May 1st, 2015

Will Mars Scramble Your Brain? Scientists Debate Radiation Study

Could a trip to Mars addle your brains? Some scientists say it might, based on a study of high-energy radiation’s effects on mouse neurons. But an advocate for Red Planet missions says the study overstates the effects.

The report, published Friday in the open-access journal Science Advances, found that mice who were exposed to radiation similar to galactic cosmic rays showed degradations in their brain cells, and didn’t do as well on cognitive tasks.

“This is surprising, and it suggests that NASA has a new complication to consider when they send astronauts into deep space,” senior study author Charles Limoli, a professor of radiation oncology at the University of California at Irvine’s School of Medicine, told NBC News.

April 30th, 2015

Jeff Bezos’ spaceship just finished its first flight test The Washington Post

Jeff Bezos’s space company launched a rocket Wednesday, another significant step in the burgeoning private-sector space race.

In a statement, Bezos, who founded and owns The Washington Post, said the engine “flawlessly” powered the unpiloted New Shepard spacecraft through its first developmental test flight. The rocket reached Mach 3, or three times the speed of sound, and an altitude of 307,000 feet, or 58 miles, very close to what’s largely considered the threshold of space.

“Any astronauts on board would have had a very nice journey into space and a smooth return,” Bezos said. “In fact, if New Shepard had been a traditional expendable vehicle, this would have been a flawless first test flight.”

April 29th, 2015

10 things humans are doing right now to reach Mars Business Insider

Mars is a freezing, desolate desert seemingly devoid of life. Yet humanity will be in much better shape after we colonize it.

This feat, however, will not be easy. The first steps will likely begin with return missions from Mars back to Earth. And only after we’ve proven that we can safely transport, land, and launch people from Mars, will we begin considering the possibility of establishing small, permanent colonies there.

Before either of those things can happen, however, scientists first need to make sure we can afford these missions and, more importantly, prove that we have the technology to safely get people to Mars and back.

There are ten projects that are currently underway which should help us move forward with missions to Mars. Based on the ground and in space, these projects are pushing the boundaries of technology and human psychology, physiology, and ingenuity.

April 28th, 2015

ELON MUSK: I think we’ve got a decent shot of sending a person to Mars in 11 or 12 years Business Insider

Elon Musk has his heart set on Mars.

The billionaire entrepreneur seems to have his hands in every cutting edge tech field, and some of that tech is going to help land a human on Mars.

If Musk gets his way then that historic landing will happen within the next 12 years, he said during an episode of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s StarTalk Radio show.

April 23rd, 2015

Mars Orbiter Views Curiosity Rover in ‘Artist’s Drive’ NASA

A view from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on April 8, 2015, catches sight of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover passing through a valley called “Artist’s Drive” on the lower slope of Mount Sharp.

The image from the orbiter’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera shows the rover’s position after a drive of about 75 feet (23 meters) during the 949th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s work on Mars.

The location of the rover, with its shadow extending toward the right, is indicated with an inscribed rectangle. North is toward the top. The view covers an area about 550 yards (500 meters) across.

April 21st, 2015

Mouser and Imahara Launch New Space Series to Create a Lunar Legacy and Ultimate Space Face-Off: Mars vs Moon Mouser

Mouser Electronics, Inc., the global authorized distributor with the newest semiconductors and electronic components, is teaming up with celebrity engineer Grant Imahara and a variety of experts in the commercial space industry such as Teledyne Brown Engineering, Mars One, and Bobak Ferdowsi (the “Mohawk Guy”) to announce an exciting new Space Exploration Series and Space Challenge that puts engineers in space.

The educational program is part of the ongoing Empowering Innovation Together™ initiative. Engineers will have an opportunity to learn about the following: The new space race to colonize Mars; MoonMail™, the world’s first commercial lunar delivery service; the hostile environment in deep space; and creating a personal lunar legacy.

April 20th, 2015

NASA Awards Radiation Challenge Winners, Launches Next Round to Seek Ideas for Protecting Humans on the Journey to Mars NASA

NASA awarded $12,000 to five winners of a challenge to mitigate radiation exposure on deep space missions and launched a new follow-on challenge to identify innovative ways of protecting crews on the journey to Mars.

The follow-on challenge offers an award of up to $30,000 for design ideas to protect the crew on long-duration space missions. Anyone can participate in the challenge, which will be open Wednesday, April 29 through Monday, June 29, 2015.

“We are very impressed with the enthusiasm and sheer number of people from the public who showed interest in solving this very difficult problem for human space exploration,” said Steve Rader, deputy manager of the Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation. “We look forward to seeing what people will come up with in this next challenge to find the optimal configuration for these different protection approaches.”

April 20th, 2015

How Do You Handle A Medical Emergency On A Mission To Mars? NASA

In order to be selected by NASA to go to space, an astronaut must be in almost perfect health, free of any known chronic conditions, and able to undergo rigorous physical training over the course of years.

But even though astronauts may be at the peak of fitness, they’re only human. Despite NASA’s excellent screening practices, no person is immune from medical issues. And even the most extensive amounts of preparation and training can’t prevent every single type of medical emergency that could occur in lower Earth orbit.

Dorit Donoviel is deputy chief scientist of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI), a NASA-funded group of institutions looking at all the health-related risks that can occur in the big wide vacuum. “Anything that can happen to you and me on Earth can happen in space,” she tells Popular Science. “You can have a kidney stone, a headache that doesn’t resolve, or elevated pressure on the brain. You can even have a heart attack. NASA needs to be worried about all the medical repercussions of an unresolved medical problem.”

April 16th, 2015

Why Is Elon Musk so Hellbent on Going to Mars? Slate

“I know Mars is a long-term goal for SpaceX,” I started. Then, pretty much as an aside, I said, “because you want to retire on Mars … ”

Musk got a pained look on his face. “No, that’s wrong. That’s not why I want to get to Mars. That quote is from an article in the Guardian. They pushed me for a sound bite, asking if I wanted to retire on Mars. I eventually said yes. When I retire—hopefully before I go senile—and eventually die, then Mars is as good a place to die as any.”

That line made me laugh; it’s far better than anything printed in the Guardian article.

But still, I was taken aback. “OK then, the article wanted a sexy quote and got one. But if that’s not the reason, what is it?”

Musk didn’t hesitate. “Humans need to be a multiplanet species,” he replied.

April 14th, 2015

Shaikh Mohammad asks UAE residents to name Mars probe Zawya

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, called on the Arab nation to come up with a name for the UAE Mars probe that will be launched from the UAE in 2021. “The UAE Mars probe is an Arab-Islamic project and so we want all Arab youth to be involved in it. We want to open for them the doors of hope and optimism, we want their ambition to reach and embrace the sky,” said Shaikh Mohammad via Twitter