Mars One: 10 Potential University Payloads to Mars in 2018

Photo courtesy of Bryan Versteeg and Mars One www.mars-one.com

Photo courtesy of Bryan Versteeg and Mars One.

Amersfoort,1st December 2014 – Mars One is proud to present the ten Mars One University Competition finalists eligible to fly to Mars. One of these ten payloads will receive the once in a lifetime opportunity to fly on Mars One’s first unmanned Lander mission to Mars in 2018. For the first time ever the public will be able to decide which payload receives the extraordinary opportunity to fly to Mars.

The ten remaining projects from an initial 35 submissions were submitted by diverse universities worldwide. In order to get this far, the payload proposals needed to meet all requirements as described by Mars One supplier Lockheed Martin. Mars One community members, social media followers, and the general public will have the opportunity to vote on and select the winning payload. Voting opportunities for the public will be opened in the first weeks of December, 2014. Voting submission will be accepted until December 31st, 2014.

The winning university payload will be announced on January 5th, 2015. The winning payload needs to be feasible and meet the requirements and restrictions as outlined in the Proposal Information Package (PIP) and on-going discussions with Lockheed Martin, who will build the 2018 lander. Additionally, if in any case the winning team can not perform or adjust to additional requirements the runner-up will be chosen instead.

Arno Wielders, Co-founder & CTO of Mars One said, “These ten final projects are unique and creative and we are very happy with the payload proposals these teams have presented. It would be highly interesting to see each and every one of these projects being launched to Mars. Now it is up to the public to decide which project they would like to have on Mars.” 

Here are the ten finalists in the Mars One University competition with a brief payload description.

Cyano Knights – Generating O2 out of CO2 (Germany)

This project aim is to change a small amount of the 95% carbon dioxide Mars atmosphere into oxygen with the power of cyanobacteria. The Cyano Knights team would like to transport cyanobacteria to Mars that will deliver oxygen made out of their photosynthesis of carbon dioxide. The activities of the cyanobacteria will be monitored in different environmental conditions on plates in quarantined boxes in order to determine the best working solution for converting carbon dioxide into oxygen on Mars.
Read more: Cyano Knights – Generating O2 out of CO2.

HELENA – Oxygen Production & Art Time Capsule (Australia)

The HELENA team plans to demonstrate oxygen production from water in the Martian soil through electrolysis. HELENA’s primary science payload is an electrolysis module housed in a custom made chassis unit designed to demonstrate key life-support technology; producing oxygen from water extracted out of the Martian soil.
Read more: HELENA – Oxygen Production & Art Time Capsule.

IHISS: In situ Habitat Improvement through Soil Strengthening (USA)

The IHISS team will test in situ materials as a shield for the habitats on Mars. Soil will be collected with the soil acquisition payload and injected with a polyester resin in order to develop a new composite material. The composite material will be moved over a series of sensors which will be activated to obtain the control data, average radiation amount, and average temperature cycle. With the data collected from the experiment, IHISS will determine how useful a shield of this composite material will be for the human habitats on Mars.
Read more: IHISS: In situ Habitat Improvement through Soil Strengthening.

MARA-DS: Material RAdiation Degradation Study (USA)

The MARA-DS team designed a project to record the energy and impact events of Galactic Cosmic Ray (GCR) and Solar Energetic Particle (SEP) flux at the surface of Mars. The payload will establish a baseline control for the radiation environment while also measuring the massed radiation flux through the potential habitat structural material of JSC Mars-1: a Martian regolith simulant. The information collected will help plan for protective Martian habitat structures.
Read more: MARA-DS: Material Radiation Degradation Study.

Mars Micro-Greenhouse (United Kingdom)

The Mars Micro-Greenhouse team intends to bring a small pressurised greenhouse utilising an aeroponic system to Mars. The team will try to demonstrate the ability to grow small plants with atmosphere obtained from the Martian environment, with a minimum of material imported from Earth. This will be demonstrated by growing lettuce in the growth chamber of the payload using an aeroponic system, obtaining a supply of carbon dioxide from the Martian atmosphere.
Read more: Mars Micro-Greenhouse.

MIDDAS: Mars Ice Deposit Detection by Application of Seismology (USA)

The MIDDAS team intends to locate the presence of ice-water in a vertical column of regolith beneath the 2018 Mars lander. This will be done by using a seismic source on the Martian surface to allow sensors to record velocity changes in acoustic seismic waves that are transmitted through the shallow subsurface and are reflected back to the sensors. The payload will use this data to detect the presence of ice-water.
Read more: MIDDAS: Mars Ice Deposit Detection by Application of Seismology.

PECR: PhotoElectroChemicalReduction of CO2 (India)

The PECR team aims to convert CO2 to a useful state by activation/reduction. Photoelectrochemical and photoelectrocatalytic methods involving p-type semiconductor electrodes will be used for the sequestration of CO2. Additionally, solar energy will be used for the conversion. The project can be considered an artificial photosynthetic process.
Read more: PECR: PhotoElectroChemicalReduction of CO2.

Seed (Portugal, Spain, and the Netherlands)

The Seed team intends to grow the first plant on Mars. More specifically, the team would like to grow Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings in a container that includes growth medium, water delivery system, carbon filtering systems, light stimulation, and a small photographic camera. The mechanism is fully automatic and the available energy should be enough to maintain a proper temperature for plant growth.
Read more: Seed.

S.P.A.R.C.: Sensing Pressure and Atmospheric Research Console (USA)

The S.P.A.R.C. team proposes to observe Martian weather patterns. Dust devils, dust storms, and clouds will be videotaped, and data such as pressure and temperature will be recorded from the atmosphere. From the visual and atmospheric data, it will hopefully be possible to characterize Martian weather patterns.
Read more: S.P.A.R.C.: Sensing Pressure and Atmospheric Research Console.

Urine Greenbox: Urine to Water with Energy Recycle (USA)

The Urine Greenbox team aims to evaluate the reliability and operation of a system to convert urine into clean water and hydrogen. Project Urine Greenbox consists of using synthetic urine to produce hydrogen/energy and clean water. The process uses a urea and urine electrolysis and will include the capability to measure the amount of clean water produced, hydrogen produced, and basic sensors to test the quality of the water.
Read more: Urine Greenbox: Urine to Water with Energy Recycle.

More information

About Mars One

Mars One is a not-for-profit foundation that will establish permanent human life on Mars. Human settlement on Mars is possible today with existing technologies. Mars One’s mission plan integrates components that are well tested and readily available from industry leaders worldwide. The first footprint on Mars and lives of the crew thereon will captivate and inspire generations. It is this public interest that will help finance this human mission to Mars.

For more information visit www.mars-one.com

One Response

  1. These are some interesting ideas if (big IF), the lander flies and makes it safely to the surface of Mars.

    Evaluating these proposals means having some criteria ready. You can choose two ways to approach the evaluation. In the first way, you rank according to the value to humanity. In the second, you select according to the value to a Mars mission. The second way helps the Mars One people for “free” — as is were.

    You must also consider that likelihood that the planned experiment will work and whether these experiments might better be performed on Earth.

    Gvien the record of Mars One, you may have to pay to rate the experiments.

    You can give your ratings right here for free. Any takers?

    • Cyano Knights – Generating O2 out of CO2 (Germany)
    Useful for humanity — 0/10
    Useful for Mars One — 1/10
    Will function on Mars — 4/10
    Able to do on Earth — 1/10

    Score = 6/40

    Even if you could change all CO2 on Mars to O2, you would not be able to breathe it. At low temperatures, bacteria will work slowly and probably will die from desiccation and cold. It would not be very hard to duplicate these conditions on Earth.

    • HELENA – Oxygen Production & Art Time Capsule (Australia)
    Useful for humanity — 0/10
    Useful for Mars One — 3/10
    Will function on Mars — 8/10
    Able to do on Earth — 0/10

    Score = 11/40

    While there is much value in producing O2 from water on Mars, this experiment can better be done on Earth.

    • IHISS: In situ Habitat Improvement through Soil Strengthening (USA)
    Useful for humanity — 0/10
    Useful for Mars One — 5/10
    Will function on Mars — 5/10
    Able to do on Earth — 0/10

    Score = 10/40

    This nice idea will have problems with the cold and low pressure. Usefulness depends on sending lots of resin to Mars. Why not just test it out on Earth?

    • MARA-DS: Material RAdiation Degradation Study (USA)
    Useful for humanity — 0/10
    Useful for Mars One — 6/10
    Will function on Mars — 5/10
    Able to do on Earth — 3/10

    Score = 14/40

    NASA has been doing this sort of thing already. Much of the work could be done on Earth, but it still has to be tested on Mars. Not having biological components, it has a good chance to function on Mars.

    • Mars Micro-Greenhouse (United Kingdom)
    Useful for humanity — 0/10
    Useful for Mars One — 7/10
    Will function on Mars — 3/10
    Able to do on Earth — 0/10

    Score = 10/40

    Knowing how to grow plants on Mars is important. Almost every aspect of doing that in a habitat can be duplicated on Earth, even the gravity. The biological nature of this project makes it unlikely to succeed in the cold, dry environment of Mars.

    • MIDDAS: Mars Ice Deposit Detection by Application of Seismology (USA)
    Useful for humanity — 0/10
    Useful for Mars One — 9/10
    Will function on Mars — 8/10
    Able to do on Earth — 3/10

    Score = 20/40

    Finding water is crucial to colonization of Mars. This experiment can be tested on the Earth but won’t truly be understood until it’s tried on Mars. The seismic sensor must be capable of being landed in many locations over time to find an ideal landing site. It’s almost certain to function on Mars.

    • PECR: PhotoElectroChemicalReduction of CO2 (India)
    Useful for humanity — 0/10
    Useful for Mars One — 2/10
    Will function on Mars — 7/10
    Able to do on Earth — 0/10

    Score = 9/40

    This experiment is similar to the first (Cyano Knights) but uses electrochemical means in place of bacteria. Converting CO2 into O2 has uncertain value, given the extremely low pressure. This experiment should be done, if done at all, on Earth.

    • Seed (Portugal, Spain, and the Netherlands)
    Useful for humanity — 0/10
    Useful for Mars One — 5/10
    Will function on Mars — 2/10
    Able to do on Earth — 0/10

    Score = 7/40

    Growing A. thaliana on Mars would be cool, but is not likely to succeed due to outrageous environmental conditions in the lander. I expect all biological experiments to die on the first night. We can find out quite readily by doing this experiment on Earth and also learn much more at lower cost.

    • S.P.A.R.C.: Sensing Pressure and Atmospheric Research Console (USA)
    Useful for humanity — 0/10
    Useful for Mars One — 2/10
    Will function on Mars — 8/10
    Able to do on Earth — 2/10

    Score = 12/40

    The current satellites circling Mars are providing much of this data. You can get more on the ground, but locality makes this data less valuable.

    • Urine Greenbox: Urine to Water with Energy Recycle (USA)
    Useful for humanity — 2/10
    Useful for Mars One — 4/10
    Will function on Mars — 4/10
    Able to do on Earth — 0/10

    Score = 10/40

    Certainly, you can do this experiment here on Earth. On the Mars One lander, the entire system is likely to freeze. Urine recycling is already being done in a number of ways. One more could be valuable right here on Earth where water is becoming scarce. Do it here. Don’t bother to send it to Mars.

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