A dozen Mars-One candidates + Penelope Boston and caving on Mars + Artificial leaf makes real oxygen

Three items related to living in space:

Brief profiles of an impressive set of 12 candidates for the Mars One mission to Mars: Who will represent Massachusetts on Mars? It could be any of these 12 people – masslive.com.

Andrew Rader, 35, just moved to Los Angeles from Lexington, Mass. He was named “Canada’s Greatest Know-It-All” on the Discovery Channel reality show of the same name. He has a PhD in aerospace engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, worked on several Canadian space missions and wrote a book called “Leaving Earth: Why One-Way to Mars Makes Sense.”

(This is a one-way trip. Everyone who wants to go has to be willing to live and die on Mars.)

Rader works for SpaceX as a “mission integrator” planning launches. He said he couldn’t go into any more detail, but he had a lot of insight into what a Mars colony would need to thrive.

“Mars has the potential to be turned into a second Earth in the next thousand years or so,” he said. “It’s the most important thing we can do as a species at the beginning of the 21st century.”

Speleo-biologist Penelope Boston co-founded the Mars Society. She talks in this interview about her participation in the 12 month Mars Arctic 365 Simulation on Devon Island in northern Canada, about her research and adventures in deep caves, about lava tube caves on Mars and the possibility of of subterranean life there, about planetary protection, and a number of other interesting topics: Life on the Subsurface: An Interview with Penelope Boston – BLDGBlog.

The first time I did any serious caving was actually in Lechuguilla Cave. It was completely nuts to make that one’s first wild cave. We trained for about three hours, then we launched into a five-day expedition into Lechuguilla that nearly killed us! Chris McKay came out with a terrible infection. I had a blob of gypsum in my eye and an infection that swelled it shut. I twisted my ankle. I popped a rib. Larry Lemke had a massive migraine. We were not prepared for this. The people taking us in should have known better. But one of them is a USGS guide and a super caving jock, so it didn’t even occur to him—it didn’t occur to him that we were learning instantaneously to operate in a completely alien landscape with totally inadequate skills.

All I knew was that I was beaten to a pulp. I could almost not get across these chasms. I’m a short person. Everybody else was six feet tall. I felt like I was just hanging on long enough so I could get out and live. I’ve been in jams before, including in Antarctica, but that’s all I thought of the whole five days: I just have to live through this. 

But, when I got out, I realized that what the other part of my brain had retained was everything I had seen. The bruises faded. My eye stopped being infected. In fact, I got the infection from looking up at the ceiling and having some of those gooey blobs drip down into my eye—but, I was like, “Oh my God. This is biological. I just know it is.” So it was a clue. And, when, I got out, I knew I had to learn how to do this. I wanted to get back in there.

This sort of technology should aid in keeping people breathing in settlements on Mars and elsewhere: Man-made ‘breathing’ leaf is an oxygen factory for space travel – CNET –

Royal College of Art graduate Julian Melchiorri has created the first man-made, biologically functional leaf that takes in carbon dioxide, water, and light and releases oxygen. The leaf consists of chloroplasts — the part of a plant cell where photosynthesis happens — suspended in body made of silk protein.

Ancient lake sediments in a crater on Mars

Mars is covered with many bizarre looking formations. For example, the  Univ. of Arizona’s HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took this picture of what was apparently once the bottom of a lake: HiRISE | Ancient Lake Sediments in a Crater (ESP0371222165)


Zoom in on the crater floor:

From the HiRise page:

This image shows some interesting fractured materials on the floor of an impact crater in Arabia Terra.

There is a channel entering the crater and exiting it (see CTX image). This channel, along with an unusual deposit on the lowest part of the floor, suggests that there was once an ancient lake that deposited sediments here.

Our enhanced-color sample shows layered deposits, some with polygonal patterns, as might be expected from lake sediments. The fracturing of these deposits might have resulted from the sudden breaching of the crater rim, draining the lake.

Written by: Alfred McEwen   (16 July 2014)