Mars One test mission to take experiments (and ads) to Red Planet

The Mars One team is moving ahead with its plans to colonize the Red Planet, announcing on Monday details of an unmanned test flight to the faraway rock to try out various gizmos and gadgets in its unique environment. There could well be ads on board, too. That’s right, ads.

While the mission to take a living, breathing couple to Mars isn’t set to take place till 2025, its test flight is expected to lift off from Earth in just four years’ time.

Loaded onto the spacecraft will be a total of seven payloads – four containing experiments to gather more information on Mars’ suitability for human habitation (more on this below); one offered to a university that comes up with the best proposal for its use, whether it be another experiment, a tech demo, or some other idea; and two “for sale to the highest bidder,” which, according to Mars One’s website, can be used “for scientific experiments, marketing activities, or anything in between.” So, in theory, we could see a Starbucks flag on Mars by the end of the decade.

Well, it has to pay for its mission somehow, and there could well be a global company or two out there that rather likes the idea of having a presence on Mars. If a bidding war erupts between, say, McDonald’s, Google and Volkswagen, then Mars One could well be in for one very large, and very helpful, payday.

Commenting on its interesting offer to companies and organizations, Mars One co-founder and CEO Bas Lansdorp said, “Previously, the only payloads that have landed on Mars are those which NASA has selected. We want to open up the opportunity to the entire world to participate in our mission to Mars by sending a certain payload to the surface of Mars.”

Meanwhile, the mission’s four “demonstration payloads”, or experiments, is a chance for the team to try out tech designed for the successful permanent human settlement of Mars.

These include:
– a soil acquisition experiment that’ll attempt to collect soil for water production
– a water extraction experiment designed to extract water from the Martian soil
– a thin film solar panel which could be used to generate the settlement’s energy through sunlight only
– a camera system that’ll enable Mars One to send a live video feed from Mars to Earth.

Of the four, the camera system sounds the most intriguing, as we’ll be able to see how the newly arrived humans settle in to their new home. It has all the makings of an extraordinary reality show the likes of which we’ve never before seen.

[Source: Mars One]

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