Tag Archives: Mars One

Japan’s solar plans for the moon

With all the talk about Mars and U.S. interests in colonization, we shouldn’t forget about our other celestial bodies. The moon, in fact, has been the subject of many plans since the 1950s when the U.S. proposed declaring it (along with the rest of outer space) a global commons.

One plan in particular was introduced after the March 2011 disaster in Fukushima, Japan. After the tsunami-induced nuclear meltdown occurred, energy costs in Japan skyrocketed and officials were motivated to seek more sustainable, safer, and cheaper forms of energy for their nation. Thus, the concept of ringing the moon with solar panels was born.

Yeah, you read that right. Solar panels. On the moon.

Solar power has become increasingly popular in Japan since Fukushima and one construction firm, the Shimizu Corporation, has created a plan to ring the entire moon with enormous solar panels and beam the energy down to earth in order to power not only Japan, but the entire world.

Japan's Master Plan! Graphic from Quartz
Japan’s Master Plan! Graphic from Quartz

The company’s site touts their idea — the Luna Ring — as “virtually inexhaustible” and states that “non-polluting solar energy is the ultimate source of green energy that brings prosperity to nature as well as our lives.”

Their website shows a brief synopsis of the technology and how it works. In fact, the moon would vaguely resemble a Pokeball and the terms involved all sound like they belong in an episode of “Sailor Moon.”

But the Shimizu Corporation doesn’t stop with their Luna Ring — they have concepts for plenty of other energy sources. These include the Ocean Spiral, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a large spiral connecting the sea floor with the earth’s service and providing energy from the earth’s core, according to the website. Try 2004 is the company’s idea for a futuristic “city in the air,” meant to work more harmoniously with the surrounding environment. In keeping with their lunar theme, the corporation has concepts for a space hotel along with lunar bases for the moment space travel becomes a legitimate vacation option.

It’s easy to make fun of such endeavors now, as this still only possible in science fiction. But the truth is that the more technology advances, the more likely that the Shimizu Corporation may simply prove ahead of their time. It’s entirely possible that we may be chastising our grandchildren about their wish to go vacation on the moon with their families — we are planning to send our first colony to Mars in the not-too-distant future!

Mars One Mission is narrowing down

After the Mars One Project announced that they were accepting applications in 2013, interest was evident. This not-for-profit foundation, now responsible for creating the first mission that will see humans living on another planet, had 202,586 original applicants. Now only 100 hopefuls remain: 50 men and 50 women. They’ll be narrowed down farther, to about 16, before 2024, when the first team of human Martians is scheduled to depart for their  new home.

In upcoming selection rounds, candidates will be set against every imaginable hardship of a permanent Martian settlement. They’ll be trained as if they were really going (as a few will) and eliminated or passed on their teamwork abilities. “Being one of the best individual candidates does not automatically make you the greatest team player, so I look forward to seeing how the candidates progress and work together in the upcoming challenges.” said chief medical officer Dr. Norbert Kraft M.D.

Graphic from Mars One
“They’ll build up the settlement in order to ready the planet for further teams.” Graphic from Mars One.

Human settlement on Mars is possible today with existing technologies, and Mars One’s mission plan includes technologies that are well-tested and easily available from major companies. However, according to the missions website, “redundancy is extremely important because, unlike the crew aboard the International Space Station, the Mars One crew can’t abandon their mission in case of an emergency.” This redundancy will help to eliminate problems faced by either equipment or supplies failures.

Despite careful planning and minimal risk, there’s still the possibility of danger for the selected Martians. Why are we sending people, then, to do what robots like Spirit and Opportunity already are? Simply put, humans are just better. Unfortunately, rovers are still very limited to the distance they can cover in a day and the obstacles such as rocks and gullies they must overcome. Something that a human could step over remains insurmountable to the rovers.

Besides, each of the selected candidates will have a one-way ticket to Mars. During one of the last great adventures for humanity, they’ll build up the settlement in order to ready the planet for further teams. Eventually Mars One will work towards possible widespread human population. This real-life science fiction story will be an amazing opportunity and experience not only for the individuals participating, but for all of mankind.

The ride to the planet alone should take at least a year. Once the original team has made themselves at home, the next  will be on their way and ready to begin helping with expansion, so if this excites you, why not apply?