Mars One Monday - August 24

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’s technical and financial prospects remain controversial. Yet the candidates themselves are the most visible example of a global trend - the public’s increasing participation in space exploration. 

Mars One Candidates in the News

The poster for Engadget's Mars documentary. Note that the sunsets on Mars are blue, not orange. Source: Engadget

Engadget announced that its documentary series Citizen Mars will appear on AOL Originals September 1. Stateless Media, the company behind The Guardian’s mini-documentary If I Die on Mars, produced the five-part series which follows five Mars One candidates.

  • American actress Sue Ann Pien
  • Egyptian basketball player Mohammed Sallam
  • Italian psychiatry student Pietro Aliprandi
  • South African quantum biologist Adriana Marais
  • Indian engineering student Shradha Prasad

There’s a tremendous amount of interest in the Mars One project,” Engadget editor-in-chief Michael Gorman said in the press release, “many are skeptical about the mission’s feasibility which is why we thought it an important story to tell, and why the subjects involved are so compelling.”

American planetary science graduate student Zach Gallegos will speak at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science. Gallegos has worked on Nasa missions like the Mars Science Laboratory and Mars 2020. He will discuss the world’s robotic exploration of Mars and plans for human exploration. 

Other candidates in the news:

Artists Inspired by Mars One

British musician Gene Serene used Mars One as inspiration for her latest album “The Polaris Experience”. She told ContactMusic “I found the emotions and philosophies fascinating and open to lots of interpretation.”

The Local reports that the Swedish fashion house Björn Borg has turned Stockholm’s Långholmen island into a mini-Mars for Stockholm Fashion Week. The brand’s new line of sportswear is inspired by Mars One and the challenge of exploring another planet. The co-marketing deal between Björn Borg and Mars One was announced earlier this month. Lansdorp and several candidates will attend this week’s events. Sverige Radio interviewed Lansdorp and American candidate Bradley Lynell Moore with expert commentary from the Royal Institute of Technology’s Sven Grahn.

Mars One in the News

The Mars Society posted videos from its conference, including the debate between Mars One CEO Bas Lansdorp and MIT scientists Sydney Do and Andrew Owens:

More articles from The Verge, Tech Insider, meltyDiscovery (France), FutureZone (Austria), and CanalTech (Brazil) reviewed the debate. In her IEEE Spectrum review Rachel Courtland said that she left the review thinking “the two sides are talking at right angles to one another” with the scientists taking Mars One’s numbers at face value while Lansdorp considers them aspirational.

Canadian astronauts spoke out about Mars One in Macleans space issue, guest-edited by Chris Hadfield. Several interviews included a question about Mars One. Space Shuttle astronaut Roberta Bondar called the one-way vision unethical because we don’t understand the risks of interplanetary travel. Space Station builder Julie Payette was more direct: “That project is a fraud.”  In a kinder, more Canadian tone Robert Thirsk called the Mars One candidates “brave and visionary” but cited the amount of time he spent repairing the space station as an example of why traveling to Mars within the next ten years is a fantasy.

News from Mars

Nasa's Mars Science Laboratory mission team stitched together this "selfie" of the Curiosity rover in "Marias Pass" Credit: Nasa/JPL-Caltech

Nasa recapped the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity’s investigation of “Marias Pass”. Rocks in that area have higher levels of silica and hydrogen than previously seen on Mars. Mission scientists interpret the data to mean there are higher levels of water beneath the surface.

Nasa and the producers of The Martian held a press event last week to promote the film - and the space agency's plans to explore Mars. For more details you can read my take on Hollywood and Nasa.

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield says that “the Moon is the next logical step for human exploration.” Hadfield argues in Macleans' space issue that too many technologies are too undeveloped to support human travel to Mars.

Deutsche Welle wrote about German physicist Christiane Heinicke’s participation in Mars analog research. She will join the Hi-Seas simulation of a one-year stay on Mars. Heinicke and five others will seal themselves in a habitat perched on the summit of a dormant Hawaiian volcano. DW also posted a Mars analog project slideshow.

Other news from Mars: