Mars Colony Prize Competition

Alan Mole, an RMMS member, donated prizes for the Mars Society to hold a contest for the best proposal for a Mars colony of a thousand people. Here is his summary:

It was very successful. The Mars Society received 101 papers, almost all being twenty pages. I was tapped to judge the first twenty, and many had original and pertinent ideas. One group noted the required structural thickness of a pressure vessel is proportional to the pressure contained, so for minimum weight the habitats and greenhouses should hold the minimum pressure that humans can breathe indefinitely. They researched this, and found that with enhanced oxygen this was 0.27 atm (96% oxygen and 4% nitrogen). Thus we can save almost 3/4 of the mass of the habitats and greenhouses we must bring from Earth. There were other good ideas in the twenty papers I read, and there must be many in the other eighty one submissions. For the amount of the prizes ($17,500 in total) this was a great bargain.

I plan to do it again next year, perhaps for colony of a million. The larger lesson is that prizes work.

Our chapter was well represented in the contest – 5 of the 10 judges are RMMS members.

The Mars Society published the list of finalists earlier in July, and the winners will be determined at the next Mars Society convention after additional presentations and judging.

Congratulations to the finalists and a huge thank you to Alan for his prize contributions!

Mars 3D-Printed Habitat Competition

A challenge from NASA to build a 3D-printed habitat for Mars began in 2015 and has been drawing interest from several major organizations to compete in various stages and phases. Currently in the final stage, the competition will end on May 4 and the final competition events will be streamed live on NASA TV on May 3 and 4.

Here are some of the highlights from previous stages:

AI Space Factory‘s MARSHA concept

The design from SEArch+ and Apis Cor that won first place in the Virtual Construction stage

Mars Talk

Mars Talk is a new podcast from The Mars Society, the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to sending humans to Mars. Billed as “A community discussion about humanity’s future in space”, the biweekly Mars Talk podcast features Mars Society chapter leaders and other guests to discuss the Society’s activities. The podcast will also provide commentary on recent space news, such as commercial space activities and those of the worldwide space agencies.

The first episode of Mars Talk was recorded on Friday, April 12th and is hosted by Christopher Tarantola from the Mars Society’s Chapter & Outreach team. Christopher is joined by two co-hosts: James Burk, the Society’s IT Director and organizer of the Seattle chapter, and Lucinda Offer, the Society’s Executive Director and organizer of the UK chapter. Christopher, James, and Lucinda provide commentary on the recent NASA return to the moon announcements, SpaceX & Boeing’s commercial crew activity, the recent Falcon Heavy launch of ArabSat-6A, Israel’s SpaceIL mission to land on the Moon, India’s anti-satellite test and its aftermath, and several other current space-related news items. In addition, Lucinda provides an introduction to the Mars Society and the recent projects and activities done by our worldwide network of chapters.

For more info visit:

AstroReality Augmented Reality

This year will mark the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, so what better way to celebrate this historic event than to learn more about the moon with augmented reality? AstroReality is an app that uses augmented reality (scanning an object and providing feedback based on that object) to provide clickable links of images, historical and other data. You can get the whole solar system, but the 3D objects are expensive and the moon poster can be printed for FREE and even works if you scan it from a screen (don’t necessarily need to print). A tablet would be best because of the larger screen to see the information, but even a phone would work.

You can download the app here:
Google Play:

Just download the app, click on the moon button, say you printed the poster, and scan the image below. Then you can rotate the moon on the screen, click links, etc.

The AstroReality website has more information and an option to buy the 3D objects (including Mars!) if you so choose, but even the free version is so cool!

And if you enjoyed that, they also have an Earth app that offers some neat interactive models of our planet for free that even show the interior.

Google Play:

Happy exploring!

Bob Bruner and the Search for Life on Mars

Bob Bruner is a local Mars Society member and long-time supporter of Mars exploration and volunteer at DMNS, whose incredible collection is also documented in the Life on Mars in a Box part of our website. Read below for Bob’s story on how his collection came about and what he has been up to.

Right after I got my 25-year award as a volunteer at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science my back gave out and I was no longer able to make trips to the museum on a regular basis. I decided to do research at home on my computer and travel to international scientific conferences to present the results. I chose the topic Meteorites and Minerals associated with the Origin of Life which is a museum-type topic.It turned out, I was the only one in the world who had this exhibit, so I was invited to travel all over the USA and the world presenting my material. I went from being a person on the verge of joining the museum retired volunteers organization to someone who could represent the museum at the leading edge of the fields of the origin of life and finding life on Mars. The last five years have been the most exciting of my life. I presented at (or will present at) the following meetings-

2014 Gordon Origin of Life Conference in Galveston, Tx
2014 NASA 8th International Mars Conference in Pasadena, Ca
2015 NASA 2nd Landing Site Meeting for the Mars2020 rover in Monrovia, Ca
2016 Gordon Origin of Life Conference in Galveston, Tx
2016 NASA Biosignatures Conference in Lake Tahoe, Nv
2016 ESA Astrobiology Conference in Athens, Greece
2017 ESA 4th Landing Site Meeting for the Exomars 2020 rover in Noordwijk, Netherlands
2017 NASA Astrobiology Science Conference in Mesa, Az
2017 NASA Early Mars Conference in Flagstaff, Az
2018 Gordon Origin of Life Conference in Galveston, Tx
2018 ESA Astrobiology Conference in Berlin, Germany
2018 Templeton Origin of Life Conference in Atlanta, Ga
2018 NASA 4th Landing Site Meeting for the Mars2020 rover in Los Angeles, Ca
2018 ESA 5th Landing Site Meeting for the Exomars 2020 rover in Leicester, UK
2019 NASA Mars Extant Life Conference in Carlsbad, Nm
2019 NASA 9th International Mars Conference in Pasadena, Ca
2020 Gordon Origin of Life Conference in Galveston, Tx

In addition to this, I donated 750 books and other media collected over a lifetime on the subjects of the Origin of Life and Life on Mars worth over $40,000 to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Az.. I donated meteorite collections worth over $5000 to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Discovery Museum in Colorado Springs, Co, the NASA Challenger Learning Center in Colorado Springs, Co, and the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff,Az.

I joined the NASA Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group, the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life, the NASA Astrobiology Roadmap team, and the Mars Society for which I wrote three blogs.

I was nominated for the Annie Maunder Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society of the UK (did not win), received commendation letters from the Chief Scientist of the ESA Exomars 2020 rover and the head of NASA (Charles Bolden), and received an award at the ESA Astrobiology Conference in Athens, Greece.

I did all this from ages 75 through 80 with no scientific training. I studied finance and investments in college, got my MBA in 1963, was an investment analyst for Hamilton Fund, a systems analyst for Mountain Bell Telephone, a tax analyst for the IRS, and have been retired for 18 years.

I paid for my own specimens for my exhibit and my own travel expenses around the world. I am passionate about the search for life on Mars, ever since my father arranged for me to travel to the Yerkes Observatory in 1948 and have a look at Mars through the largest refracting-type telescope in the world with one of the most famous astronomers of our time, Dr. G.P. Kuiper of Kuiper-Belt fame.

After the meeting in Leicester, UK last month, the conference chair, Dr. Bridges, requested I leave some of my mineral specimens for them to analyze and build a Raman Spectrographic profile for when the Exomars 2020 rover is on Mars in 2021. That rover will be the first to drill down two meters under the surface and bring up samples to be studied for signs of life.

Bob Bruner
First job as volunteer- running the planetarium shows at Gates Planetarium in 1988

Bob Bruner with his exhibit

Bob Bruner with his exhibit