“Cheers erupted at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., which operates the spacecraft, when InSight sent back acknowledgment of its safe arrival on Mars. That was the end of a journey of more than six months and 300 million miles.”

Coverage here

IAC 2018

Moin from Germany!

This year, the IAC (International Astronautical Conference) was held in Bremen, Germany.  Quite a change of scenery from the previous years which were held in sunny Adelaide and Guadalajara.

Germany is the home of many conference participants including AirBus, DLR (The German Aerospace Center), and ZARM (a part of the University of Bremen).  The proximity of these organizations to the venue had a profound impact on the quality of the displays in the exhibition hall. For example, the DLR had a number of amazing exhibits like the Eden ISS and PLATO programs.

This Eden ISS Model shows a section view of the Modular system currently producing vegetation in a Antarctica!

Here is a an optical system under development for the PLATO Mission, it’s goal is to find and study a large number of extrasolar planetary systems, with emphasis on the properties of terrestrial planets in the habitable zone around solar-like stars.
Nick reconnecting with friends from the international space community.

It’s not all fun and games, however! There were a number of very informative technical sessions helpful to the development of our Martian Architecture.

Mars Incubator Habitat Panel with MEPS Insert

The Mars Incubator focus this year was on life support systems and architecture. Initially conceptualized as stand alone inserts to our panels, this years conference shed some light into habitation requirements and design capabilities of a comparable system. 


Airbus and ESA have been working on the Advanced Closed Loop System  (at left) for scrubbing CO2 and Producing Oxygen for the International Space Station. Launched on September 23, this module is being currently being commissioned for extra-terrestrial testing! 


With the audience filled with the space communities brightest and most we were a bit intimidated to present our most recent research developments. As many of us can attest, folks in the audience, like Dr. Robert Zubrin are well known for bombastic criticism of concepts lacking technical feasibility.

Nick and some space architecture colleagues taking a lecture from Robert Zubrin, prolific author and founder of the Mars Society.

Moving Forward with our efforts for the NASA Centennial Challenge, we are hard at work incorporating the feedback from Phase I and technological advancements presented at the IAC to advance our design for the next stage of the challenge.

See you next year in Washington D.C.! 


In 2023, artists representing the Earth will head for the Moon.”

What do you get when you curate a group comprised of a painter, musician, film director, fashion designer, etc. and send them on a space craft for a week long space-flight journey around the moon?  Well, honestly, we don’t know..  yet!  But we will find out in 2023 when “some of Earth’s greatest talents will board a spacecraft and be inspired in a way they have never been before.” 

Japanese Entrepreneur, Yusaku Maezawa, with the help of friend Elon Musk, is the brains behind this so called revolutionary art project, #dearmoon.  The group will board the BFR vehicle developed by SpaceX and head for the moon, 238,900 miles away. See details of the flight plan below:

This is the first mission of it’s kind. Perhaps the outcome will be something opposite the Golden Record? We will have to wait and see.  Patiently, we at Mars Incubator are looking forward to seeing what is produced from this unique artist residency!  Godspeed!

What might Garnets and Mars have in common?

It’s more than their shared red color.

“Microscopic tunnels in garnet crystals from Thailand appear to have been created by microorganisms boring into the rock, scientists say” – making this a possibility on Mars as well.

” “In 2020,” he says, “NASA, ESA, and the Chinese space organisation will send three separate missions to Mars to look for signs of life, including trace fossils. A few years back, tunnels like this would have been dismissed as abiotic, but today we know better.” ”


Mars in a Minute: Are There Quakes on Mars?

Thermal contraction, internal magma pressure , or meteorite impacts. These are a few suspects for the cause of Earthqua.., ahem, Marsquakes.  The behavior of those seismic waves that travel through the planet can help us understand what is going on beneath the surface of Mars. These movements will be measured by NASA’s Insight Lander’s Seismometer. Thanks to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for this info, stay tuned for updates!


Thoughts on selecting a landing site:

Choosing where to have lunch can be hard. Deciding where to go on vacation is hard. Finding a new apartment is hard.   Selecting a landing site on Mars… the hardest!

For this task, we’re faced with choice overload. What characteristics might you consider in selecting a site?  Are you looking for water? Are you looking for moderate temperatures? How about regolith composition?

Lander data and satellite imagery can help us identify some of the site attributes and determine where to set up camp, so to speak. Check out the resources below:

Not quite google maps, but might as well be: https://www.google.com/mars/

High-Rise imagery from the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona: HiRise Imagery

Here’s another resource to help us “explore and irrigate the Martian planet” from ArcGIS:  Irrigate Mars

Getting ones bearings on Mars is often a challenge, especially given the nomenclature used to describe the planet’s geography. Here on earth, we have unmistakable landmarks like the San Francisco bay and the Golden Gate Bridge to aid navigation. On Mars, we only have some topography referenced in Latin…ugh. 
Below you can find a key to some of the descriptors used to categorize the planet’s geography and their English translation.
Where would you land!?


Catena (catenae): chain of craters
Cavus (cavi): hollows, irregular depressions
Chaos (chaoses): distinctive area of broken terrain
Chasma (chasmata): steep-sided depression
Collis (colles): collection of small hills or knobs
Crater (craters): circular depression (impact event)
Davida (bowiae): hidden map element
Dorsum (dorsa): ridge (wrinkle ridge)
Fluctus (fluctūs): terrain covered by outflow of liquid
Fossa (fossae): long, narrow, shallow depression
Labes (labēs): landslide debris
Labyrinthus (labyrinthi): intersecting valleys or ridges
Lingula (lingulae): tongue of land
Mensa (mensae): flat-topped with cliff-like edges
Mons (montes): mountain or mountain range
Palus (paludes): small plain
Patera (paterae): irregular crater with scalloped edges
Planitia (planitiae): low plain
Planum (plana): plateau or high plain
Rupes (rupēs): scarp
Scopulus (scopuli): irregular slope
Serpens (serpentes): sinuous feature with relief
Sulcus (sulci): subparallel furrows and ridges
Terra (terrae): extensive land mass
Tholus (tholi): small domical mountain or hill
Unda (undae): Field of dunes
Vallis (valles): Valley
Vastitas (vastitates): Extensive plain


“The first test flight of Falcon Heavy is targeted for Tuesday, Feb. 6th at 1:30 PM ET from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. When Falcon Heavy lifts off, it will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two.
With the ability to lift into orbit nearly 64 metric tons (141,000 lb)—a mass greater than a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage and fuel–Falcon Heavy can lift more than twice the payload of the next closest operational vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost.
Falcon Heavy draws upon the proven heritage and reliability of Falcon 9. Its first stage is composed of three Falcon 9 nine-engine cores whose 27 Merlin engines together generate more than 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, equal to approximately eighteen 747 aircraft. Only the Saturn V moon rocket, last flown in 1973, delivered more payload to orbit. Falcon Heavy was designed from the outset to carry humans into space and restores the possibility of flying missions with crew to the Moon or Mars.”