Mars One Monday - June 8

Credit: Bryan Versteeg, Mars One

Credit: Bryan Versteeg, Mars One

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

There were no intentional announcements last week, but Mars One accidentally posted an internal webcast to its public YouTube channel. It quickly pulled the video, but not before Mars One's nemesis Elmo Keep spun it into a new post on Matter. The video recorded a media training webcast Mars One advisor Julian Bolster conducted with the candidates. According to Keep, Bolster advises the candidates to only respond to questions that have been screened by Mars One. She also claims vindication from Mars One’s admission that fewer than 5,000 people completed the initial application.

Commentary: With apologies for the mixed metaphors, don’t shoot yourself in the foot when swimming with sharks. Elmo Keep has such an atavistic disdain for space exploration - her latest post closes with a swipe at Elon Musk and at Nasa’s Mars plans - that the space community would dismiss her out of hand. Yet her focus on Mars One puts her on the side of the space establishment. Mars One can make that problem go away by doing the small things right. As I said last week, Mars One’s new openness is a positive step, but (as I’ve also said before) it can’t keep making these basic execution blunders. Stop the miscues, start doing small things to establish credibility, and Elmo Keep will fade away.

Mars One in the News

Mars One's more open policy and Kraft’s description of the selection process generated limited coverage in the media. The International Business Times recapped Kraft's post under a link-baity headline. Most mainstream media reports were recycled versions of IBT's articles. The Patheos iMortal blog was more critical of last week's “unfortunately puffy” article in the Guardian. Yale University's student political journal, The Politic went to the trouble of speaking with candidates Peter Degen-Portnoy, Robert Schröder, and Oscar Mathews.

Geologist, planetary scientist, astrobiologist, and member of the Curiosity rover’s science team, Dr. Dawn Sumner spoke with the Sacramento News and Review in a wide-ranging article about her career as a space explorer. Sumner has refused to criticise Mars One in the past, but the organization’s recent missteps have changed her outlook. “Since we first talked about it,” she told the News and Review, “it’s come out how badly that process is being run. Basically, it sounds like there is no way they will have the technology anywhere near ready. Which is not surprising.”

Ella Good and Nicki Kent spoke with Exeunt Magazine about their project “A Decade with Mars”. They explain that the questions Mars One provokes - the role of the private sector, the ethics of a one-way journey, and the nature of exploration - should be the starting points for conversations about the way we live.

EasyJet’s inflight magazine ran a Mars One story featuring an interview with Lansdorp at Mars One’s lavish global headquarters (a couple of rented offices opposite the Amersfoort railroad station). The article takes a bemusedly sceptical stance on the project, citing criticism from former astronauts as well as the MIT study. Candidates Maggie Lieu, Christian Knudsen, Ryan MacDonald, Alison Rigby, and Angel Ruiz appear in sidebars.

Delayed Gratification Magazine originally spoke Joe Martin in 2014 when he was a Round 2 candidate. Now three months after Mars One passed him over Delayed Gratification spoke with Martin about life after Mars One. He seems to have mixed emotions, but said that the shoestring approach Mars One is forced to take may damage its credibility. 

Wieger Wamelink’s recent posts Mars Exchange posts about Martian crop-growth research has spawned a few articles. The Toronto Star spoke with Wamelink while Mexico’s El Financiero spoke with Wageningen University professor and Mars One advisor Leo Marcelis.

Mars One Candidates in the News

Nigerian web architect Ighodalo Eromesele spoke with TechCabal about his candidacy, citing the benefits space exploration could deliver to African nations.

Primary school students interviewed French aerospace physician Jeremy Saget. They asked him question about everything from life on Mars to aerobraking - and how he is going to pee in space. (C-Yourmag)

Other candidates in the press:

News from Mars

Former rover driver Scott Maxwell recounts the 3D panoramic tour he conducted at Google I/O. Expeditions is an educational app that creates 3D panoramic tours for Google’s Cardboard project - a DIY stereoscope similar to the Fisher-Price View-Master. The Planetary Society's senior editor and planetary evengelist Emily Lakdawalla created the panoramic guide to the Spirit rover’s exploration of Mars.

University of Las Vegas researcher Frank Cucinotta co-authored the recent research (open access, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1400256) into the effect of cosmic radiation on mouse brains. The former chief scientist of Nasa’s Space Radiation Program spoke with the Las Vegas Review Journal about the risks that cosmic rays create for astronauts on deep space missions. Mitigating those risks, while possible, requires a lot more research Cucinotta explained. The fact that Nasa doesn’t select astronauts from the general population limits the potential for genetic resistance as an option.

Nasa suspended science operations at Mars and will limit communications to the most essential commands. As Earth and Mars enter conjunction, the period when the two planets’ orbits place them on opposite sides of the Sun, science operations have slowed. The Sun’s intense magnetic fields and radio emissions easily garble communications between space agencies and their robotic Mars explorers. The rovers and orbiters - except for Opportunity - will continue collecting data, but won’t transmit until the end of June when signal quality improves. Opportunity’s memory glitches prevent it from storing data overnight.

Other news from Mars:


Update Jun 9: I corrected my spelling of Oscar Mathews' last name.