Mars One Monday - May 25

The 30 kilometer by 40 kilometer craters of Siloe Patera may be the remains of an ancient supervolcano. Similar to the supervolcano beneath Yellowstone National Park, a large volume of magma may have built up beneath the Martian surface. A massive eruption releasing more than 1000 cubic kilometers of material could explain the geology of Siloe Patera’s two nested craters. 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.

News from Mars One

Other than some public appearances by CEO Bas Lansdorp, there was no news from Mars One. They will conduct a Twitter party with Mouser Electronics, part of Grant Imahara's Empowering Innovation project.

Mars One in the News

"A Decade With Mars" is a ten year project, inspired by Mars One, by British artists Ella and Nicki. In the first phase of their project the two artists conduct public discussions about space exploration and help primary schools launch balloons into the stratosphere. They launched a balloon from Lancaster over the weekend. Lancaster University’s student radio station 87.7 Bailrigg FM spoke with Ella and Nicki about their work. Neither artist claims to be a space enthusiast or a Mars One advocate. Rather, they look at their art as a prompt for conversations. The questions that the journey to Mars raises - from global questions of sustainability to individual questions of confinement and isolation - relate directly to life on Earth. The interview’s two segments begin around the 20:00 and 43:00 marks (MixCloud won’t let you rewind the player due to music licensing issues).

British theater company curious directive is wrapping up its tour of Pioneer. Called “breathtakingly ambitious” and “restlessly intelligent theatre”, the show “questions when, how and why we must try to find a way to call other planets our home.” Set after the original Mars One mission disappeared without a trace, an Indian billionaire decides to try again. The final performance will be May 27 at the Sheffield Theatres.

A listener to the University of Cambridge’s Naked Scientist podcast asked "Could humanity colonize Mars?" Getting to Mars, presenters Chris Smith, Kat Arney, and Richard Hollingham conclude, is just an engineering problem while the technology of survival is “a bit hit and miss.” Coming back, however, is the big issue - no space agency has even conducted a robotic sample return mission. Hollingham said that, while Mars One’s funding is uncertain, the organization is run by “serious people.” But he questions why anybody would want to go to a “bleak, cold, barren… horrible, horrible place” like Mars at all.

Three Omani girls, inspired by Mars One, won a Nasa prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the Muscat Daily reports. Their project, "Life Supporting Systems on Mars" is a three-chamber apparatus that uses plants to convert ice in the martian soil into drinkable water. Nasa awarded the teens a $1000 Third Prize. Scroll down the full list of Intel ISEF award winners to see the other prizes Nasa awarded.

One of the more creative its-a-scam-because-its-not-Nasa critiques of Mars One comes from the CBS New York blog Man Cave. It announced the creation of Dragon One, a mission to send humans to fight a dragon in 2025. While entertainingly full of snark, the critique doesn’t add much to the debate. But it has pictures of dragons. And a kitten.

German newspaper Wirtschafts Woche ran a long-form WiWo Fact Check article on Mars One. Space experts from DLR, Germany’s space agency, and the Technical University of Munich challenged Mars One’s schedule and assumptions. Former astronaut Ulrich Walter, now the Chair of Astronautics at TUM argued that while Mars One is correct that technologies exist, “the reliability of the technology, the repair options, are so low that they do not even survive a month ago - and we are both right. What is theoretically feasible, can be fatal in practice." Neither of the German Mars100 candidates are quoted in the article and all of Bas Lansdrop’s supporting arguments seem to come from other media reports. [I may be misreading that due to Google Translate’s limits. I’d appreciate hearing from native German speakers on this.] WiWo’s experts believe Nasa is the best bet for getting to Mars, but they aren’t as optimistic as the space agency. For them a “realistic estimate” is 2040 or 2050.

Other Mars One-related reports:

Mars One Candidates in the News

British candidates Clare Weedon and Hannah Earnshaw spoke with the Daily Mail about their backgrounds and motivations for joining Mars One.

Other candidates in the news:

News from Mars

The outcrop Curiosity tried to reach is just above the center-most scale bar. The steep, sandy terrain was too unstable for the rover to continue forward. Credit: Nasa/JPL-Caltech

In the heres-why-astronauts-are-needed-on-Mars category, the Curiosity rover had to make a detour to avoid risky driving conditions. Mission scientists want to look at an outcrop that marks the geological boundary between the pale rock the rover has examined at other sites and a darker layer scientists have never seen before. Unfortunately the original route proved to be too steep and the terrain too unstable for Curiosity. The planning and science teams are working on alternate routes.

This summer four people will simulate a 14-day space mission in Nasa's Human Exploration Research Analog station. HERA is a 3-storey habitation module originally built in the Arizona desert to evaluate technology for future exploration missions. It now sits in a warehouse at Nasa’s Johnson Space Center where scientists conduct behavioral science research to understand the effect of isolation and confinement on astronauts. A former Mars One candidate, middle school teacher Louis O’Rear, will be part of that mission, reports the Pensacola News Journal.

The New Scientist article “A Magna Carta for Mars” examines the human aspect of settling Mars. While the technological challenges may be met with traditional engineering R&D, learning how to manage human relationships and ultimately protect the rights of future settlers has gone largely unexamined by the world’s space agencies. (The New Scientist keeps its articles behind a paywall, but licenses reprints to other outlets like the Gulf Times)

The Austrian Space Forum organizes a Mars analog project every couple of years. This summer a field crew will travel to Kaunertal Glacier in the Tyrolean Alps where they will spend two weeks test techniques for exploring Martian geology. Two Swiss teenagers, both aspiring astronauts, will join this summer’s mission, reports Switzerland’s 20 Minuten.

The outreach team for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRise camera now creates Beautiful Mars Soundcloud audio captions such as this one about the red planet's polar mesas of carbon dioxide ice:

For more news from Mars: