two moons over Mcr

Mars Society UK – New Chapter to be Formed

It’s been a while, but now we’re in a position to write a follow-up article regarding the Mars Society in the UK. In July we reported about the Mars Society in the UK ceasing to function as you might expect.

The Mars Society’s Utah analogue research station. Photo credit: The Mars Society






If you’re an advocate of manned space missions, interested in Mars, astronomy, engineering, then the Mars Society is a great arena in which to digest and promote these topics with like-minded people. The Mars Society was created by Dr Robert Zubrin, and has the likes of Buzz Aldrin on its steering committee. See here for a reminder about what the Mars Society is about.

The Martian film is about to be released, we’re all waiting with baited breath until Monday to hear what stunning news NASA has to tell us about Mars, and  we are now able to report that there will be a new Mars Society Chapter in the UK.

Access the Sharp project from the Central Park Metro stop on the Oldham/Rochdale Line going north from the city centre.

It’s inaugural meeting is taking place at 2pm on October 11th in Manchester at the Sharp Project just north of Manchester’s city centre. The venue is easily accessible from the M60, and details of location can be found here.

The Sharp Project where the inaugural meeting will take place. Credit: The Shapr Project, Manchester
The Sharp Project where the inaugural meeting will take place.
Credit: The Sharp Project, Manchester

The existing situation had reached a point where it was unclear whether people were members of the society or not. No meetings were taking place, no AGM’s had taken place, in fact no discernible activity of any kind. This contrasts greatly with activity, not just of the Mars Society in it’s home of the USA, but also other chapters around the world, and in Europe. Take for example the Polish Mars

Oregon State's rover  taking part in the Rover Challenge
Oregon State’s rover taking part in the Rover Challenge

Society. There is huge amount going on in Poland, and indeed in other European countries, from hosting conferences and events, to the Rover Challenge: in other words, they are carrying out the work of the Mars Society.

You can visit the page for this new chapter at their Facebook group here. The group seems to have good ideas, and to be keen to follow the example of successful and dynamic societies from elsewhere, focusing on events, activity, and connections with research. Their page description says says

“This chapter of the Mars Society is based in Manchester simply because it’s principal founding officers are based there. Although meetings will take place in Manchester, the scope of the society is to engage people from anywhere, individuals and universities, to spread awareness of the Mars Society, Mars Direct, and the activities of the society in general.”

Sounds good to us! The founders of this new chapter are also keen to make the point that the chapter will be properly constituted, and the constitution adhered to with regular meetings, AGM’s, and a group of society officers. ” We’d love to hear from people who’d like to get involved.” says Rob Adlard, one of the new chapter’s founders “We’ve got a new website on the way, but people can contact us via the Facebook group until then.”

We contacted the Mars Society in the US, and Lucinda Offer, Executive Director of the Mars Society US had this to say

“The Mars Society U.S. is pleased to hear about the establishment of a new chapter in Manchester, England. We look forward to working with the new group to help expand Mars advocacy in the UK and encourage collaboration between the chapters in Manchester, London and Scotland”
So this is sort of an interesting idea, we’ll have to see where that goes. One of the stated aims of this new society is to develop a Rover Challenge. This is a great way to engage universities, develop student societies and wider engagement in the Mars Society.
You’d think that with the increase in funding and interest in the UK space sector, and the excellence of UK Universities in the areas of electronics, engineering and robotics, that the UK could have one of the most dynamic Mars Society chapters in the world.
Another founding member of the new chapter, Rob Astbury, commented that
“One of the original points of frustration was seeing UK universities exhibiting robotics programs at venues such as the UK Space Conference, knowing that none of them were engaged with anything like the Rover Challenge. Contrasting the high levels of engagement with European and US universities so actively involved in this kind of thing, it just seemed a shame that there is nothing like this currently in the UK. This is something we want to change, and would encourage anyone with uni connections to contact us to get involved”
The new chapter has lots of potential collaborators in the many excellent universities within a stones throw of their location for a start, and should get to know people like the Northern Robotics Network. Good luck to them!

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