Worldwide interest in human Mars exploration continues to grow, especially in Latin America. To further encourage this, the Mars Society is pleased to announce the establishment of a new chapter south of the equator – Mars Society Chile.

The Chile-based chapter will convene its inaugural event on Saturday, December 15, 2018 (16:00 CLST) at the Natural History Museum of Valparaiso. Attendance is open to the public and free of charge. The new chapter will join other Mars Society groups in Latin America, including in Mexico, Brazil, Peru and Argentina, in promoting Mars advocacy and education in the region.

“We are very excited about opening this new chapter in Chile. It will help educate our people about the importance of exploring the planet Mars and eventually establishing a permanent human presence there. We want to help find solutions to the challenges involved in Mars colonization. Talking about Mars will make this goal be part of the general culture in Chile,” said Priscilla Nowajewski, a representative of Mars Society Chile.

To learn more about the Mars Society Chile chapter and its inaugural meeting, please contact Priscilla (pnowajew@chile.marssociety.org).

Support the Mars Society on Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday, the Tuesday after the Thanksgiving holiday (November 27th), is a day designated in the U.S. and internationally to give back to the causes we care about most. Last year, our Mars Society community joined together to help us raise a significant amount of funds to support our organization’s mission of promoting human Mars exploration.

In the coming year, the Mars Society intends to further expand its Mars surface simulation programs in Utah and Canada, broaden its annual international Mars student rover competition, develop additional STEM initiatives for students, promote public outreach through its annual international Mars Society convention and continue to lead in our nation’s pro-Mars advocacy efforts.

To accomplish these important goals, we call on Mars Society members and fellow space advocates to contribute as much as possible - $25, $50, $100 or more - to our organization (a registered 501-c-3 non-profit) to help advance our drive to make humanity a multi-planetary species - starting with Mars. To donate, please visit: donate.marssociety.org.

Thank you in advance for your kind support and On to Mars!

AMA (Reddit) with Mars Society President Robert Zubrin

With growing public interest in the exploration of Mars and a human mission to the Red Planet, the Mars Society invites you to participate in a special AMA (Ask Me Anything) r/Space session with its president and founder Dr. Robert Zubrin on Friday, November 16th at 1:00 pm MST (3:00 pm EST / 8:00 pm GMT).

As a top Mars advocate and one of the world's leading experts on planning a mission to Mars and eventual human settlement of our nearest planetary neighbor, Dr. Zubrin will be available to answer as many of your questions on these topics as possible.

Join us at: https://www.reddit.com/r/space (DrRobertZubrin). Thank you!

 

Moon Direct: A Purpose-Driven Plan to Open the Lunar Frontier [R.Zubrin]

By Dr. Robert Zubrin, President, The Mars Society

The American human spaceflight program, armed with a clear goal, stormed heaven in the 1960s. But for almost a half-century since, it has been adrift, spending vast sums of money with no serious objective beyond keeping various constituencies and vendors satisfied. If it is to accomplish anything, it needs a real goal. Ideally, that goal should be sending humans to Mars within a decade. But after all these years of stagnation and bureaucratization, NASA lacks the will to attempt such a feat. A second-best alternative — one that could potentially transform NASA back into the can-do agency it once was, and that it needs to be again if it is ever to attempt to reach Mars — is to reverse the retreat by reopening the lunar frontier. For this reason, the Trump administration has announced that it has set such a goal, to wit, that America should return to the Moon, this time to stay.

Unfortunately, there is no evidence that this putative goal is meaningfully driving the administration’s actions. Rather, the administration is funding NASA at roughly the same levels as the Obama and Bushadministrations, while also continuing to approve the agency’s wasteful investment in useless projects. Astonishingly wasteful is NASA’s work on the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (formerly known as the Deep Space Gateway). The gateway is a planned space station that will orbit the Moon, supposedly serving as an outpost for human explorations to the Moon, Mars, and deep space. NASA’s Orion spacecraft will serve as the module for crews to travel back and forth between the gateway and Earth. The agency currently projects that Orion would take its first crew around the Moon by 2023, while Vice President Pence has recently stated a goal of putting astronauts on the gateway by the end of 2024.

Essentially, the gateway is a vestigial form of the Obama administration’s defunct and discredited Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM). As NASA describes it, ARM’s aim was “to develop a robotic spacecraft to visit a large near-Earth asteroid, collect a multi-ton boulder from its surface and redirect the boulder into orbit around the moon, where astronauts would have explored it and returned to Earth with samples.” The Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway is the ARM except with a space station instead of an asteroid, all to come up with something for astronauts to do in lunar orbit.

The idea is silly. There is no need to have a space station circling the Moon in order to go to the Moon or Mars or anywhere else. And there is not much research worth doing in lunar orbit that can’t already be done on the International Space Station, in Earth orbit, or with lunar probes and robots. NASA claims the gateway would create an opportunity to test state-of-the-art propulsion, communication, and other technologies at a greater distance from Earth; tele-operated rovers could be sent from the gateway to the Moon; and planets and stars could be observed from a different vantage than from the ISS or current telescopes. But none of these activities requires human presence in lunar orbit. These are not reasons for having a gateway, but rationalizations.[1]

Like the ISS and the space shuttle but much more so, the gateway is a means in search of an end. If the space shuttle was a tragedy, the gateway is a farce. Even when we do go — initially only once per year for as little as 30 days at a time, says the agency — having crews stop at the gateway en route to the Moon will have no purpose other than justifying the gateway, but will hamper such missions by adding to their propulsion requirements. It will cost tens of billions of dollars, both up front for construction and later for maintenance, sapping funds and delaying any real accomplishments for many years without adding any meaningful capability. When we could be going directly to the Moon or Mars, the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway is a pointless project, more aptly named the Lunar Orbit Tollbooth.

To read the full article, please click here.

Mars Colony Prize – Design the First Human Settlement on Mars

The Mars Society is holding a special contest called The Mars Colony Prize for designing the best plan for a Mars colony of 1000 people. There will be a prize of $10,000 for first place, $5,000 for second and $2500 for third. In addition, the best 20 papers will be published in a book - “Mars Colonies: Plans for Settling the Red Planet.”

The Mars colony should be self-supporting to the maximum extent possible – i.e. relying on a minimum mass of imports from Earth. In order to make all the things that people need on Earth takes a lot more than 1000 people, so you will need to augment both the amount and diversity of available labor power through the use of robots and artificial intelligence. You will need to be able to both produce essential bulk materials like food, fabrics, steel, glass, and plastics on Mars, and fabricate them into useful structures, so 3-D printing and other advanced fabrication technologies will be essential. The goal is to have the colony be able to produce all the food, clothing, shelter, power, common consumer products, vehicles, and machines for 1000 people, with only the minimum number of key components, such as advanced electronics needing to be imported from Earth

As noted, imports will always be necessary, so you will need to think of useful exports – of either material or intellectual products that the colony could produce and transport or transit back to Earth to pay for them. In the future, it can be expected that the cost of shipping goods from Earth to Mars will be $500/kg and the cost of shipping goods from Mars to Earth will be $200/kg . Under these assumptions, your job is to design an economy, cost it out, and show that after a certain initial investment in time and money, that it can become successful.

In scoring colony designs, points will be allocated on the following basis:

+ 40 points technical design: What systems will be used? How will they work?
+ 30 points economic: How can the colony be made economically successful?
+ 10 points social/cultural: What should Martian society be like? What kinds of schools, arts, sports, and other activities, should there be? How, given a fresh start, can life on Mars be made better than life on Earth?
+ 10 points political/organizational: How should the colony govern itself?
+ 10 points aesthetic: How can the colony be made beautiful?

The contest is open to all people from every country. You can work alone or as part of a team. Each contestant will need to submit a report of no more than 20 pages presenting their plan by no later than March 31, 2019. A downselect will then be made to the top 10 plans, whose authors will be invited to present them in person in front of a panel of judges chosen by the Mars Society at the International Mars Society Convention in southern California in September 2019.

Entrants should file their design plan reports using the Design Submission Form located on the Mars Colony Prize website. During submission of their design, entrants will also provide confirmation that they are granting the Mars Society non-exclusive rights to publish their reports and agreeing to accept the decision of the judges as final. Reports should be in PDF form and use 12 point Times typestyle, 1” margins.

To help expose you to some ideas you might want to consider, a number of papers, including preliminary plans for Mars colonies and their necessary subsystems, are available on the MarsPapers.org research paper archive by selecting "Human Settlement" or "Utilizing Mars Resources" in the Search >> Category dropdown box.

Here is an additional useful reference for Mars Colony contestants. For any questions, please contact: info@marssociety.org.

[Art work by Bryan Versteeg]

Sign Up Today for 2019 University Rover Challenge

You’re invited to participate in the Mars Society’s 2019 University Rover Challenge, the world’s premier Mars rover competition for college students.

Held annually in the desert of southern Utah at the Mars Desert Research Station, URC challenges student teams to design and build the next generation of Mars rovers that will one day work alongside human explorers on the Red Planet.

The next URC competition is scheduled for May 30 - June 1, 2019. The deadline for student team registration is Friday, November 2, 2018.

To register or learn more, please visit: http://urc.marssociety.org/home/team-info.

Join teams from around the world and show us what you've got! Sign up today!

Apply as Crew Member for MDRS 2019-20 Season

There's still time to apply as a crew member for the 2019-20 field season at the Mars Society's Mars Desert Research Station in southern Utah.
 
Owned and managed by the Mars Society, MDRS is the largest and longest-running Mars analog facility on our planet supporting research in pursuit of the technology, operations and science required for human space exploration.
 
To sign up, please visit: http://mdrs.marssociety.org/apply-to-field-season. The deadline for crew registration is Monday, November 5th (5:00pm MST). For any questions, please contact Dr. Shannon Rupert (srupert@marssociety.org).

Mars Society Launches Shop@Mars Online Store

The Mars Society announced during last week’s 21st Annual International Mars Society Convention in Pasadena, California the premiere of its new online store, Shop@Mars, offering a variety of popular Mars Society-related items for sale.

Typical in-demand Mars Society products such as pins, patches, magnets, water bottles, coffee mugs and t-shirts are currently available, as well as more unique items like a Mars tie and Mars-oriented holiday cards.  Plans are already underway to expand the product catalog to include flags, caps, carry bags and other useful and fun items.

“We’ve very proud of our new Shop@Mars online store, and this is just the beginning.  Purchasing your favorite Mars Society gear will help us promote our organization and raise funds for local chapter development and special projects. It has been a long time coming, and we couldn’t be happier to finally get it off the ground,” said Mars Society Executive Director Lucinda Offer.

In setting up Shop@Mars, the Mars Society partnered with Gooten, an innovative drop-shipping company that provides a technical platform for ordering high quality customized products at a very low cost.

To learn more about the Mars Society and its mission, please visit the organization’s web site at: www.marssociety.org.

[Zubrin] Why an Orbiting Moon Station is the Worst Idea of the New Space Age

By Dr. Robert Zubrin

The New Scientist, 08.29.18, Commentary

US Vice President Mike Pence says a habitable base orbiting the moon will be built and in use by 2024. It's a pointless distraction, warns Mars Society president Robert Zubrin

Before last weekend’s Mars Society convention, a reporter asked me what I thought of the Trump administration’s plan to send astronauts to the moon. No doubt he expected me to explain why the Red Planet is a much more suitable goal, but I told him this was about more than the moon versus Mars.

To read the full New Scientist commentary, please click here.

[Please note] To continue reading this premium article, a subscription to The New Scientist is required. Existing subscribers can log-in via their regular account access.

Timely Debate on Lunar Orbit Platform-Gateway at Mars Society Convention

The Mars Society is pleased to announce that a formal debate on NASA’s proposed Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, a human-tended facility in orbit around the Moon, will be held at the 21st Annual International Mars Society Convention on Thursday, August 23rd at 8:00 pm in the Pasadena Convention Center’s main ballroom.

The discussion will involve the following proposition: “Resolved: The Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway is the right next step for NASA’s human spaceflight program to take to support the human exploration and development of space.”  Speaking in the affirmative will be John Mankins, while arguing in the negative will be Dr. Robert Zubrin.

John Mankins, President of Artemis Innovation Management Solutions LLC, is an internationally recognized leader in space systems and technology innovation, and is considered a highly-effective manager of large-scale technology R&D programs. In addition, Mr. Mankins spent 25 years at NASA and Jet Propulsion Laboratory working in fields ranging from flight projects and space mission operations to systems level innovation and advanced technology research and development management.

Dr. Robert Zubrin, founder and President of the Mars Society, is viewed as one of the world’s leading experts on the Red Planet and planning for human Mars exploration. He has authored numerous Mars-related books, including “The Case for Mars: The Planet to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must”, and has testified in front of Congress on the future of America’s human space flight program. Dr. Zubrin is also President of Pioneer Astronautics, an aerospace R&D company, and served formerly as a staff engineer position at Lockheed Martin Astronautics.

The Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway debate is scheduled for one hour, allowing each side 20 minutes for an opening statement, 10 minutes for rebuttal and the remaining time will allow the speakers to take questions from the floor, with one minute answers followed by one minute rebuttals. The full event will be open to the public and the media.

For more information about the 2018 International Mars Society Convention, scheduled for August 23-26 in Pasadena, California, please visit our web site at: www.marssociety.org.

[NBC News] Robert Zubrin Wants to Establish a ‘New Branch of Human Civilization’ on Mars

By Denise Chow, NBC News, 08.19.18

To say Robert Zubrin is passionate about Mars is a bit of an understatement. The 66-year-old aerospace engineer has devoted the better part of his life to thinking about and encouraging the exploration of Mars.

In 1998, Zubrin co-founded The Mars Society, a Lakewood, Colorado-based nonprofit, and in the years since has become an outspoken advocate for the establishment of a permanent settlement on Mars — and a harsh critic of what he considers NASA's stagnant human spaceflight program.

Recently, NBC News MACH spoke with Zubrin about why he feels so strongly that humans should colonize Mars and that NASA shouldn't build a lunar "spaceport" — and why Mars exploration is so deeply personal to him.

The interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

MACH: NASA has sent robotic landers and rovers to Mars. Why is it important to send humans?

Zubrin: Humans are vastly more effective as explorers than robots. The most important questions about Mars are on the search for life, past and present. So we're interested in fossil hunting and we're interested in extinct life. Fossil hunting on Earth requires hiking long distances through difficult terrain, involves digging and pickaxe work. It involves delicate work, intuition, following up on clues. This is way beyond the ability of robots.

At the Mars Society, we've built two practice Mars stations: one in the desert in Utah and one in the Canadian high arctic. In the Utah station, on one of our earliest excursions, we were practicing exploring the desert as if it was Mars. We climbed down into this small box canyon and we explored it thoroughly and found this very curious-looking rock. We brought it back to the habitat and thin-sliced it, and it was definitely dinosaur bone.

We reported it to the [Bureau of Land Management]. A few years later the BLM gave the data to some professional paleontologist who came and dug the place, and it's now the largest dinosaur bone find in North America in decades. I have to tell you, no wheeled rover could have even gotten into that canyon because it was a two-meter drop to climb down into it.

As far as looking for extant life, we just discovered subsurface water on Mars — a subsurface lake. If there's life on Mars today, it's in the subsurface water. So you’d need to set up drilling rigs. Drilling down a kilometer — that's like drilling a deep oil well on Earth. These rovers can't do that. And bringing up the water, and putting it on culture mediums and trying to culture any organisms that are in it and then examining them under microscopes and doing biochemical testing — this is light-years beyond the capability of robotic rovers. If you really want to solve the problem and find the answer to the truth about life on Mars, we're going to have to send people.

mission to Mars is one thing, but why should humans settle the Red Planet?

We should settle Mars in order to establish a new branch of human civilization or several new branches of human civilization. That will add to the strength and vitality of human culture as a whole. If you think about the spreading of western civilization to the Americas, the establishment of societies including the one that lead to the United States — Europeans got some profit, the Spanish got some gold from the Aztecs and there were some profits to be made growing tobacco in Virginia.

But the real value that Europe and the rest of the world got out of the United States was a new branch of human civilization that demonstrated the value of democracy and invented electricity and the steamboat and the telegraph and the light bulb, and essentially generated electrical power and airplanes and nuclear power and computers and iPhones.

Mars Society Convention Hosting Panel on Hulu Series The First

Mars Society Convention Hosting Panel on Hulu Series The First

The Mars Society is pleased to announce that it will be hosting an exciting and timely panel discussion on the new Mars-driven Hulu original series, The First, as part of its 21st Annual International Mars Society Convention, scheduled for August 23-26, 2018 at the Pasadena Convention Center.

Actors Sean Penn and Natascha McElhone lead an ensemble cast in this near-future drama about a crew of astronauts attempting to become the first human explorers on the planet Mars. Under the direction of a visionary aerospace magnate, the crew contends with peril and personal sacrifice as they undertake the greatest pioneering feat in human history.

Set for Sunday, August 26th (11:30am-12:30pm), the panel discussion will include:

  • Beau Willimon, Series Creator & Executive Producer
  • LisaGay Hamilton, Series Actress
  • Dr. Charles Elachi, Series Consultant & Former JPL Director
  • Kellie Gerardi, Moderator & Media Specialist, Commercial SpaceFlight Federation

According to Hulu news, The First will premiere on Friday, September 14th as part of its growing web programming.

Please register online today for this year’s International Mars Society Convention, and contact us (info@marssociety.org) with any event-related questions. We look forward to welcoming you to Pasadena next week.