Mars One Monday - July 13

The rainbow effect in this Mars Express image shows the rising, fractured terrain at the edge of Tharsis. Follow the link to learn about the how ancient tectonics shaped the region.  Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

I need your help. Leading these posts with variations of “Mars One didn't do anything last week” is a weak start for you the reader. It's also frustrating for me because I’m not staying true to my purpose. 

My focus is on the exploration of space by amateurs: the way they do the science themselves and the way professionals help them. Mars One tapped into that by offering normal people around the world a chance to explore the final frontier.

My interest lies in the Mars One amateurs: the thousands of people applied to become Mars One’s first settlers and the 100 people still in the running. Beyond that there are those who use Mars One’s audacious, impossible plan as inspiration for their own work. Bas Lansdorp's organization is important as the source of that inspiration, but tracking its evolution as an aerospace company? Not so much.

I’ve made a simple, first change this week by leading with the candidates. Your feedback can help me improve this series further. Beyond the mainstream media's formulaic people-who-want-to-die-on-Mars coverage, what would you like to read about the candidates? What news about Mars One is useful to you? Can you get better summaries of current Mars missions elsewhere?

Let me know in the comments, use the contact form, or directly at chriscasper followed by the “at” symbol followed by smallstepstospace.com (spambots are why we can't have nice things).

- Chris

Mars One Candidates in the News

The Washington Post wrote about the psychology of going to Mars. The story recaps an article in the latest Psychology Today Magazine about Mars One candidates and their motivations for settling Mars. Aerospace engineer George Hatcher and ER surgeon Leila Zucker both see the bigger picture: unifying humanity and ensuring its long-term survival. The PTM article itself isn’t available online, but it follows a February interview with science fiction writer and synesthete Andrew Tunks as well as a March thought-piece about Mars settlers by environmental researcher Kenneth Worthy.

Ryan MacDonald may become King of the Nerds (video only available in the UK and Ireland). The British scientist and space nerd is one of twelve contestants in Sky1's reality competition. The experience should come in handy as Mars One prepares to document the next selection round.

Technology professor Sandra Feliciano answered questions posed by Globo’s readers across Brazil (in Portuguese). The settlement of Mars will teach lessons that can be applied here on Earth, she argued, but can also serve as a foundation for exploring the rest of the Solar System. Feliciano also revealed that she is conducting her own research into the potential use of a Brazilian fairy shrimp as a protein source.

Amateur astronomer Linda Nadge blogged about her conversation with Josh Richards. Nadge turned her love of space into a business conducting astronomy tours of the Australian Outback. ABC Broken Hill caught up with Nadge to find out more.

Jaded journalists look at Mars One and its candidates sceptically, but South African scientist Adriana Marais won the Meander Chronicle’s journalist over when she spoke at a recent Women in Business breakfast.

Entrepreneurial media site Anthill published a Mars One reminder. Last October it interviewed Australian sustainability expert Dianne McGrath whose subsequent TEDxMelbourne presentation is now online.

Mars One in the News

Coverage of the Paragon Environmental Control and Life Support System concept study slowed to a trickle. Product Design and Development summarized the study while Mars One candidate Jane Angel Ruiz wrote a report for MasScience (in Spanish).

Indian artists will release a Mars One documentary next year, the Hindustan Times reports. Sahej Rahal and Pallavi Paul worked together while in residency at the Vancouver Biennale. Now they have received a grant from the India Foundation for the Arts to document Indians’ participation in this “cutting edge techno-social moment.”

News from Mars

Scientists studying Martian sand dunes use images like this from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRise camera to monitor the dunes’ evolution over time. Credit: Nasa/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

Could Elon Musk’s Hyperloop be a dry-run for a Martian transport system? That’s the speculation of University of Texas hypersonic physics researcher Leon Vanstone in The Conversation. Most of the article describes the Musk’s concept and the economic challenges that large infrastructures face before getting to the two brief paragraphs at the heart of Vanstone’s argument:

The Hyperloop project has its challenges in places that have air. But in places with little air and no fossil fuels, where you can’t fly and there’s little drag, it makes a lot more sense.

Places like Mars.

Unfortunately, Vanstone doesn’t provide any evidence to support that conclusion. Instead he speculates that Mars One's financial challenges are the reason Musk made his proposal. But consider this: 

  • Musk distributes the Hyperloop proposal PDF file from his space transportation website at SpaceX rather than his Earth transportation website at Tesla. 
  • Musk compares the Hyperloop’s near-vacuum to the Mars environment (page 12) rather than to Earth’s stratosphere.

A future civilization on Mars may well consider a Hyperloop intercity transport system. As Space's Leonard David reported last week, the razor sharp Martian terrain plays havoc with wheeled vehicles. Trials here on Earth may let the next century's Martians travel in comfort.

Other news from Mars: