Keynote Speaker: Dr. Pascal Lee

Dr. Lee gave us information about the plans for the first human mission to Mars. He gave a background of the surface temperatures, pressures and topography all of which present unique difficulties to a human mission. Lee shared the mission goals and results from each of the successful rover missions. He was able to share several images from the Mars missions to discuss the difference in terrain, air quality and the sky. The sky on Mars is only blue at sunrise and sunset as the sky clears of dust. Conjuction vs Opposition timing plans each have their benefits and drawbacks to the amount of time in space and the amount of time spent on the surface of Mars. There are private endeavors including the Inspiration Mars program. Lee is more interested in whether or not Mars has alien life, as in different from our own, more than if there is life on Mars. He advocates the continued exploration and study of Mars and hopefully an eventual human mission to Mars. Lee believes that NASA plans and achievements will help increase science education and the number of students that graduate with upper level degrees in Science. A similar trend was seen after the Apollo missions in the 1960’s.

Lee gave us a preview of some of the illustrations for his book Mission: Mars and discussed what astronauts can expect upon landing. The effect on the human body is severe for the length of time that would be necessary for a human trip to Mars. It takes approximately as long to recover from time in microgravity as you spent in microgravity. Astronauts are exposed to radiation exposure, experience bone decalcification, muscle atropy, intracranial pressure and their isolation can leave to immunodeficiency. Men seem to be more effected by intracranial pressure and negative effects on their eyesight than women. Lee proposes a radiation shelter made of lead on the spacecraft to Mars in case of solar particle events like solar flares. Day-to-day radiation protection can be made by careful planning, water bags and food containers should be around the exterior wall of the space craft in order to take advantage of Hydrogen’s blocking ability.

Lee is on the Haughton-Mars Project, which continues to explore the Haughton Crater on Devon Island  in the Artic as a Mars surface analog. The topography and geography of Mars and Devon Island are very similar and their studies there help to determine home Mars surface features came to be. Lee does not believe that the water features on Mars were not made by warm water in the past. There is more information on his website here about his work, publications and more.

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