Boots on Mars! Soon, But Soon Enough? #Mars #explore #science #NASA #tech

mars-human-exploration-art-dust-storm-astronauts-full(500x335)The next twenty years promise excitement for Mars lovers. Will Mars One get beyond selling tee-shirts and running science-fair-style experiments? Will the Mars Society continue their simulation missions in the Utah Desert and the Canadian Arctic? Will SpaceX send a rocket that can land like Buck Rogers on the Red Planet a mere three years from now? Etcetera, because these aren’t the only organizations with an eye on Mars.

Non-profits, private companies, and countries new to space may seem like long-shots, though they sure sound serious. Several governments are sending robotic craft to Mars, but NASA has a long history.

So what about NASA?

NASA and Lockheed Martin, together with several international partners and private industries, would like to conduct a comprehensive exploration to the hostile planet… Mars Base Camp [will be a] massive central space station made up of two Orions with two science laboratories.”

By 2028, an international crew will orbit Mars in an environment we have a lot of experience with – a space station – controlling remote rovers in real-time on the planet and its two moons. Scientists will be trained to become astronauts, rather than the other way around, so – as with most of the organizations I mentioned above – the military flavor will be gone.

NASA’s pioneers will return home to Earth and new crews will replace them. Eventually, once we’re convinced there’s no Martian life we could damage, people will set foot on the planet. If we still want to by then, I suppose. Our vision of life on Mars will be clearer by then and, even with advanced technology, it will be a hard life.

NASA won’t land soon enough for many private groups that want to colonize the planet now. There are crews in training today who expect to live and die on Mars.

How I wish I could see a hundred years into the future.

Can’t wait? All my books, including the On Mars series, are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo,

Scifi colony on Mars - Kate Rauner

These are the original covers – click now to check out my new (and improved?) covers. Box Set of the complete series at Amazon and other fav stores, or buy individual books

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Latest Group of Martians Finish Their Mission #Mars #space #explore

Mars Society domeCould you live for eight months in a dome – about the size of two two-car garages stacked one on top of the other – sealed in with five coworkers? You’d be monitored via surveillance cameras and body-movement trackers. You’d have email and internet, but with a twenty minute lag (makes my rural-America internet look great!) You’d have some work to do outside your dome, but you’d have to wear a space suit.

Sound like a new reality show?

It’s a NASA Mars Analog – the third mission ended recently. They’re learning what makes life more bearable – I noticed a few recipe contests – and what personality traits go into the best teams.

The University of Hawaii at Manoa leads this study, with support from team members at Cornell University, Michigan State University, Arizona State University, University of South Florida, the University of Maryland, the Institutes for Behavior Resources, Smart Information Flow Technologies, Blue Planet Foundation, and from the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES).

NASA’s not the only outfit worried about the technical and psychological problems that may assault the first humans on the Red Planet. The Mars Society has run over a dozen short Mars simulations.

Not all the obstacles can be tested on Earth: not the effects of low gravity, invasive dust, and the fact that no one can help you – at least, not for a long time. But we can study the social, interpersonal, and cognitive factors that affect teams. Biosphere Two tried a two-year experiment and that team had numerous interpersonal conflicts.

Of course, eight months may not be long enough to simulate what it will be like to be a Martian. Some volunteers are ready to spend the rest of their lives on Mars. It will be difficult and dangerous. Would you go?

One Way to Mars

Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon, is a long-standing proponent of colonizing Mars. He recently addressed a USA Senate Subcommittee. When talking to politicians, Aldrin emphasizes the need for America to demonstrate its leadership and stay ahead of other nations, but other organizations – and Aldrin himself – have a wider interest in colonizing the Red Planet.

Mars One Colony

Among other private, non-governmental organizations, Mars One has been in the news. Mars One is making a serious effort to send people, near-term, one-way, to Mars. While there is skepticism, there are also people ready to go.

One reason to colonize Mars is to create a second human home in case something bad happens to Earth. This is a lofty goal, but it’s also abstract. No one thinks any large number of people could be sent to Mars – we Earthlings would all be stuck here on Earth trying to survive the “something bad.”

Colonizing Mars will require a commitment to the abstract – to go to Mars because it’s there, because we can (maybe, soon), or because it’s destiny. Aldrin has written that “humanity is destined to explore, settle, and expand outward into the universe.”

As I sit on the patio of my favorite coffee shop, nibbling a scone and watching people stroll by on a sunny spring day, colonizing Mars seems unlikely, dismaying, and unnerving. But as a Mars One semi-finalist says, “we stagnate here on Earth. We are so predictable… This project is an opportunity to break through… We will be a totally new kind of human, homo sapiens Martianis.”

Good luck, Martianis.

I’ve posted reviews of some of Aldrin’s books here (as “Ponderer”) and here.