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PODCAST: Dr. Robert Thirsk has been in space longer than any other Canadian

TODAY IN B.C.: Member of the Order of BC is a physician, engineer and astronaut

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Host Peter McCully chats with Dr. Robert Thirsk who holds the Canadian record for the most time spent in space at 205 days.

Born in New Westminster, Thirsk joined the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) as part of the first group of Canadian astronauts. He went on to work on the development of space robotics and remote sensing applications, and he conducted research in microgravity and life sciences.

Thirsk spent 188 days aboard the International Space Station (ISS) in 2009.

‘Mars is the ultimate destination. It’s the dream. We want to go to Mars to answer some fundamental questions that humanity has. Did Mars ever harbor life? We don’t think there’s life there today. But 3 billion years ago, we think that Mars teamed with oceans and lakes, and typically where water is found, there’s a chance that life might have evolved there as, well.

So, the Mars astronauts of 15 or 20 years from now will not find life there, but they may come home with a fossil. That’d be the news event of the 21st century,’ says Thirsk.

Following his time with the CSA, Thirsk served as Chancellor at the University of Calgary.

On the podcast, McCully asks Thirsk about Artificial Intelligence, the Artemis Project and whether he thinks we are alone in the universe.

‘I do think there’s a very good chance that there is intelligent life out there. Having said that I’d also like to say that it could be that we’re it as well in terms of intelligent life. So, it behooves us to take good care of this planet, be good stewards of this planet - because we might be it.’

Throughout his career, Thirsk has received numerous awards and honors, including the Order of Canada, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal.

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Peter McCully

About the Author: Peter McCully

Peter has been a broadcaster and publisher on both of Canada’s coasts and has owned a small newspaper and run an advertising agency along the way.
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