In December, the deputy head of the Office of Scientific MissionsNASA aerospace agency Thomas Zurbuchen visited Boston University with a working visit, where he gave a presentation and answered several questions from students about when a person can go to Mars, about his attitude to the developing field of space tourism, and about the biggest issue The universe, which is trying to solve all the scientists of the planet.
Among all the greatest mysteries of the universe, which of them would you really like to get an answer to?
Is there life outside the Earth? I think that there is. But we have no evidence. It seems to me that this can be explained by the fact that we seriously underestimated nature. A few years ago, we were not sure whether water or complex molecules could exist outside the Earth. But it turned out that answering these questions was much easier than expected. We find them everywhere, even in the polar craters of the planet Mercury. The process of the birth of life turned out to be much simpler than we thought. Therefore, it is highly likely that it exists somewhere else.
You yourself were not in space. Ever wanted to try?
If you would go into space it would alsojust how to fly, for example, to Paris, then I would fly. Right now. But this is impossible. I can not afford to spend weeks and months on the necessary training for space flight training and preparation.
What do you think about the idea of space tourism?
I think this is awesome. Everyone who has been in space agrees that this is a unique and very important experience. I compare this with conquering the summit of a very high mountain. Only the highest mountains conquered thousands of brave souls, and only about 500 people flew into space. How else can we offer the opportunity to get this unique experience to others, if not with the help of space tourism?
If we continue the topic of uniqueness of experience ... NASAplans to send researchers to Mars. Many space missions that have already been and that are just to be - all of them allow you to accumulate important experience and knowledge that will definitely come in handy on this journey. In your opinion, when will people be ready for it?
I would say that around the mid-2030s. However, there is a lot of work to be done. It is necessary to send more people to low Earth orbit in order to finally answer the important question: can we survive in deep space?
What prevents to answer this question now?
Cosmic radiation, much more intense withaway from the Earth’s magnetic field. The farther we move away from Earth, the more difficult it becomes to preserve the lives of astronauts, since it takes more time to get to a safe place. Hours turn into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years. We need to develop a system of complete autonomy. With distance, the complexity of communication also increases, since the speed of light is finite. If we are talking about working on Mars, we need complete autonomy. From the control center on Earth, it is quite easy to control the landing of the apparatus on the moon, because we are not separated by such a long distance. With Mars, this will not work.
What do you think the first expedition to Mars will look like?
The crew of the first manned mission to Mars will befew, since the larger the mission, the more difficult it is to implement from a technical point of view. I think that the crew will consist of four to eight people, but not twenty. Sending too small a crew of one or two people is also not an option - it will be too difficult to solve any problems that may arise during the mission.
You said diversity is important
Without personal diversity it is impossible to achievetrue innovation. Many studies have drawn a link between personal diversity and excellence in innovative ideas. If you need a team that can imagine the future better than anyone else, then you need people with different cultures, race, gender. At the same time, group thinking cannot be called an ideal tool for creating excellence. Such an approach is ideal if you need to make a quick decision of a problem, a question, a problem, but not an excellent one.
Space research will open the way for humankind to live outside the Earth
No matter what the answer to this question is, it is importantso that we save our home planet habitable. Thinking otherwise is dangerous. I sometimes get into the ideas of the possibility of terraforming other planets, but today the Earth is our only home. Fanaticism, born in the minds of people, leads us to a global catastrophe and great efforts are needed to preserve ourselves as a species.
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