Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Mars Science Foundation site

Here's a well-produced website that explores one model of settling Mars, with videos and slick graphics.

Edit... since first posting this I've tried out some of the simulations on this site. Be prepared for a difficult ride: the control doesn't seem to work well, making it hard to complete some tasks. Also don't expect total realism... they are using an image of a SpaceX Falcon 9 or Grasshopper rocket for the Mars landing simulation, for example. But oh well, it's free. No complaints!

Friday, 25 August 2017

New crew members!

Annika and Marco are new to the number one SSI Mars crew. Here are two short pieces introducing them. 

As Marco remarks, "If – no, when – a crisis hits, what keeps us calm and pulling together?" What will it take for these four very different people to become a close-knit team who can thrive together on a distant planet?

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

New Episode Rising...

There's now a short story called 'Ice And Fire' describing the first humans landing on Mars.

Find it here: Ice And Fire

Saturday, 29 April 2017

New World Rising

Now the short story on Mars exploration has become a series, which I've called 'New World Rising' for the time being. Find it here:

... and yes, any '70s music fans out there, I am aware that I've ripped off the title from an ELO song. I used to own a copy of the album. But I'm pretty sure Jeff Lynne won't notice.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

New Mars Forums

Recently I've been busy reading and contributing on a large bunch of forums around the theme of travelling to and colonising Mars. They are under the umbrella of the Mars Society and some of them have threads and posts from knowledgeable people, experts in their fields. Others are crowded with enthusiasts (like me, I suppose) with lots of bright ideas. It's simple to register and get started.

New Mars Forums

What I wonder, though, is whether all that threading and debating will lead anywhere. Quite possibly the first settlements will be built on Mars within the next 20 or 30 years, and who are the decision-makers and leaders who will make it happen? Certainly you'd expect some members of the Mars Society to be involved, but there are many other parties with their eyes on Mars:

First of all, companies owned by billionaires, such as SpaceX and Blue Origin. And Mars One, if it can get funding.

The space agencies of nations such as 
- Europe
- Russia
- China
- India
- Dubai

Multinational corporations might get interested if there's profit to be made.

The United Nations could get involved if it thinks it needs to regulate and control the process.

My hope is that the idealism of ordinary people should not get sidelined. A forum such as the Mars Society could be a way for many 'little people' to get together and do something magnificent, like ensuring that Mars is free from Earth's domination from the start.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Short story in need of a better name

Very briefly... here's a post containing a short story I wrote a little while ago. It's about getting to Mars and how the people you journey with may be more of a problem than the technical challenges.

Going Red - a short story by John Peace

Once you've read it, I have a competition: suggest a better title for the story! The suggestion that's accepted gets a free copy of 'Called Out Of Darkness'.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Space Squids! Extremophile Algae!

NASA is doing some fascinating research on the ISS. 

One huge question that needs answering about long-term human space exploration, preferably before people set out on years-long or even life-long missions, is whether plants and mammals - especially humans - can reproduce and grow outside of Earth's comfortable gravitational field.

Did you know that NASA sent three brave squids to the ISS six years ago? I didn't. Read about it here!

As for all the other research topics, there's a whole directory of ideas and projects that NASA has undertaken listed here on NASA's site.

Finally, the research that started me down this rabbit track today is more Mars-related. In an effort to simulate conditions on the Red Planet's surface, experimenters used the ISS's 'Expose' facility to expose strains of tough, cold-loving algae to the vacuum and radiation of space to see how they would cope. Since Mars's atmosphere has only about 1% of the pressure of Earth's sea-level atmosphere, vacuum is getting fairly close to those conditions - perhaps close enough to draw some conclusions about how some genetically-modified organisms would fare if grown on Mars, out under the sky.

The thinking is broader than the implications for the colonisation of Mars. Scientists are also wondering what this algae can teach us about the possibilities of alien life - whether oxygen-breathing, high-pressure atmospheric life might not be the only way life goes.

It bears thinking about. Our Creator is so stunningly creative - perhaps he has sown life elsewhere that's utterly different in structure to what we know, and it would be amazing to discover and study it. Or perhaps he hasn't, and our ongoing failure to find extra-terrestrial life may tell us a tale that many aren't eager to hear.

Here's the research report on 'BioMex' .

And here's a more readable news article on it.

Location, Location, Location!

Here's NASA making up their minds about where to send their next rover. All the sites sound pretty interesting to explore.

NASA JPL: Potential Landing Sites

Plus - one large part of the Mars 2020 rover mission is to prepare for human habitation. 

In NASA-speak, the mission aims to fill a Strategic Knowledge Gap that would make human visits or colonisation that much less hazardous and unknown. 

For example, they could test out equipment to produce oxygen from the Martian atmosphere or the regolith, and study the atmospheric dust particles which - being so small and potentially abrasive, electrically charged and chemically active - could become a major headache for Marstronauts.