Mars One Monday - December 14

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 in the News

Electrical engineer Maggie Duckworth spoke with a Girl Scouts at a Missouri science museum, the Daily Journal reports. While she discussed the Mars One mission, one of her objectives was to get the girls excited about science and math. “It would really be cool if the first person (on Mars) was a woman,” Duckworth told the Daily Journal. “I want more girls to be engineers and mathematicians.”

Other candidates in the news:

Artists Inspired by Mars One

The Paris Opera production of Hector Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust received a mixed review from le Monde (in French). Praising the performances by singers and musicians alike, le Monde criticized the direction and cluttered multimedia backdrop. While the images and video did enhance some aspects of the performance, they also generated unintended laughter from the audience as when Faust seduces Marguerite while video of copulating snails played in the background. Timing may not have been in the production’s favor. Projecting the Faust story onto Mars while the world gathered in Paris to save our own planet. Director Alvis Hermanis brought his own baggage - his comments about refugees being the source of terrorism have produced calls for a boycott from Germans.

Mars One in the News

Mars One CEO Bas Lansdorp appears on Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Star Talk tonight. Unlike many scientists and space industry insiders, Tyson has pulled his punches when asked about Mars One. While sceptical of the details, he sees the effort as an expression of a very human dream - to build a better world by venturing into the unknown. The interview appears tonight on cable network National Geographic Channel (proof of TV subscription required to access the online content). 

Technology culture site The Verge got an advanced viewing of the interview. Their review “Neil deGrasse Tyson gave Mars One’s CEO a softball interview” criticizes the astrophysicist for not challenging Lansdorp’s talking points (200,000 applicants, $6 billion, no new technology for EDL, etc.). From their description, however, it sounds like Tyson was playing the role of neutral moderator rather than investigative journalist. Former astronaut Mike Massimino and comedian Eugene Mirman (Tyson’s talk show sidekick) provided the critical counterpoints with a mix of experience and snark while Planetary Society CEO and science communicator Bill Nye’s pre-recorded sound bite left little doubt about his opinion.

South Africa’s Mail & Guardian wrote “Mars mission: how to emigrate to the red planet” (subscription required) that looks at the local candidates but questions Mars One’s ambitions.

News from Mars

Nasa’s Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity has reached the Bagnold Dunes. Planetary scientists have monitored the progression of dunes across the Martian surface for years. But the pictures from orbiting spacecraft cannot answer all of their questions. Curiosity has used its wheels to evaluate the properties of the dune sands. Soon the rover will scoop the sand into its onboard instruments for a detailed analysis.

Spacedotcom’s Leonard David wrote about Nasa’s longest-funded Mars analog research program. Scientists, engineers, and astronauts regularly visit Canada’s Arctic tundra to participate in the Haughton-Mars Project. Devon Island has many similarities to Mars: a dry, cold climate, mostly lifeless, and has an asteroid impact crater. Mars analog research lets the space agency test technologies that may be used in future human visits to the red planet.

Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy is coming to US cable network SpikeTV, Variety reports. The 10-episode series Red Mars will be produced by J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5). It goes into production next summer and will debut in 2017.

Other news from Mars:

Check out Arizona State University’s Red Planet Report and Malin Space Science Systems’ MRO Marci Weather Report for insider news from Mars.