Mars One Monday - December 7

Dunes at the Martian south pole stand out in this false color image from the Mars Odyssey's Themis camera. The polar cap is at the left. The dunes, rendered in purple, stand out thanks to a mix of Themis' five filters. Credit: Nasa/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State University

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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In the season of giving you might consider funding an analog Mars rover. Students at the Florida Institute of technology hope to compete in the Mars Society’s University Rover Challenge. This annual competition brings teams from around the world to the deserts of the American southwest. They run their rovers through the rugged terrain to simulate a future Mars mission. The Florida Tech students need $6000 to buy parts for the rover, but the school has limited funding for extra-curricular engineering. The all-or-nothing Experiments.com crowdfunding campaign is 44% funded with nine days left in their campaign.  

Mars One Candidates in the News

Indian computer science graduate student Taranjeet Singh Batia was featured in Caravan Magazine’s article “Home of the Brave”. Writer Dilio D’Souza used his interview with Batia to write about humanity’s fixation with Mars. While he does follow the requisite Mars Onereporting template with quotes from sceptical industry insiders, D’Souza focused on the spiritual impact Mars One has had on Batia’s life.

Other candidates in the news:

Artists Inspired by Mars One

The Paris Opera production of Hector Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust integrates videos and images “which take us away from this world, in tune with the latest scientific advances in cosmological research.” Mars One is part of this astronomical interpretation. Today’s Mars One press release explains that director Alvis Hermanis “saw [the Mars One] project as the most contemporary expression of this extreme dream, which, since Antiquity, incites human beings to leave their earthly life.” Subscribers to the Mars One newsletter received an offer for last minute tickets to the Monday night performance.

Mars One in the News

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson made waves among space enthusiasts in his interview with The Verge. Tyson declared the idea that SpaceX would lead the next wave of space exploration as “delusional”. He spared Mars One the same criticism when he said “They’re big dreams, and I don’t have any problems with people dreaming. Mars One, let them dream. That’s not the delusion.

News from Mars

The HiRise team released the image on the left showing the possible remains of an ancient river bed on Mars. I did a little processing in the image on the right to bring the shape of the ox-bow shape. Credit: Nasa/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

The US-European InSight mission has sprung a leak. As the mission team heads into the final stretch before the March launch date, there is little room for error. Now one of the spacecraft’s primary instruments, the French-built Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure, has sprung a leak in its vacuum chamber. Engineers at the French and American space agencies are scrambling to fix the leak - the SEIS must be installed on Insight by January to keep the mission on schedule.

Spacedotcom’s David Leonard spoke with several attendees at Nasa’s recent workshop on the human exploration of Mars. Astronaut Stan Love explained that, while human and robotic missions share the geological and engineering factors in choosing a landing site, human missions must overcome the “cootie” factor and not contaminate sites where Martian life may already exist. The workshop also focused on in-situ resource utilization — Nasa-speak for living off the land.

Polish scientist Michael Czapski spoke about his stay at the Mars Desert Research Station (in Polish). This is the US Mars Society's analog research facility. The expedition tested robotic drones and rovers, 3D printed medical supplies, and emergency-response techniques. In the Onet interview Czapski discussed his outreach efforts as well as ways Poland could contribute to a future mission to Mars.

Other news from Mars: