The possibilities for life outside of Earth is a topic with innumerable perspectives and ideas, books, movies, and even albums, but how does our current technology measure up? In this episode, we’ll talk with two scientists about far-out ideas like using bacteria to mine asteroids, or whether or not we can terraform Mars. We’ll see where our current tech stands, what we might need to consider, and what we can and can’t accomplish in the near future.
Dr. Luis Zea is an assistant research professor for CU Boulder Aerospace who specializes in the intriguing field of bioastronautics, studying how biology and space interact. His interests span everything from gravitational microbiology to biomining and bio-based resource utilization. His work asks questions like “How can we protect our astronauts from bacterial contamination?” and “How can microorganisms help us mine metals from asteroids?” Dr. Zea is also part of the Artemis mission, leading an investigation using yeasts to study the radiation environment of the moon.
Dr. Bruce Jakosky is a professor at CU Boulder, Associate Director of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, Principal Investigator of the MAVEN spacecraft mission, and newly-appointed member of the National Space Council User’s Advisory Group. His expertise in geology and cosmochemistry make him a leading expert in Mars’s atmosphere and what it would take to make the Red Planet habitable. In fact, he’s authored two books on the search for life in the universe and leads the CU team for NASA’s Astrobiology Institute. If anyone knows how to create a liveable Mars, it’s Dr. Jakosky! But does he think we can do it?