MarsNews.com
August 29th, 2016

Global media document historic University of Hawaiʻi Mars simulation

After 365 days, the longest mission in project history, and amidst a throng of media from around the world, six crew members exited from their Mars simulation habitat on slopes of Mauna Loa on the Big Island.

The crew lived in isolation in a geodesic dome set in a Mars-like environment at approximately 8,200 feet above sea level as part of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s fourth Hawaiʻi Space Eploration Analog and Simulation, or HI-SEAS, project.

“HI-SEAS is an example of international collaborative research hosted and run by the University of Hawaiʻi,” said UH Mānoa Professor Kim Binsted, HI-SEAS’ principal investigator. “Its really exciting to be able to welcome the crew back to Earth and back to Hawaiʻi after a year on Mars.”

August 17th, 2016

Gullies on Mars: Wet or Dry (Ice)?

Martian gullies were in the spotlight recently thanks to a NASA press release stating they were “likely not formed by liquid water.” The release concerns the publication of a new paper by Nuñez et al. in Geophysical Research Letters, which looked at spectral data of gullies from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM).

In their study, Nuñez and his colleagues looked at over 100 gullied locations on Mars. They found no evidence of minerals that would be expected to form in the presence of water. Rather than water, they point to sublimation of seasonal carbon dioxide frost as the main culprit behind gully formation on Mars. Other people have proposed a similar model to explain present-day activity in gullies, which appears to happen during periods of active defrosting. But this process has been a topic of debate among the Mars gullies community, and was a big discussion point at the “Martian Gullies and Their Earth Analogues” workshop in London back in June. Can this dry process explain both the initial formation of gullies and gullies’ modern-day activity?

August 12th, 2016

The European Space Agency will land on Mars in October

Nearly 13 years after the British spacecraft Beagle 2 went missing on Mars, the European Space Agency’s Schiaparelli module will touch down on the red planet — assuming everything goes according to plan, that is. The module, which launched with the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter in March, will serve primarily as a test bed for the descent and landing systems and is expected reach the surface on October 19th.

Unlike NASA’s Curiosity rover, which has been exploring Mars for four years now, Schiaparelli’s mission is a short and immobile one. The module relies on a battery source that is expected to last somewhere between two and eight Martian sols. (At about 24 hours and 37 minutes, a sol is slightly longer than an Earth day.) The ESA plans to land Schiaparelli in the Meridiani Planum, which NASA’s other long-running rover Opportunity explored in 2004. During it’s short time on the surface, Schiaparelli will study the electrical fields that trigger Martian dust storms and weather patterns, then upload the data back to the Trace Gas Orbiter to transmit back to Earth.

August 10th, 2016

NASA Rover Game Released for Curiosity’s Anniversary

As Curiosity marks its fourth anniversary (in Earth years) since landing on Mars, the rover is working on collecting its 17th sample. While Curiosity explores Mars, gamers can join the fun via a new social media game, Mars Rover.

On their mobile devices, players drive a rover through rough Martian terrain, challenging themselves to navigate and balance the rover while earning points along the way. The game also illustrates how NASA’s next Mars rover, in development for launch in 2020, will use radar to search for underground water.

“We’re excited about a new way for people on the go to engage with Curiosity’s current adventures on Mars and future exploration by NASA’s Mars 2020 rover too,” said Michelle Viotti, manager of Mars public engagement initiatives at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. “Using social networks, the user can share the fun with friends. The interest that is shared through gameplay also helps us open a door to deeper literacy in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.” JPL collaborated with GAMEE, a network for game-players, for development of the game, called Mars Rover.

For more information about how the Mars Rover game relates to exploration by NASA’s Mars rovers, visit:

mars.nasa.gov/gamee-rover

August 4th, 2016

The future of Mars will be 3D-printed in the Mojave Desert

Growing up in Jakarta’s polluted slums, Vera Mulyani loved building things. As a child, she dreamed of becoming an architect.

More than two decades later, Mulyani is a self-proclaimed “Marschitect,” and spends her time brainstorming how human life might be sustained on the red planet. After studying at École d’Architecture de Nantes in France and at New York Film Academy, in January 2015 she founded Mars City Design, a think tank of sorts aimed at developing blueprints for the first self-sustaining city on Mars.

Earlier this month, Mars City Design raised $30,382 on Kickstarter to realize the next phase of its mission: Within the next three years, the group wants to 3D-print three to-scale habitat prototypes of Martian cities at Reaction Research Society’s test area in the Mojave Desert.

July 29th, 2016

Humanity Finally Travels to Mars in Ron Howard’s New Half-Scifi, Half-Documentary TV Series

This November, the National Geographic Channel will take audiences into outer space in a way we haven’t seen before. From producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer comes Mars, a six-part TV miniseries that blends documentary and science fiction to dramatize humankind’s first trip to Mars in 2033—and io9 is proud to exclusively debut the first trailer. Half of the show is more traditional drama, with sequences directed by Everardo Gout with plenty of input from Nasa, SpaceX, and others. The aim was to show viewers the closest thing possible to what an actual trip to Mars in 2033 could look like, in a very dramatic way. Those stories are then juxtaposed with a present-day documentary about the possibility, and importance, of a trip to Mars. That’s where you get interviews with Elon Musk, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, The Martian author Andy Weir, and a slew of other experts on space exploration, Mars, and more.

July 7th, 2016

NASA to Host Media Events Marking 40th Anniversary of First Mars Landing

NASA is celebrating the first successful landing on Mars by a U.S. spacecraft – Viking 1 — with a history discussion from 2 to 3:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday, July 19, and a Viking 40th anniversary symposium 8 a.m. to 5:10 p.m. Wednesday, July 20 at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

Portions of these events that highlight the initial steps on the Journey to Mars will air live on NASA Television and stream on the agency’s website.

Media interested in attending the talk and/or all or parts of the symposium should contact Sasha Ellis at sasha.c.ellis@nasa.gov or 757-272-9859 no later than noon July 19.

The July 19 history talk will include a panel of NASA historians and Roger Launius of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, who will speak about the history of NASA’s Viking missions.

The symposium on July 20, called From NASA’s First Soft Landing to Humans on Mars, will include a lineup of about 20 speakers, including former Viking program scientists and engineers, The Martian author Andy Weir, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Space Technology Steve Jurczyk, and other key members contributing to past, present and future Mars missions.

June 30th, 2016

HBO Pays a Visit to Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS)

HBO Vice, the network’s award-winning news program, will broadcast a 15-minute report about current planning for a human mission to Mars on Friday, July 1st at 11:00 pm EDT (8:00 pm PDT). The segment will include a visit to the Mars Society’s Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, which took place last December during the field rotation of Crew 158. The program can be viewed on television, but can also be seen online via HBO GO immediately after the show is aired.

June 28th, 2016

NASA’s Space Launch System Booster Passes Major Milestone on Journey to Mars

A booster for the most powerful rocket in the world, NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), successfully fired up Tuesday for its second qualification ground test at Orbital ATK’s test facilities in Promontory, Utah. This was the last full-scale test for the booster before SLS’s first uncrewed test flight with NASA’s Orion spacecraft in late 2018, a key milestone on the agency’s Journey to Mars.

“This final qualification test of the booster system shows real progress in the development of the Space Launch System,” said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Seeing this test today, and experiencing the sound and feel of approximately 3.6 million pounds of thrust, helps us appreciate the progress we’re making to advance human exploration and open new frontiers for science and technology missions in deep space.”

The booster was tested at a cold motor conditioning target of 40 degrees Fahrenheit –the colder end of its accepted propellant temperature range. When ignited, temperatures inside the booster reached nearly 6,000 degrees. The two-minute, full-duration ground qualification test provided NASA with critical data on 82 qualification objectives that will support certification of the booster for flight. Engineers now will evaluate these data, captured by more than 530 instrumentation channels on the booster.

June 20th, 2016

Jeff Bezos: The government should offer “a very large prize to whoever first brings back some Mars samples”

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is no longer the highly funded juggernaut that it was in the 1960s, and these days private companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin are becoming more and more important in the development of spacefaring technology.

According to Bezos, this can actually be a good thing for the future of space travel and research, and during a recent on-stage interview during the John H. Glenn Lecture in Space History at the National Air and Space Museum, Bezos said that the government could do more to encourage a private space race for a potential mission to Mars.

Specifically, Bezos said that one possible method the government should consider is to offer a substantial prize for certain milestones.

“I think big prizes would be an interesting thing to do,” Bezos said during his interview. “… One thing that the government could do is just offer a very large prize to whoever first brings back some Mars samples. It would be very interesting. That kind of horse race would create lots of attention. People would compete for it.”