tv Future of Space Exploration CSPAN March 28, 2016 10:03am-11:31am EDT
humans to mars by 2030 and is currently mapping the planet using a robotic rover on mars named curiosity. this is an hour and 25 minutes. [applause] >> thank you all for coming. we got the e-mail about 10:30 this morning that said that charlie bolden wasn't coming, and that was the bad news. because we didn't have a replacement then. but when i found out who was coming, i was actually kind of delighted because charlie bolden is a great guy, i like talking to him, but he's an administrator, and administrators are, by their nature, rather cautious. and he's also, he knows the science but not like jim green who lives and breathes the science. and when we're looking, you know, we watch nasa press conferences, and we wait until he speaks so that we can get a sound bite for our radio program. [laughter] he's the one who says something interesting every time. [laughter]
so it's really a delight to have you with us. thanks for coming. >> pleasure. >> and, yeah. so we're going to talk about planets and planet science, and it's gonna be cool. we should start, e guess, just judging by everybody's reaction, how many people here have seen "the martian. ". i'll give you the briefest of outlines. there's a guy who gets stuck on mars and he has to live because his crew mates take off. they think he's dead, but he's not. i don't know, can i spoil the movie -- >> i think you probably could. [laughter] >> well, what happens the him is quite interesting, but what makes this movie so remarkable is they really engaged people like jim green who had the science right except for one thing. and, jim, why don't you tell them what the one thing is they got wrong. [laughter] >> well, there are a few -- [laughter] but the one glaring problem, of course, is the dust storm.
the movie opens -- >> huge dust storm. >> yeah, yeah. so mark watney and his team are deployed, deploying science experiments. mark is picking up samples on mars, exactly the kind of thing we're going to be starting to do with the mars 2020 mission. and as they're doing that, back in the hab the weather report on mars is updated, and a huge dust storm is coming in. what's great about that is we can actually do that weather report right now. we have global circulation models of mars, of the temperature and pressure, distribution over the entire planet that based on the data we're getting from our orbiters, we can actually do that in near realtime. so even that's quite accurate. but what's not accurate, of course, is the dust storm is worse than anything you saw on lawrence of arabia. [laughter]
but the pressure is so low, it's about a percent of our own pressure, atmospheric pressure here on earth. and even though the winds can go 125 miles an hour, can be really brisk, it's not enough to straighten an american flag sitting on its surface. [laughter] sorry. sorry that's, you know, you may not have realized that. so it's very benign in that sense. but what it can be is crippling from an atmospheric perspective. the dust gets lofted very high, can go as high as 25-30 kilometers, very high, you know? so at noon it may look like midnight. i mean, it can get very dark. one other thing that we found that i did mention to ridley and his team that wasn't in the book, nor had they planned to put it in the movie, is that recently we have been observing that these really high dust storms where the dust can get
charged, can discharge, and it can actually get lightning. so we've seen after the dust storm goes away these lightning strikes on the ground. i mean, they are dark, spidery looking things, really neat looking unless you're probably down there at time. [laughter] and also we now are seeing from orbit with our imagers, we catch a little brightness going on as we sweep the camera by and then sweep it again. we saw an area that was bright, it had lightning strike at the time xen then as we go the next image, it's not there. we know it's occurring. we don't know the distribution, we don't know how strong it is, we know virtually nothing about it. but it's one of those new things that we actually got into the movie a little bit. >> but i was wondering, we were speculating about this. so if a dust storm wasn't enough to cause them to abort the mission and that's why they take, everybody else takes off
and he gets stuck there, we were trying to think of whether there was anything else that might be severe enough, are there mars quakes? >> oh, really good question. we know mars is shaking. we do know that. and how we know that is we have an imager, it's called the mars reconnaissance orbiter, that could actually see this table from orbit if it was sitting on mars. really high resolution imagery. fabulous instrument. and we've caught avalanches as they're occurring. >> wow. >> so we don't know how active mars is, whether those avalanches are because it's still a very active planet like the earth is with mars quakes or it's from meteoric impacts. we get impacted all the time. we get about ten tons of meteor you can material coming into the earth every day.
mars we don't know exactly how much, but the atmosphere, as i mentioned, is so thin that a lot of it will make it to the surface whereas most of what we receive burns up coming in. >> yeah. >> so we don't know where this source is. now, we're going to know a lot more about that when we launch the mission called insight. >> yeah. >> and that was designed to do a couple things. one was deploy a seismometer that's the most sensitive we have built on this earth. it's more sensitive than anything we've deployed. and it's so sensitive it's going to be able to not only feel mars and whether it can quake on its own, but the impacts. and it will observe those reflections of sound wave that travel through the rock, and we'll understand the core size, perhaps whether it's molten or not, the mantle size and the size of the crust.
and it will be the only other planet besides everett as a terrestrial -- besides earth that we'll understand that well. now, from a human exploration perspective, it's going to be important to know, you know, how active mars is for humans walking around on the surface. some of the places they might want to go for protection are collapsed lava tykes. we've found a number of -- tubes. we've found a number of them from orbit. >> what's a lava tube? >> okay. so like here on earth we have volcanos that spew molten rock out, and that material then works its way through the earth, comes out, it's evacuated, and you actually after everything cools can get a vacated tube of material. we have found those on mars. mars has a huge, several huge
volcanos, one of which is is large that if it was on earth, it would talk up the state of missouri. it would take up the state of missouri. the whole state. i mean, it's a huge shield volcano. and then there's the tharsus ridge, and those are all really he was city. and in -- hefty. and in and around there we find lava tubes, and how we see that is we take a variety of our spacecraft and put it on the web, and many kids and high school students and college students look at the data. and the first lava tube was found by a high school student. and it was really great. it was a collapsed roof, and the material formed a little ramp. the lighting was perfect. and if i was will and i had a rover, i could drive right down
in it. that might be an area where humans would be easily safe from a lot of the problems that exist on mars that we don't have here on earth in terms of its radiation. >> i want to ask about that, but what about active volcanos? is that not -- >> yeah. we haven't found any. you know, we're on the look for it. we have imaged mars in, at a certain resolution. not high resolution. so as i mentioned even though we could see this table from orbit and the mars reconnaissance orbiter with that instrument, it's called high-rise, has been operating for ten years, we've only observed about 3% of the surface at that high resolution, okay? so there's a lot of mars that we haven't seen at really high resolution. and the tremendous discovery that that instrument made just this last year were on these
crater walls. we find during the summer streaks of material down these crater walls, and we've known it now for many years, several years. they come and go. they all happen during the summer when the face of the crater and the sun, you know, it gets the maximum energy from the sun during this time period. then we see the streaks. fortunately then as we began to see more and more and more of them, we could only see them with the high resolution imagery because they're about the length of this room in terms of width. but the length is a couple football fields long, all right? they're really long. and we call them reoccurring slope -- [inaudible] that's a scientific term meaning these long lines that you
couldn't see until you had the high resolution imager. now we're finding them all over the place. now, the best result that came from that occurred last year when we actually got one big enough that our min, roloy instrument could look at that and say what is that material? why does it form these streaks? turns out it's water. and and that means liquid water is flowing on mars. these craters are literally weeping during the summer. so there are two basic theories that come out. first theory is from from curiosity we're measuring all kinds of humidity. in fact, mark watney could have actually gotten water resources a lot easier than blowing himself up -- [laughter] as he did. but you can extract the water out of the atmosphere, because there's actually a fair amount
of humidity in the atmosphere. we know that. curiosity can tell us that. so that's part of that hydrological cycle. so one of the ideas is, well, the only way you can have liquid water on the surface at these times during the year even though the temperature is high, the pressure's really low. you shouldn't have liquid water on the surface unless it's brine y water. and, indeed, on the slopes of these craters are a lot of briney material. so the concept is, well, maybe that material is pulling it out of the air. and that was an okay theory for a while until we found more and more and more, and then you do the calculations, you know? it's all about the math x the movie got that right. and you find out, well, there's far more of these than there is total humidity in the atmosphere, so you need to add water somewhere.
and so now the prevailing theory, the second theory that's come out is probably the one that's right, and that is they're coming from underground aquifers. so mars has a water resource underneath its surface, we believe. so what's happening is there's an ice plug in the aquifer. and as the sun heats that, sublimates it so it goes from ice to vapor and eventually breaks through, and water pours down the side of the crater. and a lot of it. so this is really exciting because we had always thought that the water table as you got closer to the equator was much deeper. you know, maybe as low as 15 kilometers below the surface. and now it looks like it's within a few meters of the surface at longitudes -- sorry,
latitudes like washington, d.c., in the 40s and above. just right at the surface, nice little water layer. and as you get closer to the equator, it might be tens of meters, but not 15 kilometers. so mark watney could have gone to what we would probably do, would be a well. we would have a well. and the challenge with the well is you might have liquid water down there, but as you pull it out, it's going to get colder and colder, so how can you keep it liquid. but that's engineering, right? [laughter] what mark watney didn't know is there's a crater closer to him than pathfinder is where it is weeping during the summer. and that's a new discovery. so when i talked to andy we're, and i didn't know -- >> he's the author. >> he's the author of the original book. andy started it in like 2007,
2008, somewhere around there, maybe 2009. and he's a computer programmer that loves to write. really had an environment at home where he loved science fiction. his father had tons of science fiction at home. and so he would try a few things. and he wrote a book, got published, didn't do very well. and in that business if you don't go, you know, make the home run with the first book, you don't really get up to bat again. so he started writing this as a serial, put out the first chapter. and he had quite -- up to 3,000 people, he said, initially looking at his web site. so when he put it out, these people would read it, they'd comment on it, and he'd say, okay, this is kind of cool, this is going well. and he put out another one and another one and another one. and at the end of that process after about 32 chapters, he had the book. it's all right there. but he had people that wanted to read it on their kindle, okay? and they didn't know how to
download a pdf, and it was different chapters and, you know, andy, what can you do about it? so andy contacted amazon, you know, read the material that he needed to the take these chapters in pdf form which is the typical file format and create a book in kindle form that you then could read, and then he put it on amazon, okay? the problem is he had to sell it. couldn't give it away, he wanted to give it away. and so they forced him to sell it for 99 cents, and amazon got 70, and he got 29 cents, and that was okay. but all these people could download it. well, it just wildfire, word of mouth, put it in the top ten science fiction e-books, and that's when it was noticed by a publisher, and they contacted andy. and then they said i think you need an agent, let me be your agent -- [laughter] you know, we'll get you a book deal, you know? we'll go from electronic to hard
copy. that sounds backwards, doesn't it? [laughter] but that's how it went. and then audio book and then was translated in, you know, chinese or whatever other languages they had in mind. he said, okay, sure. and then the very next week fox called him because they also noticed it and wanted to buy the rights, the movie rights to the book. and with that, you know, everything else happened rapidly. and now andy is no longer a computer programmer. [laughter] >> a great story. so that was, that's, actually, that was my disaster scenario, is that they parked the lander at the base of a hill where there's one of these plugs, and they can tell that it's warming up, and it could blow any second because i have been to what's the name of that volcano in scotland, i mean, in iceland that nobody can pronounce the name of? >> oh, yeah, yeah.
>> i still can't say it. >> right, right. >> and when it blows the lid off, not just lava, but water comes flowing down and washes out bridges now. and because -- i'm going to help andy on this next book -- because it's so acidic or salty, it could be very caustic. and so it could come down and really wreak havoc with the hab, and so that's why they have to get out of there, because they don't know how far the water's going to come down before it hits, and they've got the leave, and he's out -- >> actually, we don't know enough about mars at that level to say that's not, that that would be ruled out. >> yeah. >> yeah. [laughter] you might be able to make it after all. >> right. so you said something actually a few minutes ago that i want to pursue about these high school students who are looking at pictures of mars. now, happily my children are no
longer in high school, so they won't be doing this, but i'm still curious how you, how you connect student with the picture and the knowledge to know that might be a lava tube. this data, i mean, that nasa puts out there, but minute's telling somebody how to look at it. -- somebody's telling somebody how to look at it. >> so we have in this country and other countries too highly motivated kids where their knowledge more science is almost insatiable. we work very hard to be a able to put a variety of material out on the web for them to get access to. we have some really fabulous web sites where they can actually look at the latest images. steve squires, who is the project scientist, our top scientist for the opportunity rover, this is the one that has been now on mars roaming around for more than 11 years, loves to
come in, he loves to tell this story. he loves to come in first thing in the morning and see what the kids have done. he almost says it that way. because what they will do is when that data comes down, there'll be an image here and an image there and separate images here, different resolutions, etc., etc. and these kids will take those and create a mosaic and put -- and stitch it together. and they know the attitudes and the resolutions and how to match them well as the descriptions are there. and they have the tools to do that now. very easily. so when he comes in, it's just like, you know, he's got it on huge screens and it's a movie theater, and he just walks onto mars, okay? and that's when they start, wow, let's investigate more of this area and get higher resolution of that. and, you know? so that's just now part of what they do. and we put it on the web as fast as we can.
>> so i actually have talked to a high school student, just barely a high school student, who's in the running to pick the next landing site for mars 2020 which i think is pretty -- you know this kid? >> i do. alex. >> that's right. 15, i think he is now. >> when he started, he was 14. [laughter] i mean, he was -- >> he's going to anal out of this -- age out of this pretty soon. [laughter] he's amazing. he's got a very thorough explanation of why we should go back to the landing site of -- was it opportunity? >> spirit. >> the crater. that's just amazing. i mean, you can do it. >> yeah. so here's what we did. our mars 2020, we have a set of objectives. and we want to go to a geologically diverse but ancient region on mars that has, that hasn't changed in 3.5 billion years.
that's an area where curiosity is right now, the kind of area we want to go to. and that's when mars actually was much more like earth. it had a deep ocean, two-thirds of northern hemisphere was under water as much as a mile or more. it had rains, cloud, ice, snow, the works. okay? and here on earth when you have that kind of water, there could be life. and so we're looking at regions that haven't changed in 3.5 billion years that we could actually go to on mars to see how perhaps life started on mars. life started on earth about that same time. but we can't find those rocks anymore. we've buried all those with our plate tectonics and the biosphere. but mars we can go back and find it. so we put out those requirements to everyone in the community, and that's typically our science people, but you can, you know, apply as anyone can to these
digests and look at what comes out as our calls, and alec did. -- alex did. and we asked for the science community to say here are the requirements, find us a place on mars that satisfies those, and come and be prepared to argue your case. and so for us to see how that goes, you put in a couple-page abstract, what your arguments were, and that location, and alex did. and the organizing committee was looking at the abstracts and etc., etc., and his was fabulous. just as good as any one of the other scientists. it's really great. be and so we did that because we wanted to see how many scientists were picking similar locations, and if they did, we'd group 'em. we'd say, okay, here's your team. so alex ended up as a member of a science team. and they were so impressed with
him, he presented to the entire science group the case for gusev crater when we had our meeting. and he's doing great. >> yeah. he was also been. >> he can have my job later. >> well, no, but there was another meeting. i don't know if this comes under your purview, but there was also a human landing site -- >> that's mine. >> so what do we, why are we looking at human landing sites? >> okay. >> very speculative, i would say. >> okay. so why are we doing that? so when we go to mars, we're going to need high resolution imaging because we're going to need to land in a region that's safe. and when humans go to mars, there's going to be places they're going to set up their habs, and this is going to be some resources they're going to want. they're going to want to know where the water is, they're going to want to know how to extract oxygen out of the atmosphere, they're going to want to know where the methane vents are, because they want to tap that and be able to heat
their habs. they're going to want to be able to get access to certain minerals that they can grind up, use in their 3-d printer to fix anything that they want to. okay? that's what they're going to want. and what we want as scientists is some exciting science locations all around them. for them to be able to go, make samples, be able to core rock, look at the history of mars that, you know, like here on earth the geological strata, that's pages in the history book of how the earth evolved. we want to do that on mars. and so when are we going to do it? if humans are going to go in the 2030s and 2040s, don't we have a lot of time? and the answer to that is, no. and the reason why is i have a high resolution imager that can do the job that's been up there ten years. it's only going to last another six years. and if we don't pick those sites
and if we don't get the high resolution imaging and the high resolution min rolling and then begin to plan the experiments that we're going to do, we're going to be 15, 20 years behind the times. so now is the time. so we work with human exploration to come up with defining the region, the region of interest is called an exploration zone. it's about 100 kilometers in diameter. the habs will look like what they looked like on "the martian," the rovers will look like what they looked like on "the martian." we have a rover that running around that looks a little bit like what they put together. and so they're going to land with none spot in this 100-kilometer area, they're going to have habs in another, and they're going to do science in another. we listed the requirements, sent that out to the community, and
we got well over 50 sites for which alex supported a team just like we did with 2020. we've met, and it was tremendously stimulating. we recognize that there's a huge disparity of knowledge between what the scientists know and what the engineers think they know about mars. okay in for which we need to get them up to where we are. >> okay. so what, so give me -- i always figured the engineers know best, but what -- >> the engineers will design things. >> yeah. >> so right now they didn't realize there was methane on mars that they could actually heat a hab. >> oh, they could use -- >> they could use it, it's a resource. >> okay. >> so i'll give you an example. when i started this whole approach of working with human exploration, it was about three years ago. i got invited to go to johnson and talk about mars to the astronauts.
okay. so they said, you know, you've got a half hour talk, come on in, tell us what you, you know, a few things about mars and, oh, by the way, we've been working on it, and here's all the things that we've been doing. you're on youtube, you can log on and see stan love talk about mars, and he gives all these great talks, and he does. and the ultimate objective is we're going to mars, and that's always the end slide, and it's always a hub el picture x. i'm going, what? it's like me saying i had a great vacation on earth this summer -- [laughter] where? mars is that diverse. it is that diverse. and so in talking to stan it was, oh, just put us down anywhere. and i'm like, no, no, it's not going to work like that. [laughter] you're going there to do science, yeah, yeah. then you're going to listen to us where you're going to go, and
you're going to live off the land, you're going to need resources. oh, we just need oxygen, we pull it out of the air. no. you're throwing away some of the best parts of mars. why would you do that? and, in fact, another instrument on insight, we're going to jam a fence, a thin little metal trip down into the ground several meters, and it's full of temperature sensors. and we're going to see how hot mars is, how much heat actually comes through the surface. and if there's a lot, you then can, like geothermal, you'd do mars thermal. okay? so there's all kinds of resources, all kinds of things that we can do if we work together. and so -- [laughter] >> blasphemy. >> no, no, it happens, it happens. [laughter] everyone's working hard. everyone's working hard. it's now time to get together
even though it sounds like we're doing it way too early. we're not. we're right on track. >> someone described, i heard this, someone in the government who i won't identify described don't think of them as silos, think of them as cylinders of excellence. [laughter] so i guess that's one way to look at it. i was just trying to remember, how many -- let's go to how many active spacecraft and rovers are there at mars right now? >> okay. so we have two rovers -- >> two rovers. >> that would be opportunity and curiosity. >> correct. esa has one or bitter -- >> european space agency. >> that's called mars express x we have some instruments on it. it's a really fabulous spacecraft. we helped the indian research
science organization, isro, to get their m.o.m. spacecraft, which is a mars orbiting mission, into orbit. >> it's there. it's working. >> nasa has odyssey, master reconnaissance orbiter and maven. so there's five. >> five. and what about -- >> and hen this march esa's launching the trace gas orbiter. >> right. >> and that's going to look in the atmosphere for trace gases like methane. they're going to map the methane vents on mars. >> so is it going to be lore than maven? because maven was also going to look at methane. >> maven never promised to look at methane. is it's not in -- it's not in its suite of measurements. now, we know meth their is there -- methane is there because we have observed it from telescopes here on everett. that was the first time.
that was a very controversial set of measurements. and the reason why is we've got all kinds of methane in our atmosphere, so we're looking through methane to see methane on another planet x. that's very far away. and so the only way you can do it is the fact that the planet moves, gives you a slightly little shift in its signal called a doppler shift that enables us to separate the earth methane from mars methane. so it's a very tricky measurement. and the experts at goddard space flight center really pulled it off, really mapped mars globally, and that was tremendously controversial until curiosity landed. and curiosity at first looked for methane, but it was also outgassing. so it had, it carried all the gases from earth with it, and so it took a while for it to outgas. but now it's observing methane on its open. and the meth -- on its own.
and the methane is coming in this erps, and that's also very surprising. so what we saw from earth were vents of methane that occur in a seasonal way mostly during the summer, it turns out, okay? and then curiosity is observing them, and that doesn't quite track with the season. so it's almost like perhaps in the underground aquifers there's smog going on generating -- there's something going on generating methane seeping through the soils right under where curiosity's sitting. >> so is there any chance of traffic jams in orbit? >> no. >> okay. >> no, we have -- >> i have to get you to talk to one other thing. so when we were planning this event, one of the factors we were considering about when charles bolden was going to come was when it was going to launch.
you can only launch to mars every two years. you could do it more often if you had a more powerful rocket. so every two years they're lined up in just the perfect orientation that you need the least amount of energy to get there, and that's good because you can spend more of your energy on scientific instruments. insight was scheduled to go this march, and what happened? >> so it didn't make it. we're going to the have to step back and review where we are. part of the problem was -- not part of it, the problem was one of the instruments which is the seismic instrument that is being developed by the french at the french space agency couldn't quite get it together. the sensors were working great, the sensors were perfect, but it has to be many a sphere -- in a sphere that has no air, okay?
and the sphere kept leaking. now, the reason why that's important is these seismic instruments are so sensitive that even the littlest mars wind could easily wreak havoc with the measurements. so in space if we needed a vacuum, we just open a port and, man, we've got a vacuum. on mars it has an atmosphere, and we have to bring in a vacuum. and we've never done that before, nor has the french. and so this was challenging technically, and they just couldn't quite get it together. we had several attempts for which the leaks did occur, and we decided -- and the last leak that occurred in december, we couldn't go through the process of fixing the leak and getting it onboard the spacecraft in time for the march launch. so all that means now is we're stepping back, we're going through a whole review. in fact, my deputy right now is in france going through the
reviews that are going on right now as to the next step. but the french are solidly behind this instrument. this is a fabulous mission. it's going to tell us an enormous amount about, as i mentioned, not only the thermal history of mars which will complement the seismic part, and the seismic part's really important for us because not only will we know how active mars is, but the size of its core, its mantle and its crust and the flux of asteroids that it gets from the asteroid belt sitting right next to it which could also be a human problem running around on the surface if there's impacts. >> there have -- we've seen or there have been impact craters seen in the time that the orbiters have been up there. >> oh, yeah. >> so we have some knowledge of the flux. >> and, actually, they've been wonderful. and the reason why is particularly the ones that aren't too big, okay? so something that's a meter
across that hits mars will create a 10-meter crater, okay? and that'll go down 5 or 6 meters, maybe more. and what we see when we pass over with the high resolution imagers, we'll see these -- we'll see nothing there, and then another pass will go over, and there's a crater. and when we look at these in certain regions, it's just like frothy white all over the place, okay? and what's happened is we then over time watch that, and it goes away. and what it is is ice. so there's that ice layer at certain latitudes that we're seeing all the way down to about 40 degrees. it's just very close to the surface. there's a fair amount of water there. you know, mark watney could have thrown out a grenade, blown a hole in the ground, gone around and picked up the ice chips and brought them in. he could have done that too.
>> but it would have been salty. >> we don't know about that, actually. the salt is because -- >> [inaudible] >> -- might just be laying on the is surface of these craters, but the water itself, we don't know enough about that to determine, because it is at a depth where it might be warm enough to keep this water. >> i have another scheme. what we need -- [laughter] to do is we need to get a entrepreneur to be willing to sell martian ice for drinks here on earth. [laughter] send them up to get the drill, bring back a couple of tons of ice, and you buy it. what do you think? no, that's not -- [laughter] okay. we -- it's not surprising we've spent a lot of time talking about mars because mars -- >> it's in the news. >> it's in the news, and it's the sexy one. it's the one that gets people's imaginations going. but i really would like to take
a tour of the solar system, was there's a lot going on -- >> oh, a lot. >> last year? yes, i think it was, sean solomon was here and told us a lot about messenger, but messenger is done. >> ran out of fuel. >> messenger's at mercury. >> ran out of fuel. did it have the same problem of anomalies meaning they had to keep adjusting the orbit to keep it, or was that the sun that was making it -- >> yeah. so every planet we think of as a nice spherical ball that's just perfect, and it turns out it's not. it's always lumpy gravitationally. and it's hard to keep things in orbit. there are certain orbits you can get into that are pretty stable, but even earth orbits are tough. the lunar orbits are horrible because it's actually got some significant gravity anomalies. messenger running around mercury, we knew mercury was going to drag it and bring it down based on the orbit it was in. and that was a great science orbit, you know?
you want to get, you want to do the science. so eventually it's going to run out of fuel to keep it where it's at, and so the plan was, well, we're going to take science measurements all the way down to the impact, which they did. they did fabulous. >> cool. so anything on the books to go back to mercury, or we -- >> yeah. so the european space agency is in the process of, final process actually, of testing for a spacecraft that's actually two spacecraft, one that is being built by the japanese from the japanese space agency, and they're going to take it. so so there's an esa spacecraft and a japanese spacecraft, and we have instrument, a really nice instrument on the esa mission, and we're going to help them with the tracking. and that will launch in early 2017. it comes up pretty fast. and then, so that's the next big mission to mercury.
>> okay. venus. do we have anybody at venus right now? >> we do. japanese are there now with a mission, and this is a mission that tried to get into orbit five years ago, and because it had a thruster malfunction, it lost its opportunity, and it took it five years to line it up and for them to figure out not only what the problem was, but how to use the capability that they had left as a nozzle literally burned off. and so if you, you know, you need these nozzles for directing the thrust in the right way. so now they understood their mission well enough to get it in orbit, which they did in december, early december. we helped them with that. and i have a whole team of people not only in japan, but also in the u.s. that are looking at the venus data. >> so why has' us in not been -- venus not been as interesting? is it just because it's too hot and caustic?
>> no. venus is tremendously important for us to do. what you may not realize is a lot of the really important global circulation models we have of earth tell us about how the climate can change as you administer co2 -- add more co2 are from scientists that did it first at venus. jim hanson, who you may know, is, was a venus sign different. -- scientist. and so venus has a runaway greenhouse effect. its atmosphere is tremendously dense. that means light from the sun will penetrate through the clouds, land on the surface, heat it up and change it to infrared light. it changes it to heat. but then the co2 prevents it
from leaving. it's exactly what you experience when you get in your car during the summer, because the window -- which is transparent to light you see -- is opaque to infrared which is what happens to all your seats when they heat up. they generate light in the infrared, so it heats up. so that's going on in venus. right now it's hot enough to melt lead on the surface, all right? 700 degrees plus fahrenheit. really bad. and the pressure is so bad, it's 90 times ours. now, that may not sound too much because we're breathing, you know, okay. so 90 times that, that must be bad, but how bad is it? it's tougher pressure than you see in submarines down in the marianas trench. okay? it's crushing depth. which is why it's really hard to get to.
so that -- so venus is really tough, a tough mutt to crack. but we've had some great missions, really wonderful missions. >> but now i have my venus fortune maker. we're going to make a pizza oven -- [laughter] a venus pizza oven. no, no. [laughter] all right. moving out slightly, we -- >> [inaudible] >> right. >> moon. >> we reached -- yes, the moon. i was going to say. we got to earth, and we have some active, you were talking, first of all, i know there's an orbiter, lunar reconnaissance orbiter -- >> lrl -- >> yeah. it's been looking at the apollo landing site, and it's sensitive enough and the resolution's high enough that it can see footprints? >> well, not footprints, but trails.
>> trails, sorry. >> as you scuff up the dust, you can see trails that the astronaut takes. you can see the car, you know, the rovers that they had. you can see the stand that the lunar limb was on when it blasted off. and if you look carefully, there's two backpacks sitting outside that that they threw out before the takeoff. you can see that. you can see all the experiments that they deployed, you know? because they had all sorts of particle measurements they made and magnetic field measurements and different things that they deployed. so we've got high resolution imaging that we didn't fake -- [laughter] that really shows exactly, exactly where we were. [laughter] what we did. >> yeah. but is there the same diversity? i mean, people talk about going to the moon. you said you're not going to go to the moon, you're going to go to a place on the moon. >> yeah. >> is that kind of data, if we
were to try going back to the moon before we went to mars, would we need that data, or is that just of scientific data? not just, but -- >> high resolution imaging is critical for precision landing, okay? so the difference being i'm going to land somewhere on the moon that's a crap shoot to i need to land outside here because i'm going into this building -- >> right. >> -- is the difference we're talking about. so high resolution imaging is critical, and lrl can see this table also if it was sitting on the moon. it's got such a great resolution associated with it. >> but is there, i mean, there does not seem to be the same energy, enthusiasm, excitement for going back to the moon as a human -- >> okay. so you're not talking to a planetary scientist when you say that, because planetary scientists are really excited ant the moon. >> right, okay. >> there's an enormous amount we can learn about the moon. so let me take you back in 1960, and as i look through the crowd,
many of us were alive at the time, okay? >> we won't ask for a show of hands. >> yeah. [laughter] well, that -- i'm there. the planetary scientists when they looked at the moon would say, wow, look at all those craters. the moon must have been tremendously volcanically active to generate all those craters. okay? and then eugene shoe maker studying some impacts here on earth said, wait a minute, we've got impacts here on earth, we have things here on earth that look like the moon, and these are impacts! okay? and by the end of the '60s, the whole science community said -- from the beginning of the '60s, nah, they're all volcanic to, wow, they're all impact. completely changed our thinking. so moon is a witness plate to
the bombardment history of the inner solar system. it's all laying on its surface for us to interpret. and so when the apollo astronauts brought back 800 pounds of rock, we aged them. how old is this one, how old is that one, how old is this one. and we found two groups, and this was startling, shocking, okay? one group, that was the age 4.5 billion years ago when the moon was made. and then another set of rocks that were younger at about 3.8 billion years. and so for a long time we didn't know what that was all about. for 30 or 40 years, we still extracting fabulous stuff from the moon rocks. and then about ten years ago our modelers started, we started to
to get really good in modeling how the solar system came together. start out with a huge cloud of material, start with the sun right here, here's where most of it acretes, and now all of a sudden you're creating your plants, okay? to -- your planets, okay? so let's run the code and see what happens. how long does it take? it turns out they were having enormous trouble with the outer part of our solar system, with the outer planets. they could not form saturn, your us in and -- your us in and neptune even after four billion years. couldn't get 'em formed, and yet we knew within the first 100 million years everything's formed. so a group of them got together in nice, france, at a conference. and at the end of that, they decided, well, you've got to put the planets where the material is. let's put 'em here at distances, all these large, all these
planets that are, you know, saturn's at ten and your ray us in and neptune are at 20 and -- >> [inaudible] >> astronomical units. >> and an astronomical unit is? >> one unit is the distance from earth to the sun. so you just took the solar system and crunched it in. can you make it? it turns out you can make it. >> wow. >> and then something really spectacular happened. at 3.8 billion years, jupiter in gravitational resonances with these other planets took 'em and threw 'em out, okay? and pushed saturn out, uranus and neptune out, and the kuiper belt that we now know is out there, with all this water, came in. along with the asteroid belt. and what's left of all that big activity is there now, but there
was enormous amount of material that bombarded the inner part of our solar system and brought an enormous amount of what we believe is water. and created rocks. new rocks on the moon with the right age. and then we knew we had it. then we knew our computer models were perfect in the sense that they were beginning to describe completely independent sets of data. you know, it's exciting, you know, when the earth forms and it's called the hedeon era of the early earth, it's really hot. it loses a lot of its volatiles, the stuff like water. and so when it cools, where's it going to get all the water it needs to make it look like it is here? and now there's a potential mechanism where this movement of jupiter, this muscling of jupiter and these outer planets bringing all this water in could have brought the water. independently if you go to
biologists and you say, well, what about early life on earth, when did it start, they would say 3.8 billion years ago. that's where the, that's where they find the early life on earth starts. so if mars looked like earth at that time period and life started at 3.8 billion years ago and curiosity is sitting in an ancient river bed right now that's 3.8 billion years ago, we have a better chance of figuring out how life started if we start it on mars. if it started on mars at the same time it started on earth. so these are the kind of revolutions that are sweeping the planetary community right now. huge steps in understanding the origin of life. so hard to do here. we might actually find it first on another planet. >> i just want -- i'm not quite sure. so 4.5 billion years ago -- >> it started. >> closer in.
>> uh-huh? >> and then jupiter was out there further than these other ones to begin with -- >> no, closer in. it pushes it out through a gravitational resonance interaction. >> all right. maybe i don't want to ask about that. [laughter] >> okay. so, you know, you've got to -- there's some science there. >> okay. >> not everyone understands. >> right. >> but let's now take it to xo planet. >> okay. planets around stars -- >> planets around other stars. the first thing we started to see were these huge jupiters really close to their planets, okay? and these highly elliptical orbits. well, they can't form in e elliptical orr pits. when their clouds collapse, everything goes into a disc and and they're all going on in either circular or elliptical but not highly elliptical.
so something created that orbit later, okay? and is it's i through gravitational resonance that can actually move planets like jupiter, push them around. it's a fundamental gravitational interaction that we had no idea must be operating on every solar system out there. and that's what gets these big jupiters and highly elliptical orbits. and then their suns push on 'em when they're really close, and that changes the highly ellipticals down to circular orbits. so all these orbit dynamics that the planetary scientists do in computer models and understand what's happening, we can actually go to solar system after solar system and understand how they're formed. and that's tremendously exciting. >> absolutely. okay. so -- sorry, i'm thinking a lot of thoughts. i want to give people in the audience a chance to ask some
questions, but i also want to get to the rest of the planets before we do that. and i need somebody, if you don't do it, i'll do it, to ask about what discover is seeing on the moon. but i'm not going to ask that question. discover -- so somebody ask that question. okay. so we've done, we're out to mars, now we're up to -- >> asteroid belt. >> yeah. >> so we have a spacecraft called dawn can. it visited a huge asteroid called vesta, the second largest one, and right now it's orbiting the largest asteroid called series. so series is about a thousand kilometers in diameter. it's beautiful. it's unbelievable. we're learning all kinds of stuff. if you move out to jupiter, we're about ready to put a mission in orbit around jupiter called juneau, and we're going to do it july 4th. we try to ruin every planetary holiday we can -- [laughter] planetary scientists do. >> insight was completely off
kilter, because it was just going to come in the middle of november or something. >> yeah. so insight was going to launch on march 4th, my birthday. >> oh, okay. >> not that it had to be that way. >> so fourth of july is ruined. [laughter] >> and the next fab house mission at saturn is cassini. that one we could have spent hours talking about because what cassini's finding out is all about other moons that look like they potentially could be habitable like one which has, we now believe, an enormous amount of water underneath its icy crust. just like europa does at juniorer the. and another moon called titan which is bigger than mercury, has an enormous atmosphere and is the only only other body in the solar system that has liquid on its surface. but it's not water, it's methane, okay? ..
conversation? >> what about russia and china [inaudible] >> writenow we are working with russia on a mission and we are at the very early stages of what we what he we call the five-step initiative where we bring the top scientists in both countries that are experts in to say what is the science we need to do and the things we have to know and how can we do that? that's been going on for about a year now. their role is they are the only country that is putting this down on the surface and they know how to do it and have it survive. so they are planning to do a mission and we need to be on it
so that that's a big step for us. china we are not involved in the human program or the lunar program other than than we do interact when the need high-resolution imaging sites we do have interaction. [inaudible] >> the administration and congress both got together behind a new mission that's going to an object about the size of our own moon and then you look at it you would expect it to look like the moon with a crater and you can hardly find a creator and the reason is because it has resurfaced itself and it does it intends of millions of years tv leave and
wherever the resurfacing is coming from is a pass underneath the ice shelf and ocean and we know it's there and in fact could estimate the amount of water and it's twice the amount of water that's on this planet. what's really great and the reason this is going on is there's a slight elliptical orbiter around jupiter and then there's another part that's much further away, so if you look at the body and have tidal forces when you were close to a huge jupiter and get squished and when you are relaxed then that has to dissipate heat and you melt the ice and create water.
the ice crest moves 30 meters every orbit. it goes up and down. that is like a nine or ten story building. that's huge. so this is a fabulous moon and it's been that way since it was created for and a half billion years ago so we believe it has the organic and it's got time and all of those stack up for the environment -- so this is going to be a life mission. >> we send a zamboni up here. [laughter] >> you can ask questions in the rafters, too
>> how is that a picture taken? >> you are seeing them all around. so, when you want to do a selfie is a stick with a high-resolution imager so it can go over here and look at a very fine mineral structures so the nicest picture picture picture and there's about 60 that make that up and you don't see the harm because it takes a picture of its arm. there's a little spot of it in one location and another but it's the arm. it has done three selfie because
it's at the bottom amount sharp. it has to navigate these piles of sand and they are just beautiful coming come into this fabulous picture it just took that if you could get on the website and we have a twitter account and all that stuff. if you are going to be anybody, you have to do that these days. >> [inaudible] repeat the question. what about the changes in our own solar system and is it mature, what's going to happen?
the gravitational interactions are continuing into jupiter is hammering a whole bunch of things. we believe there's an interaction going on right now with mercury. this is far off estimates. mercury is going to get tossed into the sun or pulled out of the solar system. so there's a little debate on how that is going to go. the last paper had it yanked out so we need to be on the other side of the sun. that's going to happen in several billion years. a little snapshot in time that's important is what happened on venus could have been on earth.
it's not the same except the distance from the sun and everything else changed underneath it. looking at it from that perspective is new. it's messing with the asteroid belt. they it will take these objects. this is a set of pieces of material that was trying to become a planet but jupiter wouldn't let it. it is a tremendous event because it starts with a collision and the two bodies collide and then the material settles in and they come back together. so, if they catastrophe and then
it rearranges itself so that's how you build up to planet sized stuff but if you have the gravity after you collide you don't go like this, you go like that because the drift towards you so that's why it is a failed planet. it only has pieces and remnants but jupiter is still pushing them around and what we are finding now is a lot of those pieces don't always go out. we call those near earth objects into some of them are potentially hazardous. there's at least 100,000 that we need to be watching and monitoring. some of them are really big and planet killers have crossed the
orbit and its six or 10 kilometers and there will be hazards and they will hate this planet and it's not about if but when. the more we understand about the environment the more we can find these objects and big decisions when we need to in terms of moving them are changing the orbits. we stood stood on the planetary defense office to begin to draw all the information we can get on these objects and find out the potentially hazardous ones and then keep the planet safe or we will go by the way of the dinosaurs which died out in a 6-kilometer impact, 65 million years ago. >> it could be tomorrow or 65 days. >> if there are impacts they are
going to be small. in february, two years ago something the size of half this room have this room about 17 meters came in but it created a shockwave that blew out windows and thousands were so people hurt by the cut glass. we are worried about something that may be 50 meters or higher something like 100 meters or so so we are looking for all those and then something big could have several hundred meters and be a significant cuts and then we get into kilometers. what happens in these impacts is the material is exploded and blown up into a small piece and
it doesn't just fall on the ground. it doesn't just end up going like this. it goes up through the atmosphere and then the planet the planets were to draw it back and so it ends up being a cloud of material in high altitudes that takes tons of decades to settle and finally collapse then in the meantime it is gathering all the sunlight making the earth dark creating a problem with growing plants and you break the food chain and you then begin to eradicate and that includes humans if we don't watch out so we are on the lookout for the bad stuff and right now we feel pretty good the next several hundred years we are going to be okay that it's one of these jobs we now recognize. it's like a 2-year-old kid running in the street, doesn't know any better.
we do not live in a safe place in the solar system just by what we've known in the last couple of decades we've learned this in our lifetime we have recognized this. so we are going to take care of this problem. >> very encouraging. there's a number of engines. why did that occur and is it being resolved in any way? >> the availability -- >> we have been biting them for a long time and like the american industry to kick in and start building them they are in the process of doing that. now, so i don't see right now that we are -- but it is a
disaster or anything. it is a transition that is growing so i think we are going to be okay in the long run on that i don't see that being a problem. but we also are designing different types of engines one is in the movie the martian that we actually have an early version sitting on the space craft that's a very important technology for us and we are building a really sophisticated engine right now for the space craft that is the asteroid redirects mission. that sounds kind of neat service engine will carry a lot of hydrazine and then you accelerate and throw it out the back of the space craft and when
you do that it's like anything in space it gives you an opposite reaction so that's the process they were tremendously efficient and how it got into orbit it spent more than a year but then it ran through the asteroid belt to the other side and got in around the series. it's a technology we have to have. so just like what is in the martian we are going to be using these with engines going back and forth carrying a club and. so the technology we are developing now. you will hear a little bit more little but more about that but it's a great start for us. >> how are we situated for supplies for the mission?
>> power supplies. how do we power stuff where the sun doesn't shine? we use plutonium 238. it was no longer made. it was abolished years and years ago but we have a stockpile and we used it and now we've worked with the administration and we've been given the approval to generate it again and it's not within grade anything. it's about generating power into the department of energy is doing that for us and just in the last couple of months they demonstrated that they could do it so that is a huge step. so, the ability of how this
works to bring together this plutonium and it has a certain mass in its nucleus with all of these electrons but it's the nucleus that's important and it is unstable and that means if you have a group of it in 88 years half of it would mutate into something completely different by having the nucleus explode. so when it explodes, it rips part of it away and that part is a small moving but heavy set of material that then produces heat so when you bring it together, it glows red like a red marshmallow and we put it any longer case surrounded by thermal electric santa means we
it is a nucleus that has a proton and a neutron and that's called a deuterium. so we have that hydrogen ratio. it kind of supports the idea that venus was like her at one time that lost its ocean. so it's out of kilter than it is today comparing it to earth and we used the same technique when we looked at mars recently and ice that is trapped in the north pole is covered by dry ice that we could get the ratio that tells us mars has lost an enormous amount in the form of
water over time and so when we back out how much water that's when we get oceans of water from mars because of that one measure and that also was great to follow up on. >> yes sir. >> but it's so hard to do and let me give you a little idea of how. we have a group of people that come together and we said okay give us a definition of life so we can figure out how to build an instrument to measure it. no problem. it took them ten years. [laughter] they are astrobiologists and we brought the right groups of groups of people together to do
that and they had a nice definition with a three-day basic attribute should means ingesting and instructing extracting so it is an important part. third, it has to evolve. so how how's it been to measure those three things. so that's how we measure the life produced. so there are certain things like
we created what we called the ladder of life. all these things we can measure indicate that these are the things that are generated by life. now that tells us right away that when we send a mission to look for life we are going to need several of those instruments and they will have to come out positive to indicate that there is life. that is the approach that the scientists use when they landed on mars and descriptive material and its instruments and they needed to three positive indications. unfortunately they didn't know enough about mars to realize what they did destroy the life
signature and that's why they never got back with a positive indication for life. that's been the answer to the question. there could still be life but the instruments didn't work as we thought they would so one of the best ways to do that is to bring the material back and that's what it's going to do it's going to start coring rock and bring the material back and it's going to take a variety of different types of samples and allow us in our laboratories once the samples get here. >> about the sample is it will be there waiting. >> so the launches go to mars and take about nine months to get there and then it will have to go to these places and it will take up enough to create
the sample cache and then in the mid-20s we will need to bring it back so that's the next set that the next set of missions we are thinking about than the samples can come back. now we want to get down on the ground on the ice and we now believe that the way that it resurfaced itself is through the cracks that we see that opened up and water sprays out so we want to set the lander and let it stay right on the back and make measurements directly. noah does that and wants to know what life is like in the regions
and they go and take a vial full of water in to see to say this to say this is a healthy set of sea turtles it's got this and that because they can look at the waste in the water. so getting that material tells an enormous amount of what is underneath the ice. we are going to be able to i believe the answer of the question definitively is there life on earth in the solar system and if the answer to that is yes. one more quick question. >> so i can come and do these talks for you [inaudible] [applause]
[inaudible] manned exploration in the universe is expensive to do. do you think we will be able to do that in the budget if it goes on? we all have to make the financial decision that we put something away for the future cause i want to have a future. what is the future of the earth? the future will change and we have to adapt.
there are hazards out there and i back up my computer drive that home we need to back up the human race in my educated opinion. we have an imperative if this species is going to survive we move out and that's mars. mars is the location we are so lucky to have a planet like mars. so what will happen? it was like earth and it went through an enormous climate change we don't know how fast or exactly when. what will happen in the future, we now understand that a little bit better. if the heat from the sun continues to increase, which it will than the temperatures will
increase. it will sublimate producing a greenhouse effect that will melt the ice cap and a significant part of the ocean to return and mars will look like earth again and we better be on the planet when it happens. a stack stack that is an ending. [applause] thank you all for coming. maybe we will just have general green back here >> there are so many things we can talk about. >> we take you live to the floor of the senate expected to gavel in for a brief session during
the spring break recess. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the cleerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c., march 28, 2016. to the senate, under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3 of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable susan collins, a senator from the state of maine to perform the duties of the chair. signed orrin g. hatch, president pro tempore. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the senate stands adjourned until 6:30 p.m. on thursday, march 31, 2016.