First Cat on #Mars :)

is exhaustingIn #scifi Glory on Mars, a cat joins settlers on Mars as a welcome diversion from the battle for survival, and eventually plays an important role in the settlers’ struggle. His earthly stand-in – Harvey – appears on the book’s cover. Harvey’s taking his notoriety in stride.

In the story, two men and two women, about to join the first eight settlers on Mars, have a farewell party at Spaceport America:

Unexpectedly, Emma felt a wave of panic battle the tequila in her bloodstream. She’d had phones and tablets, games and links for as long as she could remember. But batteries were a luxury on Mars, used only for necessary applications. All her earthly devices would be left behind.

One by one, with laughing and back-slapping, the crew of the GLORY Ebook 300 dpiSettler Three Mission relinquished their devices. Contact lenses were popped out and snapped into cases, earpieces and pads dropped into a box.

“We don’t leave our intrepid settlers out of touch,” the support lead shouted over the crowd. He passed Emma a hand-sized pad. With a cord. An electric power cord. And then he handed her an extension cord.

Emma stared at them. Of course, she used corded pads in training, but the permanence of surrendering her own devices hit home. She wandered towards the edge of the crowd, to the ballroom wall, and plugged into an outlet.

Her pad powered up immediately and, already set to Emma’s account, popped open a message.

“Hey! I’ve got a message from Mars,” she called out. People nearby turned towards her and the room quieted when they saw her puzzled face.

“The colonists want a cat.”

“What?” The support lead tumbled off his chair in confusion.

“They want us to bring them a cat.” Emma held up the pad, hitting the end of the power cord.

“You mean a pet-bot?” someone asked.

“No. A real, live cat. They say they’ve arranged for a kitten to be delivered to our ship from Lunar Base.”

Fuzzy with margaritas, Emma was perplexed. Maybe the settlers on Mars were going crazy.

Harvey’s adorable, of course, but colonizing a hostile planet is not.

Their one-way journey to Mars may be a mistake. The colony psychologist, one of the first eight settlers, has committed suicide. Four more settlers are now on their way, bringing renewed hope. Emma volunteered so she could explore Mars in her robotic walkabout suit. Even if she gets the chance, that may not make up for everything she left behind. Mars is a hostile planet, an inexplicable sense of desolation cripples their efforts, and danger from Earth follows them.

Read about the first colony on Mars for free. Use coupon code XY35L for a free download from (available in all the major e-formats) through 2015. Or purchase from Amazon here.

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Practice for #Mars – Eat Like a Martian at Home #MarsSurvivalTips

Mealworm_dish_in_a_Yunan_Restaurant,_Qingdao_ChinaIn my book Glory on Mars, Martian colonists grow their own food – including mealworms, which have as much protein as beef. So I was pleased to discover you can try this yourself at home.

Harvest enough mealworms to replace traditional meat in four or five dishes – right on your desk or countertop… fry them up or mix them into soup, smoothies, or bug-filled burgers.

Fried mealworms are a treat for colonists in science fiction – and they need a GLORY Ebook 300 dpitreat, because taking a one-way trip to Mars may be a mistake.

Interested? Check out livinfarms. Thanks to fastcoexist for the tip.

More ways to eat like a Martian:
fish supper
mealworm snack
Martian colony demonstration

Is a One-Way Trip to #Mars Crazy? :( Is it #SciFi? :)

Mars_habitat NASA

NASA concept Photo ID: S93-45586

Mars-One is a Dutch not-for-profit planning to establish a permanent colony on Mars. They’ve selected candidates to train for the one-way trip in five or ten years. Is that insane?

  • Problems to overcome
    They say their settlers will land a ship using retro rockets in a configuration never tried before, and no one’s ever landed such big payloads.
  • Science won’t be their focus, colonization will – but how do you learn to live off the Martian land without a lot of specialized science?
  • Going to Mars, even one-way, will cost a lot – really, really a lot. Mars-One will raise the billions needed using the Olympics as a model – ad revenue, broadcast rights, and donations.
  • MIT students studied colony plans and found even simple things like CO2 versus O2 balance for the plants and humans don’t compute. That Mars-One hasn’t planned enough time or money to develop their missions. And they doubt a colony could become self-sustaining anytime soon.

In my scifi book, Glory on Mars, the first colony is further in the future than GLORY Ebook 300 dpiMars-One, and I give my settlers some neat technologies – robots to build the settlement, an Artificial Intelligence, and satellite systems complete with an orbiting energy station to beam power to the surface. That’s still not enough to prevent disasters.

View the physicsfocus article and Mars-One web site. More about the MIT study here including a video of their debate with Mars-One founders. More about my books here.

Ancient Beauty of Sight – #poetry by Kate Rauner


Human eye with its weird blind spot at #14

Detecting light is useful
To aim leaves at the sun,
To orient when swimming,
To find, or hide, or run.

Sight drove the Cambrian explosion
Half a billion years ago,
A race of “see” with “be seen”
To tell a friend from foe.

From cells just photosensitive,
Many eyes were built.
Your eye is backwards, upside down,
But right-side out for squids.

A fruit fly has a compound eye,
A hundred little circuits.
A mollusk has a hundred eyes
To search the ocean currents.

The eye evolved before the brain,
For what’s a brain good for
Without a lot of inputs
To process in its core?

So you can think because you see
Reflections, motions, trends,
The beauty of our sunlit world
Through iris, nerve, and lens.

There’s grandeur in this view of life,
From so simple a beginning,
Endless forms most beautiful,
Life’s web continues spinning.

Recent reports on the Chitons sea mollusk with hundreds of eyes embedded in its shell got me thinking about the evolution of the eye – or, rather, eyes. That led me to a favorite quote from Charles Darwin, from the conclusion of On the Origin of Species (1859):

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

There are lots of articles on evolution of the eye. For example, here and here.


Eat Like a Martian – Mealworm Snack :) #Mars #MarsSurvivalTips


Oops – oil and bok choy here – not on the early Mars missions

In my new book, Glory on Mars, settlers raise their own food. What would you take on a on-way journey to Mars?

You’d bring enough dried, compressed, packaged food to survive for a while, but living on Mars means growing your own.

Protein and Fat
Even on Earth, some people question the sense of raising large animals for food. There will be no cattle, pigs, or chickens on Mars – think of the mess on the spaceship to transport them! Not to mention having to grow hay or corn to feed them before they become food for people.

But insects – there’s an idea. Easy to transport – the eggs can probably be frozen. There are many places on Earth where people already enjoy insects, and maybe that’s what settlers should take to Mars.

How about mealworms? The name says it all. Just share your potato crop with them.

Mealworms for Snacking (Protein and Fat)
Collect mealworms (Darkling beetle larvae) of good size and vigor in a container with a breathable lid. Add parsley or other herb to the container – as they eat the herb, it flavors them – so I’m told.

~ After two days, remove all food from the worms for two more days so they can – yuck – purge anything nasty from their bodies. Remove any dead worms. Feed them to the fish you need for supper.

~ Humanely dispatch your worms by freezing them for two days.

Boil the frozen worms for 3 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Recycle the used water in your garden.

Toast worms in a pan over low heat until golden brown.

Serve warm.

Thanks to groundtoground for inspiration. The recipe sauteing mealworms with chili peppers and garlic in butter sounds great, too, but that will have to wait for future missions to Mars.

Totally Earthbound Note

High-school student discovers bacteria that enables mealworms to digest GLORY Ebook 300 dpiStyrofoam.

Mealworms can apparently subsist on a diet of foamed polystyrene, better known as Styrofoam. There won’t be much of that on Mars – though here’s a great way to recycle whatever there is – but could this help with recycling onEarth? csmonitor

See Kate’s Books, Amazon, or any of the major on-line retailers. If you can’t find my ebooks, try Smashwords.

More ways to eat like a Martian:
fish supper
practice for mars
Martian colony demonstration

Sand Dunes on #Mars are Different – a first for #NASA :)

Look under its wheels - not a sand dune

Look at its wheels – not a sand dune

No Mars rover has ever climbed a sand dune – only small drifts – but Curiosity is about to try. Martian dunes are active – they move, almost flow across the surface. That takes wind, but the thin atmosphere of Mars doesn’t pack much of a wallop (despite the storm that opens The Martian.)

In my #scifi book Glory on Mars, I claim that wind is sorting sand dunes on the Tharsis Plain. (Geek alert: “sorting” describes the distribution of grain size in sediments). My settlers sinter the uniform sands of Tharsis into construction stone for their habitat – they want well-sorted sand.

Perhaps NASA will find out if I’m right. Though Curiosity is in Aelois, two Martian Quadrangles away from Tharsis, so I guess I can always claim my sand is different.

The rover is moving slowly towards Dune 1 – 200 yards to go – good luck Curiosity.

Thanks to

#scifi Rover Inspired by Classic Lost in Space Chariot #MarsSurvivalTips

The_Chariot Lost in SpaceI give my Martian settlers a pair of pressurized rovers in Glory on Mars, classic pieces of science fiction equipment for exploring planets. As the movie The Martian shows, NASA is planning pressurized vehicles for their human exploration of Mars, too. It’s an obvious need on a frozen, nearly airless world.

The Chariot
I had a classic scifi rover in mind as I wrote: The Chariot from Lost in Space, which was based on a Snowcat. A boxy shape seems perfect. Martian air isn’t dense enough for a vehicle to need streamlining, and a cuboid shape offers the most interior space on a pair of treaded tracks. My rover can be driven by the colony’s Artificial Intelligence and be tracked by a satellite system – advantages the Robinson’s of Lost in Space never had.

The Chariot has more windows than I gave my settlers, and I had to fit in an airlock and life support systems. But I still like the look of the old classic.

See more about my books here. In Glory on Mars, settlers take a one-way GLORY Ebook 300 dpijourney to Mars, and that may be a mistake. It’s vital for them to explore in their robotic rovers – they need to find minerals if the colony is to succeed. But that’s not as easy as it sounds, even surrounded by the immense dead volcanoes of the Tharsis Plain.

Wikipedia has more on the Lost in Space TV series. And there’s a Lost in Space wiki here.