Detail from a NASA poster, "Explorers Wanted."
Detail from a NASA poster, "Explorers Wanted."

Extended Classic: Putting Humans on Mars, with Mike Massimino

Credit: NASA.
Click to Listen to Audio

To activate exclusive, ad-free All-Access content, click here.

For All-Access contacts, pricing, refund policy and other important information, click here.

Listen On

You Can Also Listen On

About This Episode

Now extended with 12 minutes of Neil Tyson and Bill Nye hanging out in the Cosmic Crib chatting about journeying to Mars, second genesis, spinning spaceships, human vs robotic discovery, bow ties for space suits, and the fight for pure exploration.  

What will it take to send people to Mars safely, and bring them home again? In his first mission in the command seat for StarTalk All-Stars, former NASA astronaut and fan-favorite guest Astro Mike Massimino and his co-host Maeve Higgins find out from John Charles, the Chief Scientist at NASA’s Human Research Program. You’ll hear how NASA is planning to mitigate 30 different risks that Mars-bound astronauts will face on a round trip lasting a minimum of 30 months, including radiation exposure, adapting to long term weightlessness, the psychological challenges of isolation and confinement, and the need for medical care in emergencies. As John puts it, “Our goal is to keep people in sufficient condition that they can work as hard as they’ve ever worked in their entire lives.” Mike and John answer fan-submitted Cosmic Queries chosen by Maeve, including what kind of people should be sent to Mars, who the most important member of a Mars mission might be, and why we should send people at all rather than continuing with the robotic exploration of the Red Planet. You’ll learn what kind of habitats are being considered and researched, and how NASA is conducting research in Mars analogs here on Earth like HERA at the Johnson Space Center and HI-SEAS on the slopes of an extinct volcano in Hawaii. Explore the ethical issues of “polluting a planet with humans” – and the ethical limits of experimenting on astronauts. Discover where the Mars mission will get its water, and why Mike says, “Today’s coffee is tomorrow’s coffee.” Plus, what The Martian movie got right, astronaut Don Petit’s “potato problem”, and how NASA is cooperating with Elon Musk’s plans for SpaceX to put humans on Mars.

NOTE: Video version does not include new Cosmic Crib content, which is audio only.

In This Episode

Music in This Episode

Episode Topics

Music in This Episode