Time Capsule to Mars™ joins UK student space organization at national conference
GUILDFORD, UK – February 28, 2015 – An ambitious student campaign to send digital memories to Mars reached the United Kingdom for the first time on Saturday. Time Capsule to Mars (TC2M) was present at the National Student Space Conference (NSSC) at the University of Surrey outside of London, and made an appeal for students around the world to join the mission.
The conference, an annual event organized by the UK Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (UKSEDS), is a two-day event that brings together students, academics, and professionals to highlight current issues facing the space sector and create pathways for collaboration.
David Rokeach, an MBA student at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and TC2M’s Business Director, was a featured speaker on Saturday. “These students are a great audience because they’re naturally inclined to be passionate about space exploration,” says David. “But for the average person, space can feel unreachable and intangible. Time Capsule to Mars is giving those people the opportunity to, in a way, leave their own footprint on another planet.”
Time Capsule to Mars, an Explore Mars Inc. BE BOLD project, will be the first student-led and privately-funded mission to Mars. Students at eight universities are designing and building a spacecraft that will travel through space and land on Mars by 2018. People from around the world will send their legacy, memories, and messages through digital uploads for future human explorers to recover on Mars.
The mission coordinates with organizations like UKSEDS to engage students who are ready to get involved and participate in space exploration. “I truly believe that my generation, and these students at this conference, will be the ones to get a human to Mars,” says Ciara McGrath, a PhD student at the Advanced Space Concepts Laboratory of the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow and the International Officer of UKSEDS. “Time Capsule to Mars is an incredible way to capture the imagination of these young people and involve them in the first steps towards achieving this goal by sending a target for them to go and retrieve.”
Humans to Mars Summit 2015
Speaker Spotlight Sessions
Rod has been a producer, writer and director of documentary programming for The History Channel and Discovery Communications. Notable works include “Modern Marvels: Apollo 11” for Hearst Communications and “In Their Own Words: The Space Race” for First Person Audio. Rod was formerly the Vice President of Communications for the World Space Foundation, a space-advocacy association based in Los Angeles and closely aligned with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. While there he was the senior editor and contributor to their two publications, “The Astronautics Journal” and “Foundation News.” Rod is a frequent contributor to many publications, including Space.com, LiveScience, NBCNews, The Telegraph, WIRED, The Huffington Post and The Daily Mail.
Rod spent two years as a visual effects consultant on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and was a visual effects producer for Joe Dante’s Warlords: Battle for the Galaxy for Paramount Studios. He co-produced and was the lead researcher for Patrick Stewart’s Nine Worlds, a CD-ROM released by Paramount Interactive, and was editor and webmaster of the product’s award-wining website for three years.
Rod was formerly employed at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, CA, where he served in various capacities for over 10 years. During his tenure, he produced Launchlink, a public celebration of NASA’s Space Shuttle in conjunction with NASA and FOX-TV, as well as authoring numerous handbooks.
Recent book releases include the widely-praised “Innovation the NASA Way” (McGraw-Hill Education, 2014) and “Curiosity: An Inside Look at the Mars Rover Mission” (Random House, 2014). “Destination Mars” (Prometheus, 2012) was hailed as “The best recent history of Mars exploration” by The Washington Post.
Q: Based on your research for Innovation the NASA Way, how do you think human missions to Mars might stimulate innovation?
A: It is becoming clear that to land humans on (or nearby) Mars before 2040, NASA will need to incorporate the thoughts and work of many outside entities. While an international mission is not impossible, my hope is that American industry will rise to the challenge in a similar fashion to how SpaceX has tackled the orbital resupply mission, i.e. hybrid investment models. There are many challenges to overcome for a crewed flight to Mars, and while some will be met by NASA, it would require an improbable level of investment (akin to the height of the Apollo program, almost 5% of the federal budget) to accomplish the goal within a reasonable time frame. But with a hybrid approach, the best of NASA can combine with the strongest entrepreneurs and the finest minds in academia to accomplish great things. As Gene Kranz once said to me during an interview, “What America will dare, America will do.” We know what we can achieve… the question is, and I place it before NASA, Congress and private industry: what will America dare?
Q: We have been thinking of sending humans to Mars for over 50 years. What would you say to people who say ‘Why the rush’?
A: As has been eloquently pointed out by many fine minds, Mars is the only near-term goal besides the moon worth considering for sustained, crewed deep-space missions. Mars has been transformed from a fabled place of canals and empires to a desert world, and more recently to a promising vault of water and useful resources. The possibility of life forms existing there seems more likely than ever, as demonstrated by recent announcements from the Mars Science Laboratory mission. But our understanding of the challenges of traveling and staying there – radiation, life support, long-duration physiological and psychological endurance, toxic soil and more – has multiplied as well, especially since the habitation of the ISS and the science returns from the Mars Phoenix and Curiosity rover missions. Overcoming these will be the ultimate challenge of our innovative abilities in the 21st century. No other near-term human spaceflight mission even comes close.
Q: You also wrote an impressive volume on Curiosity. What are your hopes over the next 1-2 years for that Rover?
A: The Curiosity rover has just entered its extended mission. Two more years of funding and under the new science team leadership of Ashwin Vasavada, the rover can fully explore the foothills of Mount Sharp, where they are driving as I write this. Building on the amazing results from the primary mission under the leadership of John Grotzinger, MSL promises ever more exciting indications of a once habitable Mars. The recently announced results of more than a year of exhaustive sample analysis – soil scoops, drill samples and atmospheric samples – offer tantalizing possibilities of native organic compounds and biogenic methane. Both can come from non-biological sources, but if repeatedly found can offer hope of life on another world. With some luck the 2020 rover will bring us closer to an answer. I cannot imagine anything (short of encountering another intelligent species) more transformative to human thinking.
Q: What do you consider NASA’s greatest responsibility and how do you feel they’re living up to it?
A: To explore beyond LEO. The ISS is a remarkable achievement, and will continue to have value for its lifetime. Let’s expand its use for preparing for longer, greater journeys, and support it with an increased investment in commercial space. In my opinion NASA’s human space program should focus on a return to the moon and creation of infrastructure for the Mars adventure. What form either will take is not clear yet. While I don’t see true colonies in the next two decades, outposts are achievable. And I fully support a more robust robotic program, to do what they do so very well – scouting ahead where people cannot yet go. Mars (for now), Europa, Enceladus, Titan, asteroids. Let’s dare to do these things.
Q: What do you hope will be accomplished through the Humans to Mars Summit?
A: Two goals for me: 1) a continuing discussion focused on innovative ways to accomplish our shared goals regarding Mars and 2) a concentrated effort to reach the broader public, beyond the choir, with our important message: space and Mars matter, and are critical to maintaining our edge as an innovation powerhouse and leader in space.
Humans 2 Mars Spotlight:
Janet Ivey has been recognized for her work on Nashville Public Television children’s series Janet’s Planet, an interstitial series she helped create. This dynamic and fast-paced series is geared to 6 – 10 year olds and focuses on scientific and historical facts and events.
Janet Ivey is committed to enriching the lives of children through education and programming. With over 17 years in the media, Ivey has captivated Nashville and beyond with her work and she has received 12 Regional Emmy®s and 5 Gracie Allen awards for her work.
Q: Why is Mars exploration such an effective STEM tool?
A: I believe the reason Mars exploration is such an effective STEM tool is that kids are natural born explorers and communicating the thrill of exploration is as good as it gets when educating our youth about what a future on Mars might look like. We humans have always been driven to explore the unknown, discover new worlds, push the boundaries of our scientific and technical limits, and then push further. The intangible desire to explore and challenge the boundaries of what we know and where we have been has provided benefits always to where we are going. Through addressing the challenges related to human space exploration we expand technology, create new industries, and help to foster collaboration with other nations. Curiosity and exploration are vital to the human spirit and accepting the challenge of going deeper into space invites students today and the generations of tomorrow to journey beyond this planet.
Q: How do think NASA and STEM educators could do a better job at using space/Mars for inspiring and motivating students?
A: I believe one of the key STEM initiatives to inspire students is a mentoring program where scientists and engineers pair with a student with a specific field of interest and/or interest and commit to 8-16 weeks over the course of a school year to reach out, have them shadow and give them real world experience into the field. Here at Janet’s Planet whenever we are doing our live show around the country, we do follow-up and provide classrooms with SKYPE sessions with either an astronaut or my friend, Dr. Jim Rice, a Mars Rover Scientist. It adds credibility to my message when the students then can talk to and speak to a person who is actually in the field of space science.
And follow-up is key. We can’t come in, give one presentation, and think that’s all we need to do. I currently keep in touch with students where I have taught or presented via e-mail and either point them toward resources when they have a question or connect them with a scientist who is in the field they are inquiring about. We must be willing to connect on a deeper and personal level if we want to ensure the explorers of tomorrow.
Q: Do you think the space community could do a better job at messaging – better explaining how and why we will explore Mars?
A: I think the media needs to serve the space community in a more tangible way. Space news is usually a less than 60 second story in the nightly or morning news. And I personally believe that we need to position Mars as a goal, not just a dream. The messaging needs to be often and credible enough that the general public understands the importance. If we can go to Mars and find evidence of past life, then we will have proven that the development of life from chemistry is a general phenomenon in the universe. The public deserves to understand that Mars is more than just a future base camp, but potentially an unequaled forum for determining the prevalence and diversity of life in the universe.
Q: Do you think students look at NASA and space exploration differently than earlier generations? if so, how?
A: I think students will always find the possibility of space exploration fascinating, and thank goodness for astronauts who love to tweet and share their knowledge, but in the 21st century there are very few students who even know the names of astronauts. That’s why I think that we as a community have to communicate this message in the communities and forums where we find ourselves and be willing to engage with the students more frequently and in a more consistent way to truly develop the next generation of thought- preneurs and space enthusiasts.
Q: Any thoughts on how you think the H2M summit can advance STEM and Mars exploration?
A: There’s an Antoine Saint-Exupery that says, “If you want to teach someone to sail, you don’t train them how to build a boat. You compel them to long for the open seas.” That longing drives our urge to innovate, and space exploration has the power to do that; and so I think H2M as it continues to champion the science and the technology that it will take to get to Mars, has the potential to change the attitude that our culture has to the role of science, engineering, technology, and math on our future. Neil Degrasse Tyson says, “To make any future that we dreamt up real requires creative scientists, engineers, and technologists to make it happen. If people are not within your midst who dream about tomorrow — with the capacity to bring tomorrow into the present…then inspiration and engagement will be found lacking.” The challenge has never been children. The challenge has been adults. I don’t think you have to do anything special to get kids interested in science, other than to get out of their way when they’re expressing that curiosity. But I have yet to hear an adult say, “I need more science.” It’s the adults of this planet that need science literacy, THEN, we might truly see an enormous shift in our desire to venture out beyond our planet and explore.