Mars-News/ Mars Special Bulletin #22

Larry Klaes (
Mon, 23 Aug 1999 17:54:37 -0400

>Date: Sun, 22 Aug 1999 11:17:56 -0700
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>Subject: Mars-News/ Mars Special Bulletin #22
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>Mars Society Special Bulletin#22
>August 20, 1999
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>The words had a familiar ring: "Hi, I'm Bob Zubrin, president of the Mars
>Society." So began the Second International Convention of the Mars Society,
>a meeting that not only recalled the promise of the first, but delivered on
>it as well. If 1998 was the year with the buzz, 1999 was the year with the
>While there were numerous stars at this year's convention, none shone
>brighter than the Mars Arctic Research Station, a project conceived during
>last year's meeting. Proposed in 1998 as the Society's first major project,
>numerous sessions and plenary talks addressed the facility's design and
>potential. More important, though, the Society announced that the M.A.R.S.
>would be delivered, built, and open for use by researchers in July 2000. A
>Mars Society field team exploring the Haughton Impact Crater on Devon
>Island in the Canadian Arctic identified two possible sites for
>establishing the base, with the primary site residing on the crater's rim,
>high on a ridge dubbed "Haynes Ridge" hard by "von Braun Planitia." Not bad
>for a year's work.
>This year's convention saw approximately 700 paid attendees packing morning
>plenaries and evening panels, and, during the afternoons, racing between
>numerous talks divvied up between four to five separate tracks. With an
>additional 300 people attending a public session one convention's opening
>day, total conference attendance approached 1,000. Some highlights from the
>days and nights in Boulder:
>-- Robert Zubrin, president of the Mars Society, gave a rousing opening
>address in which he laid out the historic opportunity before the Society:
>The possibility of turning the first decade of the 21st century into the
>opening of one of the greatest eras of exploration in history by helping
>launch a humans to Mars program.
>-- Pascal Lee, head of the Mars Arctic Base Task Force, reporting on the
>progress of the M.A.R.S. project and transporting several hundred people
>via words and stunning images to the Mars-like landscapes of the Haughton
>-- James Cameron, the current king of Hollywood if not the world, reporting
>on his plans for bringing Mars to the public via a five-hour television
>mini-series and a 3-D Imax film, and publicly and proudly announcing
>himself a "wacko" for Mars. Cameron's stated intent is to present the human
>exploration of Mars as a huge technical challenge, but one that we are
>ready to meet and achieve. He proceeded to thrill an absolutely packed hall
>with images of some of the vehicles he and his team have designed for the
>projects, including landers, habs and rovers("We're not engineers," he
>said. "We're film makers, so you're just gonna have to cut us some slack,"
>though it hardly seemed necessary.). There was a definite buzz in the hall
>as he explained the technical details of his pressurized rover design, and
>a an even bigger buzz when word later got out that he might consider
>loaning the production vehicle to the Mars Society for use on Devon Island
>once his film projects are in the can.
>-- An intriguing, thought provoking talk by sci-fi author Kim Stanley
>Robinson on reasons for going -- and not going -- to Mars. Robinson's talk
>questioned some of the more cherished rationales for the human exploration
> and settlement of Mars -- visions of the frontier and "manifest destiny"
>-- and offered a vision of Mars exploration as an ecological "green
>project." Most memorable, though, was his admonition against allowing the
>Society to fracture into warring groups because of minor disagreements over
>substance or style, and his enthusiasm in leading more than 500 people in a
>raise-your-right-hand-and-repeat-after-me pledge to "renounce the
>narcissism of small differences."
>-- The clusters of individuals -- five, ten, sometimes more -- that came
>together in meetings to define new tasks for the Society, discuss new
>projects, and organize themselves for action. Hand-written notices tacked
>on a board near the meeting's registration desk announced meetings of
>people interested in public outreach, political action, chapter
>organization, e-commerce, student involvement and more. Sometimes under the
>bright Boulder sun, sometimes in the quiet confines of otherwise empty
>halls, energies were directed into action.
>-- A panel of nearly a dozen Mars Society members and speakers who each
>answered the question "What kind of Mars do we want?" Though no two shared
>quite the same dream, it was clear that all shared a mutual respect of one
>another's ideas and the freedom to express them. The visions of a future
>Mars were intriguing, and the discussions spirited.
>-- The image of more than 500 people donning red/blue 3-D glasses to gaze
>at 3-D images presented by Peter Smith, principal investigator for cameras
>carried on the Mars Pathfinder lander and the Mars Polar Lander. In
>addition to some stunning 3-D views from the Mars Pathfinder mission, Smith
>also outlined the upcoming Mars Polar Lander mission and detailed the
>capabilities of the lander's cameras.
>-- Katherine Harris, this year's winner of the Hakluyt Prize, reading from
>a letter she wrote and sent to more than two dozen political and space
>leaders urging their support of human Mars exploration.
>-- The antics of Monk's Night Out, an Austin, Texas-based improvisational
>comedy troupe offering more than a bit of levity during Saturday night's
>banquet. What will we find on Mars? Duct tape.
>-- The slew of ideas presented over the span of 18 tracks, ranging from the
>private exploration of Mars, to the law and governance on Mars, to Mars art
>and aesthetics.
>-- The amiable thrust and parry between University of Colorado professor
>Bruce Jakosky and NASA Ames researcher and Mars Underground co-founder
>Chris McKay on the role of robots and humans in Mars exploration; the
>possibilities of extant life on Mars; the pace of Mars exploration; and
>more. The two engaged in lucid, intelligent, and sometimes wry debate on a
>number of issues to the delight of appreciative audience.
>-- Society Administrative Director Maggie Zubrin and Fundraising Task Force
>leader Kristin Boekhoff circulating pledge cards during Saturday's banquet
>and later announcing that $6,000 had been raised over the course of the
>-- The unanimous vote by the Steering Committee to accept a bid by the Mars
>Society's Toronto chapter to host the convention in their city in the year
>2000. It reflected the Society's confidence in its members and its
>commitment to operate as a truly international organization. Following
>presentations by Robert Zubrin and Pascal Lee on the current situation of
>the Arctic base project, the Steering Committee also voted formally to
>commit the funds required to build and establish the first module of the
>Mars Arctic Research Station on Devon Island during the summer of 2000.
>-- The closing plenary session, wherein Chris McKay, Pascal Lee and Robert
>Zubrin spoke of what the Mars Society had accomplished this year and at the
>conference, what all the Society's members could expect over the course of
>the next year, and the conference's closing words:
>"On to Toronto. On to Mars!"
>The Mars Society's has been chosen by NASA to provide a "mirror" website
>for the Mars Polar Lander mission, which will touch down on Mars December
>3, 1999. The 1997 Pathfinder mission marked the last time NASA landed on
>Mars, and, during that mission, the Pathfinder site became one of the
>busiest websites of all time. During the first month of the landing, the
>site had over 500 million hits with nearly 2-1/2 million people visiting.
>In comparison, the Mars Society currently serves 50,000 monthly visitors.
>This is a great opportunity for the Mars Society. As people visit the main
>NASA Mars Polar Lander site they will be given a choice as to which mirror
>site they would like to use. Naturally some people will be intrigued that
>one of the sites is being hosted by the Mars Society. Visitors will be
>given an opportunity to learn about the Mars Society and its goals. This
>agreement will bring significant public exposure for the Mars Society as we
>head into the new millennium and near a human to Mars mission.
>The winning proposal for the mirror website was written by Marc Boucher,
>the Mars Society's webmaster. Well done, Marc!
>It seems there's always a calm before the storm during the late days of
>summer, no more so this year then on Capitol Hill, where the late summer
>recess is due to come to an end after Labor Day, and the fight against some
>of the biggest budget cuts in NASA's history will commence once again.
>You'll recall that a House Appropriations subcommittee delivered a NASA
>appropriations bill that would have slashed more than $1.3 billion from
>NASA's FY2000 budget. Mars mission funding would be cut; Discovery and
>Explorer mission funding curtailed; SIRTF and the CONTOUR mission
>cancelled. While the full House Appropriations Committee restored $400
>million in funding and partially resurrected a space science budget that
>hand been shredded (and restored Mars mission funding), it still left NASA
>facing a $900 million budget cut. A full House floor debate on the bill was
>delayed until after recess. While the Senate has not addressed the NASA
>budget directly yet, word is that NASA can't expect any lifelines tossed in
>its direction: the Senate Appropriations Committee will probably seek about
>$1 billion in cuts to the NASA budget as well.
>While some cuts may be restored when Senate and House conferees meet later
>this Fall, there is likely to be a substantial cut in NASA's budget when
>all is said and done, and it's rather unlikely that a Republican Congress
>will vote down an appropriations bill endorsed by the leadership of the
>House and Senate. As such, the White House will possibly be presented with
>a VA-HUD appropriations bill that slashes the NASA budget while increasing
>other programs -- most notably Veterans. Vetoing such a bill could prove
>politically unpalatable for the Administration.
>No doubt there will be horse-trading and deal-making galore throughout all
>this, but those of us interested in Mars exploration specifically, and
>space exploration in general, can't assume the NASA budget will be saved
>without our efforts. We must continue to make our voices heard in Congress
>and in the White House. They must carry a simple message: no more NASA
>Those who attended the Mars Society Convention received registration
>packets containing a simple, succinct message for their representatives
>that urged an end to the cuts and a beginning to a human Mars exploration
>program. It read:
>"Dear Senator/Representative:
>Space exploration is vital to America's future. I urge you to maintain
>funding for Mars exploration and other space science initiatives in the FY
>2000 NASA budget. But simply maintaining funding for our existing robotic
>space exploration efforts is not enough. It is time for America to resume
>its pioneering tradition by launching an effort to send humans to Mars
>within the first decade of the 21st century. Congress should start blazing
>the trail now by creating a program to develop the technology needed for
>such an endeavor.
>America owes its greatness to its past willingness to embrace the challenge
>of new frontiers. We cannot afford to do less. Humans to Mars."
>It is absolutely critical that we make our voices heard now, before debate
>on the NASA budget begins, and throughout the negotiations that will soon
>start. Write, phone, fax, or meet with your Senators and Representatives
>(with Congress in recess, many are in their home districts). Let them know
>that the 21st century must mark an end to the nearly decade-long assault on
>NASA's budget, and a beginning to a new national commitment to space
>exploration and development.
>For contact information on your representatives, visit Project VoteSmart at
> For further
>information on contacting members of the Hill, visit the Mars Society's
>Political Task Force website at
>The first issue of Ares, the Mars Society's quarterly electronic CD
>magazine, has been published and mailed to the Mars Society membership. The
>first issue, which is PC compatible (but with many files that can be
>accessed by a Mac as well) contains;
>* A forward by Mars Society president Robert Zubrin
>* The Official Mars Society Slide Show and Script
>* A trailer for the upcoming Maxis "Sim Mars" Game
>* MERITT Tethers research paper by Dr. Robert Forward
>* A clickable Mars Atlas
>* Teacher's Guide and Curriculum Materials
>* Image Galleries: Viking, Pathfinder, Mars Global Surveyor
>* Numerous website snapshots
>* Chapter 1 of "The Case for Mars."
>* Other information and multimedia features.
>Additional copies of the disk can be purchased for $10 each (or $6 each in
>quantities of 10 or more) by sending a check to The Mars Society, Box 273,
>Indian Hills, CO 80454.
>Copies of the slide show in 35 mm format (with accompanying script) are
>also available for the same price from the same address. If you want to go
>out and spread the word, this is the tool you need!
>The next issue of Ares will be mailed to the membership on November 1.
>Those people with articles, pictures, or any other materials they wish to
>submit for possible inclusion should e-mail such material to Jim Burk,
> no later than October 1.
>At the Second International Mars Society Convention a series of contests
>were announced. These include:
>* The Goddard Prize: A technical contest for chapters or members to submit
>a design for a 10 kilogram payload to be flown to an altitude of 100
>kilometers on a sounding rocket that the US Air Force Academy has made
>available to the Mars Society. The payload will not be recovered, so all
>data taken must be transmitted by radio. The flight will occur in April
>2000. Proposals are due at Mars Society headquarters by November 1. Details
>of payload requirements, volume limitations, etc. will be posted on the
>Mars Society website at as soon as they are provided by
>the USAF Academy.
>* The Rouget de Lisle Award: A musical contest to develop an anthem and
>other songs for the Mars Society. No great social or political movement has
>ever succeeded without the power of music helping to move the souls of
>those in and around it. So Mars needs music! The best songs will be
>included on upcoming Ares CDs. Songs should be submitted on tape cassette
>with an accompanying hard copy of the lyrics, and a letter giving the Mars
>Society the right to use the song on its CDs. The deadline for submission
>to be considered for the 2000 award is March 1, 2000. Songs will be
>accepted in any musical style, including classical, folk, jazz, pop, rock,
>Rouget de Lisle was the author of "The Marseilles." There is an anecdote
>that upon hearing this stirring anthem sung in the streets of revolutionary
>Paris for the first time in 1792, the young Napoleon Bonaparte exclaimed to
>its author, "Monsieur, your song is worth a hundred regiments!" If said,
>then this remark by France's future military genius could hardly have been
>more astute. So sing, Martian muses, sing.
>* The Hakluyt Prize; The Hakluyt prize is given for the best student (age
>22 or less) letter sent to world leaders advocating a humans to Mars
>program. Both the quality and quantity of the letters count. The winner
>will receive an all-expenses paid trip to the Third International Mars
>Society Convention to be held in Toronto during August 2000, as well as a
>fine Bushnell telescope. The first Hakluyt prize was won by Adrian Hon, of
>Liverpool, England, in 1998, and the second one was won by Katie Harris, of
>Georgetown, Ontario, in 1999. To be eligible for competition for the 2000
>Hakluyt prize award, copies of letters along with a list of those to whom
>they were sent must be received at Mars Society headquarters by May 1,
>The Hakluyt Prize is named after Richard Hakluyt, the tireless pamphleteer
>whose numerous writings convinced the elite of Tudor England to take the
>policy decisions required to establish the first British settlements in the
>New World.
>Mars Society President Robert Zubrin has published a new book, "Entering
>Space: Creating a Spacefaring Civilization." As part of the promotional
>effort associated with this publication, the publisher, Tarcher Putnam, is
>sending Zubrin on a nine city book tour, with public talks at major
>bookstores in each city. These talks represent excellent opportunities for
>local Mars Society chapters to organize around as public events for
>recruitment and outreach. The current schedule is:
>Monday, Aug 30, 7:30 PM -- The Boulder Bookstore, Boulder CO
>Tuesday, Aug. 31, 7:30 PM -- The Tattered Cover Bookstore, Cherry Creek
>(Denver) CO
>Tuesday, Sept. 7, 8:00 PM -- Printer's Inc., Mountain View, CA
>Wednesday, Sept. 8, 7:00 PM -- Vroman's, Pasadena, CA
>Thursday, Sept. 9, 7:30 PM -- Barnes and Noble, 1029 West Bay Area Blvd.
>Webster, TX
>Monday, Sept. 13, 7:00 PM -- Transitions, 1000 W. North Ave, Chicago, IL
>Tuesday, Sept. 14 -- Wordsworth Books, 30 Brattle St. Cambridge, MA.
>Wednesday, Sept. 15 -- New York City. Location to be determined.
>Thursday, Sept. 16 -- Barnes and Noble, 3651 Jefferson Davis Highway,
>Alexandria, VA.
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