Mars One Monday - October 12

Mars One Monday rounds up the past week’s reports about Mars and the people who want to go on a one-way journey to the red planet. Mars One’s technical and financial prospects remain controversial. Yet the candidates themselves are the most visible example of a global trend - the public’s increasing participation in space exploration. 

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Mars One Candidates in the News

Chinese candidate Li Dapeng spoke with Chinese-language news site Duowei News, according to a Want China Times English-language report. He believes technological progress will make the journey to Mars feasible within the next two decades. At the same time, Li recognizes the funding challenges and his own one-in-a-hundred odds of being picked. Yet the value of Mars One, at least for Li, is its role raising awareness of science and space exploration.

Munich Film students spoke with Süddeutsche Zeitung about their brief Mars One documentary “Mars Closer” (in German). Vera Brückner and Annelie Boros interviewed candidates Paul Leeming in Japan and Pauls Irbins in Latvia. Rather than focus on the technological or media issues surrounding Mars One, Brückner explained “We wanted to make an emotional film, which raises the question: What does this decision really mean?” (via Google Translate) 

Canadian candidates Johanna Hindle and Daniel Benjamin Criger spoke with the Canadian Press about the mounting evidence for brines in the Martian surface. The wire story appeared in the Coast Reporter, the Winnipeg Free Press, and many other outlets around the world.

German electrical engineering student Robert Schröder appeared in an interview with Stern which Yahoo Nachrichten summarized the report in English. Schröder also did a video interview with Zett (also in German). 

Former candidate, Irish physicist Joseph Roche, reviewed The Martian. Writing for the Silicon Republic, Roche recognizes that scientific and engineering accuracy had to take a back seat to cinematic drama, but remained impressed by the film’s portrayal of the Martian landscape and the human resourcefulness that will make settlement possible. Silicon Republic references Roche’s history with Mars One, but he does not mention it directly. A link to Roche’s Guardian essay is the only hint of his public departure.

Other candidates in the news:

Artists Inspired by Mars One

Proud Queer Monthly reviewed Mars Two an improv comedy based on Mars One. Set during the second season in a Mars colonization reality show, each weekend performance of Mars Two is a new episode in the televised exploration of Mars.

“Mars One, Venus Zero” isplaying at the English Theatre Berlin. Slow Travel Berlin explains that the show raises awareness of so-called “menists” and their use of harassment of women. An Englishman in Berlin explains how the dark comedy portrays an anti-feminist “lacking potency, insight and intelligence” who wants to escape Earth on the one-way journey to Mars. The protagonist’s anger pours out during recording sessions for his application as well as through tweets projected above the stage “provoking gasps and mutterings from the audience”. 

Pressemeldung:»Das Produzentenduo Oliver Schündler und Boris Ausserer sowie Producer Matthias Krause von Lucky Bird...

Posted by Lucky Bird Pictures GmbH on Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Lucky Bird Pictures announced on Facebook that it will produce a Mars One-inspired science fiction series. The German production company's series, “Mars: You Will Never Come Back”, will follow the first twelve people to live on the red planet. Multiple Grimme Prize winner Holger Karsten Schmidt will write the screenplay. Media Biz covered the announcement (the article is paywalled).

Mars One in the News

CEO Bas Lansdorp asks “Does NASA’s recent discover[sic] affect Mars One’s mission to Mars?” in an essay on the company blog. As scientists learn more about the pervasiveness of Martian water, it helps refine the location of the potential settlement.

Astrophysics major Shanzay Farzan believes the imams were premature in their fatwa against Muslim participation in Mars One. Writing in Muslim Girl, she recognizes that nobody wants to send people on a suicide mission while doubting Mars One’s ability to accomplish the task. Farzan also believes the Quran can justify space exploration, citing the following passage:

O assembly of Jinns and Men, if you can penetrate regions of the heavens and the earth, then penetrate them! You will not penetrate them save with a Power.
— Quran, Al-Rehman 55:33

Futura-Sciences interviewed planetary scientist Charles Frankel about Mars One’s prospects (in French). Spoiler alert: he is sceptical.

Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka told a press conference that Mars One candidates “are people with unstable minds” the TASS reports (in Russian, here is the English page) Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov added that, while he would have considered a one-way mission, “any cosmonaut would be happy to participate in a there-and-back flight.”

News from Mars

Nasa released a document that outlines the next steps towards sending humans to Mars. “NASA’s Journey to Mars: Pioneering Next Steps in Space Exploration” places the space agency’s existing research and development programs in context and provides a high-level timeline for sending human missions “to Mars vicinity” sometime in the 2030s or later. The mainstream media’s uncritical coverage was not surprising. Even space media outlets like Spacedotcom and Spaceflight Insider, however, did little more than paraphrase the press release. Nasawatch editor and industry gadfly Keith Cowan was more sceptical: “There is no ‘plan’ in this ‘plan’.” The Planetary Society’s Jason Davis and Casey Dreier were less pointed, but called the report “a plan to form a strategy around a concept”. Space News reported on Nasa Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot’s defense of the plan’s lack of specifics.

Nasa’s planetary protection officer Catharine A. Conley spoke with the New York Times. Her office creates the policies that protect Mars from invasion by Earth bacteria. She spoke with the New York Times about the Catch-22 the space agency finds itself in: to protect the red planet, Nasa cannot send rovers to search for life.

The European Space Agency will narrow the list of ExoMars 2018 landing sites. The mission will place a rover on Mars to search for signs of ancient life. Unlike Earth’s previous rover missions, the rover’s drill can penetrate up to two meters beneath the surface. All four sites are north of Valles Marineris and east of Arabia Terra in the same region where Nasa's Opportunity, Pathfinder, and Viking 1 missions landed.

Strata at the base of Aeolis Mons are the remains of an ancient lake bed. Credit: Nasa/JPL-Caltech

Members of Nasa’s Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity science team published new evidence supporting the theory that Gale Crater once contained streams and lakes. Over a 500 million year period water carried sediment to form the lower levels of Aeolis Mons (what Nasa PR calls Mount Sharp). The laminated mudstone rocks observed by Curiosity indicate that water pooled on the crater floor for considerable time to form lakes as deep as 800 meters. Scientists still do not know the water’s source or how it existed for such a long time.

Other news from Mars: