Quarterly Summary for 2015Q2


While we have been active as a group, I have been remiss in summarizing all that we are doing to the broader audience. So Kris and I have written a summary of our activities year to date for all. I hope this is helpful in keeping everyone ‘in the loop’. we plan to put these out on a approximately quarterly basis.

Our group continues to have a high pace, with regular meetings, outreach, and activities. We’ve been meeting monthly, with 6 – 10 members, at the Spaghetti Warehouse in Plano , TX . We meet the last Sunday of the month at 6:30 if anyone would like to join us. We’ve discussed a wide range of topics and ideas dealing with the latest findings on Mars, Space and Mars exploration, and our own group’s plans for outreach.

Our group remains active at the local and national level. Activity by members included:

  • A talk on ‘Mars – the Next Frontier’ as a speaker at both the gifted girls and gifted boys at SMU. These 7th graders came from gifted student programs throughout the Metroplex to hear talks on a variety of topics. Both sets of talks were attended by over 60 students.
  • Our group awarded prizes for the best Mars and Space related projects for the 3rd year in a row at the Dallas County Science Fair at Fair Park , sending three members as judges. We saw an amazing variety of science projects from the Dallas area. There were approximately 1000 teams in total in junior and senior high categories, each already a winner from their school. We gave out the ‘Curiosity Award’, our top award with a cash prize, to a project on detecting star brightness using amateur telescopes. We were really struck by the winner’s enthusiasm, technical clarity, and the project’s relevance to space exploration. In addition we gave several honorable mentions. One went to a pair of students who worked on a helicopter vortex lift loss experiment – the experiment was excellent and the presentation exceptionally clear. Another honorable mention went to a student who had worked on a novel way to filter clean water using used cloth instead of heavy sand. While the idea came from the student’s personal experience in a 3rd world country, filtration of clean water with light weight filters is of great interest for manned space exploration. We also gave an honorable mention to a junior high team for work regarding crater patterns from meteorite impacts.

The University Rover Competition is preparing for a record turnout in late May, which our group helps volunteer with. Approximately 40 teams applied, and prepared both an initial proposal and a critical design review proposal and video, from which the top 23 teams were selected to compete at Hanksville. This should be an incredible year!

The whole Dallas Mars Society team is gearing up for an even more incredible Moon Day (Mars Day!) at the Frontiers of Flight Aviation Museum. Our popular rover course will be back, with a refurbished rover, and modified crater obstacle. A new glove box is in the works to give a feel for working with astronaut gloves. We are working on a 3-D printed rover, giveaways, and more!

There has been such a flurry of activity, it is hard to keep up with the space and Mars related news.

SpaceX got closer (but still not there yet!) on its 3rd attempt to land and recover the Falcon 9 first stage. Economically recoverable space launch hardware has been a goal of space flight since Von Braun, but now it looks like we may be on the cusp of it actually happening! Best of luck with the next one!

SpaceX is also on the brink of the abort system test for its manned version of the Dragon capsule. There are now four manned space vehicles in development in the US (SpaceX, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Blue Origin), two of which, SpaceX’s Dragon, and the NASA / Lockheed Martin Orion, are explicitly designed to enable manned missions beyond earth orbit and to Mars.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has spotted what may be evidence of near surface liquid water on Mars – kept liquid by the perchlorate salts in the soil. Curiosity may have seen first hand close up evidence of it right on the surface.

NASA flight tested above Earth an inflatable re-entry shield explicitly designed to land the heavier payloads onto Mars needed for manned exploration. This was championed by Bobby Braun when he was chief technologist at NASA – long time members may remember Professor Braun came and talked at our Mars Track at the Dallas ISDC a few years back.

Messenger wrapped up its mission around Mercury, and New Horizons is nearing Pluto. We’ve had a flyby of Ceres, and a landing on a comet.

NASA has a Mars Sample Return as their number one deep mission space priority, and the latest proposed deep space mission for the SLS was a sample return from one of the moons of Mars – a step closer than the asteroid redirect mission. How far we have come!!

Even controversial stories such as a recent paper published about the adverse affects of cosmic radiation on the brain centers on a common theme: people are talking seriously about sending people to Mars!

I’ll try to give an update about every 3 months – the next one should be after the URC, Moon Day, and Convention, so stay tuned!!!”


Minutes for our May 2012 meeting

Seven members attended this May. We had a great meeting which opened with excited and lively discussions of SpaceX successful mission to the International Space Station. Congratulations SpaceX!

Thanks to Tom and Mark for bringing in a new remote control rover and camera. We had a great time experimenting with the rover and planning exhibits with the rover for Moon day and other chapter events.

We also discussed t-shirts for the upcoming Mars Society Convention. Thanks Mark for your creative work on the t-shirt design, it looked great!

We also talked about the university rover competition at MDRS. Kurt and Kris are planning to help out with the competition at MDRS this year.

We also discussed the upcoming Dallas Museum of Nature and Science Discovery days. Curtis mentioned NSS is planning a table at this event.

Last we discussed the AIAA awards banquet on June 7th at the Crowne Plaza. Mr. Ralph Heath is the distinguished speaker for the event. Mr. Heath recently retired from Lockheed as the executive vice president of the Aeronautics Business area.


Meeting This Sunday May 27th


Yes, time for another meeting, this Sunday, 6:30 PM, Spaghetti Warehouse, Plano, TX off of Rt 75 at the 15th street exit.

Mark and Tom have been working on getting a rover and camera for moon day, and we will have a demo this Sunday.  (Dan:  please if you don’t mind to bring your monitor to see if it will work with the camera).  Plans are coming together for a great presence at this year’s Moon Day!   And I hope to hear the latest regarding T-shirt designs, and any progress on our e-publishing efforts.

Kris and I are counting down to going to MDRS to help with the URC, and expect to have much to talk about when we return for our June meeting.  Note that our June meeting will be the LAST meeting before Moon day!!  Time flies!

Registration for the conventing is open, and we should have a great line up of speakers in JPL’s backyard.  MSL continues its flawless journey to the Red planet, so let’s hope it keeps up for the nail biting entry descent and landing this August!

And, of course, SpaceX did it!!! They launched Tuesday morning and are on their way to a hoped for (and i expect they will do it) docking with the Space Station Friday.  This is a very big moment for commercial space, space exploration, and our hopes for moving forward in space exploration.

See you all Sunday!


SpaceX Falcon 9 Has Wings

If you’ve been paying any attention, you probably already know
that SpaceX successfully launched its Falcon 9/Dragon to the
space station this morning. If all continues to goes according to
plan, the Dragon will rendezvous and dock with the station on

For what it’s worth I did stay up late and live tweet the Falcon
launch for DMS on our twitter page (was glad to do it:)