Dozens of Talks from 2012 Mars Society Convention Posted on YouTube

The Mars Society is pleased to announce that nearly all plenary and track talks, as well as panel discussions from the 15th Annual International Mars Society Convention in Pasadena, California have been posted on the organization’s YouTube page (The International Mars Society). The few remaining videos not on the page are in the process of undergoing minor audio and editing improvements and will be added in the coming days.

Several of the current postings include talks and lectures by Lori Garver of NASA, Elon Musk of SpaceX, Dr. Jim Bell of the Planetary Society, George Whitesides of Virgin Galactic, Dr. John Grotzinger of NASA/JPL, Dr. Simon “Pete” Worden of Ames Research Center, Dr. Carol Stoker of NASA, Dr. Peter Diamandis of X Prize Foundation, Dr. Jean Hunter of Cornell University, Dr. Robert Zubrin of the Mars Society and U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA).

The Mars Society would like to thank webmaster James Burk for his generous help in this effort.

The Mars Society

July 2012 Meeting Minutes


A lot of activity has happened in the last few months! We had the University Rover Competition in late May, Moon Day on July 21, and the Mars Society National Convention and flawless MSL landing in early August.

Our July meeting was held in the midst of this – just after Moon Day and just before the convention and MSL landing. Seven people were in attendance, including Ron, a retired engineer who dropped in. We enjoyed you coming by and hope you come again!

It was a bit crowded this month as it was national lasagna day – at least at the spaghetti warehouse, so the place was packed. We did not get the back room or even our usual quiet section in the back of the restaurant.

We went over the Moon Day presence, going over our success, and thinking of ways to make it even more dynamic next year.

We also reviewed the upcoming national convention. Tom handed me our banner to hand carry to Pasadena. Dan went over the T-shirt orders – we agreed to get 60 (I ended up selling all but 6, plus 6 of the older ones), and wrote out the check to give to National in memory of Roger Carr.

We also discussed the evolving rules for the University Rover Competition. I can’t go into all the details in an open forum, but it looks like we’re gong to mix it up a bit and add a dynamic new challenge for the upcoming year.

Another good meeting! With MSL on the ground, and the convention and moon day behind us, we can rest and celebrate our accomplishments, and think of what to do next….

See you in August on the 26th!


Moon Day – July 21, 2012


A brief (and late!) note on our very successful Moon Day this past July 21.

The group came out in force, with at least six regulars manning our table. Improving from our initial appearance last year, we had a dynamic and interactive exhibit with Tom’s MSL rover, mat sized map of Mars, and TV coverage, along with Dan and Mark’s crater obstacle. Many kids came over to try our rover.

Being that we had a rover, we were placed near the other robots, but we still got a lot of traffic from the public as well as admirer’s from other robotics groups. We the only rover that was remotely controlled via camera link, and the only map and obstacle course!

We learned a lot and overcame a number of obstacles, including the camera battery running out quickly – causing an ensuing mad rush to get more batteries! Tom’s ‘satellite eye view’ overhead camera worked remarkably well, giving a clear view of our very realistic looking MSL rover.

As always, we can think of ways to make our exhibit even better for next year – a subject for next month’s meeting, now only two weeks away. But thanks to everyone for their efforts, time, and energy, and especially to Tom for his dedication and drive in making our Moon Day happen.


Curiosity Data Shows Mars Surface Cosmic Ray Radiation Dose Rates Acceptable for Human Explorers

Measurements by the Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) instrument aboard NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover Curiosity show that the galactic cosmic ray (GCR) radiation dose rates on the surface of the Red Planet are about half those that RAD measured during its interplanetary cruise.

Interplanetary GCR dose rates were previously measured by the MARIE instrument aboard the Mars Odyssey spacecraft during its cruise to the Red Planet in 2001 and shown to be about twice that experienced in Low Earth Orbit (LEO).  Thus, in combination, the MARIE and RAD results show that Mars surface GCR dose rates are about the same as those experienced by astronauts in LEO. This mean that GCR doses will not be a show-stopper for the human exploration of Mars.

To view a graph of radiation measurements published by the Curiosity RAD team, please click here.

Please note that the MARIE authors report interplanetary GCR dose rates ranging from 0.28 Sv (28 rem) to 0.73 Sv (73 rem) per year.  Taking the 50 rem/year average of these figures as an interplanetary dose baseline, it can be estimated that a human Mars mission which spends 6 months flying to Mars (as Odyssey did in 2001), 18 months on the Martian surface, and 6 months flying back to Earth would receive a total GCR dose of 88 rem.  Such a dose is estimated to represent a statistical risk of about a 1 percent chance of getting a fatal cancer sometime later in life, assuming no advance in medical technique and would therefore represent a modest portion of the risk faced by astronauts on a human Mars mission.  Furthermore, it has already been received by a number of astronauts and cosmonauts working on the ISS or Mir space stations without incidence of cancer among any of them.

It is therefore now confirmed that hypothetical radical new propulsion systems enabling much faster transit times to Mars and/or the ability to leave the Red Planet regardless of launch windows will not be needed to enable human Mars exploration.  With its first important results, Curiosity has slain the mythical radiation dragon previously barring the way to Mars.

The Mars Society

2012 convention and MSL landing


This is a quick note about our chapter’s participation in the 2012 Mars Society Convention and MSL landing. We can go into more detail at our next monthly meeting. I know i also owe a status report on our last monthly meeting and our very successful Moonday on July 21!! I have been super busy between Mars Society and work, but no excuses! coming soon!

The convention was, in a word, fantastic. The venue was convenient, Pasadena beautiful, the weather pleasant (you could walk outside without a blast furnace of heat!!), the convention smoothly executed, the speakers incredible, the experience unforgettable.

We watched a countdown to MSL’s landing via live feed, seeing Adam Steltzner, lead of the engineers at JPL in the Entry Descent and Landing (EDL) team on TV after having seen him that very day at he convention, and we joined in cheering wildly when we got word real time that MSL had landed.

We ran our T-shirt table, selling most (!!) of our T-shirts, as well as some old ones and not a few of Pam’s trinkets and Mimi and Roger’s budget beads. Tom gave an interesting talk on some old Mars mission profiles – the background on Von Braun’s 1950’s era plan to land with gliders in Mars’s ‘thick nitrogen atmosphere’ was both fascinating and totally new to me. Kris attended virtually every talk and track, taking reams of notes, as well as helping out with the T-shirt table and, of course, formatting the convention program everyone was using.

Tom, Donna, and Emily deserve a special mention for manning the main convention registration table for most of the convention. Without them, the convention would not have come off.

And, during the banquet, i was honored to present our check for $300 directly to Bob Zubrin in Roger’s memory. Roger was with us in spirit.

Over all, a great experience. Next year, we can look forward to hearing just what MSL has discovered!!