Mars One Monday - November 16

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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Artists Inspired by Mars One

New Zealand artist Dwayne Carey’s exhibit Mars 1 Project opened in Invercargill. He created pop-art representations of volunteers who think the one-way journey to Mars will cure their various addictions.

Heidi Neilson spoke about her Menu for Mars project at the University of Central Florida. She and her fellow artists conducted a series of supper clubs with space scientists, chefs, and nutritionists to discuss how astronauts will eat on Mars. They created an installation that demonstrated how a Martian kitchen would look - and taste.

Mars One in the News

Dr. Norbert Kraft, Mars One’s Chief Medical Officer, continued his explanation of the candidate selection process, taking the story from the twenty-four finalists to the first four people to set foot on Mars.

Bas Lansdorp told 7Days that Dubai is “the perfect place” for Mars One’s simulation outpost. “Dubai has the kind of climate that helps the crew during training,” Lansdorp said. “We need to create an atmosphere similar to Mars and Dubai would be an ideal place to do that.”

Plos Blogs interviewed Mars One affiliated scientist Dr. G.W.W. Wamelink about how to grow crops on Mars. While he doesn’t believe the perchlorates bound in the Martian regolith will be much of a problem, the potential infusion of heavy metals in food crops would be problematic.

National Geographic reviewed six decades of human Mars exploration plans. None of them come across well. Mars One gets dismissed as a “fool’s errand”, but even Nasa’s intentions seem questionable. A long-term project that crosses multiple Presidencies would be “unlikely”.

News from Mars

The Mars Express orbiter's 19 aurora-detections (white circles) overlaid on a map of the Martian magnetic field from Nasa's Mars Global Surveyor mission. While aurorae seem to occur in the boundary between open and closed magnetic fields, none of the aurorae appeared in the same place twice. Credit: ESA based on data from J-C. Gérard et al (2015)

The ultraviolet aurorae of Mars seem to happen randomly, European scientists found. Using data from the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter, the scientists mapped more than a dozen aurorae 137 kilometers above the Martian surface. Unlike Earth where our planet's magnetic fields channel solar particles to the poles, the particles strike the red planet's thin atmosphere directly. Residual magnetism in the Martian crust, once thought to concentrate these particles, have no apparent effect.

Acid fog helped shape the red planet’s surface, the Geological Society of America announced. Planetary scientist Shoshanna Cole used data from the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit to study a strange pattern in the rocks of Gusev Crater. Rocks that should have been identical had varying chemical characteristics. One explanation would be an acidic fog during periods of volcanic activity. 

Planetary scientist Ralph Lorenz explained how Nasa’s Insight lander could detect dust devils on Mars. Writing on the Planetary Society’s blog, Lorenz described the forces a dust devil’s vortex exerts on the surface. The lander’s seismometer should detect those forces as a tilt of the surface. Combined with pressure and windspeed readings from the lander’s other instruments, the data will let researchers study these ephemeral aspects of Martian weather.

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