MarsNews.com
September 26th, 2016

SpaceX’s humans-to-Mars rocket gets fired up

Elon Musk/Twitter

Elon Musk’s private space endeavor SpaceX on Sunday conducted its first test of the Raptor rocket engine designed to take humans to Mars as early as 2024.

Musk tweeted about the test, which took place at the company’s McGregor, Texas, facility, ahead of his keynote address at the 67th annual International Astronautical Congress on Tuesday. In the speech, titled “Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species,” he is expected to unveil the design for the Mars Colonial Transporter, as well as his plan for colonizing the Red Planet.

September 21st, 2016

Earth to Mars: This startup is trying to make IoT power packs that work in outer space


Finnish startup Tespack is working with the Austrian Space Forum on providing astronauts with advanced technology carried in solar-charged backpacks for the first manned mission to Mars.
Image: Tespack/Austrian Space Forum

The internet of things is meant to be a game-changer. Yet the technology still faces important physical challenges, such as distance limitations, battery life, and durability. All these issues become even more pronounced in the extreme conditions found in very hot or cold locations.

Tespack is trying to tackle some of these problems by developing solar-powered backpacks with IoT and connectivity capabilities, to take energy-generation not only to the next level, but even to another planet.

The Finnish startup, which develops mobile-energy products for use in remote areas, such as Antarctica or on Everest, recently announced a partnership with the Austrian Space Forum, carrying out fundamental research on Mars analogs.

September 20th, 2016

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover to produce oxygen on the Red Planet

Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE) is an exploration technology investigation that will produce oxygen from Martian atmospheric carbon dioxide. Image Credit: NASA

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will not only investigate the Red Planet, searching for evidence of past life on Mars, but also it is expected to lay the foundations for future human exploration of the planet. One of the mission’s instruments, called MOXIE, will have a special task – testing technology essential for Mars colonization.

“MOXIE is one of nine instruments, but it is the only one that is relevant to human exploration,” Donald Rapp, one of the co-investigators of MOXIE, told Astrowatch.net.

MOXIE stands for the Mars OXygen In-situ resource utilization Experiment. With a diameter of 9.4 by 9.4 by 12.2 inches (23.9 cm × 23.9 cm × 30.9 cm), the instrument will produce oxygen from the Martian carbon dioxide atmosphere at a rate of about 0.35 ounces (10 grams) per hour. It is a 1:100 scale test model of a future instrument that would be efficient for human explorers on Mars.

“The object is not to produce a lot of oxygen. The object is to show that the process works on Mars. MOXIE produces only about 10 [grams] per hour of oxygen, less than one percent of full scale,” Rapp said.

September 19th, 2016

Moon-walker Buzz Aldrin opens new Mars exhibit at Kennedy Space Center

Apollo 11 moon-walker Buzz Aldrin says he hopes the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex’s new “Destination: Mars” experience will help inspire human exploration of the Red Planet.

Aldrin was at the complex on Sunday at a media preview and ribbon-cutting for the attraction, which features a holographic image of Aldrin, as he guides visitors on a walk along the virtual Martian surface.

A proponent of colonization of Mars, Aldrin told reporters that he would like to see the next president make a bold statement shortly after taking office in January for accelerating the timeline for human spaceflight to Mars, so that we can one day “call two planets ‘home.'”

September 16th, 2016

Mars had liquid water a billion years longer than we even thought possible

Valleys much younger than well-known ancient valley networks on Mars are evident near the informally named “Heart Lake” on Mars. This map presents color-coded topographical information overlaid onto a photo mosaic. Lower elevations are indicated with white and purple; higher elevations, yellow.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

Lakes and snowmelt-fed streams on Mars formed much later than previously thought possible, according to new findings using data primarily from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The recently discovered lakes and streams appeared roughly a billion years after a well-documented, earlier era of wet conditions on ancient Mars. These results provide insight into the climate history of the Red Planet and suggest the surface conditions at this later time may also have been suitable for microbial life.

“We discovered valleys that carried water into lake basins,” said Sharon Wilson of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, and the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. “Several lake basins filled and overflowed, indicating there was a considerable amount of water on the landscape during this time.”

Wilson and colleagues found evidence of these features in Mars’ northern Arabia Terra region by analyzing images from the Context Camera and High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and additional data from NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor and the European Space Agency’s Mars Express.

September 15th, 2016

New Trailer for ‘Passage to Mars’ Doc About NASA’s Arctic Expedition

“Before man makes it to Mars, he must conquer the Arctic.” IFC Films & Sundance Selects have debuted a trailer for a film called Passage to Mars, an experimental doc with narration by Zachary Quinto retelling some of the stories from the crew on NASA’s Arctic expedition. As a test to see if astronauts could survive on Mars, NASA sent a team of six people on a 2,000-mile journey up into the Northwest Passage in the Arctic – this film recounts their voyage. “As an expedition that was supposed to take weeks stretches into a two-year odyssey, the crew must overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges and life-threatening conditions if they hope to realize their dreams of someday reaching the Red Planet.”

September 14th, 2016

Get That Geologist A Flight Suit!

Sedimentary outcroppings in the Bressanoe region (left), compared to sedimentary deposits in the Murray Buttes region on Mars (right). Credit: ESA/I. Drozdovsky (left); NASA (right)

In the coming decades, the world’s largest space agencies all have some rather big plans. Between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), Roscosmos, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), or the China National Space Administration (CNSA), there are plans to return to the Moon, crewed missions to Mars, and crewed missions to Near-Earth Objects (NEOs).

In all cases, geological studies are going to be a major aspect of the mission. For this reason, the ESA recently unveiled a new training program known as the Pangaea course, a study program which focuses on identifying planetary geological features. This program showcases just how important planetary geologists will be to future missions.

September 13th, 2016

Mars Comes to Miami as an Immersive Interplanetary Experience

Mars 2030 at iii Points from III Points on Vimeo.

From October 7th through the 9th, Miami’s III Points Music, Art, & Technology Festival will premiere the debut of Mars 2030, an immersive virtual reality production designed by FUSION. Participants will slip on a spacesuit and helmet and effectively fly to Mars, where they can explore a topographically accurate landscape. Though the experience feels magic (you’re on Mars!) it’s functionally realistic, both a simulation and an adventure. Mars 2030 is filled with details from real missions to Mars, thanks to Fusion’s Space Act Partnership with NASA. This partnership allowed FUSION to explore NASA’s research labs (including their Hybrid Reality Lab) and create an ultimately symbiotic project: as project designer and FUSION Virtual Reality Developer, Julian Reyes, explains, “We gave NASA all of our information so they could convert it and use it as a training simulation for their astronauts.”

September 13th, 2016

This Free Online Course Will Teach You How To Survive On Mars

Scientists from Monash University developed a free online Mars survival course that will take about four weeks to complete, with three hours of classes each week. With the rate at which our technology is evolving, coupled with the latest discoveries about possible life on Mars, it’s time we learn the basic sciences needed for humans to survive on the Red Planet. Where’s a good place to begin? How about the online course, “How to Survive on Mars: the Science Behind the Human Exploration of Mars,” offered by Monash University in Australia.

September 13th, 2016

Mars Rover Views Spectacular Layered Rock Formations

This view from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows a hillside outcrop with layered rocks within the “Murray Buttes” region on lower Mount Sharp.

The layered geologic past of Mars is revealed in stunning detail in new color images returned by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover, which is currently exploring the “Murray Buttes” region of lower Mount Sharp. The new images arguably rival photos taken in U.S. National Parks.

Curiosity took the images with its Mast Camera (Mastcam) on Sept. 8. The rover team plans to assemble several large, color mosaics from the multitude of images taken at this location in the near future.

“Curiosity’s science team has been just thrilled to go on this road trip through a bit of the American desert Southwest on Mars,” said Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.