Posts tagged Mars

Posted 2 months ago

And then there were … - reality TV financed space exploration house Mars One continuous to whittle down its list of potential astronauts. After initially receiving almost a quarter million applications, the number was cut to 1058 in the first round, and yet again to 705. Next up are more interviews followed by the formation of international teams consisting of two men and women each, which will then enter a rigorous training program.

The group of candidates that will not continue to the interview round dropped out due to personal reasons and medical reasons. […] After the interview round, the group of candidates will be narrowed down to several international teams consisting of two women and two men. These teams of prospective Mars settlers will be prepared for the mission by participating full time in an extensive training program.

Training to go to Mars will be their full time job. Whole teams and individuals might be selected out during training when they prove not to be suitable for the mission. Mars One will repeat the selection process regularly to train additional teams to replace eliminated teams and crews of settlers that have successfully left Earth to live on Mars.

Posted 6 months ago

And then there were only … 1058 - Reality TV funded Mars exploration company Mars One announced that it has short listed 1,000 individuals of the over 200,000 who applied to compete for their one way trip to Mars. The company also recently identified aerospace giant Lockheed Martin as a partner in advancing the technical designs needed to make the mission a reality. However, the TV rights to the endeavor are still being marketed/negotiated, so no word yet when first episodes might air to the anticipated global audience.

The chosen few will be taking part in a reality-TV style competition to cut them down to the final 40 candidates hoping to be the first immigrant Martians. The fun won’t stop there, though: the new citizens of Mars will also have their every move (including their, unfortunately, rather likely deaths) televised during the trip. The telly rights to the invasive Martian experiment are what the non-profit organisation is hoping will pay for the whole thing, which it reckons will cost around $4bn.

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Mars One co-founder Bas Lansdorp said the project was excited with its “first tangible glimpse” of what the Martian colony could look like. “We’re extremely appreciative and impressed with the sheer number of people who submitted their applications,” he said. “However, the challenge with 200,000 applicants is separating those who we feel are physically and mentally adept to become human ambassadors on Mars from those who are obviously taking the mission much less seriously.

Posted 7 months ago

Only for the Hardcore - travel to Mars is a tough undertaking, check out this great article in the Register on just what it takes to be a successful interplanetary explorer with today’s state of technology. We’ve learned a lot since the Apollo Moon landings to make space travel safer and more comfortable, but in more ways than one a mission to Mars is still not for the feint of heart.

Mars One makes no bones about there being no hope at all of a return trip to Earth, and needs astronauts who are completely at ease with this situation. Assuming all this is fine, then the five key characteristics of a successful applicant are: resilience, adaptability, curiosity, the ability to trust and creativity/resourcefulness.

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There are [also] good reasons why space agencies, credible or otherwise, place such a great emphasis on emotional and socio-psychological stability. Mars is a long way away (a minimum of 35 million miles or 54.6 million km and a maximum of about 401 million km), you’ll have to go there in a tin can with very little room to move, you cannot pick your shipmates, and there’s every likelihood that you will die on launch, en route, on arrival, or very shortly afterwards. It’s a lot to think about, and there’ll be plenty of time to dwell on it.

Posted 7 months ago

Clean Freaks - a new study on Mars contamination prevention efforts argues our efforts to protect the red planet from earthly influences could be masking the very martian life we’re hoping to discover. Published in the journal Nature Geoscience, the paper points the finger at overly restrictive regulations to prevent mars’ contamination as the very reason why mission destinations and architecture most likely to discover martian life are currently not possible.

In the paper, called The Overprotection of Mars, co-authors Alberto G. Fairén of the Department of Astronomy, Cornell University and Dirk Schulze-Makuch of the School of the Environment, Washington State University, also argue that, from an astrobiological perspective, the most interesting missions to “Special Regions” - where, in theory, Mars life could exist or Earth life could survive - are rendered “unviable” as a result of onerous Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) planetary protection protocols and the need to comply with “detailed and expensive sterilization requirements.”

It does make me wonder; if someone were to discover the internal combustion engine today (rather then a couple hundred years earlier), would it ever be build, or dismissed as too dangerous, too risky, too loud, and altogether not economically viable?

Posted 8 months ago

Mars Flyby - Inspiration Mars has published a summary report of their mission architecture. The goals are to send a crew of two (one man and one woman) on a roundtrip/flyby mission to Mars, approaching the red planet within 100 miles at the closest point. The project is targeting a January 2018 opportunity when Mars will align with Earth’s orbit to enable a 500 day round trip journey.

People go in the thousands every year to climb Mount Everest and about one in 20 die. This [proposed mission] would be the biggest achievement in Manned space since the first moon landing in 1969. If we are going to make big advances in space and not wait many decades then we need to be willing to take some risks.

NASA is not spending $16-18 billion each year to do anything else nearly as interesting.The best use of NASA money would be drive down the cost of access to space by ten times or one hundred times or more. However, that has not been done.

The team hopes to demonstrate the feasibility of human Mars travel, gather new knowledge about our planetary neighbor, and encourage the growing momentum in crewed space exploration. You can read the full summary report on Inspiration Mars’ website here.