August 8, 2016 9:44 pm

Tuesday, Astro Mike takes command of StarTalk All-Stars’ mission to Mars!

Photo of host Mike Massimino, guest John Charles and co-host Maeve Higgins in studio recording "Putting Humans on Mars - StarTalk All-Stars."

Astro Mike Massimino hosts “Putting Humans on Mars – StarTalk All-Stars” with guest John Charles and co-host Maeve Higgins.

From the moment Astro Mike Massimino first showed up on StarTalk Radio, in our episode, Spaceward Bound, on October 10, 2011, we knew Mike was destined for bigger things than just being a guest on our show.

And what a guest he’s been, appearing in more 10 episodes of StarTalk Radio and StarTalk Live! shows. (In fact, the only person with more guest appearances than Mike is astrophysicist Charles Liu – and we made him a StarTalk All-Stars host, too.)

This Tuesday, Astro Mike, the first person to tweet from space, becomes the first astronaut to serve as a StarTalk All-Stars host. Mike will be joined by co-host Maeve Higgins and their guest, John Charles, the Chief Scientist at NASA’s Human Research Program, to talk about “Putting Humans on Mars.”

The human aspect of space exploration is something Mike knows well. He flew on two space shuttle missions to fix the Hubble Space Telescope before retiring from NASA to teach mechanical engineering at Columbia University and to be the Senior advisor for Space Programs at the Intrepid See, Air & Space Museum. But even before NASA, Mike worked as an engineer, working on human-machine interfaces for space systems.

And that’s a subject that comes up as a Cosmic Query in Tuesday’s episode: whether to explore Mars with robots, humans or both. But that’s not the only subject Mike, John and Maeve discuss. They talk about the psychological and physical issues of sending people to the Red Planet. John outlines some of the 30 risks to astronauts that NASA is working to mitigate for the Mars mission, from radiation exposure to the psychological impact of isolation and confinement on a minimum 30-month journey to Mars.

In addition to discussing the accuracy of The Martian and Don Petit’s “potato problem,” they talk about the problems of water, in space and on Mars, and why for astronauts, “Today’s coffee is tomorrow’s coffee.”

Mike also shares some personal stories about growing up in Queens and he offers some advice to any intrepid explorers brave enough to set off on a round trip journey to the Red Planet. Mike and John venture their opinions about some other, private, planned one-way trips to Mars, as well as how NASA is cooperating with Elon Musk and SpaceX’s plan to send humans to Mars in 2025.

We hope you’ve been liking our StarTalk All-Stars episodes so far. First we had Bill Nye as host, then Carolyn Porco. Now, it’s Mike’s turn. Please join us for Mike’s All-Stars debut, Tuesday, August 9 at 7pm EDT, on iTunes Podcasts, Google Play Music, SoundCloud, Stitcher, TuneIn and right here on our website. (For now, all StarTalk All-Stars episodes will come through the same feeds you’re used to, so there’s no need to subscribe to anything new.)

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!
–Jeffrey Simons