Mars One Monday - May 18

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

News from Mars One

With no news from the Mars One organization, it’s social media accounts continue to publish endorsements its advisors made when Mars One launched. 

To be fair, Mason Peck’s involvement didn’t stop with his endorsement. Peck defended Mars One as recently as this past February. Still, some news would be nice. Paragon study?

CEO Bas Lansdorp did address an audience of marketers at the Festival of Media Global conference where he spoke about the branding opportunities the first journey to Mars could create. 

Mars One in the News

Italian science news site Che Futuro compares Mars One to the trials of Marc Watney in the science fiction novel The Martian. (Spoilers if you read Italian) Patrizia Caraveo, director of the Institute of Space Astrophysics and Cosmic Physics, and biotechnologist Jason Fontana conclude that Mars One is a “complicated way to meet certain death” but the movie adaptation of The Martian “will be a global success.”

Space published an article last week about Joseph Roche's very public resignation from Mars One several months ago. The recap of old news seems to have been sparked by space historian John Logsdon’s observations of the Humans to Mars Summit.

Neil deGrasse Tyson spoke at Northwestern University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics last week, the Daily Northwestern reported. During his talk he explained how American scientists are falling behind their international colleagues due to cuts in the United States science budget. Tyson included Mars One in the list of international projects based outside the United States. And while he applauded Nasa’s recent Orion test launch, Tyson said “in fact I’m deeply disappointed that I’m not congratulating the United States for a first walking on Mars.”

Badische Zeitung reports that German youth theater group Tempus Fugit premiered a play about young people on a one-way journey to Mars. The improvisationally developed play “Recall” explores the settlers’ motivations and the challenges they must face on Mars.

Nasa's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took this picture of Hypanis Valles, one of the potential landing sites of Esa's ExoMars mission. Channels formed by steadily flowing water snake through the region. Credit: Nasa/JPL-Caltech

Mars One Candidates in the News

Las Vegas TV station KSNV interviewed local candidate Cody Reeder. It supplemented the interview by talking to an expedition of Texas students at the Mars Society’s Mars Desert Research Station. They were part of Mclennan Community College’s Mars 101 program. The annual expedition to the Utah desert gives the transition students hands-on research experience before they enter undergraduate programs. Their mission blogs provide a daily taste of life almost on Mars.

Other candidates in the news:

  • Architectural project manager Kay Radzik Warren (KVVU)
  • Radiation biologist Chris Patil and software project manager Sara Director (WPRI)
  • Marine biologist Lekha Menon Margassery (Hindustan Times)
  • Planetary science grad student Zachary Gallegos (Alibi part 2, part 1)

The Mars Webcam is the only camera in orbit around the red planet that can capture the entire surface at once. Credit: ESA - European Space Agency, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

News from Mars

Esa’s Mars Express team scheduled imaging targets for schools across Europe and North America. The VMC Schools Campaign takes advantage of a brief pause in science observations while Mars is on the opposite side of the Sun from Earth to capture pictures of the red planet for secondary school research. 25 schools across Europe, the United States, and Puerto Rico will have the chance to study Mars using data nobody has seen before.

At this weekend’s Bay Area Maker Faire, Nasa unveiled its 3D Printed Habitat Challenge a contest that crowdsources techniques for building habitats on Mars using local resources. (Read Nasa’s press release, or the Make Magazine report) The challenge will proceed in three stages:

  • Design Competition - develop architectural concepts that use 3D printing
  • Level 1 Structural Member Competition - demonstrate fabrication technologies
  • Level 2 On-Site Habitat Competition - make a full-scale habitat

Registration for the first stage opened on Saturday. A jury will review the 2-page proposals and invite an unspecified number to submit “full architectural design concepts”. These in turn will be down selected to the best 30 teams whose designs will be judged at the New York Maker Faire in September. The top three concepts will split a $50,000 prize purse.

An Oregon teenager developed an electromagnetic dust repeller for future Mars rovers, the Hillsboro Tribune reports. Dust routinely contaminates the optical sensors on Curiosity and Opportunity, but the only way to clean them is to wait for wind to blow the dust away. Ashwin Datta proposes using an electric field to repel the slightly charged dust particles and keep sensors clean all the time. The device earned him a shot as a finalist in last week's Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. The technology is similar to the Electrodynamic Dust Shield developed at Nasa's Kennedy Space Center which teenagers in Hawaii's MoonRiders are developing for a Google Lunar X-Prize mission.

Nasa marked the Opportunity Rover's marathon-length endurance record with this video Science Cast:

Other news from the red planet: