Mars One Monday - October 26

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. 

TL;DR? Jump to:

  • Mars One Candidates - TV and radio appearances by European, African, and Australian candidates
  • Mars One in the News - Mixed commentary from Bill Nye and Niel deGrasse Tyson, Dubai might host the simulation outpost, and still looking for money
  • News from Mars - Europe selects its 2018 landing site, America debates its 2020 site, what would football be like on Mars, and more.

Mars One Candidates in the News

South African scientist Adriana Marais chatted with Afternoon Express about quantum biology, Mars and the one-way journey. (The two segments start at 2:40 and at 16:30) Marais compares the experience of her Huguenot ancestors who made their own five month one-way voyage from northern Europe to South Africa.

Australian educator/comedian/combat engineer Josh Richards joined the Australian Broadcasting Company’s Beyond the Lab to discuss “A New Life on Mars”. (Starts at 2:00) Excerpts from earlier interviews with Murdoch University roboticist and Mars Society Australia board member Dr. Graham Mann provided an opposing view.

Australian sustainability consultant Diane McGrath and Mars One CEO Bas Lansdorp spoke about living on Mars in an episode of the ABC’s Catalyst.

Italian medical student Pietro Aliprandi’s appearance at the Festival of Light yielded several media appearances at Quotidiano, Estense, and MeteoWeb.

Mars One in the News

Lansdorp was in Dubai scouting locations for the Mars One simulation outpost. He told Gulf News that local geography combined with emirates’ attitudes towards ambitious projects made Dubai an ideal site for Mars One’s astronaut training program.

Mars One CEO Bas Lansdorp will appear on Neil deGrasse Tyson’s StarTalkTV later this year. IFLScience questioned Tyson about his decision to interview Lansdorp, but Tyson remains open-minded about Mars One’s impact:

He got me thinking more positively about how this could work, or how he could make it work, and if he can move the needle a little, I think that’s a good thing.

Tyson goes on to say that Mars One’s overall plan could happen - but not on the timescale they propose.

Bill Nye called Mars One's budgets "ludicrous" and its planetary protection plans "inadequate" in an interview with Nasa's Astrobiology Magazine. The interview followed his recent appearance on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore in which Nye was skewered for wanting Americans to go to Mars. Nye blunted the edge of his criticism by acknowledging Mars One’s role in the public discourse:

But the publicity that Mars One has garnered indicates, I think, to everybody in the world how interested everybody in the world is in exploring Mars.

Dr. Luk Tyas, the outreach director for the South African Astronomical Observatory, told SABC News that, while the people at Mars One “have bitten off more than they can chew,” their effort will “hugely shape the direction of future space exploration and future funding of other missions.”

The Netherlands’ science news program ToekomstMakers (Future Makers) looked at the latest developments in space exploration and the Netherlands’ role in making the future happen. The broadcast included an interview with Lansdorp that parent site RTL Z expanded into a full article about Mars One’s status (in Dutch). Lansdorp said that the 2023 arrival of the first colonists could easily be delayed for technical reasons or budget shortfalls. Mars One is still trying to raise the $15 million they need to hire staff for the next selection round. Lansdorp claims that Nasa employees want to work for Mars One.

News from Mars

Scientists have recommended Oxia Planum as the primary landing site for the Esa/Roscosmos ExoMars 2018 mission. The region combines safe landing conditions with the geological potential to preserve signs of ancient Martian life. Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin & NASA MGS MOLA Science Team

Alex Longo’s post on the Planetary Society’s blog asks “Why Return to the Columbia Hills?” This is a region of Gusev Crater visited by the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit. It is also a candidate site for the Mars 2020 rover mission. Mounting evidence from Spirit and Nasa’s orbiters indicate that the region was once a field of geothermal springs. The conditions there billions of years ago might have preserved signs of ancient life.

Brazil’s UOL Esporte asked astrophysicist Rodrigo Nemmen how future Martian settlers would play football on the red planet (in Portuguese so no, not American football). “A Martian Messi would need a very different preparation than that of a Terran,” he responded. Thanks to the lower Martian gravity “it would be an acrobatic football.” The thin atmosphere would make it difficult to put spin on the ball.

Other news from Mars: