Mars One Monthly - May 2017

One hundred people around the world, the Mars One candidates, may be the first to settle another planet. Even if they never do, their stories have inspired artists to create plays, art installations, and other works. These are the latest reports about the candidates, the artists, and Mars itself:

  • Mars One Candidates: Media appearances in Australia, Russia, South Africa, Spain, and the United States.
  • Artists Inspired by Mars One: An off-Broadway play, British electronica metal, and a street artist's angel wings
  • Mars One in the News: Hijacked or not, CEO Lansdorp responds, Mars One Ventures shares suspended, and a new advisor 
  • News from Mars: Nasa's Mars rocket delayed, research on Earth, and discoveries on Mars


Mars One Candidates in the News

Bitch Magazine’s Nerd Issue featured five Mars One candidates: project manager Kenya Armbrister, business development specialist Kellie Gerardi, actor Sue Ann Pien, aerospace systems engineer Laura Smith-Velazquez, and musician Sabrina Surovec. The interview went beyond the typical boilerplate questions. Among the topics were the role science played in their childhood, the media’s coverage of the candidates, and inclusivity in space exploration.

SAP Africa announced Adriana Marais’ appointment as Head of Innovation for the company’s Internet of Things Lab and other innovation projects. “What appealed to me about the role,” Marais explained, “is that I can put my knowledge and experience into action and help transform Africa while changing the lives of people across the continent.” This is great personal news for Marais and reflects on the momentum behind Africa’s homegrown tech sector. But it also reflects positively on Mars One. SAP did not downplay Marais’ involvement in the project. Her candidacy led the second paragraph as the first of Marais’ qualifications for the post. Marais wrote an editorial for Carte Blanche that connects her ancestors’ one-way journey to Africa as refugees with the possibilities of human settlement of Mars. The editorial coincided with Carte Blanche’s report on Mars One. Marais had several other media appearances: TechCentral podcast, Groot-FM, Bella, Azania Mosaka, and FutureworkIQ.

The portrait of the Mars Society's Mars160 crew includes Russian space journalist and Mars One candidate Anastasia Stepanova. She told Sputnik International that she will spend the summer in the Arctic to prepare for the next selection round. In an interview with RT, Stepanova said that exploring a new world would be “much more interesting and significant than lying on a sofa for the rest of my life.”

Newsline Ediciones reviewed Angel Jane’s book “Mi casa en Marte” (My Home on Mars). It praised Jane’s “informative, direct, and emotive style”. Jane continued his space tourism podcasts by interviewing space tourism pioneer Ana Bru. She is the founder of travel firm Bru & Bru which has an exclusive license to sell tickets in Spain for Virgin Galactic’s suborbital flights.

Australian sustainability expert Dianne McGrath joined the No Filter podcast and Marty Vids podcast for discussions about Mars One. She also joined Australian radio show hosts Ross Stevenson and John Burns for a discussion about Melbourne’s wasted food and the growth of the dumpster diving movement.

Despite last month’s exhaustive list of Australian candidate Josh Richards’ school outreach appearances, his visit with Creaney Primary was overlooked. Management deeply regrets the oversight. Local media reported on his visits with Southern River College and with Halidon Primary School.  Perth Now said that Richards has “turned convincing people to send him to Mars into a full-time job”. Al-Jazeera ran a story about the way astronauts’ since of body awareness fades in zero-g. Richards gave Al-Jazeera a potential Martian’s perspective on the importance of the research. Finally, Richards will feature in a comedy web video shot at the Sydney Opera House. A casting call has been made for comedic actors to play Mars One employees and David Bowie.

Kellie Gerardi spoke at the Women in Innovation forum. She joined Time Magazine’s space journalist Jeff Kluger and private astronaut Anousheh Ansari to talk about how “The 1st Man on Mars Will Be A Woman”.

Artists Inspired by Mars One

Astronauts Wanted” by Heloise Wilson opened in New York last month. Described as “a deeply poetic non-linear narrative”, it asks the ultimate questions about the nature of humanity’s place in the Universe: What happens when you get your period in space? How do you have sex in zero gravity? Is it really possible to use the soil on Mars and your own poop to grow a garden of potatoes? The NY Theatre Guide called it a “pithy and poignant” production that “makes for extremely compelling viewing”.


British electronica metal band The Lotus released its new single Mars-X. Inspired by the Mars One concept, it tries to answer the questions Why do we have to leave the Earth? How did we become aliens on our own planet? Who we are and what do we aim for? In a brief discussion with Vents Magazine, the band said a video will go live on May 5.

Sweety High interviewed street artist Kelsey Montague. Best known for her angel wing murals, Montague said that she wants to contribute artwork to a Mars One spacecraft. 

Mars One in the News

At the end of April the Dutch financial newspaper Financieele Dagblad raised concerns about Mars One’s new business structure. They spoke with analysts who identified the potential targeting of its new listing by pump-and-dump stock manipulation scams. In my post “Has Mars One Been Hijacked?” I relayed the reports based on Google Translate’s interpretation of the Dutch article. Mars One CEO Bas Lansdorp spoke with me about the situation and tried to allay concerns about his company’s finances.

The Frankfurt Stock Exchange suspended trading in shares of Mars One Ventures. Newly issued shares created a situation where listed and non-listed stock existed at the same time. The FSE cannot distinguish between the two and suspended trading until the situation is resolved. 

Dr. Antonio Paris joined Mars One’s advisory board. Paris is an astronomer at St. Petersburg College (USA). In the announcement he said that “it is an honor to serve as an advisor in the greatest adventure in history… colonizing Mars.”

News from Mars

Humans to Mars

The first launch of Nasa's Space Launch System will not happen before 2019, Ars Technica reported. An audit by the US Congress’ General Accounting Office questioned the space agency’s ability to meet its November 2018 target. A formal response from the head of Nasa’s human space flight program, William Gerstenmaeir, confirmed Nasa would delay the launch but did not accept the GAO’s critique.

Meanwhile President Trump’s White House still has not specified a space policy. Although not unusual, President Obama did not name a new Nasa Administrator until five months into his term, the lack of a clear policy and leadership structure leaves the space program drifting between competing interests. Congress just unveiled a budget for the 2017 fiscal year that began last October. It takes a business-as-usual approach to Nasa’s budget that ignores the priorities for 2018 set forth by President Trump’s budget officials.

Scientists published new research that could support humans on Mars:

  • A Bournemouth University researcher believes his robot surgeons could help Mars One. (Bournemouth Echo)
  • Scientists can 3D “paint” objects using simulated Mars dust. (Northwestern University)
  • Researchers compressed simulated Mars regolith to form a solid stronger than reinforced concrete. (NatureAsia)

Analog Research

This prototype for a deployable greenhouse could provide fresh food and recycled air for astronauts on the Moon or Mars. Credit: University of Arizona

Researchers are developing greenhouses for other worlds. “The greenhouses provide a more autonomous approach to long-term exploration on the moon, Mars and beyond." Nasa scientist Ray Wheeler said. Designed for both food and life suport, the Prototype Lunar/Mars Greenhouse could provide “a continuous vegetarian diet” for future astronauts.

Scientists use Chile’s Atacama Desert as an analog for Mars on Earth. Chilean biologist Cristiana Dorador drives a mobile laboratory across the desert in search of life that survives in the dry, hot conditions. "If life existed [on Mars], it would probably be very similar to life here," she explained to the AFP. 

Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientists traveled to the Atacama to test technology that could detect signs of life on other worlds. "The Atacama served as a proving ground to see how this technology would work on an arid planet like Mars,” the project's principal investigator Peter Willis said.

Slovakian astrobiologist Michaela Musilová recently commanded a two week expedition at the Mars Desert Research Station. She explained to the Slovak Spectator her criteria for selecting crew members as well as how they handled various challenges. Musilová, who had to build her career outside Slovakia, shares her hopes to build a space research community in her home country.


New research from Nasa’s Maven mission indicates the upper reaches of the Martian atmosphere contains metallic ions. Deposited by small meteoroids passing through the atmosphere, metallic ions have been found at other worlds. The discovery will let scientists study previously unobservable aspects of the Martian atmosphere.

Landers and Rovers

Nasa’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity finished nearly three years of exploration at the Cape Tribulation region of Endeavour Crater. Its next target, called Perseverance Valley, was eroded over the course of several billion years. Scientists hope to determine whether wind or water caused that erosion.

The MRO took new pictures of Opportunity’s landing site. Thirteen years ago the rover’s airbag landing system bounced across the dusty plains of Mars before settling into the 22-meter diameter Eagle crater.