January 28, 2015
Greenhouse Blaze in Utah Destroys a Simulated Mars Mission Popular Mechanics
A fire at a greenhouse way out in the Utah desert shut down part of a mock Mars mission meant to explore the possibilities of growing vegetation on the Red Planet. The surface of Mars is dry—very dry—which makes desert conditions the best test-bed for Mars rovers and other technology. But a power surge at the Mars Desert Research Station led to a fire in the habitation, with flames as high as 10 feet reaching into the desert air. The crew put out the fire, but not before it destroyed the GreenHab area of the greenhouse. The likely culprit was an electrical heater near a set of wooden shelves. No one was hurt in the fire. The Explore Mars facility will cost $40,000 to replace. It was custom-built by Gary Fisher, a former Texas Instruments employee and board member of Explore Mars, a non-profit devoted to investigating potential ways to make a Mars colony sustainable.
January 27, 2015
Solar Powered 3D Printers on Mars? Researchers Successfully Test Feasibility of Printing Surgical Tools on Red Planet 3DPrint.com
Space exploration has always been fascinating to me. When I stop and think of just how vast our universe is, it makes me realize how small I actually am. Earth is a tiny little particle floating in a vast vacuum called space, much in the same manner as individual atoms are currently floating in Earth’s atmosphere. No matter how you look at it, in the whole scheme of things, we are extremely tiny, and perhaps even insignificant. Technology is advancing at rapid rates, thanks to increasing capabilities of computers, the ability to share knowledge via the internet, and the growing adoption rate of robotic driven technologies such as 3D printing. The culmination of these advancements has led to exploration outside of the Earth’s atmosphere, and the idea that one day we may colonize other planets has suddenly become a realistic possibility.
January 25, 2015
28 Months on Mars The New York Times
NASA’s Curiosity rover has explored Gale Crater for 833 Martian days, or Sols. And it has found evidence, written in red rocks and sand, of lakes and streams on a warmer, wetter, habitable Mars.
January 23, 2015
Helicopter Could be 'Scout' for Mars Rovers
Getting around on Mars is tricky business. Each NASA rover has delivered a wealth of information about the history and composition of the Red Planet, but a rover's vision is limited by the view of onboard cameras, and images from spacecraft orbiting Mars are the only other clues to where to drive it. To have a better sense of where to go and what's worth studying on Mars, it could be useful to have a low-flying scout. Enter the Mars Helicopter, a proposed add-on to Mars rovers of the future that could potentially triple the distance these vehicles currently drive in a Martian day, and deliver a new level of visual information for choosing which sites to explore. The helicopter would fly ahead of the rover almost every day, checking out various possible points of interest and helping engineers back on Earth plan the best driving route.
January 21, 2015
NASA, Microsoft Collaboration Will Allow Scientists to ‘Work on Mars’
NASA and Microsoft have teamed up to develop software called OnSight, a new technology that will enable scientists to work virtually on Mars using wearable technology called Microsoft HoloLens. Developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, OnSight will give scientists a means to plan and, along with the Mars Curiosity rover, conduct science operations on the Red Planet. “OnSight gives our rover scientists the ability to walk around and explore Mars right from their offices,” said Dave Lavery, program executive for the Mars Science Laboratory mission at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “It fundamentally changes our perception of Mars, and how we understand the Mars environment surrounding the rover.”
January 20, 2015
Elon Musk Explores Internet for Mars Colonies Discovery
Marsnet is coming… We take the Internet and constant connectivity for granted on Earth, but once you take a step into space, things start to get a lot less broadband, and a lot more dial-up. So as we look into our future, when we have human settlements on Mars, will there be a Mars Internet or "Marsnet"? These questions have been asked by SpaceX founder Elon Musk and he has announced plans to boost connectivity in space, potentially partnering with Google. But this isn't just about ensuring future Mars colonists can access their Netflix accounts; like most space endeavors, an off-world Internet infrastructure would have huge benefits to our daily lives on Earth. "Our focus is on creating a global communications system that would be larger than anything that has been talked about to date," Musk said in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek before his announcement on Friday about establishing a SpaceX office in Seattle, Washington.
January 16, 2015
Missing Beagle 2 Mars Lander Spotted on Planet's Surface NBCNews
The missing Mars lander Beagle 2 has been found on the surface of the planet after more than a decade, scientists announced Friday, solving the mystery of what happened to its doomed mission. The robot was supposed to make a soft touchdown on Mars on Christmas Day in 2003 but contact was lost.
January 15, 2015
How North America would measure up to Mars Astronomy Central
Earth’s sister planet Mars boasts some huge structures such as Olympus Mons and Valles Marineris, but the planet isn’t actually that big. In the image above see how big the United States and Canada would be if it was on the red planet. So if you could take a plane from one side of Mars to the other, it would take probably around 8 hours or so. This rusty desert world orbiting between Earth and Jupiter is only 53% the size of our planet, measuring 4,220 miles (6,792 km) at its equator, band from pole to pole it is 25 miles (40 km) smaller. This is why when viewed in a telescope Mars is always pretty small compared to planets like Jupiter and Saturn for example, although that doesn’t mean you can’t see features on this mysterious world. Through a decent sizes telescope you can see the ice caps and dark and lighter land features. Earth’s rusty neighbour in the solar system is the second smallest of the planets, Mercury being smallest. The actual dry land mass of Mars is around the same as Earth’s, because although Mars is much smaller it doesn’t of course have any seas, you’ll have to go back a few billion years to see cool blue water slopping about on Mars.
January 13, 2015
Elon Musk plans Seattle office for Mars colonization
Billionaire Elon Musk wants humans to settle on Mars, and he's looking to hire a passel of engineers in Seattle to help him get there. Musk has publicly said he wants to colonize Mars. As the CEO of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), he's got a company to do it. In an interview published Tuesday, Musk told Bloomberg News that SpaceX's efforts to build a commercial satellite business will give the company the know-how and the infrastructure to make eventual Mars shots and a colony possible.
January 12, 2015
NASA and Nissan Team Up to Build Self-Driving Vehicles for Earth and Mars Forbes
It’s turning out to be a stellar year for the future of autonomous driving as NASA’s Ames Research Center and Nissan North America announced they’re teaming up to develop their own self-driving vehicles that can navigate streets on earth and the surface of Mars. The five-year R&D partnership was announced on Thursday, and engineers from the space agency and the auto company will work together to create technology that could be used in terrestrial vehicles and space rovers. Nissan has set 2020 as the estimated year of introduction of the autonomous vehicles, which will have the ability to navigate in “nearly all situations.”
January 9, 2015
The Hit Book That Came From Mars Nautilus
The story of Andy Weir is a strange mix of fact and fiction. There’s the fairy tale success of his book, The Martian, which he self-published on his blog for free, intended for the few thousand fans he’d accumulated over years of hobby writing. Some of those fans wanted an electronic book version, which he made, and then a Kindle version, which he made too, charging the minimum price allowable by Amazon: $0.99. “That’s when I learned how deep Amazon’s reach is,” Weir would later tell an audience. Within four months, The Martian had risen to the top spot on Amazon’s sci-fi best-seller list, and two months later he had signed both a book deal with Random House’s Crown Publishing imprint and a movie deal with 20th Century Fox. The book is currently number 10 on The New York Times’ fiction best-seller list. The motion picture, which stars Matt Damon and is directed by Ridley Scott, is due to come out this year. Then there’s the story inside the book itself: An astronaut gets left behind on Mars in a near-future NASA mission, and has to survive until help comes. This he does through physics and chemistry, algebra and pipe fitting, botany and celestial navigation, all described in meticulous detail, some of it even simulated with software that Weir wrote himself. The lesson to writers is clear: Details give you authenticity, and authenticity gives you the reader. Having a great protagonist helps too: Mark Watney is casual, funny, thoughtful, and self-effacing—much like Weir, as I discovered in conversation.
January 8, 2015
Are there fossils on Mars? The Christian Science Monitor
A careful study of images taken by the NASA rover Curiosity has revealed intriguing similarities between ancient sedimentary rocks on Mars and structures shaped by microbes on Earth. The findings suggest, but do not prove, that life may have existed earlier on the Red Planet. The photos were taken as the Mars rover Curiosity drove through the Gillespie Lake outcrop in Yellowknife Bay, a dry lakebed that underwent seasonal flooding billions of years ago. Mars and Earth shared a similar early history. The Red Planet was a much warmer and wetter world back then. On Earth, carpet-like colonies of microbes trap and rearrange sediments in shallow bodies of water such as lakes and coastal areas, forming distinctive features that fossilize over time. These structures, known asmicrobially-induced sedimentary structures (or MISS), are found in shallow water settings all over the world and in ancient rocks spanning Earth's history.
January 7, 2015
Elon Musk: Expect Details on Mars Transport System This Year PCMag
Mars is currently inhabited solely by robots (as far as we know), but one person hoping to add a few humans to the mix is SpaceX and Tesla Motors chief Elon Musk. Musk took a break from conquering space to do an "Ask Me Anything" on Reddit today, where he fielded questions about everything from his love of the Red Planet to video games. On Mars, Musk promised details about a Mars transport system "towards the end of this year." "Good thing we didn't do it sooner, as we have learned a huge amount from Falcon and Dragon," according to Musk, referring to the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon space capsule that SpaceX is using to fly re-supply missions to the International Space Station (ISS).