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Space Science

Mice Headed for Mars? 196

MarsOrBust writes: "The Mars Society today announced their next project, called TransLife, will be to send an Apollo size spacecraft manned by mice into earth orbit rotating at Mars gravity. This will be the first time anyone has done research at Martian gravity. The purpose of the experiments is to prove that the transit to Mars, which would take about six months, should be done at Martian gravity. The project would cost about $10 million. In a related article SpaceRef talks about how millionaires are now starting to fund these type of private missions and speculates whether billionaires might fund further space projects." MSNBC has a story.
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Mice Headed for Mars?

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  • That would be like Planet of the Apes ;-)
    The mices will land on the Planet, and will populate mars.
    An then they will start to invade to Planet Earth!!
  • Yeah, right, we're running an experiment on these mice. Sounds like they're taking a progress report back to somewhere beyond the tenth dimension.
  • by Self Bias Resistor ( 136938 ) on Friday August 31, 2001 @09:00AM (#2238532)

    Yes, I can see it now:

    "What are we going to do tonight, Brain?"
    "The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over Mars!"

    Or maybe I just need more sleep...

    • I thought they were going to try to recruit the martians to try to take over the earth.

      or maybe re-engineer the probe to disrupt the satellite pron distribution, blackmailing the techies who run the world. (somehow that idea has potential as an episode.)

      you get the idea.

      - - -
      Radio Free Nation []
      "If You have a Story, We have a Soap Box"

    • by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Friday August 31, 2001 @10:15AM (#2238854)
      "Are you thinking what I'm thinking, Pinky?"

      "I think so, Brain, but how on earth are we ever going to convince a parrot to perch on a man's penis?"

      "You need to turn the thermostat of your brain back up, Pinky. I was *reffering* to the fact that Mars is composed almost entirely of iron oxide, hence its bright red color. Using this coil of cheesewire, three Slashdot first-posters in a giant hamster wheel, the army of fleas that infest your mangy coat, and my Bill Gates automaton, we will turn the planet Mars into a giant, computer-controlled electromagnet!"

      "POIT! But will it run Linux, Brain?"

      "Hushup, you. Once the magnet is ready, we'll use it to pull the Earth out of its orbit, changing the seasons and altering the climate... That is unless the governments of Earth succumb to my demands and elect me GLOBAL RULER!!!"

      "Oooohhh... That's really neat, Brain! But how are we ever going to get to Mars?"

      "I have an idea..."
  • Hmm, so does that mean that NASA would get an icon on the Windows desktop?

  • Are these the superintelligent ones from last year? I hope so, because it seems like regular mice wouldn't be smart enough to perform experiments in microgravity.

    Animals of a porcine persuasion, though, are much more intelligent. Plus, we'd get to say piiiiigssssss iiiiinnnnnn spaaaaaaaacccccce
  • I'm sure the mice are going to feel insulted by that comment.
  • Interesting (Score:2, Interesting)

    by The_Jazzman ( 45650 )
    It will be truly interesting to observe the effects of mars gravity on mice.

    A while back I remember reading about the changes that would happen to man were we to habitate Mars. Such changes would include, but were not limited to:

    1) Growth. People nowadays are tall, but it's not inconceivable that we would grow more than ten feet tall. This is due to the lack of gravity, thus our bodies having much less force against them growing skywards.
    2) Chest size. Some people like bigs tits / pecs. Well, were we to live on mars, another size effect of the lack of gravity would be a massive swelling of the chest area to immense proportions. This would accomodate a much greater lung capacity as well.

    I for one can't wait to see qute what happens to the mice.
    • of course a person like that would not beable to come back to earth.. or if they did, they would be extreamly uncomfortable. Just like we would if we went to a planet with a greater gravity.

    • I for one can't wait to see qute what happens to the mice.

      They should send all those millionairies up there instead. If they want to see what the effects of Mars are on humans, they should try it out using humans. Animal testing is (IMHO in any imaginable case, even in drug research, but YMMV) unethical, and even more so in cases like this where it really won't be able to provide any new information that couldn't be simulated using our current knowledge on astrophysics, biology and mathematics.

      Anyway, we have more than enough of our own species down here already, so if the bourgeoises want to save themselves, they could just send all the petty crack dealers to interplanetary round-trips and free some space in your prison camps.

      • The thing is that breeding mice in space is a lot easier that breeding humans.

        I think it would be quite interesting to see what
        physiological consequences the lower gravity would have.
      • Animal testing's wrong ? In principal or in practise ?

        Yes, a lot of companies out there screw around with animals, and I'd agree with you that they are wrong. However, if it was a case of an animal getting a nasty side effect from a cancer-curing drug... well, what you rather have ? Would *you* volunteer ?
      • So you see animal testing as unethical, but you have no problems with human testing?

      • I spent a year working in a genetics lab [] doing research on lab mice. (How many western blots can you do in a day?) Genetic testing on animals allows for quick growth to a mature age, the ability to quickly see the effect on several generations of treatment, and provides a significantly easier way to test for effects and what have you. Some research requires brain examination, some requires cell harvesting. Try telling a person, "I'm sorry but we need to kill you now so we can examine your brain" is an impsibility. Attempting to perform research without animals, delays the ability for cures to be found. While I was there I saw promising research in many varieties of cancer, AIDs treatments, blood diseases, aging, and many others. The researchers who work there don't stand over the mice laughing maniacally as they perform tests, they perform as few tests as possible, conserve as much material as possible, and otherwise try to provide the mice as comfortable an environment with all things considered...

        Even if the same resarch was allowed to be done on people, generations would need to live and die to see certain effects. In twenty years worth of mice, several generations may be explored. With humans, one hundred years of research probably only yields four generations.

        Right now, genetic research is necessary - which means animal testing is necessary. Give genetics fifty more years of maturity and maybe it won't have as much of a need on animals, right now they are the mainstay.

        But, I will agree with you in this case, using millionares sounds like a good idea too... just the mice need to go as well so the research is actually usefull.
    • So what you're saying is that the Sweedish Bikini Team is from Mars?


  • Finally.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by OblongPlatypus ( 233746 ) on Friday August 31, 2001 @09:06AM (#2238558)
    ..someone's realized who's the most intelligent species on the planet.

    (Please don't tell me you didn't get *that* cultural reference...)
  • Manned? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by the_olo ( 160789 )
    manned by mice
    Shouldn't that be miced?
  • I wonder if the mice had to pay $20 million like that Tito guy...
  • This is plain idiocy. The supposed point of the "mission" is to test the feasibility of mammals inhabiting Mars. So, the results will show how well mice might fare.

    Mind you, If I were a mouse, I wouldn't want to share a planet with an arrogant species that thinks I exist for the purpose of it's experiments, so I'd probably view this as a very handy escape option for my species.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 31, 2001 @09:11AM (#2238582)
    Microsoft (R) Mouse Driver Version 8.20a
    Copyright (C) Microsoft Corp. 1983-1992. All rights reserved.

    • "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of sending a mouse to Mars, and returning it safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be less impressive to mankind, or less important in the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so cheap or easy to accomplish.

      "But why, some say, Mars? Why choose this as our goal? We choose to send our mice to Mars. We choose to send them to Mars in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are really easy, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is the biggest one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."

      -- President G.W. Bush, Jan 23, 2002

  • Does this mean the mice are moving away to build a new Earth?

    I do hope they make more countries with those lovely frilly edges.

    What's this space ship doing hovering over my house?
  • ...seen this before? Chu Chu Rocket! w00t! []

    C'mon, everyone post their fun links in honor of Friday afternoon. I want to make this a habit.

  • The answer (Score:5, Funny)

    by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Friday August 31, 2001 @09:15AM (#2238599) Homepage
    The mice just want to get the answer off the planet before the Vogons destroy it.
  • by Brownstar ( 139242 ) on Friday August 31, 2001 @09:15AM (#2238601)
    Wouldn't all the mice starve to death when their teeth fall out?

    (I would link to previous article but the search engine doesn't work and couldn't find it on Google :(
  • Why don't we try this with cockroaches first? We have lots of em, they're hardy and resilient and everyone always says they will be the one species that survives a nuclear holocaust. I'll betcha they'd even have the no air/atmosphere thing figured out by the time they got there.

  • They going to to put into an mars LIKE gravity they will be orbiting EARTH they are not sending mice to mars. they are just putting them in in martian like gravity.
  • Welcome to 1g! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) on Friday August 31, 2001 @09:19AM (#2238621)
    Zubrin: Why is there blood running out of their ears?

    Scientist: Because you're an idiot!

    The 2nd generation of mice will never get to experience 1g until they land. I'm sure that'll make for a great mortality rate.
  • And not ONE mention of "Biker Mice from Mars". For shame!

  • I think a mouse on mars [] is a great idea!
  • spacecraft manned by mice

    How is the ship being "manned" by mice? To me manned means operated, not just inhabited. Gotta love the English language! I am not sure what they hope to prove, how is a single generation going to prove that mammals can adapt to gravitational changes? I'm all for science, but shouldn't they reign in their expectations?
    • Re:Say what? (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Mice go into orbit -> mice live there for a few months/years -> mice come back -> mice are significantly less fucked than mice who've been in zero gravity for the same amount of time -> should look much closer at possibility of Mars mission being done under Martian gravity, not zero gee.


      Mice go into orbit -> mice live there for a few months/years -> mice come back -> mice are NOT significantly less fucked than mice who've been in zero gravity for the same amount of time -> possibility of Mars mission being done under Martian gravity, not zero gee less exciting.

      We call it SCIENCE.
  • ...the ones responsible for creating earth to begin with? Maybe the Vogon fleet is on the way, and they're being safe.
  • Track ball. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Gregoyle ( 122532 ) on Friday August 31, 2001 @09:29AM (#2238666)
    Hey wait a minute here. Everyone knows that the standard mouse is only really practical in gravity. If you use a mouse in zero G, you have to hold it down against a table, and obviously holding it down would almost certainly make you bounce off into the depths of space (think Darth Vader). For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction...

    Now, what they *should* be using for a pointing device is a trackball. That way they don't have to hold it down and therefore will remain safe. Man these space guys sure are dumb. First it's the whole feet and meters thing, now this.
    • That'll only work if the trackball has optical sensors like the Logitech marble. If it uses rollers, you still need the weight of the ball for it to work right.
      • You're right, my plan is ruined!!!!

        They'll have to use touchpads, then, it's the only choice.
      • You won't need the weight, you just have to use a stronger spring on the tension roller, or whatever they call that thing that's not one of the two photo-interrupter disc axles.
  • For humans at least, it's generally accepted that you don't want to spin faster than 1 RPM for artificial gravity. I know they're only aiming for 1/3 G, but that's a linear term in the equation, and an Apollo-sized capsule would still need to spin pretty fast. Or does the smaller size of mice translate to a more robust inner ear, at least for rotation?

    Someone else was concerned about the second generation mice coming back to Earth. Maybe the first generation will be too dizzy and nauseous to make a second generation.
  • To see how Martian soil works as a mousepad.

    Read Heinlein. Those Martian flat-cats are getting very hungry!

    I'm mad as all get-out since I found out that mice had chewed up the box of Commodore Ahoy! magazines I had not looked at for 16 years.

    After we send a spaceship "manned by mice", we can send one "moused by men".

    It would be a practical use for that miniature Russian space shuttle someone was selling on eBay.

    They can set up Velveeta factories in preparation for human missions.

    Why not? After films like "Red Planet" and "Mission to Mars", the place can't get any more cheesy.

    Because Mars blocks my view of Jupiter

  • Or just containing mice?
  • Nothing in orbit with the earth can have martian gravity. Anything in orbit has _NO_ gravity because it is on a continually falling parabola.

    No matter what altitude it is at, this is _always_ true. Thats how orbits work.

  • Isn't this an oxymoron, or something.

    (or am I just a moron?)

    Seriously, what do you call something like this when it is obviously unmanned (no human pilot) but there is an animal occupant on board?
  • In a related article SpaceRef talks about how millionaires are now starting to fund these type of private missions and speculates whether billionaires might fund further space projects

    The way I see it, this is definitely a Good Thing. The days of unlimited space program budgets ended with the Cold War, and there aren't enough commercial reasons yet for companies to do space exploration. This has caused lots of space programs to basically grind to a halt

    I always thought that if I was mega rich that this would be one of the more interesting ways to spend those millions.
  • it sounds like they want to use the mice like they did pigeons in the mines back in the day. If the carbon-monoxide levels got to high the birds would be the first to die, telling the miners its time to leave. sounds like its same concept with the mice, if they start dying off or growing abnormaly, then they will know that maybe mars aint the place to colonize...
  • This band [] has known it's possible for years.

    I hit the lameness filter. So now I'll write some more text.

  • How many $millions$ will have to be spent to get the mice back so that the animal rights people don't try to shut down NASA?
  • ... millionaires are now starting to fund these type of private missions ...

    And after the dot.flop, where we made your money disappear in a big world wide web,... we will now make money disappear into thin air. Yeah sure space travel's cool, but I'm not putting my money[*] on the table this time! Oh no, sir.

    * - not that I'm a millionaire, but that's besides my point
  • Following along with the great explorers of the past, we will be taking our disease infested rodents along for the ride to the "new lands".
  • Rats have always travelled with Man on ships in the past, we should send rats to colonize Mars. That way it'll be the first time that rats get there before we do.
  • "In a related article SpaceRef talks about how millionaires are now starting to fund these type of private missions and speculates whether billionaires might fund further space projects."

    Depends on your political preference really. Lots of stuff seems to have been done by government funded projects up to now. Suppose it's an option in a free market economy though. Shame these kind of guys don't decide to spend their billions on hospitals or schools or finding a cure for cancer though.

    I reckon philanthropy aimed at funding the education system would probably be a more surefire, longer term, likely way of gettting successful space missions happening. I mean if tobacco companies can sponsor universities on the proviso that their beneficeries say nice things about cigarrettes (or at least not bad things) then surely it wouldn't be too hard to persuade a university to accept a few billion provided it made sure a number of students study space sciences.

  • From the Model Rocketry Safety Code:

    "6. Payloads -- Except for insects, my model rocket will never carry live animals or a payload that is intended to be flamable, explosive, or harmful."

    Write your own punchline...
  • by robbo ( 4388 )
    Why do I suddenly have visions of the destruction of Earth to make way for a hyperspace bypass? 42!
  • Could you imagine those mice up there on the moon with all that cheese around? That would mean the end of it!
  • While I'm dismayed that the government sees virtually no value in funding any space missions beyond the slow-moving International Space Station [ []], I'm even more frightened when I consider that future space exploration may be limited to Individuals and Private Corporations, whose main concern is their own pocketbooks, and not the benefit of humanity. I would gladly welcome a global space organization that could put aside the petty world of greed & politics.

  • I'm assuming this would be a one-way trip for the tiny Mars invaders...
  • 10 million dollars? That's it? You'd think sending mice to mars would cost more.
  • It only tells of the trip their, their was nothing mentioned about how the mice will get back to earth???
  • by piecewise ( 169377 ) on Friday August 31, 2001 @10:28AM (#2238903) Journal
    NASA always gave astronauts those "black pills" that could quickly and painlessly let them commit suicide in the event of disaster... I guess the mouse equivelant is a biggg, nice piece of cheese... and a mouse trap.
  • Just a thought (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Sanford ( 450041 )
    While I am sure that this discussion could indefinitely continue to both humorously and with sincerity extol the virtue of rodents circling the planet at a high altitude while simultaneously rotating around their ship's axis. I think that the possibility exists that there is more to the article.

    For instance, and perhaps old news, but the private funding and research of interplanetary travel; the Mars Society a notable example. To my understanding, the Society is not NASA run at all (?)

    These people are seriously involved in creating a humanned trip to Mars, and not unlike open source, seek participation from skilled people to run a variety of research and experiments.

    ---ah, what the hell . . .

  • From the picture it looks as though the mice would be living in a rocket's payload nose cone, which has a very small radius, and in order to simulate .38G it's got be rotating pretty damn fast.

    Most humans get nauseous under one RPM; what about mice?

    • I don't think that in a free-fall environment like that, the cabin spinning would cause nausea. The nauseous effect comes from the inner-ear fluids being sloshed about in strange ways, including "floating", which is why free-fall itself can cause nausea. Spinning the cabin would simulate gravity, causing the inner-ear fluid to settle in a normal way.

      My question is: what if the mice die en route? How many are there going to be?
  • Finally Martian Armies took the last Mankind's strongold. And finally the Solar System will be get rid of this miserable, cowardous and treacherous race of primates...

    All started in some rainy day in the beginning of the XXI century. Back then, among some monkeys an idea came to use some of our ancesters to explore Mars. Under the name of what they called Science, thousands of our brothers were sent to Mars. They suffered from lower gravity, high doses of radiation, hunger and lack of oxygen. They died by the thousands. And the monkeys, not satisfied with this suffering tried to genetically modify and clone our borthers so that they could serve as miserable intruments of their ambitious "conque of Mars".

    However we, Rats, have had a long tradition of freedom and self-conscience. Truly the monkeys have had overcome us by size and strength. With the exception of a few minor rebelions made by some of the most corageous rats in the Middle Ages, we had to hide under earth, in small caves and holes till we could wait our hour.

    That hour came when the hideous "scientific" experiments gave birth to the Martian "stainless steel rats II" as the monkey monsters named them. Higher and stronger than monkeys they manage to stage the first rebellion that successfully freed Mars from the claws of the human race. For hundreds of years we fought a path back home to free our more little brothers. Many millions died on this march...

    But today we finally took the last strongold. After long hours of fight, the monkeys agreed on a unconditional surrendering. We could destroy all of them but our higher rathan principles should prevail over our longstanding will of revenge. Humbly we will close all of them into zoos and genetic labs.

  • Hang on, isn't this how Planet of the Mice starts?
  • for their own good. Either that or they're just looking for 10 mill to play with neat toys. Can't say as I blame them for that, being one of them and all.

    Look, no one needs to "prove" that traveling to Mars at 1MG would be a good idea. Anyone halfway attuned to the issues could rattle off 20 good reasons for doing this in no more than 60 seconds.

    What's more, this won't "prove" anything. It will offer *support* for the above mentioned good reasons, none of which anybody questions in the first place.

    What reasons would there be for NOT making the trip at 1MG?

    There's only one really, and it's one of pure practicallity. To travel to Mars at 1MG you must, by *definition*, accelerate at 1MG for the entire duration of the trip!

    As opposed to boosting out of Earth orbit, coasting most of the way at no fuel cost and braking when you get there.

    The fact of the matter is that this so called "proof" is moot. If we can figure out a way to go at 1MG we will, If we can't, we won't.

    I thinks these guys just like to play with rockets and dick around with mice.


The road to ruin is always in good repair, and the travellers pay the expense of it. -- Josh Billings