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ScienceWe’re a team of scientists and engineers and we shoot a laser on Mars. Ask us anything!

Nov 2nd 2016 by cnespace • 13 Questions • 1359 Points

Hi Reddit, I’m Mike Weinholtz, the democratic candidate for Governor of Utah! I’m running to get back to the real Utah values of taking care of one another and building a better future for our families. It’s time to put an end to pay-to-play special-interest politics and a state leadership that’s too focused on partisan theatrics to listen to the voices of its own people, which is why I’ve rejected all corporate money to my campaign. I’m passionately committed to improving our schools, cleaning up our air and water, making sure all Utah families have adequate healthcare and being a better steward of our public lands.

For those who aren’t familiar with me, here are some issues that I’m passionate about:

Legalizing medical cannabis and prescription drug reform

Affordable healthcare for all

Quality education

Protecting our public lands

I’m happy to answer questions from Utahns and non-Utahns alike from 6-7 PM MST.

Proof

Q:

Until when the laser is going to keep shooting rocks?

A:

Hi Lee!

I just wanna say I’m a huge fan and love all of your stuff, but I gotta say my favorite is The Fall. It’s one of my favorite movies of all time, it’s just so beautiful visually and in its storytelling.

What was your favorite part about working on a film like that? What was the most challenging?


Q:

How would you plan on handling the homeless issue downtown and down state Street? Also crimes regarding drug users in those areas?

A:

We have now shot the laser about 400.000 times and it can do a lot more like 3 Million shots. We shoot as long as we can, pew pew! **Susanne


Q:

That was an incredible experience. The whole thing. We traveled to awesome places. Camped in mountains.... just incredible

A:

Perhaps one of the biggest things I think we can do to improve this situation by passing Medicaid expansion - a medical condition shouldn't mean financial ruin.

I would also work with state, county, and local governments to address on the ground issues related to crime.

Finally, I want to make sure that those with addiction and mental health problems have access to the resources they need to get clean and re-enter society.


Q:

What will be the main factor determining the "as long as we can": energy available for the rover? Money to pay you guys?

A:

Why do you always look so confused in your selfies?


Q:

Follow-up question:

If individual counties cannot raise the money to offset the cost of free transportation on red air days, will the state step in to offset the cost? will UTA fares be expected to rise? or are those counties just out of luck?

A:

Hard to say. Money should be ok because it is such a great asset on Mars; we’ll have to use it to its end. The energy is decreasing indeed, slowly. It is predictable. What we fear is always an “unexpected” break… So we don’t know. Temperature differences between day and night is 90°C. That is hard on the hardware. Dust accumulating everywhere is also a pain.
**Sylvestre


Q:

Im generally confused.

A:

With the mast majority of Utahns affected by red air days, and with UTA serving multiple counties, I do feel that the state can play a role in helping to ensure that the air remains as clean as possible. I would support assisting UTA as necessary.


Q:

What are the problems with dust accumulating, as Curiosity don't have solar panels? Mechanical problems?

A:

Hi, my name is Monica (@alsowillgraham on twitter). Do you think Cameron is going to leave Tom for Joe or is she going to stay with Tom??? Big fan of your work!!!

PS My birthday is tomorrow. What kind of cake should I get?


Q:

Why did you decide to run for governor in the first place?

A:

Yes dust is a pain because it circulates everywhere in the rover, being pushed in and out by the flow of air induced by the difference of temperatures between days and nights. And this dust can land anywhere, electronics, optics, mechanisms…
We have put filters, but Mars dust is so small, on the order of microns (meter), it gets everywhere. Mechanisms are the most sensitive devices to Mars dust -- it is a problem indeed.
Sylvestre


Q:

hi monica. i follow you on twitter. i like when you dress like Cameron. XXXO

A:

I decided to run for governor because I was tired of the one-party, pay-to-play politics in Utah. In my business experience as CEO of CHG Healthcare, I put people first, even before company profits. As governor, I will put people before politics. I am running for governor to give people a voice and represent ALL Utahns. Not all Utahns can afford to write a big check to Gov "Available Jones"


A:

What are your thoughts on a manned mission to Mars and it's possible colonization? And, would you ever consider playing an astronaut in a movie?


Q:

What are your thoughts on retail stores selling and distributing alcohol ie wine, vodka, rum. Everybody I know that drinks think it is rediculous to have to go to a liquor store for such simple drinks when a walmart, 7-11, or other retailer should be able to sell them.

What are your thoughts on legalizing gambling?

Thanks for running for governor.

Edit: Idaho gets significant revenue from utah during for their scratch tickets, especially during the mega millions.

A:

Like we do. But our laser is real.


Q:

I wanna go to mars. Seriously. If i could get a spot on that ship, I'm gone.

A:

With regard to liquor sales, I would like to examine the practicality of many of the laws of the the DABC as well as the possibility of free market liquor sales.

Regarding gambling, while it has been a source of revenue for other states, I don't believe that a majority of Utahns would support the idea.


Q:

what about the wheels (I remember hearing last years about holes)?

A:

Hi Lee! Since you're working on a podcast now, what podcasts do you enjoy listening to?


Q:
  1. Many of your proposed policies would require dramatic increases in spending. What approach would your administration take to raising the funds for these programs?

  2. There have been many who have criticized many regulations that the Utah DABC has in placed and many say that it decreases Utah's appeal to high-end tourism. What is your stance on the DABC? What changes, if any would you make?

  3. What measures would your administration take to make sure that corruption of public officials like what we've seen with Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow don't happen again?

  4. The LDS church is a powerful force in Utah politics and stands against at least your stance on legalizing medical marijuana as well as other issues. How would you bridge the gap and propose situations that would be supported by all parties?

  5. What measures would you take to improve Utah's air quality?

  6. What measures would your administration to take to manage Utah's continued growth? With limited space and limited water; will public transit, high density housing, and walkable cities by a priority for your administration?

A:

You’re right, we have some issues with the wheels (little and big holes made by very hard rocks). We’re carefully looking at this issue and rover team is trying to ride the best way not to injure too much the wheels.
Of course we’ll try to maintain the rover as healthy as possible to continue our great job on Mars and to discover again and again. According to calculation, we still have many kilometers on our belt. No reason to worry :)
Valérie M.


Q:

Longform.

A:

1) My biggest proposal is to increase education funding, I propose doing that that through a moderate tax increase of .0875% for all Utahns with an additional 1% for those earning $250K+. The rest can be achieved through reallocation of funds and ending wasteful government spending. This would still be lower than the pre-flat tax rate of 1996.

2) As governor, I would first like to see the DABC actually have those who consume alcohol sit on the board. I also want to make sure that the DABC better pays its on-the-ground employees, and make sure that supply better meets demand - in short I would like it to better mirror the free market.

3) We need to have real ethics reform on the hill in the form of campaign contribution limits, real ethics laws that have teeth, and greater transparency in our government records.

4) I believe in putting people before politics, and that is why I stand with the 60+% of Utahns who support the policy. I would work with the Church as a stakeholder but make it clear that this is a policy that all Utahns support, LDS and non-LDS alike.

5) It is time to get serious about air pollution, this means allowing the DEQ to actually be able to enact laws that go beyond EPA minimums so that Utah can fix the problems with Utah solutions. I also want to make sure that DEQ actually has the resources necessary to enforce these laws. I also support stronger pollution controls on industry and transportation.

6) We must have smart growth, not just more growth. I want to make sure that we are focusing on making communities more mass transit, bicycle, and walker friendly. The old model of "building more roads" is both expensive and short sited.


Q:

Aren't you worried that Marvin will get his Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator up and running and fire back?

A:

Hello Lee, how old is Carl?


Q:

Huh, a politician with well thought out plans and policies? I haven't seen that in a while.

Have you considered running for President?

A:

No, we have a 1GigaWatt/cm2 laser on Mars, so we don’t fear anyone, not even Marvin!
Charles


Q:

HE'S AN OLD DOG NOW... BUT WILL AND ALWAYS BE THE BEST DOG.

A:

Thank you! We would appreciate your support on November 8th!


Q:

What are your impressions of SpaceX and Elon Musk's ambition to bring humans to Mars?

What are some of the large obstacles to sustaining human life on Mars that might not be as obvious?

A:

Hi Lee! In the last HACF episode where Joe says “I’m in love with her,” while he was obviously referring to Cameron, was this also referring to his love for the future? (He was staring at the computer screen as if entranced)


Q:

Do u have time to sit back and just look at the view

Also

What is your favourite meal

A:

Elon Musk is an amazing manager with great ideas. His will to explore Mars is not new, and he is right to shake the world with such a fantastic goal. However, this adventure will involve the whole international community, more than SpaceX.
Now when it comes to a shedule, I have no idea. Not soon. We have been many times to Mars but we have never come back. This is difficult to land a rocket on Mars and to launch from there is a challenge. [By the way, with regards to other project to Mars, a one way trip is not (ethically) acceptable].
Sylvestre


Q:

Its about cameron. and its a hard thing to say... but at this point, Joe is all in.

A:

Pretty busy right now and our poor air quality negatively impacts the view. During campaign season, it is a necessity that pizza is always available.


Q:

What sort of data can you get by analyzing the rocks and soil. How will that data be useful?

A:

What's the best Halloween costume you've ever worn? Do you ever force costumes on your dogs?


Q:

The War on Drugs is destroying lives in Utah. While many talk about its failure, few talk about actually working to end it.

What is your plan regarding the War on Drugs in Utah, a state with a massive opiate epidemic?

A:

With ChemCam, we get LIBS spectra, emission spectra that permit us to quantify compositions of rocks. We can also take images with high resolution using our RMI, in order to geologically contextualize our LIBS shot! But there are other instruments, that help us to understand the mineralogy of rocks, etc… These data enable us to understand Martian geology and thus early terrestrial geology and if life has been possible in the past.
**Valérie


Q:

My mom made my costumes for me as a kid.... and i was constantly changing them as she sewed. One year i was a red devil rat.

A:

The opiate epidemic is real and we need to do something about it as soon as possible. I support medical cannabis and just released a PSA regarding the issue that you can check out here: http://www.mikeforutah.com/news-and-media/video-opioid-abuse-and-medical-cannabis-in-utah/ and have a comprehensive policy proposal available here: http://www.mikeforutah.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Medical-Cannabis-and-Opioid-Addiction-Policy.pdf


Q:

Can you blow up mars with your laser?

A:

What's your favourite holiday and time of year?


Q:

What measures will you be taking to improve Utah's air quality if you are elected?

A:

No way. I wish our laser was more powerful. We can heat up rocks at more than 8000°C, that is not too bad, but barely enough to dig a half-mm hole… Not more.
Exploding planets is not politically correct… whatever Darth Vader says.
Sylvestre


Q:

I like the summer. Fave holiday. April Fools

A:

I have lots of plans to improve the air quality, you can all about read about it here: http://www.mikeforutah.com/airquality/


Q:

Can you at least make popcorn?

A:

Hi Lee! Being the avid environmentalist that I am, my first question is who or what inspired you to become involved with conservation/CI?


Q:

What is your opinion on HRC and how she's running her campaign?

A:

Bring the corn, we’ll do the “cuisine”
Valérie P


Q:

There are a core of Scientists at the center of CI whose work i really respect

A:

Right now I'm focused on my personal campaign, and to be quite honest, local campaigns have much larger impacts on Utahns than presidential campaigns.


Q:

What's your guys favorite part about jobs and what got you guys into this profession?

A:

Do you like horror movies?


Q:

As Governor, do you plan on having a racially diverse cabinet?

A:

Discovering a new part of Mars every day is so great! So the best part is when data come down… I have always wanted to be a scientist; Mars is a place where discoveries are done! (Sylvestre)

Each night on Mars, when I write lines of code to shot lasers on Mars and when the next day I receive the same pictures of martian rocks with my laser shots, I feel like a pioneer digging in a new planet, and I am proud.(Eric)

Watching Mars every working day and helping scientist to find answers to their questions leads to very amazing moments in a life. Like Eric, i’m really proud to work on Mars (Valerie M.)

The curiosity of finding new features from a planet we’ve never been. Reading and understanding the history that Mars is trying to tell us. The will of discovering what Mars is hiding us! (Valérie P)

Who would not want to shoot with a laser on Mars?! And the images and landscapes are really fantastic. Coming from physics, on Mars I started to love geology (Susanne)


Q:

i saw a couple this weekend that i liked The Green Room. It follows.

A:

Yes, having a racially diverse cabinet is very important to me. I know from my 30 year business career, that having diversity of opinions leads to more robust discussions and better outcomes. I am always seeking input from diverse communities, my campaign even has a diversity team that is working hard every day to reach out to ALL communities.


Q:

Est-ce que c'est pour dessiner un truc à sa surface ? Les derniers qui ont tenté le coup se sont plantés.

A:

Do you have any special care with your voice, especially in winter, to avoid hoarseness etc ...?


Q:

How much public land is in Utah, and what are some of the competing plans for that land?

A:

Yes ChemCam can write dotted-words on Mars. But the shapes of our rasters are determined for science only. It would be unethical to write names, brands, or other logos. Sorry, we are just too serious!

Oui, Chemcam peut écrire des mots en pointillés. Mais les formes de nos séquences de tirs sont guidées par la science. Ce n’est pas éthique d’écrire des noms, des marques, ou d’autres logos. Désolé, nous sommes trop sérieux !
Sylvestre


Q:

100% CRACK DIET. ESPECIALLY IN THE WINTER.

A:

There are almost 41 million acres of public land in Utah. The lands are currently managed by the federal government, but Governor Herbert signed a bill that would transfer those lands into the hands of the state. He has claimed that he would like to privatize the lands, so these lands that we cherish would no longer be available to use for the public. Additionally, the federal government spends 300-400 million dollars a year managing Utah public lands, and we as a state definitely don't have the funding to manage them. I would much rather keep them as is--truly public, federally managed, and safe for our families to visit. Check out our video here! https://www.facebook.com/MikeForUtah/?fref=ts


Q:

What would happen if someone on your team made one mistake, leading to, I don't know, the waste of an entire day of analysis ? Did anyone already made a typing error or that kind of thing ? How is it handled ?

A:

Do you see yourself as a politician one day?


Q:

What is your favorite band/artist? Thanks for doing this! I hope you get elected!

A:

It has happened before, no hardware damage. It is never a single person mistake, always a team a 3-4 people who missed internal checks or procedures weaknesses.
Operational procedures are being updated when errors occur, and software protections prevent us from damaging the hardware onboard. It’s a bummer when it happens, but humans do mistakes, so we try to reduce them as much as possible even though we can’t avoid all of them (especially when people are working until 3 or 4am).
Charles


Q:

NO. Never. No thank you

A:

I gotta say, my favorite band is The Rolling Stones!


Q:

Do you think that the plan of Elon Musk of dropping nukes on Mars is a good plan for creating new Life and a new Eco-System?

A:

Hi Lee. Happy Halloween to you!

I just want to say I loved you in Miss Pettigrew lives for a day. Your accent was so spot on. I also loved pushing daisies. You're fantastic in everything you do.

What's your favourite Stephen King book? Also a friend of mine, who's a massive fan of yours, would like to know what kind of music do you like?


Q:

That plan is a stupid one. Terraforming Mars would not work and won’t be stable in a long run (this planet is definitively too small) Saving Earth should be the, and only one, goal for our long time survival.
Sylvestre

A:

The STAND


Q:

Has an instrument like this been proposed for future Mars drilling missions that are trying to get 10-20m deep?

A:

Hi Lee! My question is, would you ever consider doing one of these audio dramas again?


Q:

We are not drilling with ChemCam. LIBS shots “drill” several microns. ChemCam goal is not drilling but analyzing chemical composition of rocks we are observing at the surface. MSL mission does have an instrument that drill up to 7cm, and ExoMars will have one drilling up to 2m!
Valérie P

A:

absolutely


Q:

Aren't you afraid they will fire back?

A:

Hey Lee ! Can you tell us more about the good cause you are running the marathon for on Sunday ?


Q:

We hope they will! That would be a sure sign for life ;)
Susanne

A:

Happy Halloween! Im running with some friends from Conservation International and Maasai Wilderness Trust.


Q:

How do you command Curiosity to zap a specific rock? Do you designate it on a map? Is it with coordinates?

A:

When image data (stereo, to calculate distance and position) is already down after a drive, we can select interesting targets and put a specific raster on it that fit well the form of the target.
We do for instance lines with 10 positions in a row or squares with 3x3 positions. It works with some complex projections and calculations. We can target a sample the size of a penny in a distance of 7m.
Susanne


Q:

is the wind an issue when aiming the laser?

A:

No there is no issue. Wind has no influence on laser beam. And on Mars, even if the wind can reach high speed (over 100km/h) its strength is very low due to the weak pressure of the atmosphere (1/100 of Earth pressure).
By the way “The martian” is a good movie but the strongest wind on Mars is not enough strong to move a rock. Sorry…
Eric


Q:

so the wind cannot shake the rover's head, nor move a bit a rock as compared to its position when the raster was designed?

A:

Nope ! Valérie P


Q:

ChemCam is on MSL Curiosity, but you’ll have instruments on InSight and Mars 2020 too. Is it, hum, more difficult to work with NASA since the InSight disaster?

A:

Not really, things are going well with both InSight and M2020. It has never been easy on either side to develop instruments for the martian environment. Others have failed before too. We have a long history of successful collaboration with NASA (not only on Martian projects), there’s no reason it will change in the future
Charles