Propelled by last year's discovery of an ancient meteorite containing strong evidence of life forms on Mars, researchers worldwide are exploring the possible next step -- a human mission to the red planet.
According to Berkeley lecturer and former NASA engineer Larry Kuznetz, the science fiction fantasy of traveling to Mars could become a reality within 15 to 18 years. To better understand this possibility, Kuznetz has created a unique campus course that brings together space travel experts and students to discuss the ecological, technical and ethical aspects of a human mission to Mars.
The class features campus speakers as well as guests from NASA, Jet Propulsion Labs and Pioneer Astronautics. Important space mission logistics, such as creating space suits for Mars; interplanetary contamination; fuel production using Martian resources; and water, food and heat balances, will be discussed throughout the course.
The series, "To Mars by 2012," is sponsored by the College of Engineering's Interdisciplinary Studies program. Lectures are offered every Monday and Wednesday through April 30 and are free and open to the public. All discussions begin at 3 p.m., in 241 Cory Hall.
Kuznetz worked for NASA from 1965 to 1981 and has taught and lectured at the University of Houston, the University of Texas and Stanford University. He was a National Academy of Sciences Senior Fellow at NASA's Ames Research Center.
Following is a list of lecture dates and topics: