Mars Society’s Robert Zubrin
Credit: Mars Society/Inside Outer Space screengrab



In closing remarks today of the 2020 Mars Society Virtual Convention, society leader Robert Zubrin zeroed in on “planetary protectionists” versus “frontierists.”

Credit: Elon Musk/SpaceX




Zubrin said there is “need to loosen the bonds of this thing that calls itself the planetary protection program but is really a bureaucracy-in-ignorance protection program.” They, the planetary protection group, have installed themselves in various bureaucracies, he said, and “want to use this to expand their power and are crippling the space program.”

Credit: NASA/Pat Rawlings

Furthermore, the planetary protection people, Zubrin said, “have so distorted and inverted the priorities…that they are a tremendous impediment.”

Vision to be realized

Zubrin said the frontierists are “quick to recognize that the planetary protection bureaucracy is fatal to their aspirations.”

“There’s a vision to be realized. It’s now closer than ever,” Zubrin said. He noted that the virtual meeting from October 15-18 drew over 100,000 people that viewed one session or another from around the world – thus making the meeting 10 times larger than any space conference in history, he said.

“This has been an epic event,” Zubrin said.

For Zubrin’s closing remarks, including talking points on SpaceX’s Elon Musk and Starship plans, looking for life on the Red Planet, the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, robotic versus human exploration, along with the technical challenges ahead, go to the last day of the 2020 Mars Society Virtual Convention at:

Zubrin’s closing comments begin at: 3:10:12/3:30:42

One Response to “Humans to Mars: “Planetary Protectionists” versus “Frontierists””

  • I fully understand the position of those wishing to make Mars the second home for humanity’s future. I think we have a very long way to go beyond merely scrabbling a toehold, namely we need to plan for an entire biosphere to accompany us (you can take the ape outta the biosphere, but you can’t take the biosphere outta the ape). But, that’s another discussion. I also fully appreciate the prospective of the planetary protectionists. We will make the opportunity to answer the question of life beyond Earth much much more difficult if not impossible by having a bunch of humans pooping into the aquifers. I think the forge ahead group (as always championed by unflappable Dr. Robert Zubrin) would love to answer the “is there extant microbial life on Mars” as much as the planetary protectionists long championed by the most adamant of our group, the lovely Dr. Penelope Boston, would love for a vibrant successful colony of humans on Mars. It’s really just a difference in timing, isn’t it? That’s why my team at Reactive Surfaces came up with our proposed equipment and approach (you can read all about them in our US Patent/s) we call Fast & Cheap, Wide & Deep – a survey of the solar system for evidence of microbial life similar enough to Earth microbes to be detectable with extremely sensitive techniques. The essential core technology relies on two elements – (1) bunker busting bomb hardware that can be kinetic all dropped from orbit and drive deep into the target regolith in multiple locations at various depths (2) all surfaces of the probes continually self-sterilized, self-cleaned, and made nucleic acid-free to prevent carrying ANY Earth microbe, viral particle, or nucleic acid from contaminating the deep, wet sub-surface most likely to harbor non-Earth microbes. These planetary penetrator probes are designed to be carried as ballad cargo on any target bound space craft that will approach a target closely enough to be deployed. Once delivered, and because there cannot be any contaminating nucleic acids hitchhiking from Earth, the probes will seek to amplify even very rare target microbe nucleic acids, determine the degree of homology (biological similarity) to Earth microbes. The finding of homologous nucleic acids is exactly the answer to Sagan’s “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. If these nucleic acids are not found after a rapid and thorough examination planet-wide, then we have at least tried to honor the Orime Directive, because to further study whether there is any extant microbial life on the target will take boots on the ground. Think of it as an off-planet environmental impact statement. Any one interested in hearing more about our proposed approach is welcome to contact me at Reactive

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