While the rovers Opportunity and Curiosity cruise the surface of Mars, three operating satellites orbit above, keeping a keen eye on the planet. In addition to
documenting the surface of Mars with an unprecedented level of detail, these satellites continue to provide critical support for ground missions. They relay vital communications between the rovers and Earth, monitor surface weather, look for safe driving paths around large boulders, and identify points of interest for further study. Although they often work in tandem to support the rovers, each orbiter has made its own fundamental contributions to our understanding of the Red Planet.
The oldest of the three currently operational satellites orbiting Mars is the 2001 Mars Odyssey. Named as a tribute to science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke’s beloved work “2001: A Space Odyssey,” Mars Odyssey has been plugging away for well over a decade in low Mars orbit and has set the record as the longest serving spacecraft orbiting a planet other than Earth. Early in its mission, Mars Odyssey surprised scientists by detecting levels of water ice in the Martian soil that far exceeded expectations. This discovery intensified interest in the history of water on Mars and what that history could mean for the possibility of life there. Though perhaps its most important science work is done, Mars Odyssey has been granted numerous mission extensions, primarily to serve as a telecommunications relay between rovers Opportunity and Curiosity and Earth.
The following is the final mission report of Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) Crew 139. A full review of this year's activities and research at MDRS will be presented at the 17th Annual International Mars Society Convention, to be held August 7-10, 2014 at the South Shore Harbor Resort in League City, Texas (outside Houston near NASA’s Johnson Space Center). Our crew had been preparing for months, and finally, the time had come. On Saturday, April 5th, we landed on Mars and gazed at the Mars Hab and the
gorgeous landscape it is surrounded by, for the first time. The crew, composed of Executive Officer Joshua MacFie, biologist Kelsey Compagnon, chemist Dylan Kirby, astronomer Kyle Flaherty, HSO and geologist Liz Painter, and myself, Commander Paulina Sidwell, set foot in the Hab on Saturday afternoon and began our mission.
We spent a few hours being briefed by crew 139, who did a fantastic job getting us up to speed and showing us what our duties and tasks would be for the following week. Having been here before, I was impressed by the clean state the Hab was in and the recent renovations that had been done. However, we also learned that we would be sharing the Hab with a family of Martian rodents that refused to vacate the facilities despite previous crews’ efforts. We said goodbye to the departing crew, and began our activities. As we settled in, the crew started feeling the excitement and anticipation of waking up Sunday in-sim.
Bas Lansdorp, CEO and Co-Founder of Mars One, will give a plenary talk about his organization’s current planning for
the Red Planet at the 17th Annual International Mars Society Convention, to be held August 7-10, 2014 at the South Shore Harbour Resort in League City, Texas, just outside Houston near NASA's Johnson Space Center.
Mr. Lansdorp is a Dutch entrepreneur
and holds a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of
Twente in 2003. For five years, he worked at Delft University of Technology and
in 2008 founded Ampyx Power in order to develop a new, viable method of
generating wind energy. Mr. Lansdorp sold his majority interest in Ampyx in
2011 in order to launch the Mars One initiative.
Mars One is a non-profit organization
based in the Netherlands that has put forward conceptual plans to establish a
permanent human settlement on the planet Mars by 2024. Planning includes
sending four trained applicants to the Red Planet, becoming the first residents
of Mars, with every step of the crew’s journey being documented for a reality
For more details about the 2014 International Mars Society Convention, please click here.
The Mars Society is pleased to
announce that the winner of the 2014 Mars Society Poster Contest is Scott Porter,
a Ph.D. student studying architecture at the University of Strathclyde in
Each participant (12 in total) in this year's competition was required
to submit a poster design that best represented the theme - ‘Blazing the Path
to Mars’ - for the 17th Annual International Mars Society Convention, to be
held August 7-10 in League City, Texas (just outside Houston).
In addition, the Mars Society would
like to express its appreciation to the second and third place winners - Jamie Polancic
and Miguel Cooper (respectively). The
organization would also like to recognize two additional artists for honorable mention - Katarina Eriksson Marka and Joseph Sweeney.
To view the winning poster as a PDF
document, please click here.
William Borucki, Principal
Investigator for the Kepler Mission, NASA’s planet-hunting space telescope,
will present an update at the 17th Annual International
Convention, scheduled for August 7-10, 2014 in League City, Texas (just outside
Houston, near NASA's Johnson Space Center).
The Kepler space telescope was developed
to determine the frequency of terrestrial planets orbiting in and near the
habitable zones of other stars. Launched in March 2009, Kepler and its
follow-up observations have found, as of early 2014, nearly 1,000 confirmed
A veteran space scientist in the Astrobiology
and Space Research Directorate of NASA’s Ames Research Center, Mr. Borucki led
the design and operation of the Kepler space telescope and specializes in research
on the detection of extrasolar planets and planetary lightning.
Mr. Borucki received a Master’s
degree in Physics from the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 1962 and then
moved to Silicon Valley where he first worked on the development of the heat
shield for the Apollo mission in the Hypersonic Free Flight Branch at NASA
After NASA’s successful moon
landings, he transferred to the Theoretical Studies Branch where he
investigated lightning activity in planetary atmospheres and developed
mathematical models to predict the effects of nitric oxides and
chlorofluoromethanes on Earth’s ozone layer.
For more details about the 2014 Mars Society Convention, please visit our web site.
Mr. Sanders has worked at NASA JSC for over 26 years,
primarily in the Propulsion and Power Division of the Engineering
Directorate, and has extensive experience in chemical propulsion, fluid systems and ISRU. In the field of ISRU, he has supported or led most major architecture studies, technology road mapping and hardware development activities associated with Mars and Lunar ISRU within the agency for the last 15 years.
To move ISRU from paper to reality, Mr. Sanders co-led and
coordinated three international ISRU analog field tests in Hawaii on Mauna Kea
(2008, 2010 and 2012) where ISRU technologies, systems and operations were
evaluated. He also helped propose and develop two ISRU related robotic
precursor experiment development activities; the Mars In-situ propellant
production Precursor (MIP), which was manifested on the cancelled 2001 Mars
Surveyor mission, and the Regolith and Environment Science & Oxygen and
Lunar Volatile Extraction (RESOLVE) experiment which is being considered for
flight in 2018.
Besides ISRU, he has worked extensively in the area of crewed
vehicle and in-space chemical propulsion development. He also served as the
NASA propulsion lead for Russian propulsion and propellant transfer systems for
the International Space Station from 1992 to 1998, and served as the Chief for
the Propulsion and Fluid Systems Branch in the Engineering Directorate at NASA
JSC for four years (2001-2005) and Deputy for three years (1998-2001).
The Mars Society convention speakers list will be posted online in the coming weeks.
Call for Papers
It is an
anticipated that there will be dozens of speakers at the August conference. If
you would like to be one of them, please send an abstract of no more than 300
words to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The deadline for abstracts is June 30, 2014. Talks on all matters (science,
engineering, politics, economics, public policy, etc.) associated with the
exploration and settlement of Mars will be considered.
for the Mars Society conference is now open. Rooms at the South Shore Harbour Resort are available at a
specially discounted rate of $100/night for single or double occupancy for Mars
Society conference attendees.
By Nicole Willett, Red Planet Pen Blog (Issue #27)
Annual conventions have become a staple of the Mars Society. Many leading scientists, researchers, and entrepreneurs hold plenary talks and participate in panel discussions regarding many aspects of the human exploration and settlement of the Red Planet. The 17th Annual Mars Society Convention will be held from August 7-10, 2014 in the Houston area in League City, Texas (near NASA’s Johnson Space Center). The convention will be held at the South Shore Harbour Resort.
The Mars Society invites presentations for the 17th Annual International Mars Society Convention. Subjects for discussion can involve all matters associated with the exploration and settlement of the planet Mars, including science, technology, engineering, politics, economics, public policy, etc.
If you would like to submit an abstract to be considered for a presentation at the convention you may email your submission here. Email is preferred, however you may mail your submission to The Mars Society, 11111 West 8th Avenue, Unit A, Lakewood, CO 80215 . The submissions are to be no more than 300 words and must be submitted by June 30th. A few of the proposed conference sessions are:
The search for life on Mars
Latest findings from Mars spacecraft
Plans for 2014 Mars missions and beyond
Curiosity rover – research & accomplishments
Concepts for future robotic Mars missions
For further details and a full list of conference sessions, please click here.
"Mars has been flown by, orbited, smacked into, radar examined, and rocketed onto, as well as bounced upon, rolled over, shoveled, drilled into, baked, and even blasted. Still to come: Mars being stepped on.”
-- Dr. Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 Astronaut
The Mars Society is an officially registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to responsible and transparent financial management.