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Operation Congress

to find blue hope
just scratch
the red surface

-- Bettina Davis
May 2002





"The Earth is the Cradle of Mankind,
but one does not live in the cradle forever."

-- Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, 1895


This meeting was attended by Jeff Berkwits, Jesse Clark, Israel Lidsky, Patrick Purcell, and Gerry Williams.


TMS-SD member Shannon Rupert Robles took command of MDRS Crew 36 at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in the Utah desert for a week, commanding the first all woman crew at any of the MARS project stations. Shannon has also been leading the MDRS Remote Science Team this season.

The Mars Movie Night for this month on Friday, March 18th featured Tom Baker in "Doctor Who and the Pyramids of Mars" (which, incidentally, was made two years before the two Viking spacecraft arrived at Mars). It was a collection of four half-hour episodes stitched together to make a feature-length film. It was quite a kick.

Saturday, March 19th was the Science and Education Partnership (STEP) outreach at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Corona, CA. We stood in for the Greater Los Angeles Mars Society Chapter, who was working the Sally Ride Science Festival at CalTech the same day. TMS-SD member Gerry Williams took the chapter's Display Table and the San Diego Mars Rover and gave a lecture to science teachers.

On Easter weekend, Friday, March 25th through Sunday March 27th was the ConDor XII Sci-Fi Convention at the Mission Valley Marriott hotel. TMS-SD had our Display Booth set up, and we offered three program events: Gerry Williams hosted a two-hour multimedia program called "Mars in the Movies" on Friday evening at 8pm; Dave Rankin, Jeff Berkwits and Gerry presented "A Year on Mars With The Mars Rovers" at 1pm on Saturday; and Dave, Jeff and Gerry regrouped at 5pm for "Mars Analog Research Station: Season 2004/2005". All three presenters also participated in other panels throughout the three days of the convention. It was a great little convention!

EXPANDING YOUR HORIZONS offered lots of answers and opportunities for girls from all over San Diego County at an all-day program at UCSD on Saturday, April 2nd. Workshops from Archeology to Zoology enabled hands-on explorations in science, mathematics, and technology. Girls had the chance to talk with others who share their interests and had mentors in science and technology for the whole day. TMS-SD member Gerry Williams lead three sessions on Mars Exploration with the San Diego Mars Rover.

The San Diego Astronomy Association (SDAA) hosted their "STARS IN THE PARK" public telescope viewing event outside the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park on Wednesday, April 6th -- an absolutely gorgeous (clear) and warm evening. This event coincided with two "THE SKY TONIGHT" Planetarium shows inside the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center at 7:00pm and 8:00pm.

MDRS Crew 38 - "Mobile Agents" lands at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in Utah for two weeks to conduct field experiments using a wireless EVA data management system developed over the past two years. MDRS is a protected workplace for scientists and engineers to configure, deploy, and test sophisticated technologies and protocols in an extreme environment. EVAs are conducted in simulation mode (with two astronaut-geologists in suits wearing computer backpacks, and a support crew of 10 or so people off camera). TMS-SD member Shannon Rupert Robles, as Science Team Lead, performed a Computer Supported Collaborative Work between a Mars Crew and their Earth-based Remote Science Team.


The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority will host a Family Fun Day at the San Diego Aerospace Museum in Balboa Park entitled, Fly Into The Future: Cleared for Takeoff on Saturday, April 9th from 10am to 3pm. Everyone in attendance will enjoy FREE all-day admission to the museum with access to flight simulators, the Children's Museum Activity Center and more! TMS-SD is planning on presenting our "3-Ring Circus" consisting of our Display Booth, our San Diego Mars Rover , and our Mars Suit. TMS-SD members Jesse Clark, Israel Lidsky, Tim Sommer and Gerry Williams will crew this event.

TMS-SD will again be hosting the Yuri's Night World Space Party, celebrating the anniversary of the first human in space, Yuri Gagarin. The San Diego World Space Party on Tuesday, April 12, 2005 will revolve around dinner at the Acapulco Restaurant in Old Town, starting at 7:00pm. TMS-SD member Jesse Clark is coordinating this event. For more information, please visit the San Diego's Yuri's Night 2005 World Space Party website. Please R.S.V.P.!

On Friday, April 15, 2005, TMS-SD MARS MOVIE NIGHT -- Roger Corman produced and Francis Ford Coppola (under the name Thomas Colchart) redirected "BATTLE BEYOND THE SUN" (1975) -- Two Soviet films, "Nebo Zovyot" (1959) and "Planeta Ber" (1962), were reedited and dubbed into this science fiction adventure yarn about rival space missions to put a man on Mars. Competing against the Soviet Union, American scientists race to build a spaceship to travel to the Red Planet. Unbeknownst to all, however, is the fact that Mars contains horrors that mankind should not disturb. Showtime is at 7:00pm at Studio 106 -- please RSVP.

On Saturday, April 16, 2005, TMS-SD member Gerry Williams will be interviewed as part of The Norman Bates Memorial Soundtrack program dealing with the soundtracks for Mars movies on KFJC 89.7 FM from the Foothill-De Anza Community College campus in San Jose, California from 9:00am to Noon. Gerry is the creator and webmaster of the MARS MOVIE GUIDE. This program will be webcast outside the San Jose area.

"Roving The Red Planet" is the lecture for the Weekend Talk Series at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park on Saturday, April 16, 2005 from 1:00pm - 2:00pm in their Community Forum.

- "In January 2004, two Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, landed on the Red Planet. They searched the land for signs that Mars was once a wet world like our Earth. They looked at rocks, dug up the ground, studied the weather, and drove down craters and up hills. They traveled miles seeking evidence that Mars could have once had that universal ingredient for life: water.

- "With over a year's worth of images to select, it is now possible to follow the dusty tracks of the two Mars Exploration Rovers from their first landings to where they are today - almost as if you were exploring Mars in person. Join the members of The Mars Society - San Diego as they see what the Rovers have seen in black-and-white, color, and 3-D images of the Martian surface. The Rovers' discoveries set the groundwork for more robotic exploration (and eventual human exploration) of Mars."

- TMS-SD members will also be there with a display table and the San Diego Mars Rover.

MDRS Crew 39 assumes occupancy of the Mars Analog Habitat April 17-30, 2005 at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah for two weeks in a full-simulation international mission (an all-male crew nicknamed "Leonardo").

On Thursday, April 28, 2005, TMS-SD has been asked to give a 45-minute multimedia talk at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park to a special Quarterly Staff Meeting of the City of San Diego Transportation Engineering Design Team at their lunch break at 1:30pm. The topic will be "The Roads to Mars" by TMS-SD member Gerry Williams and will feature our San Diego Mars Rover.

Astronaut Sally Ride presents TOYchallenge 2005 on Saturday, April 30, 2005, a national toy design challenge for 5th-8th graders, and a chance for teams of imaginative kids to create a new toy or game (a great way to learn about science, engineering, and the design process. From 10am to 4pm at San Diego Aerospace Museum in Balboa Park. TMS-SD members will be there with the San Diego Mars Rover.

May 1-14, MDRS Crew 40 assumes occupancy of the Hab at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah for two weeks in a full-simulation international mission (an all-female crew nicknamed "Mona Lisa"). This is the FINAL crew of MDRS Season 4. The Hab will reopen for Season 5 in November.

On Wednesday, May 4, 2005, The San Diego Astronomy Association (SDAA) will host their "STARS IN THE PARK" public telescope viewing event outside the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park. The setup is at 6:30pm, and the event runs from 7:00pm past 9:00pm (weather permitting). It coincides with "THE SKY TONIGHT" Planetarium show in the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center at 7:00pm. TMS-SD members will be there for public outreach activities from 6:30pm to 9:30pm, with the San Diego Mars Rover operating during daylight hours.

The next REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING of TMS-SD will be held on Friday, May 13, 2005 at 7:00pm to 10:00pm at Studio 106.


Our monthly Mars Movie Night" for May will be the classic film "Robinson Crusoe on Mars"

The San Diego Aerospace Museum will host their annual "Space Day" on Saturday, May 21st from 10am to 4:00pm.

- Building on the success of our first Space Day, and celebrating the recent addition of the Apollo 9 command module, Space Day will feature demonstrations, lectures, and hands-on activities with local and national space industry experts. Last year, we had representatives from The California Space Authority, Kaiser Electro-Optics, NASA, JPL, San Diego DART, The Mars Society, SPAWAR, and others.

- Also included in Space Day will be our 3rd Annual "Imagining the Future of Flight" Exhibition. Children up to the age of 18 can build and display their own ideas about what future space flight will look like. No kits allowed! All entries will be displayed at Space Day, and there will be an awards ceremony for all participants during the Space Day celebration. There will be drawings for cool prizes like flight simulator rides, Museum memberships, books, and more, but you must be present to win.

- TMS-SD members and the San Diego Mars Rover from 10:00am to 4:00pm in the lobby area.

Tentatively scheduled for the weekend of June 3-5th, TMS-SD member Shannon Rupert Robles will be heading up a 3-day Off-Season Maintenance Mission to the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah with a crew from San Diego.

Also tentatively scheduled for our REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING of TMS-SD on Friday, June 10th is an outdoor barbecue party. Location is yet to be determined (but will probably be either at TMS-SD member Dave Rankin's or Gerry Williams' house.

We're gearing up for Comic-Con 2005 International Convention (July 13th through 17th) with two presentations and a fan table, as in past years. Special Guests under discussion for our combined panel include Dr. Michael Caplinger from Malin Space Science Systems (Mike has been on our Comic-Con panel since our first one in 2001); Dr. Gregory Benford (author/scientist); astronomer Dennis Mamanna; and Mars Society president Dr. Robert Zubrin . We're also looking at getting a representative from Aeraspace Corporation in Temecula. Any other suggestions for potential panelists are welcome.

The 8th International Mars Society convention, which will be held at the University of Colorado, Boulder, August 11-14, 2005 is fast approaching. Among the TMS-SD members who have expressed interest in attending are Jesse Clark, Shannon Rupert Robles and Gerry Williams. We're thinking of giving a presentation on how to be a truly "kick ass" Mars Society chapter.


The San Diego Mars Rover: is suffering some problems with its onboard wireless video camera -- the signal has degraded significantly at the last outreach. It was decided to purchase a new camera in time for the SDAM event on April 9th, which Gerry had installed by the time of this meeting. The new camera gives the Rover a smoother, sleeker look than the old boxy camera did.

Mars Suit Taskforce: Tim Sommer has turned over the bulk of the Mars Suit material to Gerry. Gerry has lined up a seamstress to put the finishing touches on the first (most complete) suit right away, and to take over the building of the second suit. Both suits will need some adjustable sizing modifications to fit differing body types.

- Gerry, Jesse and Patrick have expressed interest in following up on finishing the hardware on both suits.

- Israel became our fourth person to qualify in our suits at the April 9th event at the SDAM.

Public Relations: Gerry will be interviewed as part of The Norman Bates Memorial Soundtrack program dealing with the soundtracks for Mars movies on KFJC 89.7 FM from the Foothill-De Anza Community College campus in San Jose, California from 9:00am to Noon on Saturday, April 16, 2005. This program will be webcast outside the San Jose area.

New TMS-SD Shirts: Tim reports that the new shirts have been ordered and are to be drop-shipped to the seamstress for embroidery with our TMS-SD logo.

New Display: Jesse reported on the new framework for our TMS-SD display booth, being constructed out of 3" ABS tubing. Gerry has been printing new images for the collapsible backboard, but has not started installing them. Jesse says he's aiming for having the display ready for a shakedown cruise at the SDAM's Space Day on May 21st.

Website Updates: Gerry is keeping our chapter's website up to date on a monthly basis. He's also busy learning DreamWeaver and plotting a website makeover for some undisclosed time in the future.


Treasury & Finance: Our current treasury is healthy, with $80-90 earmarked for the new camera for our Mars Rover. Other upcoming costs will include work on our Mars Suits.

Hartmann Book Sales: No sales were made this month. We have 17 books available (and 12 books is our break-even point). We discussed some other selling options, especially nearing the Mars Opposition in early November.

TMS-SD Podcasting: We've done a little more research into the possibility of a TMS-SD Podcast. We discussed some content and a lot about the necessary hardware/software. We'll be going into more detail at next month's meeting.

New TMS-SD Events & Activities: The group seemed to be quite satisfied with the amount of outreach (and its quality) we are currently performing. However it is evident that we'll need to increase our active membership base if we plan to do more of our "3-Ring Circus" events with our Display Table, Mars Rover and Mars Suits. It is difficult to do this with just four people.

- On-Campus chapters & younger members recruitment was discussed, but no decisions were made.

- Brian Enke of the Rocky Mountain Mars Society was quizzing us about how to become involved in the types of outreaches that we've been getting. I discussed our connections with him, and I suggested heading up a panel at the next Mars Society Conference on how we (San Diego) do Outreach.

- Ryan Zelnio of the NorCal Mars Society has been in contact with us regarding our Mars Rover -- he's trying to get the Northern California groups to build one of their own for outreach.


Combined Space Advocacy Group in San Diego: The Yuri's Night World Space Party event will orbit around forming an umbrella group for San Diego county. We've invited groups from the space advocacy areas, education, and industry to join us. This group would be loosely based on a similar group near San Francisco, BAYspace.

- Coming up with a suitable (yet sexy) acronym for such a local group has given us many amusing minutes of head scratching as well as head shaking. :-)


Patrick and Jesse took another hour-long round at assembling the Lego Mars Rover. We're talking about having a "barn-raising" day where we come in and just work on this Rover until its finished.

- Gerry and Jeff ran some videos on the big screen during this time.




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