Forward to the First Issue of
Dr. Robert Zubrin
President of the Mars Society
Welcome to the first issue of Ares, the CD-Rom magazine of the Mars Society.
The Mars Society, an international association committed to furthering the exploration and settlement of Mars by both public and private means, was founded at a historic meeting of 700 people from around the world in Boulder Colorado during August 1998. In the 10 months that have followed, the development of the organization has been spectacular.
At the Founding Convention itself, 25 chapters were formed. By May 1999 there were 80, including 50 in the United States and 30 others in countries ranging from North American neighbors such as Canada, and Mexico, and leading technological nations such as Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and Japan, to far flung lands including Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Iceland, the Canary Islands, and Mozambique.
These chapters have engaged in all sorts of public outreach activities, including booths and tables at space, science fiction, and teachers' conventions and airshows. In the United States, dozens of meetings have been held with congressmen, urging support for expanded robotic Mars exploration and the initiation of a humans-to-Mars program. In every case, the results have been positive, with responses from both liberals and conservatives ranging from; "I haven't thought about it a lot, but now that you mention it, as long as we have a $13 billion per year space program, this is the sort of thing it ought to be doing," to "I'm with you all the way."
Chapters have also organized series of meetings on college campuses. The first, held at MIT in mid January, drew 100 people. The second, at Cal Tech in late January, drew 200. A third, held at Stanford University in March, drew over 300 attendees.
As its first private project, the Mars Society has launched a program to establish a simulated human Mars exploration base on Devon Island, whose meteorite crater in the polar desert of Canada's far north has created an environment which is closely analogous to that of Mars. The Society's Mars Arctic Research Station (MARS) is planned to be operational by the summer of 2000. Featuring a prototype Mars mission combination habitat/laboratory/workshop module, the MARS will test the utility of such a system supporting Mars-mission-like research in a real field environment. It will also provide a field test bed for testing life support equipment, researching mission-related human factors, and developing tools and techniques needed for effective human exploration on Mars. Perhaps most importantly, the establishment of the MARS base will act as a beacon to inspire the public worldwide with the vision of humans pioneering Mars.
The MARS project is moving ahead rapidly.
At a meeting of the Mars Society Steering Committee held at Stanford University March 12, it was decided that the Society should implement a " reconnaissance in force" mission to Devon Island during the summer of 1999 to prepare for the deployment of the station during the summer of 2000. The reconnaissance mission, which will be undertaken on a cooperative basis with scientists from NASA Ames Research Center engaged in scientific study of the Devon Island Mars analog environment, will be led by the Society's Arctic Base Task Force leader Pascal Lee, and include the Society's president (me), MARS lead architect Kurt Micheels, and other Society personnel, including a correspondent who will provide regular expedition progress reports to the Society at large via the Internet. The expedition's primary purpose will be to choose the site for the MARS station. In addition, the mission will serve to provide project leaders with a direct sense of the problems to be addressed in deploying and operating the MARS in the Devon Island environment. Preliminary studies of methods of conducting human exploration on Mars will also be undertaken, including, possibly, a simulated Mars pressurized rover excursion utilizing a humvee vehicle whose loan has been tentatively pledged to the project by the U.S. military.
Cornerstone donations to initiate the project have been received, including $100,000 from Infoseek Chairman Steve Kirsch and another $100,000 from the Foundation for the Independent Nongovernmental Development of Space (FINDS). The total budget for the MARS program is about $1 million. Following the escalating achievement method of ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, the Society intends to use the credibility earned from implementing the MARS project to raise the funds required for a $10 million program, such as sending an aerial reconnaissance balloon as a hitchhiker payload to Mars aboard either a NASA or European Mars probe in 2003. If successful, such a mission would set the stage for a $100 million project, such as a fully privately funded Mars probe, which in turn could earn the credibility needed for a still more ambitious project.
As a result of these activities, press coverage of the Society has been phenomenal, with articles appearing in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, the Toronto Globe and Mail, the London Times, the Independent, Discover magazine, Reason magazine, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Science magazine, Scientific American, MIT Technology Review, and other leading magazines and newspapers in Germany and Japan. It has also been covered in numerous TV and radio broadcasts media, including ABC-Discover News, the BBC, the CBC, NHK Japan, and Tokyo Today.
Many famous and noteworthy people have joined the Society, including Apollo 11 Astronaut Buzz Aldrin and film maker James Cameron. Cameron, the producer and director of the award winning movie "Titanic" has bought the film rights to Kim Stanley Robinson's epic trilogy "Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars," and intends to use it as the basis of a TV series depicting the colonization of Mars. At the dinner in Malibu where he joined, Cameron told me that he intends to meet with Al Gore later this year, and inform him that "if he wants to see some serious Hollywood money for his campaign, he should think about putting humans to Mars in his platform." Robinson has also joined the Society and serves on its Steering Committee.
Other well-known Hollywood personalities who have joined include “Babylon 5” star Bruce Boxleitner and his wife, Melissa Gilbert, who played the pioneer girl (and later classic author) Laura Ingalls Wilder in the TV Series “Little House on the Prairie.”
The Society has founded two electronic magazines, New Mars and Mars News. New Mars, edited by former Ad Astra editor Richard Wagner, is a journal of ideas, features, debate, and commentary on all matters dealing with Mars exploration and settlement. Mars News, edited by Seattle chapter president Jim Burk, serves as a clearinghouse for all the latest news concerning the exploration of the Red Planet. Both of these journals can be reached from links from the Mars Society's very active website at www.marssociety.org. In addition to these publications, the international website, and many chapter websites, the Society has set up an electronic mailing list to over 6000 members and supporters, enabling it to broadcast periodic Special Bulletins to all and conduct mobilizations in response to political or other developments at a moment's notice.
With the issuance of this first edition of Ares, the Society has brought to fruition its plans to produce a regular quarterly CD-ROM magazine filled with Mars-related information, graphics, and presentation materials to mail to all members on a quarterly basis. Among many of the important items you will find on it is the first Mars Society slideshow “Open the New World,” and its accompanying script, which is meant to equip every member to give public talks. (For those who prefer 35 mm slides to overheads produced from digital media, actual slide sets and accompanying scripts are now also available for $10 purchase from headquarters.) We hope many of you will take the trouble to have a set of overheads made and then go and spread the word to any group you can get to listen to you – school kids, Rotary Clubs, political clubs, it doesn’t matter – everyone needs to get the message; It’s time to open the new world.
Ares draws material from Mars Society members everywhere, but is put together largely by the hardworking Seattle Chapter of the Mars Society, led by Jim Burk. Contributions are welcome, so if you have something that you would like to see included in the next issue –text articles, graphical materials, even games; anything of interest to people ranging from professional Mars scientists to 5th graders – please send it to Jim. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our thanks also go to the Imagineering corporation of Vancouver, WA, especially its president Dave Chamberlain, and his chief designer Gary Hollingshead, who have contributed much to make this project as reality.
To quote from the Mars Society's Founding Declaration:
"Mars is not just a scientific curiosity; it is a world with a surface area equal to all the continents of Earth combined, possessing all the elements that are needed to support not only life, but technological society. It is a New World, filled with history waiting to be made by a new and youthful branch of human civilization that is waiting to be born. We must go to Mars to make that potential a reality. We must go, not for us, but for a people who are yet to be. We must do it for the Martians."
Further information on the Mars Society can be found at the Society's website at www.marssociety.org. The Mars Society can also be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or by post at Mars Society, Box 273, Indian Hills, CO 80454.