Reshaping Mars on Steam
President Michael introduced Chuck Spence who provided musical accompanist acapella style.
Dr. Marcia Conston delivered the invocation. Brain McGuire provided a visitation report. Colin McKinnon’s daughter, Kris, continues a difficult recovery from an accident. There were no guests in attendance.
President Michael reminded members to cast a ballot for luncheon venue choice-Norfolk Yacht & Country Club, Scope, or Town Point Club as well as vote for prospective member Amanda Workman. Chris Bugg stressed the need for Growlfest volunteer’s noon to 9 pm on September 11th. Norfolk Sunrise Club is outdoing us for volunteers.
Eleanor Schoonover introduced guest speaker, Dr. Bob Ash. A 40-year Rotarian Bob was club president 1993-94. He recently retired from ODU Batten College of Engineering and Technology as Professor and Eminent Scholar Emeritus. A leave of absence from ODU 1977-79 took Bob to Cal Tech Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he took a $694M Mars sample return to NASA design study. That study motivated the discovery of a new way to exploit extra-terrestrial resources to enable large-scale round-trip missions to Mars and other planets.
Despite being absent from the classroom for five months, Bob provided a fascinating overview of his 40-year Mars exploration. One of his first assignments was with NASA Langley to manufacture fuel on Mars to power a rocket’s return to earth. Initially, he hoped to create methane from water on the planet's surface. But he wasn’t sure about its accessibility. So, he and his students devised a system to extract oxygen from carbon dioxide. Bob was convinced by early 1978 that this important technology needed to be aggressively pursued. It took 19 years for NASA to decide it was a good idea.
Hollywood also thought it was a good idea. The device pioneered by Ash and his students in the 1980s was the prototype for the vehicle Matt Damon used to escape Mars in the 2015 movie “The Martian.” The potential for future Mar’s manned missions Bob stressed requires a sustainable infrastructure of humanoid robots such as those developed by Boston Dynamics.  And hopefully, his former students are working on that
President Michael presented Bob a copy of “Three Billy Goats Gruff,” which will be contributed to School of the Week Ingleside Elementary. Jeff Wells drew from $694 pot-no winner this week.
Happy Bucks:  
  • Jim Sell, returning from a 2,500-mile road trip.
  • John Cameron inked a contract with a publisher for a civil war novel.
  • Linwood Beckner, oldest granddaughter starts middle school.
  •  Jim Kitts for Army football victory.
  • Will Lehew, Larchmont Methodist preschool where his granddaughter attends and he is board chair.
  •  President Michael, California botanical gardens field trip.
  •  Barbara Lipskis, Norfolk Botanical Garden groundbreaking.
Adjourned: 1:30 pm