We Should Explore Mars So That Our Students Will Keep Dreaming Big

We Should Explore Mars So That Our Students Will Keep Dreaming Big

by Janet Ivey CEO, Janet’s Planet


Why send humans to Mars? Because as Gene Roddenberry said, “We are on a journey to keep an appointment with whatever we are.” As a space science educator, a lover of Star Trek, and someone who played “astronaut” on the playground, sending humans to Mars is more than just a good sci-fi fantasy, it is an imperative for humanity.  Mars is the first outpost in the colonization of other worlds. And thanks to countless orbiters, landers, and rovers… the more we learn about it, the more Mars beckons.

For the past 16 years, I have endeavored to find ways to connect students’ natural curiosity with the wonders of our solar system and the universe, and always with an eye looking back at Earth. As a STEM/STEAM educator, I believe that we must teach science as the greatest adventure story of all time; and allow and inspirestudents to dream beyond their house, their town, and their own Earth-bound experience.

Listen to any scientist, engineer or entrepreneurial visionary who is passionate and committed about going to Mars and you will see that the parallels between a human endeavor to Mars and an education that elevates STEM/STEAM skills are remarkably similar. Getting to Mars and creating a skilled labor force for our nation is all about building with the same organic material. And I am not talking about aluminum, steel or titanium. I am talking about the robust material of minds… young, brilliant, future scientific and engineering minds. Howard Bloom, founder, and chair of the Space Development Steering Committee says it this way: “Rockets roar into space using two forms of fuel.  One is the liquid in the rocket’s tanks.  The other is the fuel in the human heart.  Yes, big dreams are fueled by the raw stuff of the human spirit:  excitement, awe, and desire.  Those emotions power us to do the impossible.  So when you’re looking for a goal, find the one that excites you and your fellow humans the most.”

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Explore Mars Proud Sponsor of the 2016 RAW Science Film Festival

Explore Mars Proud Sponsor of the
2016 RAW Science Film Festival


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Explore Mars is pleased to be a sponsor of the Raw Science Film Festival that will take place at Fox Studios inside the historic Zanuck Theater on Saturday, December 10, 2016. There will be a reception prior to the Awards Ceremony, which is a black-tie-optional hosted “awards show” that will be live-streamed with magic, brain games, and immersive experiences. The theme of the event is “Space 3.0,” the development of private space in addition to augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality experiences. The best in science media from around the world will be celebrated in grand fashion!

Zanuck Theater @ Fox Studios 10201 W Pico Blvd, LA 90035
Saturday December 10, 2016

The festival is eligible to be a qualifier for the Academy Awards in 2018. Out of 7,000 film festivals worldwide, only 63 have Oscar qualifying accreditation and 26 in the US. RSFF is poised to elevate science media to the highest stages.

Naveen Jain | Founder, Moon Express, BlueDot, Intelius, Talent Wise and InfoSpace
Brent Bushnell | CEO, Two Bit Circus, Los Angeles CA
Hanson Robotics | Featuring Sophia
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Still waiting for humans on Mars

Still waiting for humans on Mars

By Rick Zucker and Chris Carberry

Getty Images

For over 50 years the United States has talked about sending humans to explore the planet Mars.  Landing humans on Mars has been an integral goal of U.S. space policy for many years, and the Red Planet has garnered more interest and enthusiasm from the general public than any other destination in space exploration. So why hasn’t humanity cut the gravitational umbilical cord holding us down on our home planet? Why haven’t we walked yet on Mars? What are we waiting for?

While there have been many reasons contributing to our inability to achieve what humanity has dreamed of accomplishing for centuries, inconsistent policy direction has been the primary reason we have not sent humans to Mars, or anywhere else for that matter beyond Low Earth Orbit since the last Apollo crew ascended from the surface of the Moon in 1972.  Policy makers and others have provided many so-called explanations over the years, such as “There is no mandate to go to Mars”, or “The time isn’t right”, or “It’s not technically feasible”, or “It’s too risky”, or “Robots can do it better”, or, “We need to fix our infrastructure first”.  But these are really just excuses, and none are truly valid.

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Is the Moon a necessary step on the path to Mars?

Mars Base Camp concept

Human missions to Mars, like this Lockheed Martin concept, should not depend on initial human missions to the lunar surface, which should be justified on their own merits. (credit: Lockheed Martin)

Is the Moon a necessary step on the path to Mars?

If members of the space exploration community were surveyed as to where humanity should go next if funding was not an issue, most, if not all, would probably say, “To both the Moon and Mars.” Unfortunately, budgetary and policy restrictions force tough choices and have made it difficult to proceed with both the “Moon and Mars” goals simultaneously.

As a result, advocates for both goals have tended to be at odds on whether the primary goal of the United States space program should be to send humans back to the Moon or on to Mars, and which destination should come first.

Do we actually need to land humans on the surface of the Moon before we go on to Mars?

Over the past few years, the concept of human missions to Mars has gained momentum as the primary goal of the US space program, not only in the executive and legislative branches of government but also among numerous commercial players as well as in the press and entertainment communities. In fact, humans-to-Mars has been the cornerstone of official US space policy for over a decade, as set forth in the NASA Authorization Acts of 2005, 2008, and 2010. Indeed, in the proposed NASA Authorization Act of 2015, passed by the House of Representatives, stated in Section 201(a), “It is the policy of the United States that the goal of the Administration’s exploration program shall be to successfully conduct a crewed mission to the surface of Mars to begin human exploration of that planet.”

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How We’ll Choose the First Mars Colonists

How We’ll Choose the First Mars Colonists

Go to the profile of Stephanie M. McPherson
Stephanie M. McPherson

Image credit: Bryan Versteeg, Mars One

In some ways the first Martian colonists will have it easier than the colonists of Earth’s history. Rather than a rag-tag group of religious outcasts, or refugees from war and famine, the first Mars residents will have undergone years of physical and psychological tests to determine the optimum group for the mission.

But that doesn’t mean it’ll be a walk in the park. The first colonists will face an intimidating task in establishing humankind’s first outpost on another planet. After a long voyage, they’ll have to deal with a hostile environment, limited supplies, and the pressure of knowing that everyone back home is counting on them.

Figuring out who’ll best be able to cope with the myriad challenges involved—both foreseen and unforeseen — is no easy task. To survive, these first colonists on Mars will have to get used to living in a confined environment with people of different backgrounds and ethnicities, much like the multicultural group orbiting the Earth on the International Space Station now. As such, a lot of the same selection principles that go into choosing astronauts today will apply.

Gender distribution of the 100 candidates in Mars One’s third colonist selection round.

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