The Martian Chronicles
Issue 6, July 2000

Mars Youth Projects

Check out some of the projects that your fellow Martians are involved in!

Grant Bonin and Jaimey McKee
Winners: silver medal, Senior Engineering Category, Canada Wide Science Fair

Coherent architecture for exploration of Mars. Sending humans to Mars must be done simply and inexpensively. We set out to design a mission that employed little hardware, and relied on indigenous Martian resources. We built and tested a reactor that could make fuel from the Marian atmosphere. We concluded that a mission to Mars could be accomplished affordably using our ideas.


Chris Cameron
Massaponax High School

The feasibility of a crewed mission to Mars. The report and its components explore past as well as current mission plans being discussed, such as the Mars Reference Design Mission. The project looks at what it would take to put people on Mars, and how large an impact this would have.


Gavin Mendeck
  Martian Geologist  

Last fall, NASA’s Exploration Office at Johnson Space Center asked an engineering interdisciplinary senior design class at Texas A&M University to evaluate and design a system to land 35 metric tons (which would include humans) from martian orbit to the surface. After evaluating parachutes, parafoils, rockets, rotors, airbags, landing legs, and lighter-than-air balloons (to name a few concepts), the class’s final design included a lifting-body entry shield, parachutes to slow down, storable-liquid rockets for the final deceleration and maneuvering to the landing site for a soft touchdown using simple landing legs. The class found that while the thin Martian atmosphere can certainly help slow down landers equipped with parachutes, for massive payloads such as this it may be more efficient to use a purely propulsive system instead of relying partly on parachutes and the fickle atmosphere. Several of these graduating students have since accepted offers to work for NASA and NASA contractors in the Houston area.


Elizabeth Tay

For centuries, mankind has been scouring the skies in search of extraterrestrial life. But what is life? How do we know when we’ve found it? My essay briefly goes through a few criterion for the existence of life, the search for life using planet detection techniques and radio astronomy, and ideas of astronomers Frank Drake and Enrico Fermi. “The truth is out there” - whether we find a hostile civilisation of giant bugs waiting to attack or an advanced civilisation with so much to teach and so much to learn, the search for extraterrestrial life promises to be an exciting journey with lots of room for hope, faith and imagination.


Shawn Goldman

In the fall, I will be looking at the effects of biological systems, such as microbacteria, have on the ratios of iron isotopes, much like the carbon isotope ratios that are one of the current means of searching for past life on Earth, Mars, or elsewhere. Isotopes are atoms of the same element that have different number of neutrons. Specifically, the fractionation of iron isotopes in magnetite produced by magnetotactic bacteria (the same particles that were found in ALH84001) is of interest. Thi is one of the most solid pieces of evidence that point to past Martian life in ALH84001.