Episode 102: The Great Terraforming Mars Debate – Part 2: The Biology, with Olathe MacIntyre

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Feature Guest: Olathe MacIntyre

6844539Ever consider moving to Mars? The Star Spot recently did. Along with the University of Toronto Astronomy and Space Exploration Society, we recently co-hosted a panel event exploring one of the most fascinating questions in which science meets science fiction. Can we terraform Mars to make it habitable? And if we can, should we?

We were joined by a 5 member panel of experts, representing a wide range of backgrounds in order to approach the issue from all angles: physics, astronomy, philosophy, ethics, commerce and politics. Now over the course of 4 episodes we’re joined at The Star Spot by each of our guests from that event.

We started, appropriately, with the red planet itself. In our last episode planetary scientist Paul Delaney updated us with the most current understanding of the characteristics of Mars pertinent to the planet’s suitability for life.

Today we look at the biology, turning the focus on us, that is, the biota of Earth. We’ll be asking what we need to change about Mars to make it friendlier to our kind of life? What techniques are available toward that end? And could Earth life itself play a key role in transforming the red planet?


The Star Spot is now on the Radio!

The The Star Spot podcast is now The Star Spot podcast and radio show. That’s right. Your favourite astronomy program is now travelling through space, specifically the 1280AM frequency. Our broadcaster, CJRU The Scope at Ryerson, is now available on the radio dial, which means you can join us at The Star Spot at 1280AM every Sunday 8PM and Tuesday 6PM Eastern Time.

Visit http://www.thescopeatryerson.ca/ to learn more about our partner radio station.

Current in Space

Did you know dung beetles use the Milky Way galaxy for navigation. Don’t believe us? Anuj will explain how it works. Then Tony shares how supermassive black holes may unlock the secrets of distant galaxies.

About Our Guest

Dr. Olathe MacIntyre received a B.Sc. in Biology at Dalhousie University.  After working as an Onboard Marine Biologist in Alaska, she completed her M.Sc. in Space Science at the International Space University in France, and co-authored “Visysphere Mars: Terraforming Meets Engineered Life Adaption.” She received an internship at the world-class Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility at the University of Guelph, where she earned a Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences. Her thesis explored the implications of hypobaric conditions for plant-microbe interactions in a Lunar or Martian greenhouse. She followed with a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the School of Engineering at the University of Guelph. She is currently with Science North, a science education centre, working to inspire the next generation of scientists through the wonders of space exploration.


Should We Remake Mars in Earth’s Image? (space.com)

Should we terraform Mars? (Universe Today)

Effectiveness of beneficial plant-microbe interactions under hypobaric and hypoxic conditions in an advanced life support system

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