Mars One Monday March 16

A perspective view of Cydonia Mensae from Esa's Mars Express orbiter. This may have been a coastal region if theories about Mars' ancient oceans are correct. Credit: Esa/DLR/FU Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Mars One Monday rounds up the past week’s reports on the project to send people on a one-way journey to Mars.

Breaking News: Elmo Keep interviewed Mars100 candidate Dr. Joseph Roche on his decision to withdraw before the project “inevitably falls on its face.” Roche explains how the shoddy selection process and Mars One’s financial demands on its candidates led him to the decision.

Pros on Mars

The view of Acidalia Plantia from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRise camera shows mounds created by lava-water interaction or mud eruptions. Credit: Nasa/JPL-Caltech

The University of Arizona’s HiRise team released an image of Acidalia Planitia, the setting for Andrew Weir’s work The Martian: A Novel [affiliate link]. Mounds of perhaps volcanic origin, dense boulder fields, and deep fissures make the region a much more dangerous area to drive through than depicted in the novel. You’ll find slides, wallpaper, and video narrated by Bad Astronomer Phil Plait at the link.

In the this-is-why-we-need-people-on-Mars category comes the latest update from Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Engineers spent the last two weeks troubleshooting a short circuit in the Curiosity rover’s robotic arm. They resumed their science operations on Wednesday and began preparing for the next leg of Curiosity’s trek up Mount Sharp. The powdered rock sample the rover collected in the Pahrump Hills - the mission’s third sample - will sit in its sample-processing device during the drive. Curiosity won’t analyse the sample until the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument suite is ready.

The Planetary Society posted a status update from the Opportunity rover team. A software update last month was the first step in repairing the aging rover’s memory banks. While JPL’s engineers prepare to reformat Opportunity’s memory later this week, the rover has resumed its science operations - and discovered a type of rock never seen before on Mars. Marathon Valley awaits. The Planetary Society's Director of Advocacy, Casey Drier, defended Opportunity's value in light of recent comments by Nasa Administrator Charles Bolden.

A team of Peruvian undergraduate and graduate students completed a two-week mission at the Mars Society’s Mars Desert Research Station. The 150th crew to conduct Mars analog research in the deserts of Utah. They performed plant-growth experiments, conducted geological surveys with a UAV, and tested an exoskeleton design based on cat paws. The cold weather drove them to design a new heating system for the MDRS which they modeled using Nutella. Many of the students are part of an effort to turn Peru’s Pampas de la Joya into a Mars analog site (Researchgate abstract).

The latest weather report from Mars, produced by the Marci team at Malin Space Science Systems, shows small regional dust storms, water-ice clouds, and frost forming in the northern hemisphere.

News from Mars One

Mars One launched a new promotional campaign, the Mars One Concept Sketch Challenge. Buy their poster, find the Easter eggs, and you might win a prize. Details and the latest sketches from Outpost and Capsule Project Manager Kristian von Bengtson are on Mars One’s Facebook page.

W Radio Colombia interviewed Bas Lansdorp (in Spanish and English). In between his stock answers Lansdorp said “we are not financing this mission with the revenues from TV show. We are financing this with investments.” These investments, Lansdorp goes on to explain, will give Mars One the money it needs to develop the technology. The investors will recover their investments once the post-landing broadcast revenue starts flowing in.

Commentary on Mars One

The Austin-American Statesman asked Lamar Smith about Mars One. The chairman of the US House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology believes getting to Mars will require a concerted government-led effort and called Mars One “more of a publicity stunt than a realistic proposal.” He called on President Obama to make a Kennedy-esque commitment to landing an American on Mars.

The Guardian’s report on space architecture doesn’t address Mars One specifically. The University of Houston’s Guillermo Trotti believes that traditional submarine-like concepts won’t be livable and some combination of large structures and virtual reality will be needed to counter long-term claustrophobia.

Mars One Candidates in the News

Media reports on the Mars100 have slowed as more important things - like The Dress - take priority. Here are reports that go beyond the standard rehash of the same questions every other journalist has asked:

Laura Smith-Velazquez spoke with M-Live about growing up in small-town Michigan and how her Cherokee heritage set her on a course for Mars.

Middle East Eye spoke with Egyptian musician Mohammed Sallam who hopes his participation in Mars One will “increase knowledge of astronomy and space in Egypt.”

Oscar Mathews spoke with YouTube broadcaster Andria Lea. Mathews is a nuclear engineer, a test flight engineer, and an aerospace engineering PhD candidate. He told Lea that Mars One would announce its funding sources at the end of March and explained that the Mars analog habitat may be built in the Netherlands.

During Ryan MacDonald's interview with Artefact Magazine, the astrophysics graduate student said that Mars One is close to a $6 billion deal with a UK investment firm.

Mead McCormick talks to the Hyde Park Herald about being a film student at the University of Chicago and living in Siberia as a child.

South Africa’s News 24 spoke with quantum biologist Adriana Marais. She explained that the 8-10 years of testing and development on Earth eases her fears of the risks. Marais hopes her candidacy will raise the profile of science in South Africa and inspire young people to pursue math and science.

Other candidates in the news: