Richmond PBS television and NPR broadcast station WCVE hosted the event "Dissecting Science: Getting to Mars" this past Tuesday (Nov. 14). The evening began with a reception at which former astronaut Kathryn Hire signed autographs and posed for photos, while several space science exhibits were on display in the lobby area.
The program began with a preview of the PBS special "Beyond A Year In Space."
The program included presentations by Dr. Joel Levine, a research professor at the College of William and Mary, after a career as a research scientist at the NASA Langley Research Center. Dr. Levine talked about why people, rather than robots, are needed to explore space and why Mars needs to be explored.
Capt. Hire discussed the technologies available for human space exploration and the research being conducted to prepare humans for a flight to Mars. Patrick Troutman of the NASA Human Spaceflight Architecture Team at the NASA Langley Research Center talked of a series of phases, beginning with the current ISS missions, that have been suggested in order to be able to reach the point of development required to send humans to Mars and back on a multiyear mission. He then showed proposed vehicles and crew modules to be used for a man to Mars mission.
A question and answer session followed.
Perhaps the most memorable moment of the presentation was when Capt. Hire showed a photo taken from the surface of Mars by one of the robot landers of Earth in the Martian sky. For me, this photo gave a new perspective of how far Mars is from Earth.