each player's trading cards come to life through game play, which takes play on our website via an interactive 3D map. And players can use their cards to help maintain items within the Mars base to help organize expeditions outside the base and also eventually construct new buildings and equipment of their own. And the base will continue to expand over time, and our goal is to use the latest aerospace technology to inform mission payloads and objectives so that players are educated on the real science needed to create a self-sustaining civilization on Mars.

Hunter Stanchak: So what we're effectively doing is getting people to apply their intelligence and creativity to actual challenges of establishing a city on Mars via gameplay. And we chose the medium of gaming because we understand how many people are in the space and also how powerful it can be. And also, sometimes that life really imitates art and that can push us all forward. For instance, in 1992, a novelist Neal Stephenson he wrote the book called Snow Crash. And in it, humans as avatars interact with each other and software agents in a virtual reality 3D environment. And he coined the name of the space the metaverse. Well recently, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook has begun building the metaverse for real. So sometimes a compelling story can be the vehicle for new realities. And interactive stories like the one that were building, we believe have the power to inspire millions of people and focus their will on making something like a mission like Mars a reality.

Mat Kaplan: Thank you, Hunter. Game on. I love those images on the cards. I want those as posters in my home office. Aaron Shepard, engineer, science communicator, it's your turn.

Aaron Shepard: Okay, yes. So like it's been stated, I am an engineer, and that is about half of my personality. And that half of my personality is very analytical, I want numbers, I want data. So I'm going to give you some data right now that really I think will bring the point home. There was a study done by Nature magazine, I can't remember the exact year, it may have been 2011, but in that study they noted that half of the scientists that published in Nature ever cite the moon landing as the single event that inspired them to go into science. Think about that, half of the research that was published in Nature, research that has improved a lot of our lives, research that has directly saved people's lives, was inspired by the moon landing, a major event in space.

Aaron Shepard: When you think about that, Mars is the next step, and it is the next generation. It is how many people will be inspired, not just to go into space but to go into science, go into technology, to use their collective brain power to solve hard problems because they're seeing a live example of it now. I think that that will continue to improve lives and I can't even imagine to think how many lives that will save in the future. It's frustrating because a lot of times we're so stuck on what's going on here on Earth, but we don't see ahead and we don't see how space influences us and space inspires us. Now, that's the engineer half of me.

Aaron Shepard: Now, there is the communicator half of me who is the human, the artist, if I could draw better I'd probably be an artist too, but I've got software so I can do it in CAD instead. And in that half, I think about just the fact that exploration, and kind of science me is popping out again, but it is encoded in our DNA, that is how we survive, that is how we evolved. We did not stay in one place, we went from place to place, we learned, we shared, we grew. And so when we look at Mars, the desire to travel there, the desire to be there, that is essentially who we are. And traveling to Mars enables us to be more fully human than we could ever possibly be.

Aaron Shepard: I grew up a big fan of space flight my entire life. For the longest time I'd never really, space was just this thing that I saw on TV, and I was like, "Oh wow, that was cool." But the moment, the moment that it became real to me was actually a few years ago. I was at Humans To Mars in 2018 and I was at an event and somehow, some way I'm sitting next to Buzz Aldrin. And I am looking at this guy three feet from me and I can look in this man's eyes, and I can see the fact that he went to the moon and back, I can hear him talk about it. The story all of a sudden goes from being this grainy footage that I used to see on TV in class to being real. And that is so inspiring and so powerful. And so I think when we go to Mars, it's not just about going to Mars, but it's about going to Mars, being able to bring people back who can tell the story, who can personify it, who can make it real for the rest of us. Because when we see that, that again, we are humans and we are built to connect in that way. So in short, going to Mars allows us to be more human than we've ever been before.

Mat Kaplan: Thank you very much, Aaron. Hey, the TED Talks people were on the phone, they want to talk. Janet, it's your turn to tell us as president of Explore Mars and a lifelong enthusiast, why Mars?

Janet Ivey: Thank you to all of you, you've touched on hints of things that I think and believe are true. I'm going to build on what Aaron ended with, it's like I've said for a long time as a lover of both art and science that we must make it our mission to honor creative thought as the birthplace of every scientific advancement and endeavor that has ever been or ever will be, because in and through art and science are sewn the threads of understanding, exhibition, exposition and innovation. And we must never forsake that discovery potential that is indelible when we give art and wonder and exploration a chance to do its most profound and scientific good. My why Mars is this, because I believe in tame human. Each of us a thermodynamic miracle related to Earth chemically, each other biologically, and the universe atomically. We are ferociously cosmic, and we were designed to seek, to know and to push the boundaries of our scientific and technical limits, and then push further.

Janet Ivey: If indeed space is a team sport, as my friend Naeem Altaf of IBM said earlier today, then as access to space increases for us all, then what we innovate to thrive on Mars will thusly create extraordinary benefits for life and sustainability here on Earth and elsewhere. And that's when we begin to truly engage in this collective endeavor with that overview perspective that there is no great divide in the family of humanity. Then we will be a multi-planetary species, then we will all have learned how to be the best of crew mates on this moat of dust suspended in a sunbeam and on Mars. And I live with this expectation of seeing my students living this in full reality and that's my why Mars.

Mat Kaplan: Explore Mars president Janet Ivey closing out our sampling of the Why Mars panel at the 2021 Humans To mars Summit. While many of us look forward to those human boots on Mars, it will remain a planet of robots for at least another decade. And that was the title of another of my panels at the summit, Planet of Robots: Recent Milestones and Discoveries on Mars. I was joined by yet another impressive group of explores, beginning with Lori Glaze, the director of NASA's Planetary Science division. Following Lori was Sanjay Vijendran, Mars strategy team leader and future Mars Studies coordinator for the European Space Agency. Maskai Fujimoto is Deputy Director General of the Japanese Space Agency's Institute of Space and Astronautical Science. And Hessa Al Matroushi is science lead for Hope, the Emirates Mars Mission out of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Center in the UAE. Here's Lori Glaze.

Lori Glaze: Thank you so much, Mat. I'm just very briefly going to speak a little bit about the robotic exploration of Mars over about the last 20 years, which has really been very focused and strategic, beginning with a strategy of following the water, meaning looking for places on Mars where we believe water may have been present in the past, with the idea that every place we find life on Earth we find water. That was the original strategy 20 years ago, really trying to look fro those environments. And then once really multiple times confirming the presence of water in the past, beginning to explore the habitability of Mars with missions like the Curiosity Rover. And then now beyond that, taking the next steps, which means actually seeking those signs of life, which is part of the strategy that's driving some of the current missions that are at or are being planned for visiting Mars. And I just want to point out how wonderful it is to have such an international collection of exploration missions at Mars. In addition to the NASA missions you can see on this chart missions from the Indian Space Research Organization, missions from the European Space Agency. We now have UAE joining with Hope and China joining with Tiangong-1, and then looking forward just to 2024 with the MMX mission from JAXA, which I'm sure we'll hear more about several of these missions today and then also Mars Sample Return in the future.

Lori Glaze: I thought I'd give you a very quick update on what's happening with the Perseverance Rover, our current, most recent robot on the surface of Mars, for NASA anyway. We just last week reported successful collection of the first two samples on Mars. This turned out to be more challenging than we had expected, but we frequently meet with challenges. Our first attempt into a rock which actually was, it fell apart, it wasn't as strong of a rock as we had thought it might be, so for our second attempt, you can see on the right, we chose a rock that was large and blocky and angular and really appeared to be a hard volcanic rock. You can see on the top right where we did abrasion to check on the surface to really see what the composition is inside this rock with several of our instruments. And then on the bottom right you can see the drill hole from the first sample and confirmation of that rock inside the tube on the bottom right.

Lori Glaze: Of course the companion that flew to Mars with Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover was the Ingenuity helicopter, and what an exciting experiment this has turned out to be as a technology demonstration. Successfully completed its first five flights, one of those successful flights where it traversed away from its starting point and then came back, comes back into the field of view from Perseverance Rover. This little helicopter is not transitioned into a operations demonstration phase where it's supporting Perseverance and it's now completed 13 successful flights.

Lori Glaze: Next slide please. And then of course thinking ahead to the next big thing for Mars. With those first two samples, we now have the first two of those potential candidate samples that will return back to Earth with the Mars Samples Return campaign, one of the most aggressive and challenging things we've ever attempted. This is a partnership with European Space Agency. You can see on the far left the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover, which is now already on the surface and beginning its collection of samples. You can then see the next column going up is the Earth Return Orbiter, provided by ESA, which I'm sure we're hear more about, followed be the Sample Retrieval Lander, which NASA launched to send to the surface a Mars ascent vehicle and a fetch rover that will then launch those samples collected be Perseverance into orbit to be collected by that Earth Return Orbiter and return back to Earth for analysis.

Mat Kaplan: Very exciting times, thank you Lori. Especially exciting for all of us martians out here who are enjoying this [inaudible 00:28:08]. I look forward to talking more about what's happening with this stuff. Finally sample returns from Mars are well underway. Sanjay, we are ready to hear from you.

Sanjay Vijendran: Thank you, Mat. Thank you for the opportunity to tell you a little bit about the recent discoveries of the ESA missions at Mars right now and a bit about our planning for future robotic missions. So ESA's Mars Exploration Program to date has been very much driven by our interest in Europe to search for life on Mars, as it is for many other agencies interested in exploring Mars. So our first mission launched in 2003, Mars Express, which is still operating now in orbit around Mars almost 20 years later. It was sent to look for water, so where water might exist in the subsurface of Mars and to understand the surface and how it's been changed over time, all driven by the interest to understand the prospect for past or even present life. Some major discoveries have been glacial landforms and even a potential subsurface lake buried deep beneath the surface of Mars. And then the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, which was launched in 2016 and is currently in orbit around Mars, that has been searching for life through signatures of methane. This was an interesting tantalizing discovery that Mars Express appeared to have made, which prompted the interest to send another orbiter looking specifically for methane. And one of the surprising findings has been from TGO that there is no signature of methane as far as it can measure, even with the high accuracy instruments it has on board.

Sanjay Vijendran: So that's one of the exciting things that we always encounter when we do exploration is we go expecting to find something and then we find something else. And then it's a big mystery about where this methane has gone because there's indications from other missions on the surface that there's methane being produced at the surface, but it's not there in orbit.

Sanjay Vijendran: Another major discovery is about the possible subsurface ice getting close to the equator. So we've known for a long time from previous missions that exists near the poles on the surface and even below the surface of Mars, but TGO has been finding indications of subsurface ice near the surface, much closer to the equator than previously thought. TGO has made such a map of the possible subsurface ice on Mars at a higher resolution than previous missions. What's really interesting about the TGO measurements because of its higher sensitivities, it's discovered potential oases of ice even at the equator, which is unexpected because we don't expect to see subsurface ice existing so close to the surface. So it's not everywhere by any means, but they are locations which appear to have high concentrations of ice, which for this group at this meeting is something of strong interest because that could support human exploration in the future.

Sanjay Vijendran: In terms of upcoming science at Mars, we're looking very much forward to our first mission to directly search for past of present life in the deep subsurface of Mars with the ExoMars Rosalind Franklin Rover, which is being prepared for launch in September 2022 and it will arrive in early 2023 and be able to drill down up to two meters deep in the subsurface of Mars, deeper than any previous mission has drilled before. So this mission is going to be directly looked for for life and we are looking to seeing what exciting discoveries it makes.

Sanjay Vijendran: Mars Sample Return you've heard about from Lori, a key collaboration with NASA and ESA is a major partner contributing the Earth Return Orbiter that will return the samples back to Earth from Mars orbit, as well as the Sample Fetch Rover that will travel on the surface and pick up sample tubes and return it back to the lander. We also have a third smaller contribution of the Sample Transfer Arm, which we be able to move tubes from the rover onto the lander. So that's a very exciting program in full development and we look forward to the launch of those missions later this decade.

Sanjay Vijendran: Looking forward into the future, ESA's right now undertaking an internal strategy development exercise for its entire exploration program, all three destinations, but in terms of Mars strategy we're looking now at what we will do in the next decade post ExoMars, so in the 2030s up to the beginning of human exploration. So what are the precursor missions we need to do with robots in order to fully prepare ourselves to send humans officially and safely to Mars. So that's something that's ongoing now, but we can already see that there are some key areas of interest for Europe topics like climate resources where that is [inaudible 00:32:52] where the ice is on the surface, comms and navigation providing the communications and navigation capabilities that are needed, as well as further astrobiology after ExoMars to follow up any discoveries that are made there. Finally, we want to participate in that human journey together with our international partners to send humans to Mars, hopefully by 2040 we hope one day we'll see a scene just like this exploring the red planet. Thank you.

Mat Kaplan: That is a great image to end on since our target is those boots on Mars, Sanjay, thank you very much. I love that program title as well, [TerraNova 00:33:33]. Masaki, I think we're ready to go onto your presentation.

Masaki Fujimoto: I'd like to start with the Hayabusa2, touch down and sampling from two spots on the surface of Ryugu. It has brought samples back to Earth. The landing spot was in Woomera Australia, and we have to perform the sample capture recovery operation under COVID-19, which was not easy, and I really like to thank Australian Space Agency for their great support that enabled us to perform the recovery operation very successful. So we had a beautiful fireball running across the sky above Woomera, and the next slide shows the safe landing and rather smooth spotting of the landing area. We managed to recover the capsule rather quickly. And when we brought it back to Japan into our creation facility and when we opened up the capsule, what Hayabusa2 did at Ryugu was a big success. It really was a big catch. These samples will be delivered to the scientists all over the world so that we can understand the origin of water on Earth. And the question is, does this big success lead to another sample return mission from small body? The answer is yes, we are preparing MMX for a sample return mission and we are moving full steam towards its launch in 2024.

Masaki Fujimoto: In the samples that we will collect from the surface of Phobos, it's likely that they're included martian samples in that sample. When there's an event on the surface of Mars, Phobos is orbiting so close to the planet so that there's a good chance that the debris will be [inaudible 00:35:13] on the surface of Phobos. They will be inside the samples we will be collecting from Phobos. So that means that MMX is round trip to Mars martian system and among the Phobos sample we're collecting, there are likely to be martian samples. So clearly, MMX has a flavor of Mars exploration and indeed we have recently published a paper describing, discussing the role MMX can play in the new era of martian exploration that Perseverance is opening up. So please welcome us, JAXA, to the martian exploration club.

Mat Kaplan: And thank you very much Masaki, and congratulations once again on the success of Hayabusa2, it has also been wonderful to see the collaboration that has taken place between all of you at JAXA and the OSIRIS-REx team, which is bringing its samples back right now. It's extremely exciting stuff. Hessa, you're going to take the final position here, we're ready for your presentation.

Hessa Al Matroushi: Thank you for having me here. I'm so excited to be here to share the status from the Emirates Mars Mission. This is a status update on Hope Probe, we've launched last year amid the pandemic in the summer of July '20, 2021, and we had our launch from Japan. We've gone into seven months journey and arrived to March in February 9th, 2021. We began our science phase end of may in May 23rd, 2021 after checking the instruments and calibrating it as well. And we're looking for a science mission for one martian year in order to understand the different seasons of Mars and what happens to the atmosphere. So what science are we targeting at Mars? We're there to study the martian atmosphere, the different layers specifically it has. So we're studying the lower atmosphere and the upper atmosphere and looking into the links in between them as well. We do have three scientific instruments, we have Emirates Exploration Imager, that takes images from the visible band and ultraviolet bands and studies the lower atmosphere. And then we have the Emirates Mars Infrared Spectrometer, EMIRS, it's studying lower atmosphere as well adjacent to EXI, with the infrared band. And then we have the Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer looking into the upper atmosphere, specifically the thermosphere layer and the exosphere.

Hessa Al Matroushi: so these instrumentation we have coordinated observation in a way that whenever we're looking at Mars we have an image for scientific data from the three instruments coordinated together as you can see in this image. And that's very useful so we can understand what's happening in the lower atmosphere and the climate and what's going on in the upper atmosphere and how we can understand the vertical task force in between them as well. Our orbit is very special, the dimension of it is 20 thousand kilometers by 43 thousand kilometers, like it's very wide [inaudible 00:38:15] no other mission had traveled to such orbit before. But it's there to enable our science, and that's how we're able to study the different layers through this orbit. And you can see through the animation as Hope is moving around the orbit. And this is what we have on the bottom, our visible imager images. We can cover Mars as a whole, we're looking into different geographical features on Mars as it's rotating, and we're looking even into the [inaudible 00:38:41] and variation. You can see how we're moving from night to day within the orbit itself.

Hessa Al Matroushi: So Hope is the only mission right now at Mars that gave us this kind of combination of global geographic coverage and local time coverage, which is very useful to try and assess the martian atmosphere and to understand its circulation and transport. We are able to measure the hydrogen corona for up to more than 20,000 kilometers. So we're able to look very far in order to understand the escape rates, specifically for hydrogen and even oxygen in the exosphere of Mars.

Hessa Al Matroushi: I would like to just conclude that we're very excited in the upcoming [inaudible 00:39:21] that we have, which is in the beginning of October. We're looking into releasing our first data from the mission itself with the whole community. It will be available free of charge in our science data center website. Everyone will be able to download the data, study it, and that will be an invitation for the whole community to join us into this exploration.

Mat Kaplan: Hessa Al Matroushi of the Emirates Mars Mission closing out the Planet of Robots panel at the 2021 Humans To Mars Summit. I'll be back in a minute with my third and final H2M panel, Artemis to Mars, an international collaboration. Bruce and What's Up are also ahead.

Bruce Betts: Hi again, everyone. It's Bruce. Many of you know that I'm the program manager for The Planetary Society's LightSail program. LightSail 2 made history with its launch and deployment in 2019 and it's still sailing. It will soon be featured in the Smithsonian's new Futures exhibition. Your support made this happen. LightSail still has much to teach us, will you help us sail on into our extended mission? Your gift will sustain daily operations and help us inform future solar sailing missions like NASA's NEA Scout. When you give today, your contribution will be matched up to 25 thousand dollars by a generous society member. Plus, when you give 100 dollars or more, we will send you the official LightSail 2 extended mission patch to wear with pride. Make your contribution to science and history at planetary.org/S-A-I-L-O-N. That's planetary.org/sailon. Thanks.

Mat Kaplan: The last of my Humans To Mars Summit sessions we'll draw highlights from was actually the lead off panel for this year's summit. As the Artemis Lunar Program goes into high gear, we wanted to shine a light on how the Artemis partners are building on the experience gained through the International Space Station to prepare for that new station called Gateway. And for putting humans back on the surface of the moon, you'll hear from David Parker, the European Space Agency's Director of Human and Robotic Exploration. Prior to this, he served as chief executive of the United Kingdom's Space Agency. Also Hiroshi Sasaki, Japanese Space Agency Vice President and Director General for the Human Space Flight Technology Directorate. Hiroshi also leads JAXA's Space Exploration Center and Space Exploration Innovation Hub Center.

Mat Kaplan: My first question though went to Katherine Leuders, who has just been named Associate Administrator for NASA's New Space Operations Mission Directorate. She had served with the same title at what was known as the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. Kathy previously managed the commercial crew program, she joined NASA nearly 30 years ago working on the shuttle program, followed by many years of support for the International Space Station. I like to think of it as perhaps the greatest international peace time collaboration among nations ever. And maybe the technological achievements of the ISS over the last 20 years are more obvious, but could you say a little bit more about how it has taught all of the agencies involved to work together to make all these different systems and components and approaches mesh>

Kathy Lueders: Yeah, people don't realize, sometimes we make it look so easy. But it took us a little while to figure out how to work together and be able to team together, and at what level we need to work together and at what level we can operate separately. You don't have to do everything together, but it's important to have these governance discussions and teaming discussions and ways that we work together and make decisions on a day-to-day basis and create the structures to be able to do that. Very, very important. We've evolved over time and the partnership has evolved over time, and how we work through those new evolutions together has been a growth experience for us. When we started the partnership 20 years ago, we didn't know then we were going to be doing commercial cargo and commercial crew vehicles to the ISS. So that was an evolution that the team had to work through together.

Kathy Lueders: And there's been many evolutions like that along the way where we've had to work together and expand how each of the countries and each of the key agencies are using their national space station, and that means that there's give and take along the way. But learning how to do that and being able to understand that we're doing it together and for the research and technology needs that we all have, has really I think been an important stepping stone for us in establishing the same processes and learning from the processes and getting ready for Gateway.

Mat Kaplan: David, Hiroshi, anything to add to that?

David Parker: I just want to confirm everything that Kathy says and say that there's a relationship at an organizational level but there are a lot of real important human relationships and connections behind the scenes. And those are often more important because it's when something goes wrong, when there's a challenge. [inaudible 00:44:55] example was there's a storm in the United States so NASA can't send its plane to go and collect an astronaut landing in Kazakhstan, can ESA help out? Yes, of course we can. You don't start writing a contract or something to discuss that first, it's how can we help each other. And of course, NASA's tremendous experience and heritage in human space flight is something that agencies like ESA, [inaudible 00:45:17] JAXA and any space agency have been able to benefit from that heritage and we've more quickly learned from the experience and not make mistakes. But I just really want to emphasize it's the human connections coming into the space station world, but particularly I came from outside the space station world, I have seen how real those people to people connections are that make it work day in and day out behind the scenes. Doesn't even make headlines, but it's really happening.

Kathy Lueders: Yeah.

Hiroshi Sasaki: I also think that there are [inaudible 00:45:51] friends of ISS, JAXA is learning similar things from the NASA. Currently, 10 years or 20 years [inaudible 00:46:01] and especially how to coordinate international collaborations or how to design the system and how to operate the [inaudible 00:46:13] system. And so we can easily talk with each other, with ISA and NASA and to develop a system or operate the system.

Mat Kaplan: Kathy, I'm going to come back to you. As it looks increasingly unlikely that the first woman and the next man are going to be walking on the moon by 2024, what is the outlook for that human return to the moon? It does look like we're seeing substantial progress, even if it may not be moving as quickly as some people might like.

Kathy Lueders: We always give ourselves big goals because I think the important thing is to show that this is something we want to do in the near term, it's not a long term goal. I think obviously we have some challenges right now because we're working through some contract award pieces, so that makes that start, we push back until we get through our contract protest pieces. I do think when we do that, the team's going to sit down with their providers and start laying out how quickly can we get there? As we've learned, when you're trying to do these really, really hard things, and it's the first time we've had a landing in a while, it'll probably take a little bit longer than we have in our initial goals that we have. I do think it was an important thing for us to have an immediate goal, but once we get through the contract award pieces, we'll figure out what we think the schedule is then and then start laying in our planning for that.

Kathy Lueders: We are working with David on flying the two assembly modules for the Gateway at the same time, so we do have kind of a group os missions that we're looking to accomplish in that '25, '26, '27 time period that will be the first landing on the moon, but will then also be our assembly missions for the Gateway. So I think there'll be enough excitement in those mid-'20s to keep people going even if we don't absolutely get boots on the moon in 2024, but we're still working on it.

Mat Kaplan: Let me follow up on that, specifically about the Gateway. Could any of you imagine taking on a project like the Gateway if we had not learned what we have with the International Space Station? David, do you want to try that first?

David Parker: Well of course the short answer is not. The very challenge of assembling all these pieces at the ISS miraculously above our heads in orbit is a totally extraordinary human feat. Not we're going to assembly, okay, a much smaller system, but a much more integrated system a thousand times further out in space and use it for 10 or 15 years or more, I'm sure, based on the trust and the heritage and the technical knowledge we've built up on the space station. And it's also been established through the different departments discussing and saying, "Well we think we could do this part, could you do that part? Now that we've started developing, doesn't it make sense if we all use these common elements maybe if it's made in the United States or Japan provides the life support systems, this makes sense, great." When we're doing the science, we're preparing the science for the Gateway now, it's a common program of science where we decide a common vision of the science, it may be one agency leads on one piece of scientific hardware and somebody else leads another one, but the planning and the science is done by international teams.

David Parker: So I think it's incredibly exciting. I keep talking about the Gateway being humanity's most distant research outpost. I compare it to that vision of the Antarctic research station. It's like an Antarctic research station, just a long, long way away.

Mat Kaplan: I also love your reference to the eighth continent, I think that's going to be a lovely way I hope that future school children will think of the moon that way. Hiroshi Sasaki, could you also talk about JAXA's contributions to the Gateway, but also the thinking that JAXA is doing about participating in humans on the moon? And in preparation for Mars, we all know that we are looking at Artemis as a stepping stone to Mars, but the moon has its own value as we've heard throughout these presentations.

Hiroshi Sasaki: Yeah, for JAXA and Japanese government also, moon is very important. Also [inaudible 00:50:44] we launched the Kaguya I presented and it searched the water ice on the moon. First of all, we'd like to search the water ice on the moon's surface, and if possible we'd like to use this water ice to the Mars missions. Science team is also very interested in moon surface, for example some people are thinking that the space observation system on the moon or they want to pick up the moon quake, system to evaluate the moon structures. So that's kind of moon science also interested from the Japanese people. And also the industries or private companies want to develop sometimes hotels and entertainment place, they want to send peoples to the moon.

Mat Kaplan: I'm glad you brought up that ice, that inciting ice that we now know exists, at least at the poles and perhaps elsewhere on the moon, because it of course brings up ISRU, institute research utilization, which David I was very interested to hear about the work that's being done by ISA. You were talking about titanium and oxygen, we all know that ISRU is something that is thought of as an essential, perhaps more for Mars than on the moon.

David Parker: Yeah, well space resource is a big topic, which deserves a session of its own, and the point I'd like to make is that before people could use space resources to support sustainable exploration, we'd have to do the science and the enabling technology first. And when you start to do the calculations of how much energy you need to extract resources in a meaningful scale and use them, it can become quite daunting. But also doing that, if you can do that it creates capabilities which are definitely needed for Mars exploration. I think that it's an important scientific and research topic, and so we have a plan that's a long term plan. And we have some countries in Europe, for example Luxembourg, that is particularly interested in this topic, and so we set up a joint peer space, a resources innovation center to really focus on science and technology. And there's some cool work going on right now, as I've already shown you, but also things that are coming along for the future.

David Parker: And so some of our moon exploration activities include, yes, taking the drill technology to develop [inaudible 00:53:33] developing an ice drill that we can take to the moon. And that's in cooperation with Roscosmos, with the Russian Space Agency the Luna 27, we'll try and get a mutual [inaudible 00:53:44]

Mat Kaplan: Kathy, I'm going to come back to you with a little bit more of a philosophical question and let you lead off. And doubt in your mind that the ultimate target remains the red planet, putting boots on Mars?

Kathy Lueders: Let me tell you, we have red planet on all of our charts, so we're aiming towards that. I think even if you look at the orbit that we have Gateway in, it's chosen in particular based on for us to go get ready and be able to have the features that we can have Gateway in to be able to have us be able to get ready for transit to Mars. I've been getting ideas for our new chart for next year that starts showing all the different things in our architecture that are there because we're getting for Mars. I always tell Thomas [Simbukan 00:54:36], I said, "I'm following you now, but at some stage we'll be helping you when we get there to be able to really be able to the science." I told him, I said, "A human would have been able to scoop up the sample and been able to put it in a container and take it back home." And so it just shows once again that having people there kind of opens up the ability to do additional science and technology work. I'm hoping one day to be there helping Thomas on the red planet.

Mat Kaplan: Eyes on the prize. And David, we'll give you the chance to give us the brief last word here.

David Parker: Thank you very much. Well, thank you for the panel discussion. I mean, yes, Mars is our horizon goal with our exploration program, absolutely. But it doesn't stop me dreaming of sending ice climbing explorers into the fissures of Enceladus in the next century, thanks.

Mat Kaplan: Talk about the ultimate prize. Highlight took my three panels of the 2021 Humans To Mars Summit. You can enjoy all of the many sessions presented in mid-September at exploremars.org. As always, I'm very grateful to Explore Mars for allowing me to contribute. The Planetary Society was once again a sponsor of H2M. Time for What's Up on Planetary Radio. Here is the Chief Scientist of The Planetary Society, that's Bruce Betts, welcome once again.

Bruce Betts: Thank you, Mat. Good to hear you.

Mat Kaplan: Yeah, good to hear and always good to see you as well, since we can see each other as we do these, thanks to the video feature of Zencastr, seriously. They ought to consider publishing these so people could watch us. Bad idea?

Bruce Betts: I think it will reduce listenership considerably.

Mat Kaplan: What if I wore a hat?

Bruce Betts: Oh, then problem solved.

Mat Kaplan: What's up?

Bruce Betts: Well, what is wonderful to look at in the night sky and doesn't require a hat, and that was forced, is Venus, low in the West, kind of low. After sunset, Venus looking super bright as it always does. The crescent moon will be hanging out with it on October 9th, and then we've got the reddish star and the brightest star in Scorpius, Antares, that will be getting closer and closer to Venus over the next few days and will hang out with the moon and Venus on October 9th, Antares being much dimmer but still a bright star and quite reddish. We've also got over in the middle of the sky over in the South in the early evening, we've got really bright Jupiter and to its right yellowish Saturn, and the moon will hang out with them on October 14th.

Mat Kaplan: I'm looking for clarification, what do you mean by the middle of the sky?

Bruce Betts: Yeah, I made that up. Well, okay do you want to know? Do you want to know why my brain just fried out?

Mat Kaplan: Yeah.

Bruce Betts: Okay. I am not as friendly in my reports as I should be, but it gets complicated for our Southern Hemisphere listeners. And so when planets are hanging out in the East or the West, basically they're in the East or the West whatever hemisphere you're in. When planets are hanging out in the middle of the sky, a term I made up, then if you're in the Northern hemisphere the planets tend to hang out in the South, and if you're in the Southern hemisphere, they tend to hang out in the North. So I usually say the South, and our Southern hemisphere listeners are smart enough to reverse that and look to the North. But I feel badly, so I resorted to just making up something on the fly. Are you glad you asked?

Mat Kaplan: I am actually, yes, because that will stay with me now and I will always know to stick to the middle ground.

Bruce Betts: Anyway, let us move on to something more concrete. This week in spae history, 1957 Sputnik 1 becomes the first satellite in orbit. A year later, not coincidentally soon after was formed NASA in October of 1958. And then much more recently in 2016, Rosetta ended its spectacular mission by setting down on Comet 67P this week in 2016.

Mat Kaplan: Just another note of clarification, Sputnik 1, not made of concrete, right?

Bruce Betts: Not to my knowledge. Did you think it was?

Mat Kaplan: You said to become more concrete.

Bruce Betts: Well, this is a classic episode.

Mat Kaplan: Another fine mess you've gotten me into.

Bruce Betts: No, that'll be the trivia contest, was Sputnik made of concrete? No, it's not, it wasn't then, let us go on to random space facts. Neptune's moon Neso is the most distant moon from its planet known. How distant is it? At its farthest from Neptune, Neso is farther from Neptune than Mercury is from the son at its farthest from the sun. It's way out there.

Mat Kaplan: That's good, thank you.

Bruce Betts: We can rebuild this. All right, let us go onto the trivia question. I asked you, I personally found this rather fascinating, what was the largest telescope by primary mirror diameter during the 19th century, so the 1800s? How'd we do Mat?

Mat Kaplan: We had not only a complete recovery, I guess everybody's back from vacation, it's way up there, a lot of people were fascinated by this question, almost everyone had the right answer. I am very proud to say, it's been over five years sine he has won because of a random .org choice, he did have a win in the middle there because of some kind of artistic or poetic contribution, but if he's correct, the winner this week is our poet laureate, Dave Fairchild in Kansas. Here's his response, "Back in the 19th century the largest telescope was built in good old Ireland, and it was really dope. Leviathan of Parsonstown is what they called this boss, and if you check the mirror, it was six feet straight across." 72 inches, yeah?

Bruce Betts: That is correct, congratulations.

Mat Kaplan: Congratulations, Dave. Great job. You have won yourself a Planetary Society kick asteroid rubber asteroid. And yeah, thanks for all the poems too. We have other stuff.

Bruce Betts: I was hoping you did.

Mat Kaplan: Here is one of the view incorrect answers, but very interesting, Perry Metzger in New Hampshire, "Andrew Common, 60 inch reflector installed at his house in Ealing England around 1890. Made the mirror himself. The mirror," according to Perry anyway, "the mirror was later used by Harvard and still later by an observatory in South Africa." So wrong Perry, but still fascinating, some good random space facts there. Michael Caspole in Germany, "The Earl of Ross, he's the one who built it, sure had a thrilling time observing not only by what he saw, but by bending over the eye piece at some 30 to 40 feet high on a gallery." Wow.

Bruce Betts: Oh, the good old days of observing.

Mat Kaplan: Yeah, you used to climb up almost to the stratosphere, right, to sit at the focus of the Palomar?

Bruce Betts: I did, I did have the amazing experience of being up there, but not for observing but for adjusting instruments at the focus and just showed the new grad student what it was like up at the prime focus stage.

Mat Kaplan: It's called hazing I think. Kent Murley in Washington, "If someone had to inherit an earldom in the land of nearly happy sheep, rolling green vistas and poets filled with Guinness, at least it was a maths honor student willing to open his pocket book to build astrogear." Yep, early hero of science I guess. "Ola Francine in Sweden loves the fact that it apparently only had on average 60 observing nights per year, but that's what you get when you built it in pretty much the rainiest place in Europe."

Bruce Betts: Yeah, oddly enough they don't built a lot of modern observatories in Ireland.

Mat Kaplan: And here's one I think you'll like. In spite of that, another one was built, it's a reconstruction of this telescope that was completed in 1999 as a millennium project and it's a tourist attraction. I'd like to see that, wouldn't you?

Bruce Betts: I would, in Birr, in Ireland.

Mat Kaplan: Yes, yes in Birr. We got quite a few poems actually, don't have time to read all of this one, but here's the closing stanza from Mark [Jaszczuk 01:03:42] I think in Queensland, Australia. "The mirror was made of speculum metal polished to a high sheen, but it tarnished rather easily so they made two to keep one clean. I really hope this is the right answer, and it wasn't all in vain, as this is my first poem and I found it quite a pain."

Bruce Betts: Indeed.

Mat Kaplan: Finally if we can squeeze it in, this one from Gene [Luen 01:04:07] in Washington. "In the middle of the Emerald Isle, land of the leprechaun, William Parsons Earl of Rosse, built the Leviathan. Two parts copper, one of tin, its mirror speculum its length was 54 feet long and weighed about 12 tons. Within Birr Castle this scope doth set, built with help from wife Mary. And though it peers deep into space, it's not far from Tipperary." It's a long way to Tipperary.

Bruce Betts: It was the largest telescope in the world from 1845 until the 100 inch was built in the mountains above Maine, Pasadena [inaudible 01:04:47].

Mat Kaplan: Yep, still up there. Still doing astronomy. Yeah, very cool place to visit if you're ever in our neck of the woods, folks. All right, what do you got for next time?

Bruce Betts: In a random connection of two facts that are truly unrelated, what moon of a planet has an orbital period closest to 24 hours? So if you look at all the moons in our solar system, what moon goes around its planet closest to one Earth day? And that's a sidereal period for those playing the home game.

Mat Kaplan: Wow, does Wikipedia have a list of all moons and their characteristics? I bet a lot of you are going to find out when you look this one up.

Bruce Betts: No one uses the web to answer these, do they?

Mat Kaplan: No, never, of course not, why would they? You have until 8:00AM Pacific on Wednesday, October 6th. Can you believe it? We're almost in the last quarter of the year. Wednesday at 8:00AM October 6th to answer this one and win yourself, yep, once again a Planetary Society kick asteroid rubber asteroid. We're done.

Bruce Betts: All right everybody, go out there, look at the night sky and think about if you had a really big telescope, what would you name it? Thank you, good night.

Mat Kaplan: I would christen it the Bruce Betts middle of the sky telescope, it's got to be better than that. No, it's got to be better than that. I'll work on it, okay?

Bruce Betts: That won't make it ... Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am.

Mat Kaplan: Stuck in the middle with the chief scientist of The Planetary Society, that's Bruce Betts. He'll join us once again next week for What's Up.

Mat Kaplan: Planetary Radio is produced by The Planetary Society in Pasadena, California, and is made possibly by its members who want to vacation on Mars someday. Make the journey with us at planetary.org/join. Mark Hilverda and Jason Davis our associate producers, Josh Doyle composed our theme, which is arranged and performed by Pieter Schlosser. Ad astra.