StarTalk Live! from SF Sketchfest 2016 (Part 2)

On stage at the Nourse Theater in San Francisco: From left: Eugene Mirman, Jim Green, Bill Nye, Maeve Higgins, Andy Weir. Credit: Dan Dion.
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About This Episode

This week StarTalk Live! is still on Mars with Andy Weir, author of The Martian, and Dr. Jim Green, Director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division. Join Bill Nye, Eugene Mirman and Maeve Higgins for the conclusion of our show recorded live earlier this year at SF Sketchfest. Andy tells guest host Bill Nye why he chose Acidalia Planitia for the Ares 3 landing site, and Jim explains how NASA helped Ridley Scott find locations on Earth to recreate the Martian surface for the film. Explore the concept of planetary protection, and why NASA can’t just send Curiosity to investigate Mars’ weeping craters, for fear of contaminating our search for Martian microbes with microbes from Earth. You’ll learn which clues NASA is using to search for life on Mars – water and methane – and hear about both panspermia and the possibility that life evolved independently on Mars and on Earth. You’ll also hear about shergottites (Martian meteorites), including one of the most famous, ALHA 84001, as well as the OSIRIS-REx mission to Bennu to find meteors like the Murchison carbonaceous chondrite that carries amino acids, the building blocks of life. Plus, Andy describes his tour of the meteor lab at Johnson Space Center, and how much he spent to buy his own 33 gram Martian meteorite, “a silly purchase, but man, it’s so cool.”

(WARNING: Since this show was recorded live on Jan 22, 2016 before an adult audience in San Francisco, be prepared for some adult language – especially concerning shergottites and “sciencing the sh*t” out of things!)

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: StarTalk Live! from SF Sketchfest 2016 (Part 2)

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