The private Mars One mission is looking to put human colonists on Mars by 2024 (even though it has fallen a bit short in its volunteer recruitment efforts). Obviously, much needs to be done before that happens, like sending an unmanned lander to the planet to study its surface and learn about what life might be like once humans get there. Now, the private company has partnered with Lockheed Martin to work on a prototype for that lander, which launches in 2018.
The idea for the Mars One lander comes from NASA’s Phoenix lander, which explored Mars in 2008 and was also built by Lockheed Martin. Like Phoenix, the Mars One vehicle will use solar panels for power, although the size of the panels depends on the final size and weight of the lander, which will be slightly different from Phoenix. Mars One will also have a robotic arm that will dig into the planet’s surface to draw water and materials from its soil. The lander’s mission will be to test technologies necessary for human survival on the planet, and the lander will be equipped with a video camera that can send live footage back to Earth via a satellite orbiting Mars. Maybe we’ll even get a dedicated television channel for this Mars TV.
Of course, this initial mission to Mars does not come cheap. To raise funds, Mars One is planning on continuing with its crowdfunding efforts and has launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise $400,000 by next month. The company is also organizing a major event for its 2024 manned mission to the Red Planet, possibly involving a reality television series. Regardless, it looks like Mars One is serious about putting humans on the Red Planet, and it’s something to get excited about.