Curious about Mars?
Tomorrow starts our newest KiwiSpace expedition to the Mars Desert Research Station, which this year is called TasMars and it is an international collaboration of three nations: Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Together with the Mars Society Australia (MSA) we wish the greatest success to the TasMars expedition. The TasMars crew is the 123rd to work at MDRS and includes members of Mars Society Australia and Mars Society New Zealand with colleagues from NASA Ames Research Centre. 

Crew commander is MSA director David Willson, he is joined by Emma Braegen, engineer from Melbourne, Melanie Newfield, a biologist from New Zealand, and Dr Jennifer Blank, a geologist from NASA ARC. Other researchers will visit the crew during their two week stay.

The TasMars mission is a follow on to the very successful KiwiMars mission in 2012. The name is chosen to reflect the common exploration heritage of Australia and New Zealand in the voyages of Abel Tasman who explorered the coastlines of our two countries in 1642. Tasman’s explorations are reflected and honoured in many place names in both countries. The spirit of exploration shown by Tasman and his antecedents in the aboriginal and Maori peoples of Australia and New Zealand is the same spirit that will one day take us to Mars and beyond.

You can follow the mission at mars2013 and of course at the MDRS facebook page.

Last weekend in a dream setting at the foot of Mount Taranaki, Te Maunga Tapu, our little Kiwi got its name: Tupua Kiwi.

The name was gifted by Tohunga Te Huirangi Waikerepuru here in Taranaki. Birdie Tupua Kiwi also had an Initiation trip on Saturday, it went to the real kiwi reserve on Mount Taranaki. 

"Tupua is associated with the universe at the beginning of life. No water no grow. .. There must have been water otherwise no growth could have occurred ..." said Dr. Waikerepuru whilst explaining to me the choice for the name. "Tu pu means to grow, Tupua kawa means the lore, the principle of growth which is intrinsically linked to our trip to Mars".

From Pouakai to Mars, Tupua Kiwi's journey began ... with an extraordinary encounter - Mount Taranaki which you will be able to see on our Mars comparison map from Mission Support site as being similar to Mount Egmont on Mars. Two mighty volcanoes at more than 120,000,000 km apart (for now). Serendipitously this comparison was the very first image we received from our partners Eagle Technology Group who provided the mapping technology we will use to keep track of our journey through the desert in Utah.

Tupua Kiwi has a very good friend Kim the Koala (more about Kim in my next blog) and they will rendez-vous in Grand Junction!

After Tupua Kiwi will return from 'Mars" we will send him to fundraise and wish to donate the returns to one of the charities saving kiwis around New Zealand. So keep an eye on Tupua Kiwi, he could be your next good friend!

Taranaki that night was amazing with no cloud on the sky and all the stars of the galaxy who came to the party. Mars too ...

Today we (KiwiSpace) are officially one year old. Looking back I'm very proud of all that we achieved during this year:launching a balloon to the edge of space, visiting schools, covering space shuttles launches, creating the world's first World Space Week podcast, seeing the 8th grade of the "What if" competition won by New Zealand just to count the few. But the thing that I am most proud is to be part of a team that dreams about New Zealand being out there at the forefront of space sciences. During this year we had effective support coming from friends of space across New Zealand and abroad and that gave me wings, made everything worthwhile. So thank you to all of you who personally made the difference in my life! 

Looking forward to what the future will bring and see you on 'Mars' in 10 days!

Haritina Mogosanu


Mission patch for the crew 118 was revealed today. According to NASA, for every space flight, the astronaut crew designs their own mission patch. Included in the patch design are various elements describing the different phases of that particular mission. Usually, in the design includes the names of the crew, the name of the space vehicle and its mission number. Although we will not be going to space, there is a tradition at MDRS that says every crew stationed there must have its own mission patch. And ever single crew had one so far. We are the 118th crew to go to the Mars Desert Research Station, in the last 10 years since the station was activated and the first from New Zealand.

With this occasion we prepared a resource sheet about Mission Patches, for you to use in school in the hope that you will be designing your own mission patch whilst you will be interacting with us on 'Mars'.

Make sure you check this page on our site for accessing all the resources we prepared for you. They are under construction for now and hope to have them all finalised by the time we are "Off to Mars".

Since our mission was called 'KiwiMars' even before we had the patch, we wanted to have a Kiwi bird on it. And what other colour to use for outlining it than the beautiful kiwi-green of the fruit that made us famous to the world!

Then we chose a Koru, a Maori symbol that stands for New Life, Growth, Strength and Peace. The circular shape of the koru symbolises perpetual movement while the inner coil suggests the return to the point of origin.

New Life, Growth, Strength and Peace are our wishes for the future as we are setting sail to learn about our place in the Universe, and through astrobiology about our stellar whakapapa. We humans, also hope to seed life on Mars if there is none, discover the strength of the many as it takes a planet to terraform another planet and in general we simply hope to play an tiny part in the great scheme of things.

"He tini nga whetu e ngaro I te kapua iti
Many stars cannot be concealed by a small cloud!"

Whakatauki gifted by Bruce Ngataierua whois our Maori Crew member

To me this whakatauki signifies our strive to become a spacefaring civilization. The stars are there waiting for us, no matter how many clouds we will be seeing onto the skies. However the rain is good too as it brings nourishment and we wish to see rain on Mars sometimes in the future!

May the Rain fall and then have Clear skies everyone and Happy Patch Making!

The Commander of the Trans Tasman Green Kiwis

With exactly one month to go until the first NZ crew begin their 2 week expedition at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, Carter Observatory will host an evening of Mars exploration. Meet some of the crew, find out more about their mission and learn about the Red Planet. Bookings are essential!
Carter Observatory will also be our Mission Control for the duration of the expedition. It is and has been one of my favourite places on Earth! It has a 145 years old time machine called the Thomas Cooke telescope, amazing displays and lots of information about the stars in the Southern Hemisphere. A new digital planetarium projects some of the most inspirational movies about space and astronomy on a 360 dome and the staff is just awesome!

KiwiMars Mission Control will be located at Carter Observatory

From Monday 23 April to Sunday 6 May, Carter will host KiwiMars mission control in the library.

There will be:

  • regular updates from the crew
  • information handouts
  • short talks about the mission and about Mars during the day
  • interaction with the crew (details to be advised)
  • school groups

Keep an eye on this website and Carter's facebook page for details about Mission Control.

Today is the first day of March, marking the beginning of the Springtime in the Northern Hemisphere. The ancient Romans and the ancient people of Dacia (my tupuna) called this month, 'of Mars' - Martie, transliterated March into English. They used to wear a Martzishor is the diminutive of martz, the old folk name for March (Martie, in modern Romanian), and thus literally means "little March".

1st of March was also the beginning of the year for the ancient Romans. Mars was not only the God of War but considered an agricultural guardian ensuring the rebirth of all nature.

Commander's Log

Stardate: [-28] 06350.00

Thu, 1 March, 00:00

Martzishor, martz are names for the red and white string from which a small snowdrop is tied, and offered to women on the 1st day of March. Giving this talisman to people is an old custom, and it is believed that the one who wears the red and white string will be strong and healthy for the year to come. It is also a symbol of the coming spring. The flower symbolizing springtime remained even nowadays the snowdrop, first flower to appear after the long wintertime which sometimes could have last for three months.
So Happy New Year everyone and may your crops this year be plenty!

Countdown to 'Mars"

Wednesday the 29 February 2012 KiwiMars Crew will talk at the Wellington Correspondence School - Te Kura from 4:00-5:30 PM. All teachers in the Wellington Region are invited to attend, see you all there!