Episode 103: The Great Terraforming Mars Debate – Part 3: The Ethics, with John Rummel

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Feature Guest: John Rummel

johnrumme;Ever consider moving to Mars? The Star Spot did. Along with the University of Toronto Astronomy and Space Exploration Society, we co-hosted a panel event exploring one of the most fascinating questions in which science meets science fiction. The great terraforming Mars debate.

We were joined by a 5 member panel of experts, representing a wide range of backgrounds. We approached the issue from all angles: physics, astronomy, philosophy, ethics, commerce and politics. Now over the course of 4 episodes I’m being joined at The Star Spot by each of our guests from that event. We covered the science of Mars with planetary scientist Paul Delaney. We then turned questions of Martian and Earthling biology with Dr. Olathe MacIntyre.

Now it’s time to switch gears. Even if we could make Mars habitable, we must confront the equally profound question, should we do it? If Mars already habours life, even just microbes, does that make terraforming off limits? If Mars has dormant life, should we reawaken it? And do humans have an imperative to spread life to the barren worlds of our solar system and beyond?

To tackle these biggest of questions today we’re joined at The Star Spot by Professor John Rummel of NASA’s Planetary Protection Subcommittee.


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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.

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Current in Space

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About Our Guest

John Rummel is a Senior Scientist with the SETI Institute and a Visiting Scholar at McGill University’s Institute of Air and Space Law. A retired Professor of Biology at East Carolina University, he has been a member of the NASA Advisory Council’s Planetary Protection Subcommittee. He previously worked at NASA Headquarters, as Senior Scientist for Astrobiology and Exobiology Program Manager. Rummel is Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has received the Life Sciences Award from the International Academy of Astronautics. He received his PhD in community ecology and evolution from Stanford University.


Nasa Advisory Council Planetary Protection Subcommittee

How Can We Protect Mars From Earth, While Searching For Life? (Astrobiology Magazine)

The Overprotection of Mars? (Astrobiology Magazine)

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