Announcements

The Mars Society seeks to educate the public, media and government about the importance of space exploration and the necessity of a strong and sustainable Mars exploration program, including a humans-to-Mars mission in the coming decade.  To that end, the organization regularly posts various announcements, releases and articles about ongoing Mars exploration and research, as well as Mars Society news and activities.  We welcome any feedback regarding this effort.  Thank you!   

2015 Mars Society Convention to be Held in Washington, D.C.

posted Jan 13, 2015, 2:52 PM by M Stoltz   [ updated Jan 13, 2015, 5:24 PM ]

The Mars Society will hold its 18th Annual International Mars Society Convention on the beautiful tree-lined campus of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., August 13 - 16 (Thursday thru Sunday). All primary convention events will take place at the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center (better known as "The Pryz").

This major four-day conference will bring together leading experts, scientists, engineers, policymakers, government officials, entrepreneurs, historians, philosophers and journalists to discuss the significance of the latest scientific discoveries, technological advances and political-economic developments that could pave the way for the human exploration and settlement of the Red Planet, by either public or private means.

For more information about the upcoming Mars Society convention, including registration details, sponsorship opportunities and volunteer requirements, please visit our convention web site page.

Call for Papers

The Mars Society invites presentations for the 18th 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.

Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be sent by June 30, 2015 to: The Mars Society, 11111 West 8th Avenue, Unit A, Lakewood, CO 80215 or forwarded via email to: abstracts@marssociety.org (e-mail submissions are preferred).

University Rover Challenge Welcomes Protocase, Inc. and Record Field of Teams

posted Jan 10, 2015, 9:22 PM by M Stoltz   [ updated Jan 10, 2015, 9:23 PM ]

The Mars Society's University Rover Challenge (URC) is excited to announce a new partner, Protocase, Inc., a world leader in custom electronic enclosures and

sheet metal parts.  This announcement comes just weeks after registration for URC2015 closed with a record 44 teams from eight countries on six continents.

The unique sponsorship deal with Protocase will be the first ever that provides products and services to every single team registered in the competition.  Each URC team will receive a $2,000 (USD) credit towards custom parts manufactured by Protocase, and a subsequent 50% discount on all products/services beyond this amount.

As a manufacturer of customer-designed components, Protocase works with Computer Aided Design (CAD) models supplied directly by the customer. URC teams will be required to attend a virtual "webinar" hosted by Protocase that describes the design requirements, and explains their process in detail. Details regarding this webinar will be sent to teams at a later time, and will be available both live, and in an archived format.

To read the full announcement, please click here.

Mars Desert Research Station Crew 145 - Final Report

posted Jan 6, 2015, 12:11 PM by M Stoltz   [ updated Jan 10, 2015, 9:24 PM ]

Mission Summary Report

MarsWithoutBorders Crew 145


MarsWithoutBorders (MWOB) Expedition 1, Crew145 was a group of international, interdisciplinary and intercultural team of scientists, engineers, space physicians and artists. Our aim was to create and test capabilities related to enable future Human Missions to Mars. To that end, MWOB conducted its first expedition at the Mars Desert Research Station with Crew 145 led by Crew Commander, Susan Jewell MD, a veteran MDRS Analog Astronaut (as the HSO for Crew134 and a finalist for MA365 Artic competition as HSO /Journalist for FMARS MA365 Crew144). Crew 145 comprised of Crew Engineer/ Robotics, Matteo Borrei, XO/Crew Scientist, Michal Czapski, and HSO/Greenhab Officer, Julielynn Wong MD.

From the very start of the mission the overwhelming obstacles, the large number of projects, and reduced size of the crew challenged the team to its limits both physically and mentally. The original crew of seven members was reduced to four which increased the physical and operational workloads and tasks planned for a larger team. These overwhelming odds played against our mission success during the two week expedition.  Additionally, Dr Jewell completed two prior consecutive weeks in simulation and first to conduct a back-to-back mission when she took commandership of MDRS Station as Crew145 from Crew144 on 13th December 2014.

However, the collaborative, collective team work and effective reorganization and restructuring of the internal schedules and re-allocation of project payloads, redistribution of roles and responsibilities permitted strong bonding and crew cohesion to enable completion and the ultimate success of the mission. Furthermore, the successful collaborations with remote teams of scientists and space organizations supported the crew to fully engage in the multiple approved scientific, medical, psychological, robotics and technological studies along with several social media public outreach and space art projects during the expedition.

To read the full mission summary, please click here.

[Blog] The Curious Case for Methane on Mars

posted Jan 5, 2015, 9:09 PM by M Stoltz

By Nicole Willett
Red Planet Pen Blog
Issue #32

On December 16, 2014 at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco, a panel of scientists working on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity Rover data
announced what we have all been waiting decades to hear.  John Grotzinger stated unequivocally, “…there is methane occasionally present in the atmosphere of Mars and there are organics preserved in (…) rocks on Mars.”

Why is this important?  All life on Earth that we have discovered so far is carbon based, aka organic.  Carbon is found in the DNA of all life forms on Earth.  Carbon can bind with many other elements to form thousands of molecules that are involved in biological processes.  Needless to say, finding organics and methane is a game changer for all of science, from astronomy to zoology.  Organics in general refer to molecules that are often found as components of life.  We know from studying life forms on Earth that methane is a common organic molecule that is a waste product of bacteria and macro organisms.  In fact approximately 90% of Earth’s methane has a biological origin.  However, about 10% of methane on Earth is a result of geological activity.  According to author Jeffrey Bennett from the University of Colorado, Boulder, “The amount of methane in the atmosphere appears to vary regionally across Mars, and also seems to vary with the Martian seasons.  This has led some scientists to favor a biological origin (…) if the source is volcanic (…) the amount of (…) heat necessary for methane release [could] be sufficient to maintain pockets of liquid water underground.”  Pockets of liquid water would be conducive to life.

To read the full blog, please click here.

Happy New Year from the Mars Society

posted Dec 31, 2014, 11:50 PM by M Stoltz

MDRS GreenHab Destroyed by Fire

posted Dec 30, 2014, 4:07 PM by M Stoltz   [ updated Dec 31, 2014, 11:12 PM ]

The Mars Society regrets to announce the loss of the Mars Desert Research Station’s Fisher GreenHab to an accidental fire yesterday afternoon (Dec. 29th). There were no injuries to Crew 146, the four-person team currently using the MDRS facility outside Hanksville, Utah.

 

According to a Mars Society spokesperson, the Habitat, which includes crew work stations and living quarters, did not sustain any damage, with the fire being limited to the GreenHab. Acting quickly, crew members were able to safely put out the fire.

 

The Fisher GreenHab was the second GreenHab built at the Utah station. An earlier prototype structure was lost during the first MDRS field season due to heavy winds. It served as a model for the second generation GreenHab, a larger and more permanent unit built by Gary Fisher in 2003.

 

For five seasons, the facility functioned as an experimental closed loop water recycling system, but testing ceased when it was concluded that the system was too small to maintain the Habitat with six full-time crew members.

 

In 2009 the GreenHab was refitted for use as a greenhouse. Under the direction of GreenHab Coordinator Nick Orenstein, it was successfully utilized for three seasons to grow crops for the MDRS crews. A variety of important experiments were scheduled to be carried out in the GreenHab during the current 2014-15 field season.

 

“We plan to erect a new GreenHab as soon as possible in order to conduct these critical research projects. With the help of our membership and friends, I’m confident the Mars Society will be able to raise the necessary funds to replace the GreenHab in the very near future,” said MDRS Director Shannon Rupert.

 

To contribute to the Mars Society’s “Rebuild the GreenHab” Fund, please click here.

[Image: Interior of MDRS GreenHab prior to fire]

[ABC News] How Mock Mars Mission Will Simulate Life on the Red Planet

posted Dec 28, 2014, 8:18 AM by M Stoltz   [ updated Dec 28, 2014, 8:24 AM ]

By Liz Neporent
ABC News, 12.15.14

Martian explorers invaded the desert near the tiny town of Hanksville, Utah, early this morning and will remain there for the next two weeks to test technology that could be crucial on a long-distance mission.

The four-member crew is part of an ongoing mission at Utah’s Mars Desert Research Station to study what life will be like for earthlings who make extraterrestrial visits to the Red Planet. And for the first time, they will be testing 3-D printed medical devices.

To read the full article, please click here.

Holiday Greetings from MDRS

posted Dec 24, 2014, 9:27 PM by M Stoltz   [ updated Dec 24, 2014, 9:28 PM ]


A very warm Christmas greeting from Crew 145 of the Mars Society's Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in southern Utah.

Methane Discovered on Mars

posted Dec 17, 2014, 1:47 PM by M Stoltz   [ updated Dec 17, 2014, 2:16 PM ]

NASA scientists announced yesterday that the Curiosity rover has detected methane on the planet Mars. The announcement, which was discussed at some length in the New York Times and detailed in a peer-reviewed article in Science, is of extraordinary importance. 

The origin of the methane discovered by Curiosity is unknown. However, because of the high level of ambient ultraviolet radiation, methane cannot last in the Martian atmosphere for more than a few decades. Therefore, any methane found on Mars today had to be made recently, and not in the distant past.

Furthermore, there are only two ways that methane could be created on today’s Mars: via biogenic or hydrothermal processes. Therefore, either Curiosity has actually found life on the Red Planet, or it has provided proof of a subsurface environment that could readily support life. 

In addition, another striking aspect of the Curiosity discovery is that the concentration of methane detected varies sharply over time. That can only be the case if the source of the methane is locally concentrated, as a globally spread source could not cause such sharp variations. Thus, there may be a patch of ground relatively close to Curiosity which is the source of the emissions, and, therefore, a prime target to drill in an attempt to find subsurface life. Similar biologically suspect spots may well exist elsewhere. We need to locate such spots, and then send human explorers to drill and find out what lies beneath.

Is life unique to Earth or a general phenomenon in the universe? Is life as we know it on Earth the pattern for all life everywhere or are we just one example drawn from a much vaster array of possibilities? These are questions that thinking men and women have pondered for thousands of years. Curiosity has now revealed to us where the answers may finally be found.

For the past four decades, NASA’s human spaceflight program has been adrift, seeking to find a purpose for itself without success. That purpose has now been found.

Mars. If we wish to know, we must go.

[Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SAM-GSFC/Univ. of Michigan]

Support the Mars Society Today!

posted Dec 17, 2014, 6:01 AM by M Stoltz   [ updated Dec 28, 2014, 8:36 AM ]

Support Mars exploration, research and education by helping the Mars Society!

The Mars Society is the world's largest and most influential space advocacy organization dedicated to the human exploration and settlement of the planet Mars. 

Established by Dr. Robert Zubrin and others in 1998, our group works to educate the public, the media and government on the benefits of exploring Mars and creating a permanent human presence on the Red Planet.  

Mars Society activities include:

+ Mars analog simulations in Utah and Canada

+ The University Rover Challenge

+ The Youth Rover Challenge

+ Public outreach and educational programs

+ Political advocacy efforts

+ Privately-funded research

+ Chapter meetings in the U.S. and around the world

+ The Annual International Mars Society Convention

Please consider a donation (tax deductible in the U.S.) to the Mars Society to help advance our work to promote humans-to-Mars! Get involved today!

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