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Applications For One-Way Mars Mission Are Lower Than Expected, But Hope Is Not Lost

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mars oneIt’s been just over four months since the nonprofit Mars One first opened their mailboxes for applications to the upcoming astronaut-training reality show which will culminate in a four-person team traveling on a one-way, internationally broadcast mission to Mars in 2023. Dutch co-founder Bas Lansdorp had initially hoped for upwards of one million applicants before lowering his goals to around 500,000. But with the August 31 application deadline quickly creeping up, the current total of 165,000 applicants is probably lower than Mars One’s hypothetical worst-case scenario. And it’s pretty surprising, given over 20,000 people signed up in the first few weeks. But Lansdorp is far from discouraged.

“The 165,000 applicants that we have so far is still, a very, very large number,” Lansdorp told SPACE.com, “and the TV people that we talk to — we have two very serious discussions going on with consortia of investors that include media.” Whittling down 24 finalists out of 165,000 people will be quite the undertaking, so I’m sure whoever is going through these entries isn’t upset about a lighter workload. But this wasn’t about people, it was about the application fees that were helping pay for everything from the website to the testing facilities that need to be built to train the adventurous amateur astronauts. This disappointing turnout means $20 million of expected funding never accumulated. Different countries paid different fee amounts, so that number could go higher or lower. Lansdorp wasn’t forthcoming with the specific numbers, but did say the 165,000 included people who hadn’t even paid the fee yet.

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Space Always Wins: A Martian Lunar Eclipse And An Exploding Meteor

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In outer space, even the most trivial events are undoubtedly more important on the grand scale than whatever asinine behavior some pop star engages in. This past week offered stargazers two unique events, one of which we’ve never seen before. That would be the video above, which features the first recorded time a planet’s moon has eclipsed another, via NASA. And the second video, seen below, is of a meteor exploding, thanks to Michael Chung.

Most of the images that come from the Mars rover Curiosity are of rocks and the landscape of the Martian surface. A few weeks ago, NASA turned the rover’s Mastcam instrument up to the sky at a point when extra energy consumption was minimal and it was feasible to catch both of the Red Planet’s moons, the larger Phobos and the smaller Deimos, at the same time.

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Mars’ First Settlers? Meet The People Who Want To Move To The Red Planet Permanently

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Mars OneIf you’ve been reading GFR for a while, or any science- or space-related publication, you’ve likely heard of Mars One, a Dutch non-profit organization that plans to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars. Four rigorously vetted applicants will launch in 2022 on a mission to become the first permanent residents of the red planet. And by permanent, I mean permanent — this is a one-way mission. These folks aren’t coming back.

Like everything else nowadays, their travels and travails will be documented in a round-the-clock reality television program, but unless things go very wrong, no one will be kicked off the island.

Mars One started accepting applications in April and the deadline is August 31. If you’re on the fence about whether you want to go to Mars forever, it’s time to decide. The selection process will last two years and will involve medical clearances, interviews, a televised national selection round, and a televised international selection round. Ultimately, 24 people will be picked and divided into six teams of four to start preparing for their new life on Mars. One team will leave for Mars in the fall of 2022, with the other teams on-deck for their trips. By then, hopefully the radiation-preventing deflector shields will be in place.

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Mars MAVEN Arrives At Kennedy Space Center For Launch Prep

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MAVENIf you saw the 55th anniversary infographic of NASA’s planned missions through 2030, you will have already heard about MAVEN, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution spacecraft.

Scheduled for launch in November 2013, MAVEN was transported in a metal shipping container from Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida last week to undergo final preparations. I wonder what the shipping charges were?

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NASA Is Taking Leisurely Virtual Reality Strolls Around Mars

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nasa oculus riftIf you think you’ve missed the train to Mars, don’t bother settling for counting stars. (Hum reference!) Just head on over to NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where they’re walking around Mars like nobody’s business. Well, they aren’t actually setting foot on the red planet, but rather virtually traversing the dusty ground with the combined use of an Oculus Rift VR headset and Virtuix’s Omni treadmill. When combined, you get all of the high-resolution planetary exploration with none of the eye-bulging death by suffocation.

This experience is made possible by the massive amounts of imagery obtained over the last year by the Curiosity rover, as well as satellite imagery from above. The lab had previously combined all this into a panorama which could be “explored” in two dimensions using an Xbox 360 controller, and before that even, they allowed Xbox users to land the rover on Mars last year. But after getting hands-on with the Oculus Rift and feet-on with the Omni, NASA contacted both products’ companies to get the equipment in the lab.

And now, a fully immersible experience can be had, though neither of these products is on the market just yet. (The headset is planned to ship out pre-orders in September, while the treadmill is set to ship in January 2014.)

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NASA’s Planned Missions Through 2030 In One Neat Infographic

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NASA infographicHappy birthday, NASA! Everyone’s favorite underfunded government organization is turning 55. Instead of buying NASA a tattoo or a new DeLorean, Mashable is celebrating NASA’s birthday with the future-focused infographic above. (You can see a larger version of the image right here.)

First of all, it’s a relief simply to see that NASA has plans for missions in the next few decades, and because these missions are all detailed on NASA’s website, it means that it has to carry them out, right? In September, NASA will return focus to the moon before following up Curiosity’s atmospheric research on Mars. Then, the missions get particularly interesting.