Mars One Monday - October 5

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. 

Mars One Candidates in the News

La Razon spoke with Angel Jane and Paul Martinez, the two Spaniards in the Mars100 (in Spanish). The conversation ranged from the recent evidence of brines on Mars to the MIT study. They also believe their candidacies symbolize the real meaning of Martian settlement: a Madrileño and a Catalan coexisting on Mars would show that being human is the only thing that matters.

The settlement of Mars may help unite the people, but it also brings people together. Boston’s public broadcast station WGBH spoke with American candidates R. Daniel Golden and Yari Rodriguez about their hopes to be together forever… on Mars. Golden defended Mars One against its critics while Rodriguez talked about how her outreach efforts inspire kids to study science and math. The national public radio network PRI later picked up the story.

Canadian teacher and former journalist Karen Cumming wrote her take on The Martian for the Toronto Star (spoilers).

After Nasa announced further evidence of brines on the Martian surface, several candidates shared their reactions with local media:

Kellie Gerardi wrote about her time on a Mars-analog expedition for Popular Mechanics. She participated in a two-and-a-half-week-long stay at the Mars Society’s Mars Desert Research Station. Gerardi and six other crew members conducted emergency repairs, EVA exercises, and scientific research - including tests of an insect-based diet.

An August episode of the Unseen Podcast repeated so many of the unsupported critiques of Mars One that Ryan MacDonald contacted them to set the record straight. Last week's Unseen Podcast let Ryan MacDonald, Dianne McGrath, and Oscar Mathews share their perspective on the Mars One program.

Mars One in the News

Mars One announced a new series about its one-way mission to Mars. Fresh on the heels of the Engadget/AOL documentary series Citizen Mars, the CuriosityStream video service hosts Destination Mars, a five-part series “investigating the perils and promise of a manned mission to Mars”. (Subscription required) Destination Mars is one of five original Mars-related documentaries CuriosityStream produced for its launch.

A Las Vegas bookie gave odds on “Who'll Be the First to Set Foot on Mars?” for Popular Mechanics. Even though Popular Mechanics called Mars One “a total scam” the bookie ranked Mars One third out of the eight contenders with 15:1 odds. CNET’s Eric Mack responded that Vegas should “leave space to the nerds.”

News from Mars

Nasa awarded $40,000 to winners of its 3D Printed Habitat Challenge. Grand prize winning Mars Ice House is a high-tech igloo made from Martian water. Its translucent walls would light the habitat while shielding astronauts from radiation. Team Gamma’s second-place design expored semi-autonomous robotics and “distributed functionality”. In third place Team LavaHive’s design would use lava casting, a technique that melts and shapes the basaltic Martian surface.

Last week's announcement that scientists had found more indirect evidence of surface brines on Mars continues to get coverage - usually about "discovering" water rather than the facts. A few pieces worth reading: Strategy consultancy Stratfor explains “What Water on Mars Means for Earth.” The high-level review sets the recent evidence for Martian brines in context of our knowledge of water distribution in the Solar System before describing the political, technical, and financial limits standing in the way of Mars exploration. The Washington Post’s Joel Achenbach took a more critical view of Nasa’s over-hyped discovery in “The harsh truth about Mars water and Nasa’s Journey to Mars”.

Science fiction film The Martian swept the box offices over the weekend. It also swept media outlets as stories about Mars popped up everywhere. While most are uncritical paraphrases of Nasa’s press releases, some take a deeper look at the reality of Mars exploration. National Geographic’s “How Will We Get Off Mars?” looks at more than just lifting astronauts off the red planet as Nasa system engineer Michelle Rucker explains the technologies of entry, descent, landing, survival, and ascent. The Washington Post’s Joel Achenbach had a more independent take in “Don’t worry. Matt Damon won’t get stuck on Mars. Nasa can’t get him there.” He criticizes the starry-eyed optimism of Nasa’s hype machine, citing the technical, political and budgetary realities that make a Mars mission unlikely. Space journalist Lee Billings explains in Scientific American why “Human Missions to Mars Will Look Completely Different from The Martian.” In addition to the technological and budgetary challenges, Billings points out that policies protecting Mars from biological contamination may prevent humans from landing on Mars at all.

Other news from Mars: