The WeMartians Blog

Other items of interest from the fourth planet

Well, we’re heading into the final month of WeMartians’ second year and our first with a Patreon campaign. I must say, I am still so thankful for everyone who has contributed to this show over the year.

Thanks to all the Patrons who’ve pledged support already. We’re 60.3% of the way to our goal of $300/month to fund one anual trip to cover live events. Click here to join the growing number of Martians who help support the exploration of Mars. I missed the summary for October, so here’s a look at everything Patrons have enjoyed over the last two months!

Highlights

  • Bonus Content: Episode 31 (Chantelle Dubois) – Chantelle shared some of her experiences selecting Canadian astronauts and her work on the Space Generation Advisory Council.
  • Goal Reached! $150/month! – With all your help, we reached our second goal of $150/month, which means we got to upgrade our gear! I’ve purchased a new microhpone, mixer and monitoring headphones, and have been trying it out on the last couple shows. There are a few more tweaks I need to make to the setup. Then I’ll be making a short video for Patrons to show them the fruits of their labour.
  • First look at Off-Nominal – Patrons enjoyed early access to the first episode of Off-Nominal, my new podcast with Main Engine Cut Off host Anthony Colangelo. If you like a more casual, beer-powered monthly space podcast, you should check it out!
  • Bonus Content: Episode 32 (Lori Fenton) – Lori gave us a quick tour of Dunes throughout the solar system, from Mars to Venus, Titan and beyond.
  • 4thd Quarterly Chat – Martians got together to discuss some of the recent episodes and plans for the new year!
  • Bonus Content: Episode 33 (Danielle Richey and Steve Jolly) – As companion audio to the main episode, I recorded about 17 minutes of bonus audio going in deep on the technical white paper for Lockheed Martin’s Mars Base Camp.

There’s one more thing I’d like to give you a heads up on! With the year ending soon, and having reached two of our three Patreon goals, it’s time for a review! I’ll be sitting down and plotting out new goals for 2018 and new reward levels. Plus, the rewards for each Patron-level will be reviewed, and I have some fun new ideas I want to try! Stay tuned for more details.

Hey there, Martians!

You might have noticed something different about WeMartians.com. We’ve made a pretty serious upgrade to our web platform! We hope it helps make a better experience visiting us and exploring our podcast.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the new features:

  • Podcast Carousel: The front page now shows a browseable carousel of the most recent three episodes, so you can quickly catch up with the newest content. Each carousel page features the episode title, a feature image, and a built in browser player.
  • Podcast Browsing: Beneath the carousel, you’ll see the six previous episodes in a convenient list. Click on “Podcasts” to be taken to the full listing of every episode.
  • Podcast Pages: Each episode now features its own page with a promo image, built-in player, and for the first time ever a fully functional show notes that actually appear in your podcast player! It’s been a big miss on our previous platform to only have show notes on the website rather than directly in your app, but that is fixed now!
  • Separate Blog: Looking for non-podcast blog posts? They’re now properly separated. The bottom of the home page has our most recent four posts. You can also load all of them by visiting the “Blog” page at the top.
  • WordPress Extensibility: Our previous platforms were limited in their scope, designed primarily for drag and drop functionality to get something up quickly. WeMartians is now a WordPress site, giving it incredible flexibility in what we can do now and in the future.

What about the podcast itself? Where are the SoundCloud links?

As part of this move, we transitioned our hosting platform on the back-end from SoundCloud to Blubrry. There are a few reasons for this, so I’ll highlight the key benefits here:

  • PowerPress: Blubrry and WordPress work really well together. This new platform allows me to publish episodes directly through the blog. It also allows me to schedule a post in the future, streamlining my publishing workflow. Maybe that’s not exciting for you, but for me it’s a life saver! In the old world, I literally had to get up at 5AM on the West Coast and publish everything manually, step by step, if I wanted to reach the East Coast audience on their commute. All in all, It will be much simpler for me to publish, meaning I can spend more time actually creating content and value for you.
  • Customization: Blubrry & PowerPress provide a lot more customization and control over the RSS feed. Now, I have much better control of what iTunes and other directories can see. Blubrry, unlike SoundCloud, is designed for podcasts.
  • Stability: SoundCloud is generally a very stable platform, but they’ve also faced some financial problems that give me cause for concern.

Do I need to make changes in how I listen to the show?

Generally, no. For most listeners, you’ll be able to carry on as usual, but I do want to make a few key points.

  • SoundCloud Redirect: I set up a SoundCloud redirect, so anyone who has subscribed directly to the RSS feed should be redirected to the new one. However, this depends on SoundCloud maintaining the redirect. For safety, I recommend you unsubscribe and re-subscribe by searching for WeMartians in the feed directory of your app. Not sure how you’ve subscribed? You’ll know you’re on the wrong feed if you get an audio file with me giving these instructions, which I put up in the old feed today.
  • SoundCloud App/Direct Sub: If you subscribe directly to our SoundCloud channel via their website or the SoundCloud app, you’ll no longer be able to get new episodes this way. Please use a Podcast player on your device instead (such as Apple Podcasts or Simple Cast), or if you listen through a browser, come directly to WeMartians.com.
  • Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play Music, TuneIn, Blubrry Directory: These directories should change automatically. Note, if you listen on Android, your app probably subscribes to one of these directories.

If you’ve got questions, please let me know at info@wemartians.com. I’ll be happy to help you investigate!

Thanks, and I hope you enjoy the new site!

 

As you may have guessed, I love Podcasting. WeMartians has been one of the most exciting projects I’ve ever worked on, and I’ve learned so much form it. Most importantly, I’ve met a lot of incredible people. One of those people is Anthony Colangelo from the Main Engine Cut Off Podcast.

Anthony and I talk often. It’s helpful for both of us to have someone to work through the confusing world of space. We don’t always get to the answers, but talking gives us better understanding of the machinations of the space world. We also like joking around a bit, and enjoy a cold beer here and there. So we decided to put all that together into something that might be of value to others.

So we’d like to introduce the Off-Nominal Podcast. It’s a monthly, informal, casual conversation between the two of us about whatever space topics happen to be on our mind at the time. Each month, we’ll crack open a new cold beer and let the conversation go where it takes us. We’re purposely keeping it unstructured, but you can at least count on the subject matter being space.

This month in the inaugural episode, we unpacked the SpaceX news, the fate of Falcon Heavy, and the National Space Council’s first meeting. Oh, and there was something about pajamas in there, too. In the future, who knows – maybe we get some guests, maybe we meet up in person for Off-Nominal Live – the universe is the limit.

So if you’re interested, grab your favourite brew and head over to offnominal.space, or download it on your favourite podcasting app under “Off-Nominal”. Then let us know what you think!

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Well, you did it, Martians!Picture

Thanks to the incredibly generous support of our Patreon supporters, we’ve reached out 2nd pledge goal of $150/month. That listeners like you would be willing to put your money where your mouths are in supporting this show is something that will always swell my heart. Thank you.

So what does this mean?

Our second goal was to get enough funding to purchase some equipment upgrades. I’m still using the same hardware I bought when I began this show, and though it is a good quality setup, it is inexpensive and limited in its capacity (a bit). Most of the time, this is probably not noticeable to you, but there is definitely room for improvement.

So now that we’ve reached this goal, I’ll be setting out to upgrade our microphone, perhaps get a small digital mixer, and maybe some sound proofing technologies. In addition, I want to improve our mobile microphone setup with a good lavaliere microphone to make on-site interviews better. Because I want there to be more on-site interviews.

I’ll also be exploring some different software solutions for editing and mixing. Audacity has gotten me far, but there is room for improvement in how quickly I can process an interview in to an episode. My workflow is inefficient and if I can tighten it up, who knows. Maybe there will be more episodes…

So what’s next? Well, our next goal is $300/month. I’ve calculated this to be the amount that will guarantee the funds necessary to send me to at least one space event every year to provide live coverage. So if you liked what we did for LPSC last year, or if you want me to showcase more launches, consider joining up if you haven’t already. Pledges can be as low as $1/month, and there are all kinds of benefits to joining.

So once more – thank you. I couldn’t have done this without your support. Ad Ares, Martians!

October is upon us, Martians!

Thanks to all the Patrons who’ve pledged support already. We’re 87% of the way to our second goal of $150/month in order to upgrade the Podcast’s services and equipment. Click the link to the right if you’d like to join the growing number of Martians who help support the exploration of Mars.

  • Off the Cuff – Faster, Better, Samplier – I spoke for about 20 minutes on the topic of the streamlined, more cost-effective Mars Sample Return architecture laid out by Thomas Zurbuchen of NASA in the review of the Decadal Survey which happened at the end of August.
  • Bonus Content – Episode 29 (Mike Seibert) – All Patrons got an additional 10 minutes of audio from Mike Seibert’s interview. We talked about the Cold Atom Lab, the Curiosity Sampling System, and Mike’s awesome Mars Tartan waistcoat!
  • Bonus Content – Episode 30 (Fred Calef) – All Patrons got an additional 11 minutes of audio from Fred Calef’s interview. We talked about choosing landing sites for missions, including upcoming launches of InSight and Mars2020, and how these locations are put together.
  • REMINDER: Bonus Content RSS Feed Live Now – To make it easier to access all the bonus content, Patrons now get access to a private RSS feed so they can listen to the content in their podcatcher of choice. Simply log in to Patreon and copy the link on the right to your app!

Happy September, Martians!

Thanks to all the Patrons who’ve pledged support already. We’re 66% of the way to our first goal of $150/month in order to upgrade the Podcast’s services and equipment. Click the link to the right if you’d like to join the growing number of Martians who help support the exploration of Mars.

  • Third Quarterly Chat – On Aug 13th, we held the 3rd Quarterly Chat for Lander-level or greater Patrons. We had a great conversation about some of the future episodes, especially looking forward to SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy debut.
  • Bonus Content – Episode 28 (Emily Lakdawalla) – All Patrons got to experience an additional 5 minutes of audio from the Emily Lakdawalla interview. I asked Emily a little about the character of the Mars Science Laboratory team (Curiosity Rover) and how its composition compares to smaller missions.
  • REMINDER: Bonus Content RSS Feed Live Now – To make it easier to access all the bonus content, Patrons now get access to a private RSS feed so they can listen to the content in their podcatcher of choice. Simply log in to Patreon and copy the link on the right to your app!

Happy August, Martians!

Thanks to all the Patrons who’ve pledged support already. We’re 55% of the way to our first goal of $150/month in order to upgrade the Podcast’s services and equipment. Click the link to the right if you’d like to join the growing number of Martians who help support the exploration of Mars.

It occurs to me that we missed the June highlights so I’ll include them here, too.

  • Bonus Content – Episode 25 (Abbie Hutty) – All Patrons got to experience an additional 7 minutes of audio from our guest Abbie Hutty. I talked to Abbie about what she thought of Schiaparelli’s crash on to the Martian surface and how it might affect the ExoMars rover.
  • Bonus Content – Episode 26 (Remembering Pathfinder) – Our much-celebrated audio documentary about the NASA Mars Pathfinder mission comes with a huge amount of bonus content. Every Patron gets access to the complete uncut interview with Brian Muirhead, Donna Shirley and Matt Golombek, All told, it’s around 75 minutes of interview audio to get the full story of this amazing mission.
  • Third Quarterly Chat Announced – Lander- and Rover-level patrons get access to a quarterly chat session with me and the rest of their patrons. We announced the third such event, happening August 13.
  • Bonus Content – “Off the Cuff” – Dead Dragon – I shared almost 20 minutes of my thoughts on Elon Musk’s announcement that Red Dragon had been cancelled. Available to all Patrons.
  • Bonus Content RSS Feed Live Now – To make it easier to access all the bonus content, Patrons now get access to a private RSS feed so they can listen to the content in their podcatcher of choice. Simply log in to Patreon and copy the link on the right to your app!

It’s June and we’re off down the path of the next Patreon goal!

Thanks to all the Patrons who’ve pledged support already. We’re 55% of the way to our first goal of $150/month in order to upgrade the Podcast’s services and equipment. Click the link to the right if you’d like to join the growing number of Martians who help support the exploration of Mars.

Read more below for a summary of the Patreon highlights in May.

  • Patreon Goal Discussion – Patrons were invited to see my plans for the next Patreon goal of $150 and join in a discussion about what should be a part of it. This is a listener funded show and so the listeners should have a say in its direction! Check it out to learn more about our future direction and help us decide what we should do!
  • Episode 23 Listener Content – As a Rover-level patron, Jorge had his question read on the show for Frances Butcher, our guest for Episode 23. Jorge asked about the possibilities for robotic and human exploration of a Martian esker.
  • Bonus Audio – Episode 23 (Frances Butcher) – All Patrons got to experience an additional 6 minutes of audio from our guest Frances Butcher, who talked about her experiences at the ExoMars 2020 Rover landing site selection committee in Europe. Europe first Mars rover is set to land in 2021 and will be exciting mission that we hope to learn more about soon on this show.
  • Quarterly Chat – Lander Level Patrons were entitled to attend our 2nd quarterly chat, which is an interactive session where listeners can provide feedback on the podcast and we can generate ideas together. This quarter we unfortunately didn’t have anyone attend – I’ll take the blame myself for scheduling it on Mother’s Day! The next chat will be in August so stay tuned!
  • Bonus Audio – Episode 24 (Leonard David) – All Patrons got to experience an additional 10 minutes of audio from our guest Leonard David, who talked about the Mars Underground. The Mars Underground was a group of Mars enthusiasts from the late 70s and early 80s who began a conference called “The Case For Mars Conference”. Much of their work was built on to create organizations like the Mars Society and podcasts like this one!

Martians, we finally made it!

This month, we reached our first milestone goal on Patreon! At $65/month, we officially satisfy all the podcast’s operating expenses. We’re a 100% listener-supported! This is a massive accomplishment and I cannot thank all of the patrons who have contributed so far enough. Click the link to the right if you’d like to join the growing number of Martians who help support the exploration of Mars.

So what’s next? Well, our next goal is at $150/month and it will permit me to upgrade some of our recording equipment. I’ll have more details on this in a future post, but I’m happy to say we are already 51% of the way there!

Read more below for a summary of the Patreon highlights in April.

  • Episode 22 – Live! – Normally, Rover-level patrons get to participate in pre-interview preparation by submitting questions, but for Episode 22 we decided to do something really special. We joined with the Orbital Mechanics Podcast for a special live episode, and patrons got to listen in as we recorded the podcast! To make it even better, we extended the invitation to lander-level Patrons as well. It was suitable thank you for all the support so far. And instead of releasing bonus content, we put everything out in the epic 100-minute episode.
  • Episode 23 – Interview Prep – Rover-level Patrons got to submit questions for the upcoming episode on Martian Eskers (out tomorrow). These patrons aren’t just supporters – they’re contributors, too!
  • Next Quarterly Chat Announced! – We’ve got our next quarterly chat hangout session planned for May 14th – all Lander-level and Rover-level patrons are invited! Come talk about episodes, past and future, a fun topic, and anything else going on!
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Credit: Ryan Wick

On Saturday, April 29th, the world celebrates Astronomy Day, and here at WeMartians we wouldn’t want to let that pass unnoticed. Mars is a great target for astronomy here on Earth! All this week, we’ll be spreading the astronomical love across our web platforms.

Read more to find out what’s going on and how you can take part! Astronomy Day is for everyone!

Social Media

  • Our Instagram account will have some classic #Mars astronomical photos each day of this week, beginning today!
  • Our Twitter account will publish some random astronomy facts and photos.
  • Over on Facebook, we’ll be sharing some highlighted videos from a great astronomy series by Phil Plait called “Crash Course” to help gear you up!

Where do I get started if I want to do some astronomy?

There’s a lot going on this week in astronomy, and if you want to see everything you can watch, we recommend this article from space.com. But here are the highlights:

  • Jupiter is very bright, having reached opposition on April 7th.  Look for it in the evening after sunset to the East! If you have binoculars or a small telescope, you can even spot the four Galilean Moons!
  • Venus is getting brighter every night this week, appearing just before sunrise in the East. It will be low to those of us in the Northern hemisphere, but Southerners will have a great showing.
  • Mars is getting further away form us but is still visible this month in the early evening Western sky.

Further Reading/Listening

If you want to go deeper, check out the following resources.

  • Naked Eye Astronomy Guide – Our article from last year’s Mars opposition giving you an idea of what you can do without a telescope.
  • Astronomy Smartphone Guide – Also from last year’s Mars opposition event, this guide gives you some ideas for Smartphone apps to help you do astronomy.
  • Episode 6 – “Mars; God of War” – Last year, we spoke with Kyle Dally from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and took a look through his telescope. Check out the podcast interview with him.

How can I participate?

Quite frankly – just go outside and look up!

If you’re in to photography, send us some photos that you take of the night sky and we’ll share them through social media. We’d love to hear from listeners around the world and hear their astronomical experiences.