Mars One

Prof. Takeshi Naganuma, PhD (Japan)

Prof. Takeshi Naganuma, PhD (Japan)

Prof. Takeshi Naganuma received a M.Sc. in Microbiology and PhD in Microbial Ecology from University of Tsukuba in 1986 and 1989. He is an Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Biosphere Science, Hiroshima University since 1994. He is also a Visiting Researcher in the National Institute of Polar Research of Japan since 2005 and a Visiting Researcher of the Institute of Industrial Science, University of Tokyo since 2001.

His research interests are in Evolution and biogeography of “cosmopolitan” (globally distributed) microorganisms. He has published numerous English and Japanese scientific articles, chapters and books. Some of his publications are:

Takeshi Naganuma, Kise Yukimura, Norifumi Todaka & Shuji Ajima (2011) Concept and experimental study for a new enhanced mineral trapping system by means of microbially mediated processes. Energy Procedia, 4, 5079-5084.
Takeshi Naganuma & Yasuhito Sekine (2010) Hydrocarbon lakes and watery matrices/habitats for a life of Titan. Journal of Cosmology, 5: 905-911.
Takeshi Naganuma (2009) An astrobiological view on sustainable life. Sustainability, 1(4), 827-837; doi:10.3390/su1040827.

"About 70-50 kilo years ago (kya), man set forth to a decisive expansion from Africa to world-wide colonization, which is so-called the out-of-Africa event. About 0.5 kya, man opened a new era of so-called the Age of Discovery, or the Age of Exploration, out of Europe. About 0.05 kya, man started to enter into space [The first space man, Yuri Gagarin, flew into the space on 12 April 1961, which is my date-of-birth]. The first man landed on the Moon on the end of the same decade, 21 July 1969. Developments have accelerated, and it is time to launch a new “Age of Great Voyage” to Mars, isn’t it?

We have been maintaining the International Space Station (ISS) at an orbital altitude of between 330 km and 410 km, and I would take “360 km” as a representative altitude, compared with the distances, for example, between Washington DC and New York (330 km), between Tokyo and Kyoto (370 km), and between Amsterdam and Paris (430 km). The 100x higher altitude, about 36,000 km or 36 megameter (Mm), is the Geostationary Orbit (GSO) or Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO). Only the 10x farther distance, 360,000 km or 360 Mm, is the perigee (closest distance from the Earth) of the Moon. The apogee (farthest distance from the Earth) of the Moon is about 400 Mm, which distance was reached by the Apollo 13 crew in April 1970. Man has not leaped the gap for the past >40 years since the last lunar mission by Apollo 17 in December 1972.

The Earth-Mars distance varies but was as close as 55,750 Mm or 55.75 gigameter (Gm) in 2003 when the distance between the Blue and Red planets was the closest since about 60 kya (time of out-of-Africa). Even a closer encounter will take place in 2287. Mars travels should be easier then, but do we wait for the chance over >270 years? My answer is definitely “No”. Mars comes to an astronomical opposition, which is a closest position between the two planets’ orbits and thus requires low energy costs, every 2.2 years. Our launch windows are now and again.

A potentially significant challenge is human protection from radiation. About 1 Sv (1000 mSv) radiation dose during a Mars round-trip (~1.2 years) is estimated. This is 5x to 6x higher than about 180 mSv per year estimated for ISS residents. I have been studying microorganisms living in extreme environments, or extremophiles, and radiation-resistance has been a subject of my study. Although I have learned from microbes, relevant information may be used to protect man from radiation. I will try to help Mars One to develop concepts and ideas for radiation protection as well as other biological issues such as planetary quarantine."

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