Mars One applicant to speak at University events next month

Photo by Sana Ullah.

Madison Fantozzi/News Director

Patrick Ford, a junior physics major and astronomy minor – who has not only gained campus-wide popularity in his NASA-embossed astronaut costume, but also recognition in the community as a Mars One Project applicant – will speak about the Red Planet at two different events next month at the University.

FIU’s Society of Physics Students will host its second Phys Talks, a forum for undergraduate students to discuss research, science and technology where Ford – a member of SPS and public relations officer of the Astronomy Club – will speak about space exploration and Mars One.

Ford said although he will speak about the program that plans to establish a human settlement of 24 astronauts on the planet in 2023, he said he won’t talk exclusively about the project.

[pullquote]“I hope to give people a vision of what humanity can do in the next century in space exploration and how we can begin taking the first steps now,” Ford said.[/pullquote]

The event on Nov. 1 will be held in the Chemistry and Physics building room 145 at 6:30 p.m. and is open to the public.

Ford is also scheduled to talk space exploration at the same location on Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m. at the Stocker AstroScience Center’s grand opening.

“I want to keep this as expansive and informative as I can,” Ford said. “I want to convey my passion for space exploration and a chronology of human interaction with Mars.”

Ford said he will address problems associated with trying to send humans into the solar system: Mercury’s too unstable and close to the Sun, Venus has an atmosphere 90 times thicker than Earth and the moons of Jupiter experience tremendous tidal forces and get blasted with radiation.

“Anywhere further than that is just too far for current technology,” Ford said. “It makes sense that we would pick somewhere close with conditions that are somewhat reasonable. Mars has Earth-like days and seasons and a gravity that can be adjusted to.”

Ford will also discuss the history of the space programs on Mars – from the Mariners to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Viking Landers.

“I want to talk about what [these programs] did to improve our understanding of the Red Planet,” Ford said.

Naturally, Ford said he will discuss different manned missions that are being planned including Mars One. “I’ll explain what I think space exploration means to all of us and why I am so passionate about it.”

Ford applied to Mars One in April and is awaiting decision. At one point, his public application and profile on the program’s website reached 22nd in popularity out of 78,000 at the time. Over 200,000 people applied for the one-way trip by the end of August.

If he is not chosen, Ford said he plans to pursue his astrophysics degree, and public speaking – visiting high schools and other universities.

“I hope to give anyone who loves space and the idea of being a part of space exploration to go out and do it,” Ford said.

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