During the 18th
Annual International Mars Society Convention, held in mid-August in Washington,
D.C., the Mars Society convened its Steering Committee and decided on a number
of major initiatives for the coming year. These include:
+ The Mars
Society will attempt to intersect the political ferment associated with the now
unfolding U.S. presidential campaign to mobilize its American members and
chapters to take every opportunity to meet all presidential hopefuls while they
are out on the campaign trail, as well as members of Congress in their home offices, to impress on them the message that the U.S. space program needs a goal, and that goal should be humans to Mars in our time. As part of this effort, the Mars Society will establish a political task force and will reach out to other U.S. space advocacy groups to try to arrange collaboration with them on this initiative.
+ As part of
the effort to provide the currently adrift U.S. space program with real
direction that could get the humans to Mars program underway, the Mars Society
will launch an international student engineering contest to design the Gemini
Mars mission, creating a plan for a two-person Mars flyby that could be
the desk of the President-elect in late 2016 and be completed by the end of
his or her second term.
Mars mission has some similarities to the previously proposed Inspiration Mars
mission, but eliminates its principle weakness by avoiding the use of a rarely employed
high-energy trajectory that imposed excessive technology development, launch
capacity and schedule demands on the mission. Instead, much easier and more
frequently-used low energy trajectories will be employed.
will be open to teams of engineering students from universities around the
world, with the team offering the best design proposal receiving a $10,000
prize, with prizes of $5,000, $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000 going to the second,
third, fourth and fifth place contestants, respectively.
on the contest, Mars Society President Dr. Robert Zubrin said, “We are calling
this mission Gemini Mars, not just because it will have a crew of two, but
because we aim to have it serve to open the way to the Red Planet in the same
way that the 1960s Gemini program paved the way to the Moon.” Further details
on the contest rules will be released in the near future.
+ The Mars
Society intends to advance the plans for its one-year Mars Arctic 365 program by
down-selecting to a single crew that will first be “put to the test” as part of
an 80-day mission at the organization’s Mars Desert Research Station in the
fall of 2016. The crew, including alternates, of Mars Awakening 80 (MA80), as
the mission is being called, consists of nine individuals drawn from the U.S.,
France, Canada, Germany and Russia who previously made the cut of 21 finalists chosen from an initial pool of over 200 volunteers. More details regarding the
new MA80 mission will be announced soon.
+ The Mars
Society has decided to move its annual international convention from August to
late September, so as to obtain much greater attendance from university
students and faculty. Furthermore, next year’s convention will be held in
Washington, D.C., placing it right in the heart of the “political storm” during
election year. In addition, holding the convention in late September will position it close to the time of the landing of NASA’s INSIGHT probe, which is scheduled to
arrive at the Red Planet towards the end of September. Additional details about the
convention will be posted online in the near future.
+ Finally, a major
effort will be launched to reactivate the Mars Society’s local chapters and
task force organizations. To facilitate this, as well as many other Mars
Society activities and initiatives, the Mars Society Steering Committee has
selected Lucinda Offer to serve as the organization’s Executive Director. Mrs.
Offer previously held the position of Executive Director, but left several years ago to
pursue other opportunities in the United Kingdom. Welcome back Lucinda!
The 18th Annual
International Mars Society Convention held at the Catholic University of
America August 13-16, 2015 was a great success. Some 250 people
hear over 80 presentations covering all aspects of Mars exploration, including the latest robotic missions, human expeditions and settlement of the Red Planet
and Mars habitability.
accounts, the high points of the four-day conference were two dramatic debates
conducted on the evenings of Thursday, August 13th and Friday, August 14th. The
first was a real knock down encounter between Mars One (with its team led by
Bas Lansdorp) and its MIT graduate research critics arguing the
proposition “Is Mars One Feasible.” The second, also very forceful, featured
former Apollo 17 astronaut Dr. Harrison Schmitt, Mars Society President Dr. Robert
Zubrin, and Planetary Society Director of Advocacy Casey Dreier facing off on
the proposition “Where Next for Human Exploration,” (with the three making the
case for the Moon, Mars and Mars orbit, respectively). We won’t tell you who
won, but the debates were filmed and can be viewed on our YouTube page, so
watch them and decide for yourself.
on the debates, Dr. Zubrin said, “This was great. This is exactly the kind of thing the U.S. space program has needed for a long time. We’ve wasted four decades by allowing
the space program to be diverted into quagmires like the Space Shuttle and the
ISS that could not have survived the scrutiny afforded by open debate. Now we
face another potential decade-long diversion in the form of the Asteroid
Redirect Mission. These things need to be debated in the open, so the truth can
be brought into the light, and we can start making the right decisions moving
forward. We are certainly going to have a lot more of these debates at our conventions in
point was the Mars Society banquet, which was addressed via Skype by Andy Weir,
the author of “The Martian” (soon to be released as a major motion picture
starring Matt Damon and directed by Ridley Scott). In the words of one banquet
attendee, Andy Weir was “a hoot.” We look forward to seeing his great novel on screen this October.
far too many talks to list here (a complete agenda may be found on our web site),
but one standout that simply must be mentioned was a plenary given Friday
evening by Dr. Carol Stoker of NASA Ames Research Center, who presented a
review of all the evidence gathered over the past two decades of successful
Mars probes that support the suspicion that life may well exist on the Red
Planet today. “We need to send a life detection mission to Mars,” Dr. Stoker
concluded, eliciting near universal agreement on the basis of her very strong
Dr. Stoker’s address, one of the scientists present noted that there would be
plenty of room on the Mars 2020 rover for life detection experiments, and many
other additional instruments as well, if two-thirds of the rover’s science
capability was not being sacrificed to allow it to cache samples for a Mars
Sample Return mission which is not currently funded and may never come, or if it does,
will certainly have its own sample collection capability anyway.
To watch all of the plenary talks, panel discussions and public debates held during the 2015 International Mars Society Convention, please visit the Mars Society's YouTube page.
We're pleased to announce that the Mars Society just reached the 100% funding mark for its Mars Desert Research Station GreenHab crowdfunding campaign! We were able to accomplish this important goal due to your generous support... three days early. Over 140 people from the U.S. and several other countries have donated - so far - to the online campaign.
As with most crowdfunding efforts, campaign planners typically prepare stretch goals in case the desired mark is reached before the scheduled end date. With the well-known enthusiasm of Mars and space advocates, we were very confident of our success and, as expected, fall into that category. We have prepared a number of stretch goals - beyond the initial $10,000 goal - for our MDRS GreenHab rebuild initiative, which can be found on the Indiegogo campaign page.
Thank youagain for your tremendous support of our MDRS GreenHab program, especially over the past 36 hours. If possible, please continue to contribute over the remaining three days towards our stretch goals, all of which benefit the soon-to-be-built GreenHab, which will, once again, serve as the cornerstone of our food and plant research effort to benefit future human exploration and settlement of the Red Planet.
UPDATE: WE'RE 95% FUNDED AS OF AUG. 29, 1:50 PM CDT, WITH 4 DAYS LEFT IN THE MDRS GREENHAB CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN. WE'VE MADE TREMENDOUS PROGRESS IN THE LAST 24 HOURS WITH YOUR HELP. PLEASE CONTINUE TO DONATE SO WE CAN REACH OUT GOAL! THANKS!
WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Final Days of MDRS GreenHab Crowdfunding Campaign!
Thanks to world-wide support and interest, we’ve had a very successful crowdfunding campaign, so far, to raise money to rebuild and refurbish the Mars Society’s Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) GreenHab. As of today, we’re 2/3 of the way to our goal of $10,000, with just FIVE DAYS LEFT in the campaign.
The planned GreenHab geodesic dome will be a vital part of the MDRS program to carry out food and plant research important for eventual human exploration and settlement of the Red Planet. We’re so close to our goal, but we need your help to make it happen. We need you to make a donation (or even consider a second gift to the new GreenHab, if you've already helped).
The Mars Society is pleased to announce that Lucinda Offer has been
appointed as the organization’s new Executive Director, a position she held
from 2009-2012. Mrs. Offer’s appointment was approved during a
recent meeting of the Mars Society Steering Committee.
A high school science teacher by profession, Mrs. Offer has been at
the forefront of Mars advocacy for more than a decade, having served as director of public relations and a senior officer for international development for the Mars Society, as well as a political activist. She is also a long-term member of the organization's Steering Committee.
“We welcome Lucinda’s return to the Mars Society in a senior
capacity and look forward to her leadership, energy and creativity in moving
our organization forward as the world’s largest and leading Mars advocacy
group dedicated to the human exploration and settlement of the Red Planet,”
said Dr. Robert Zubrin, Mars Society President.
Mrs. Offer participated in NASA Ames Research Center’s Spaceward Bound program in Australia, New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates and the
Mojave from 2010-2015, and founded and managed Marsonauts, Inc., a company that
publishes educational materials to inspire students (K-12) and the general
public about exploring space, including the Red Planet.
More recently, she helped establish Women on Mars, an international
initiative to encourage and empower women to participate in STEAM (Science, Technology,
Engineering, Art and Mathematics) subjects in school and take a
leadership role in human space exploration.
Mrs. Offer has a Bachelor’s degree in Geology and a Geo-Science
credential in Secondary Education from San Jose State University and also
participated in graduate-level studies in Inter-Professional Science Education
and Communication from the University of Glasgow (UK).
(August 13-16), with dozens of speakers discussing the latest news about Mars exploration, planning for a human mission to the Red Planet and other space-related issues.
The Mars Society will be broadcasting all plenary talks, panel discussions and public debates taking place during the four-day convention live on the Internet via Ustream. If you are interested in watching any of the sessions, please check our program itineraryfor exact dates and times (please note that all times listed are EDT).
To view the Mars Society convention, please visit: http://ustre.am/11EDZ. The Ustream video broadcast will begin a few minutes prior to the start of each morning, afternoon and evening session. All talks, discussions and debates will also be recorded and later posted on the Mars Society’s YouTube page. Please visit our web site for more details.
The Mars Society will also be following plenary speakers, panel discussions and public debates via Twitter, issuing regular updates via the organization's Twitter feed - @TheMarsSociety - and using#MarsCon2015.
We're sure you'll enjoy this year's international convention and hope you'll watch as much as possible. On to Mars!
(Image: Mars Society President Dr. Robert Zubrin opening 2015 convention in Washington, D.C.)
"Mars has been flown by, orbited, smacked into, radar examined and rocketed into, 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.