Mars One Monday - August 10

Mars One Monday rounds up the past week’s reports about the people who want to go on a one-way journey to Mars.

Mars One Candidates in the News

Jason Stanford wrote an essay for Texas Monthly about his wife Sonia Van Meter's plans to go to Mars. The Daily Mail quickly picked it up and it spread to other media outlets soon afterwards. The Washington Post took the trouble to interview Stanford for its article while spoke with Van Meter. In its focus on the wife-leaving-her-husband-for-Mars story, the media missed many of Stanford's main points. He provides a lucid defense of Mars One and its astronaut selection process. Pointing out that the process is similar to Nasa original plans for the Mercury project, Stanford explains that Mars One is about humanity's journey into space:

But there aren’t any square-jawed supermen in the bunch. To the average person, they are all decidedly regular, even relatable. And if they can do it... then perhaps we all can dream about what it would be like to bounce around on a planet with one-third the gravity of Earth’s.... Maybe if we’re all looking up at once at that rocket, we will remember that we’re all on this planet together.
— John Stanford in Texas Monthly

At the same time, Stanford and Van Meter's story is very personal (although not as private as they'd like). "We’re just an ordinary married couple in an extraordinary situation, and we’re taking it one small step for man at a time." (You can read the first essay Stanford wrote for Texas Monthly last year.

Armed With Science, the US Department of Defense’s science blog posted a video interview with Oscar Mathews. The Navy Reserve officer explained how he is shifting his service from nuclear engineering to aerospace engineering and eventually spacecraft engineering.

Focus published an extended interview with German electrical engineering student Robert Schröder. Even though the writer calls Schröder’s blue algae experiment Blaualgen-Gesöff (cyanobacteria-swill), the sympathetic portrayal explains Schröder’s clear-eyed reasons for joining, and sticking with, Mars One. Former astronaut Ulrich Walter provides the sceptical counterpoint, explaining that even where technologies exist that could make Mars settlement possible they are little more than prototypes.

Canadian teacher and former journalist Karen Cumming told that people should “figure out what your Mars is… that thing that sets you on fire… and say yes to it.”

Other news from Mars One candidates:

Artists Inspired by Mars One

Scenes From Mars One: Now with 68% Less Gravity” won the award for Best Comedy at the San Diego Fringe Festival.

Zero Hour: The Mars Experiment” explores what happens when space travel and reality TV combine. Produced by Wiley West Productions, the show ran through August 8 at San Francisco’s Exit Theater. After the final show candidates Kenya Armbrister, Kay Radzik Warren, and Yvonne Young sat down with the audience to talk about Mars One.

Happening NOW: Wily West interviews three ladies from the Mars 100! #goingtoMars

Posted by Wily West Productions on Saturday, August 8, 2015

How to Live On Earth” premieres September 13 at New York’s HERE Art Center. Inspired by Mars One, the play follows candidates for a one-way journey to Mars. Brooklyn theatrical company Colt Coeur will explore “our unrelenting obsession with the next frontier and the desire to give your life for something greater than yourself.” Colt Coeur is crowdfunding their 6th production season through Kickstarter.

Red Earth” is a future production inspired by Mars One and Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles. Canada’s One Trunk Theatre and Shakespeare in the Ruins will premiere the work described as “part graphic novel, part sci-fi, and part physical theatre” in 2017.

Not exactly artistic, but Australian off-road camper trailer manufacturer Mars Campers offers the Mars One Hybrid Caravan for only $49,900. Why is it a hybrid? Because it uses both natural gas and solar power.

Mars One in the News

No announcements from Mars One last week.

The Boston Globe previewed the upcoming debate about the feasibility of Mars One’s mission concept. Robert Zubrin will moderate the debate at the upcoming International Mars Society Conference. On the "yes" side: Mars One CEO Bas Lansdorp and Paragon Space Development Corporation Chief Engineer Barry Finger. On the "no" side: MIT scientists Sydney Do and Andrew Owens. The scientists were part of the team that evaluated Mars One’s mission concept, identifying issues in life support and resupply that ought to be addressed. In public statements, Mars One’s leadership has alternated between disparaging the scientists and appreciating their contribution. Do told the Boston Globe that he hopes they “have an objective debate based on facts, quantitative numbers, and about the challenges of human space flight.”

Bas Lansdorp's speaking schedule continues with several events in Europe. He will address students at CuriousU, a summer school festival at the Netherlands' University of Twente. Lansdorp will also speak at CuttingEdge2015, Norway’s festival of science and technology October 14 at the Oslo Science Park.

Inside Science reported that Mars One is in discussions with 3D printer manufacturer 3D By Flow. The Dutch company has tested 3D printing techniques to create food.

When asked about Mars One by the Times of India, Pete Worden didn't answer directly. The former head of Nasa’s Ames Research Center said that “Mars may not be a good idea” for human settlement due to the high levels of perchlorates in the Martian sands.

German psychologist and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung food blogger Dianna von Kopp wrote (in German) “Only vegans go to Mars?” She uses Mars One’s proposed one-way journey to explore how future Mars explorers will find their nutrition on a world so inimical to life. From Esa’s biogenerative life support systems research group to the Hi-Seas analog research station, she looks at the way LED lighting systems and hydroponics may change space exploration - and agriculture on Earth.

News from Mars

Nasa engineers and scientists held a Reddit AMA to celebrate the third anniversary of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity’s landing on Mars. Among their favorite discoveries: most of the rocks were deposited by water and the iron-rich Martian regolith is only oxidized at its surface.

Nasa unveiled two websites that let anyone explore Mars. Based on a tool used by the space agency’s mission planners to evaluate landing site for future robotic missions - and maybe human missions - Mars Trek lets you zoom in and out of a Martian map made from satellite images. You can toggle other data from Mars orbit, but only for specific sites where Nasa’s missions have landed. For some reason the Viking landing sites aren’t included. Mars Trek isn’t as capable as other publicly accessible Mars maps like the Jules Verne Explorer, the Themis Image Viewer, the HiRise Browse Map, the USGS Planetary Image Locator Tool, or LRoc’s LunaServ. However, Nasa plans to add more features of use to educators, university faculty, and students.

With the launch of Experience Curiosity, Nasa claims, “Anybody with access to the web can take a journey to Mars.” (Your mileage may vary) You recreate the Mars Science Laboratory journey through Gale Crater by selecting one of four milestones from the rover’s 3-year stay on the red planet.

The Planetary Society ran two Mars-related stories on its blog. The first from A.J.S. Rayl reports on the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity’s progress through Marathon Valley and into Endeavour Crater. Formed during a much warmer and wetter period in Martian history, the region promises a wealth of discoveries of ancient clay minerals. Van Kane reported on Nasa’s upcoming Mars 2020 rover mission. Scientists and engineers had gathered for the second Landing Site Workshop. Kane’s report provides the latest updates on the rover’s design and instrument selection.


The low-lying Atlantis Basin has been eroded by impact craters and, possibly, ancient water flows. This image from Esa's Mars Express orbiter shows the changing height of the Martian landscape from low lying basins (blue, purple) to peaks and highlands (red, white). Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (CC BY-SA 3.0 IGA)

Other news from Mars: