Mars One Monday - March 9

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

Last week I wrote an opinion piece critical of Mars One's new negative tactics. Attacking the integrity of young research scientists at MIT will only damage Mars One's ability to recruit the world's aerospace industry behind its bold objectives. Let me know what you think.

Pros on Mars

Well that's your problem! A short circuit temporarily halted Curiosity's drilling activities. Credit: Nasa/JPL-Caltech

MIT scientists will extract oxygen from carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere. Business Insider spoke with MIT professor Jeffrey Hoffman about the Mars oxygen in situ resource utilization experiment (acronymified Moxie) which will fly on Nasa’s Mars 2020 mission.


A simulation in Hawaii looks at social dynamics of future Mars explorers, reports the Voice of America News. spoke with principle investigator Kim Binstead of Hi-Seas, the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation. The analog research station sits 8,000 feet up a dormant volcano. Volunteers live there for months simulating the operations of a mission to the red planet.

No, Britain hasn't landed on Europa. This is the British Antarctic Survey's Halley VI station. The conditions its staff experience during the long Antarctic winter mirror conditions on long duration space missions. Credit: British Antarctic Sociey/Sam Burrell

European expeditions in Antarctica help the European Space Agency advance space exploration. An Esa medical researcher will study the physical and psychological effects experienced by the expeditions’ staff during six months of darkness and isolation. Ultimately Esa hopes face and voice recognition software will interpret astronauts’ state of mind.

Classrooms and youth groups can take pictures of Mars… from Mars. The VMC Imaging Campaign will get eight opportunities to use the Visual Monitoring Camera on the Mars Express orbiter. Schools and informal education groups can apply for one of those opportunities - the more science-based the request, the better the odds of getting picked. The European Space Agency opened the contest to groups in Esa member-states, the European Union, Canada, the United States, Argentina, and Australia.

The Indian Space Research Organization released more images from its Mars Orbiter Mission, including this picture of Valle Marineris. Credit: ISRO

Commentary on Mars One

Artists are taking inspiration from Mars One:

University of Liverpool Lecturer of English Lisa Regan asks whether “Mars One could mean the end of science fiction.” She doesn't critique Mars One. Instead she uses the one-way mission as a base to riff through the rich history of Mars in science fiction. [I need to update my reading list.]

A German theater group created “One Way Ticket”, a participatory work that changes with each performance. Badische Zeitung (via Google translate) calls it “an entertaining and quite fascinating play” that’s as much about the fun factor of reality TV as about Mars One’s “mad project”.

Mars One became an official part of geek culture - or at least Hollywood’s concept of geek culture - when The Big Bang Theory had Sheldon apply to Mars One. IGN’s spoilerful recap explains that the one-way trip to Mars’ only purpose is to inject conflict into Sheldon’s relationship with Amy. And create a funny application video:

The mainstream media and industry insiders continue casting doubts: 

Business Insider science writer Kelly Dickerson’s “The Mars One plan is totally delusional” recaps the technological, financial, and scheduling challenges and includes responses from Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bas Lansdorp. Dickerson posted a separate article expanding on Tyson’s sceptical comments.

And to show that there are exceptions to every rule:

St. Louis Public radio discussed the mindset of Mars One candidates with psychologist Michael Mahon. Their sense of optimism, Mahon argues, gives them a very different outlook and appreciation of risk than the general public.

Daily Dot leads its list of social media-savvy candidates with a comment on “how normal” the Mars100 are. They recommend following Maggie Lieu, Chris Patil, Ryan MacDonald, Sonia Van Meter, Cody Reeder, Lennart Lopin, Diane McGrath, and Hannah Earnshaw.

Mars One Candidates in the News

Media coverage of the Mars100 continues to swamp the web. Most rehash the same questions, so I’ve only included those that provide something a little different.

US network ABC featured Mars One on its Nightline news magazine. Bas Lansdorp repeated his pitch that “no new inventions are needed” and that the established aerospace companies Mars One hires will make it happen with existing technology. Round 2 candidate Kellie Gerardi compared wanting to go to Mars with wanting to climb Mt Everest - “you either get it or you don’t.” Nightline also interviewed German candidate Stephan Gunther and American candidate Sue Ann Pien. To balance their optimism, Nightline spoke with MIT astrophysicist Dr. Michio Kaku who called it a “tragedy waiting to happen.” The segment ends with Pien’s jubilant reaction to entering Round 3. 

Bolivian candidate Zaskia Antelo spoke with Venezuelan news site El Siglo (in Spanish). Now studying international relations and anthropology at Britain’s University of Sussex, Antelo said that the mental challenges will be the most daunting.

Los Angeles Magazine spoke with Mead McCormick who gives a new response to the standard why-do-you-wanna-go-to-Mars question. McCormick is an aspiring Hollywood filmmaker with a handful of production credits (IMDB). Rather than science or the pioneering spirit, she’s more interested in documenting the human stories of a martian settlement - from the inside.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal featured two students in the Mars100, doctoral candidate Adriana Marais and undergraduate Divashen Govander. Marais would apply her expertise in quantum biology - the way processes like photosynthesis are based on quantum-level interactions - to study the possibility of life on Mars. 

Cody Reeder is an alumnus of Utah’s Westminster College and spoke with the school’s newspaper. The article gives some insight into the role Reeder would play in a future Mars colony. The Westminster Environmental Center’s outreach coordinator described Reeder as a Jack-of-all-trades who can educate and engage others. Despite growing up off the grid, 1300 subscribers watch Reeder’s science demonstrations on YouTube

Elena Shateni and Reginald Foulds are the oldest members of the Mars100. Shateni spoke with the LA Times and explained how she transitioned from practicing medicine in Moscow to becoming a specialist in holistic healing in California. A former fighter pilot in the Pakistani Air Force who now lives in Canada, Foulds spoke with RYOT about his candidacy and his family’s support.

Brazilian candidate Sandra Maria Feliciano Silva conducted a Google Hangout (in Portuguese) with the Ciência e Astronomia YouTube channel.

Electrical engineer and costume designer Maggie Duckworth spoke with St. Louis Public Radio. She credits her combination of technical and creative skills for getting into the Mars100. Mars One’s cultural diversity and the potential for creating a new culture on Mars, Duckworth said, “is the most fascinating part of it.” Most of the callers were supportive of Duckworth’s ambitions to settle Mars, although one caller worried about the environmental impact.

Der Standard spoke (in German) with the only remaining Austrian candidate, Günther Golob. The artist and tour manager sees Mars One with its focus on cooperation, reduced consumption, and recycling as Earth’s last, best hope.

Vietnam’s only candidate Linh Vu Xuan (aka Kingdom) spoke with Vietnamnet (in Vietnamese). Linh received a bachelors degree from the National University of Singapore and a masters degree from Columbia University before returning home to work for a tech company. [Google Translate indicates Vietnamnet isn't secure, so I'm not providing the link.]

Canadian Joanna Hindle shared the excitement of space exploration with Macville Public School middle school students, the Caledon Enterprise reported. Speaking through a Skype connection on the students' iPads, Hindle answered their questions about Mars and the Mars One mission.

In her own words: physics student Laurel Kaye wrote a piece for MTV about her candidacy.