Mars Symposium

A proposal for an Arizona Mars Symposium

A National Space Society Regional Space Development Conference

Sponsored by:

The Phoenix Chapter of the National Space Society

Arizona State University and others?

Status of this Proposal

A couple of months ago I posted this concept for the chapter to host a local one-day conference with the theme of Mars exploration. I received some words of support, but frankly not enough for me to commit to moving forward with this at this time.  Additionally, there were two other events planned at ASU two weeks prior (a Mars workshop for educators) and two weeks after (the SESE open house) that would largely have a very similar potential audience. While I still think this could be a fun event, without a truly enthused team of supporters, I don’t think it would be prudent to attempt to do such a symposium this fall. So right now the concept is still floating around, and with the right support, maybe it can happen in 2015.  – Mike M.

Summary

During the first half of 2014 the idea of human missions to Mars has been in the news a great deal. Several of these developments have connections in Arizona. There were discussions in Washington DC about NASA’s far term plans for Mars, and the Inspiration Mars concept is being developed in more detail, including support from a company in Tucson. Tracey Dodrill, a science teacher from Scottsdale and an active member of the local section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) was named to be JPL MAVEN (the NASA spacecraft on the way to Mars) educational ambassador. I have been giving a talk on the challenges of sending humans to Mars. Another one of our local AIAA members chaired a panel at the Humans 2 Mars Summit in April that was held in Washington DC. We have many scientists and Mars researchers locally at ASU.

All of this led me to think that there is enough local talent to put on some sort of Mars symposium in the Phoenix area this fall. This would be a one-day event in mid-October. My first problem was to decide who would be the audience for such an event. There are several potential groups who may have an interest:

  • General public
  • Educators
  • Space enthusiasts
  • Amateur astronomers
  • University researchers and students
  • Engineers and technical people

Catering to only a single audience category would result in too small of a potential market. I propose we can put on a successful event by appealing to all of these candidate categories. I would suggest two tracks, a general interest track (educators, public, space buffs) and a more technical track (engineers, university researchers, etc.).

What is the purpose of doing this symposium? I see three reasons:

  1. Increase public awareness of the potential for human space exploration
  2. Provide an opportunity for the local space community to learn about Mars
  3. Have fun organizing and executing the event

My concept would be to focus on local presenters and an Arizona audience. I don’t want to sponsor an event that needs people to travel from out of Arizona or where we need to spend money to bring in “big name” speakers. The group sponsoring this symposium (primarily the Phoenix Chapter of the National Space Society) has no money to cover the costs of an elaborate event so it must stay simple. We need a low cost host location (ASU ISTB-4 would be ideal if we can arrange it for free). I would also like to keep the event free or at a very nominal cost to attendees (maybe $10 if we have expenses…).

Another area that I would think would be fun to include is art and literature. This could include some space art exhibits and maybe a talk on science fiction or culture. There are many possibilities for speakers on those topics.

This little website is an attempt to promote and organize an Arizona Mars Symposium. A strawman schedule is included below. The names and topics are just examples – no one has been formally approached at this time. I am thinking of Oct. 11 as my first choice for a date.

Who wants to help? Please comment in the box below. I cannot do this myself. But it should be fun.

Thanks,

Mike Mackowski

President, Phoenix Chapter NSS

 

STRAWMAN SCHEDULE

Saturday, October XX, 2014

Time General Track Science and Engineering Track
9:00 am

Welcome and Plenary Session

Welcome – J. Bell, ASU

The Challenge of Mars – M. Mackowski, NSS

10 MAVEN Mission in the Classroom – Tracey Dodrill, Educator Ambassador Infrastructure for Human Missions Beyond LEO – Al Anzaldua, NSS Tucson
11 Science on Mars from Curiosity – Dave Williams, ASU Mars Surface Operations Experience – X. Xxxxxx, ASU
Noon Lunch break
1:30 pm Mars Analog Mission – Living on the Frontier – Sian Proctor, S. Mtn. CC Inspiration Mars – T. MacCallum, Paragon SDC
2:30 Social Media and Space Advocacy – Amanda Aubry, Mars without Borders Mars 2020 Landing Site Options – Philip Christensen, ASU
3:30 Mars and the Imagination – Donald Jacques, author Mars TRAC Student Robotics Project – TBD, ASU

Other ideas:

  • Historical Overview of Concepts for Human Missions to Mars – David Portree, author/historian
  • Bring in a bigger name, out of town speaker as long as costs can be covered by a sponsor (Planetary Society?).
  • Someone from the local amateur astronomy clubs on observing Mars
  • Someone from ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination
  • Someone from Tucson’s Lunar and Planetary Institute

Submitted by

Michael Mackowski, 5/28/14

 

One thought on “Mars Symposium

  1. This sounds like a great idea! I don’t have any additional ideas to add at this time, but I’m am willing to help however I can.

    Thanks for putting this out there!

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