Scientists from around the globe, working cooperatively, could help save the Earth from an ecological nd environmental disaster, a Soviet space scientist told University of Utah students and professors Friday.
Mikhail Ya. Marov, chief of the Department of Planetary Physics at the M.V. Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics in Moscow, said scientists from around the globe should work toward the establishment of a cooperative space observation system to monitor Earth's environment and ecology."Working together, we could much better observe changes in the Earth's ozone layer, the disappearance of the Earth's rain forests and changes in the planet's climate."
Marov, 55, who said he has spent the past 30 years studying the mysteries of space, is in the United States to attend the annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference to be held March 20 in Houston, Texas.
Associate professor Richard W. Shorthill, of the university's Department of Engineering, who has known Marov for more than 20 years, asked the Soviet scientist to stop in Salt Lake City and speak at the university on his way to Texas.
Marov talked about the Soviets' plans to explore Mars and one of its two satellites, the small body Phobos, which Marov believes was once an asteroid that was swept into Mars' gravitational field.
"The USSR will send a space ship to Phobos in 1992 and two space ships to Mars in 1994. I would hope that we can have much more cooperation with American scientists on these space missions than we have had in the past."
Marov told the students at the Engineering and Mines Classroom Building that he is happy there seems to be much more political harmony and cooperation between the USSR and the United States.
"It is better to cooperate than to compete. I think everybody is tired of competing. Cooperation is better than confrontation, too," he said.
Any confrontation in space, he said, would be the ultimate disaster. "All nations would suffer. All mankind would suffer. I think the leaders of the world realize this."
He said the values of space exploration are many. "We learn about space and about our solar system, certainly, but we learn about our own planet. How did Venus become a dead planet with such a hot surface and an unbelievable atmosphere? Why do other planets seem uninhabitable and inhospitable? Are we to become like them eventually? Are we killing our planet? We can learn a lot about ourselves and our Earth by studying space."
A spacecraft orbiting Mars in 1992 will dispatch several instruments onto Phobos so its surface can be examined, Marov said. "We will have a special craft that will use springs to jump along the surface of Phobos so it can make observations and tests in various locations."
He said the Soviets will not attempt soft landings on Mars in 1994 but will penetrate the surface for several meters to determine the composition of the planet's soil.
A soft landing on Mars and the employment of a wheeled vehicle to venture about on the planet's surface, he said, will be attempted in l996 or 1998. A Mars sample recovery mission will be attempted by the Soviets, he said, by the end of this century.
During one mission to Mars, he said, a Soviet spacecraft will dispatch a balloon lander that is expected to last, intact, for half a month.
"We want to find out the exact shape of Mars, its internal processes, its orbit and spin and their relation to its climates.
"In 1994, we want to send a vehicle, from an orbiting spaceship, close to Mars' surface to take extremely high resolution photographs of Mars. Instead of sending the photographic information back to Earth via radio - which would take years - we want to send the vehicle back to the orbiting spacecraft so the photographs can be brought back to Earth directly."
Among the unusual things scientists have learned about Phobos, he said, are that you cannot jump on Phobos and land again. "If you jumped as you would on Earth, you would rise off the satellite and never return.
"You can not drill a hole into Phobos as you would on Earth, either. If you attempted to drill a hole, the pressure and force you exerted would send you flying off the satellite."