Starting in March 2000, we filed monthly reports with the Mars Society's Red Satellite News Service, through June 2000. These records shed light on the beginnings and first years of Wisconsin Mars Society.

March 2000

Contact: Scott Davis, (

This is the first report for the Wisconsin Mars Society, but we will be making one monthly from here on.

Wisconsin Mars Society has ten paid MS members, and again as many who have asked to be on our email list and who participate at our monthly meetings.

Matt Giovanelli ( ) of the Milwaukee suburb of Wauwatosa is president and principal contact person. Scott Davis ( of the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek is webmaster. Peter Kokh ( of Milwaukee is point man on exhibits and Red Satellite reporter.

[*NOTE: After some event (nature of event and date unremembered), I believe in Chicago, that Scott Davis and I had attended, on the drive home, I suggested to Scott that we ask Matt to become acting president with Scott as contact person and webmaster, and myself in charge of exhibits. A phone call to Matt followed, at which he agreed to this division of duties.]

We were founded in Madison over a year ago [early 1999 or late 1998] by UW Chemical Engineering senior Jason Orloff, who unfortunately is no longer part of the group. Jason built a working sabatier reactor for a UW engineering open house, but, again unfortunately, when he left the group, he donated that to the UW Chemical Engineering Dept. It would have been nice for us to have had it.

We have been meeting regularly for about a year, at first only in Madison. An independent group, the Badger Space Explorers have arranged and hosted our meetings there at one or the other of the UW Unions.

Since summer 1999, to reflect where most of our more active members live, we meet in Milwaukee two months each quarter and in Madison the third month.

We have had an outreach presence at four events to date: the '99 biennial UW Dept. of Engineering open house, a Tripoli Rocket Club launch in SE Wisconsin, and two science fiction conventions, one in Milwaukee, the other in Janesville.

We are currently planning outreach events for the debut of "Mission to Mars", a presentation to the local NSS chapter (Lunar Reclamation Society) the next day, at an April model rocket launch, and at a May 20th "Rockets for Schools" Super Loki suborbital launch from the Lake Michigan shore in Sheboygan where we are fortunate to have a World War II gunnery restricted zone still on the books out over the Lake. The Super Loki soars to an altitude of 38 miles. This will be the 5th annual event. It regularly draws thousands of kids and adults.

For those of you who may wonder about two famous big events in Wisconsin, the annual EAA Fly-in at Oshkosh with a draw of over a million, and Gencon, the largest gaming convention in the country (over 30,000) held annually in Milwaukee, the price tag for an exhibit space at either, even for a nonprofit, is astronomically prohibitive. These events are out of reach for our small group. But we are open to assisting at an official Mars Society presence at EAA, now renamed the Air Venture. It is a big manpower challenge: if you do not man your space morning, afternoon, and evening every day for this 5 or 6 day event, you will not be invited back.

Chapter projects include outreach, meetings, and provides speakers to schools and group meetings.

Several of our members have been to past Mars Society Conventions and are planning to go to Toronto.

WMS has no separate dues. They have not been needed so far to support our activities. We have no hardcopy newsletter, and all the considerable selection of exhibit items available to us belong to individual members or are ours to use, when available, courtesy of the local NSS chapter (Lunar Reclamation Society) with whom we have been collaborating on finding outreach opportunities and putting up exhibits. You can find details on these items on our website's exhibits.html page.

We now have two chapter websites: (our principal and official site) will be moving to shortly. takes advantage of free webpages for Milwaukee clubs and organizations on the City's new Neighborhood Link system, and hopefully will result in more people stumbling upon us. It is thoroughly crosslinked to our main page.

Additionally, two of our members have their own personal Mars pages.

In short, while you haven't heard from us previously, it isn't because we haven't been a bunch of busy beavers having fun.

Are members are in two main concentrations: the Madison University of Wisconsin area, and the SE Wisconsin Milwaukee-Kenosha area. We have all been working together and members from each cluster attend WMS meetings when they are held in the other city. As yet we are not at the point where it would be productive to bud into separate chapters.

Peter Kokh (

Wisconsin Mars Society Red Satellite reporter


April 2000

Contact: Scott Davis, (

The Wisconsin Mars Society arranged with the management of General Cinemas to have an exhibit in the lobby of their 18 screen complex at Milwaukee's Mayfair Mall for the opening weekend of Mission to Mars.

Our banner was suspended from the ceiling, our exhibits and information tables where set up at the lobby entrance off the mall and we had great exposure and great traffic all weekend, Fri-Sun, May 10-12. We managed to man the exhibit and tables full time and really enjoyed ourselves talking to people, young and old, men and women, white, black, Hispanic, oriental - interest both in the movie and in our eye catching exhibits was universally high. This was a joint effort between Wisconsin Mars Society and the Lunar Reclamation Society (NSS-Milwaukee) who brought along their table top lunar homestead model (reviews: 99% "cool", 1% "neat") and set of "Mars bricks" which demonstrated the difference between Earth gravity and Mars gravity to the astonishment of everyone. This was a hands-on, pick-them-up display. It was interesting that a lot of people expected the Mars brick to weigh more than the Earth brick, thinking that Mars was bigger than Earth.

We produced a Wisconsin Mars Society flyer to tuck inside the Mars Society pamphlets, and had an email-list sign up sheet which got us a lot of prospective new members. Many said that they didn't know that clubs like this existed in Milwaukee and said they wanted to join.

We had color prints of Mars showing where the ancient ocean used to be, and this proved to be a talking point advantage. We also had a nice enlarged Pathfinder panorama. We also enjoyed telling people about the Devon Island project and had lots of photos to show where and what etc.

We learned some lessons and got lots of ideas about putting up an even better display next time. I think we want to get across that Mars is not just a place we want humans to explore, but the next human frontier. There is a lot of enthusiasm to tap out there.

The following weekend, we had our monthly meeting in Madison (once a quarter). And plans were made to set up an information exhibit at the next Tripoli Rocket Association model rocket launching event on the weekend of April 15-16 at the former Bong Air Force Base west of Kenosha in the SE corner of the state.

WMS member Peter Kokh was interviewed by on lavatubes and their possible use on the Moon and Mars and this resulted in a pair of articles published on March 21st: Moon Caves and Mars Caves.

Bill Hensley arranged an interview with his local state senator. This was a get-your-feet-wet starter, and now he's aiming at the Washington crowd.

Progress continued on a number of projects led by individual WMS members. More on that as they ripen.

Submitted by Peter Kokh (

May 2000

Contact: Scott Davis, (

On April 15th, Wisconsin Mars Society had an information and exhibit booth at a Tripoli Rocket Association rocket launch event at the Bong Recreational Area west of Kenosha in the SE part of the state. Five WMS members took part and we got to see some pretty impressive level 3 launches, including some rocket drag races, and one 3-stage launch.

We held our monthly meeting on April 22nd, a week later because of the rocket launch. We are busy looking for more opportunities and not ruling out anything.

WMS member Heidi Hensley, a Kenosha school teacher, will be giving a summer school session on Mars this summer.

Scott Davis continues to make progress with his Mars Simulation game.

Ron Zdroik produced a very high resolution panorama of the Martian surface from Pathfinder files, and it is framed (12x30?).

Peter Kokh proposed to take an off the shelf 6 inch globe, build up the surface to exaggerate the Martian topography, and paint it in the false color scheme in which potential water basins are blue. Shown with a standard 12 inch Earth globe, it would give the right impression of Mars' size and convey the exciting information that Mars was once a wet world (and conceivably could be made to be so again.)

[NOTE: This exhibit was never constructed.]

WMS President Matt Giovanelli would like to see us produce additional eye-catching exhibits.

Submitted by Peter Kokh (

June 2000

Contact: Scott Davis, (

During May, 2000 the Wisconsin Mars Society chapter did not have any official activities. We had been preparing for a booth at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association the weekend of June 16-18th in Madison, Wisconsin. We sent in our application with the required $100, but they turned us down - more interested in getting off grid than off planet.

Meanwhile, member Peter Kokh took in the National Space Society's annual International Space Development Conference over the Memorial Day Weekend in Tucson, Arizona. Bob Zubrin, Chris McKay, and Pascal Lee were featured speakers. Peter took his Earth-Mars-Moon gravity brick set along and Pascal Lee, on seeing it, ordered a duplicate to take to the Arctic Mars station on Devon Island*. According to Pascal's talk, the idea of the Haughton Crater effort is more to simulate operations than hardware (though they will undoubtedly have recommendations in that area too). Getting a feel for the gravity differences will help the team to adjust their operational experiences accordingly.

[*NOTE: The set was made and shipped to Pascal Lee at NASA-Ames. It is probably at the Haughton-Mars NASA facility on Devon Island, not at FMARS]

Peter Kokh (

Wisconsin Mars Society Red Satellite reporter

We did not file a report in July, and by August the Red Satellite Report was no more.