May 21st, 2015

Mars mystery: ExoMars mission to finally resolve question of life on red planet euronews

The ExoMars 2016 mission will try to answer one of the toughest and most intriguing questions of space exploration: is there or has there ever been life on Mars?

Getting to Mars, landing there safely, and then beginning the search for life is a huge scientific and technical challenge for the huge team behind ExoMars, a joint ESA and Roscosmos project to search for life on Mars. It is the world’s biggest ever mission to the red planet.

The first spacecraft is almost ready and Maurizio Capuano, the ExoMars 2016 Program Manager, accompanied Euronews’ on a privileged close encounter with the probe at Thales Alenia Space’s facility in Cannes, southern France.

“This is ExoMars 2016 which next year will land on the red planet. The lower part will go into orbit around Mars, putting out its solar panels to get energy from the sun, and the upper part is the lander which will land directly on the Martian surface completely autonomously,” he explained.

May 20th, 2015

Elon Musk and Craig Venter Want to Print Life on Mars Motherboard

Elon Musk knows that Mars will not be terraformed in his lifetime. Still, the SpaceX and Tesla renaissance man does have a vague plan on how to seed life there: He wants to team with legendary geneticist Craig Venter to print life on the Red Planet.

Printing life is not something that’s going to be done tomorrow, but, as we’ve covered before, it’s not a line of thinking that’s totally unprecedented or outside the realm of possibility. Some of NASA’s very best scientists believe that in order to colonize other planets, we’ll need to encode the human genome into bacteria, send those bacteria into space, and reassemble the genomic data they carry once they finally land on another planet.

This is a school of thought that Musk also subscribes to, which is notable, because Musk is, at the moment, the single human most likely to enable our colonization of other planets.

May 19th, 2015

Here’s how to download the code NASA uses in its rockets Business Insider

Nerds and future billionaires rejoice: codes used on NASA’s rockets are now free and legal to download.

For the second year in a row, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has released its public software catalogue, a list of over 1,000 selected programs and codes available for download via the agency’s website.

With only a few restrictions, the release allows US coders and programmers to peak under the hood of NASA programs that the agency doesn’t deem too sensitive to share.

May 18th, 2015

NASA Challenges Public to 3D Print Actual Space Habitats for $2.25 Million in Prizes

D printing has become a technology that many people believe will help us live better, more efficient lives here on Earth. However, NASA as of late, has been focusing on using this same technology to help astronauts and space explorers live betters lives and travel further outside of Earth’s atmosphere. We saw this in their partnership with Made In Space last year which led to the first ever 3D printer, not only traveling into space, but also 3D printing real objects form the International Space Station. We’ve also seen it in the numerous competitions that NASA has held to entice the general public, and in many cases school-aged children, to develop products that can be 3D printed and used in space.

This weekend at Maker Faire, NASA and America Makes announce yet another 3D printing competition — one which takes things to an entirely new and exciting level.

May 16th, 2015

SpaceX Just Dropped These Amazing Retro Mars Travel Posters Gizmodo

Everybody wants to go to Mars these days, not least of all Elon Musk, who might very well be hoping to retire there after he turns into a cyborg. But for those of you who haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, SpaceX just dropped some travel posters of the Red Planet to entice you.

For a company known for pushing the technological envelope forward, the Mars travel posters are endearingly retro. Like the exoplanet tourism posters NASA dropped earlier this year, this calls back to a simpler time, when science fiction was about valiant heroes with jetpacks and ray guns fighting bug-eyed space aliens. Let’s take a peek at ‘em.

May 14th, 2015

Planting an Ecosystem on Mars, NASA Funds Research For Producing Oxygen On Mars NASA

Taming the brutal environment of Mars for future human explorers to survive and thrive there may demand a touch of “ecopoiesis” – the creation of an ecosystem able to support life.

The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program is funding cutting-edge work by Eugene Boland, chief scientist at Techshot Inc. of Greenville, Indiana. The scientist has been busy working in the firm’s “Mars room,” which houses a test chamber capable of simulating the Red Planet’s atmospheric pressure, day-night temperature changes and the solar radiation that cascades upon the planet’s surface.

Inside the Mars room, Boland and his team are testing the viability of using ecosystem-building pioneer organisms to churn out oxygen by using Martian regolith. Some organisms within the test bed experiment planted on the Red Planet also could remove nitrogen from the Martian soil.

May 13th, 2015

Why Mars sunsets are blue and Earth sunsets are red KING 5 Seattle

We might be finding a new nickname for the red planet. Recently, NASA’s Curiosity Rover took the first colored image of a sunset on Mars.

You would think that the red planet would have a red sunset, but apparently that’s not the case. The image shows a sunset with a bluish hue. Scientists say dust in Mars’ atmosphere is to blame. Very fine particles allow blue light to push through the atmosphere more effectively than the longer wavelength colors like yellow and red.

May 9th, 2015

Name a Mars Crater for Mom This Mother’s Day

If you’re looking for an out-of-this-world gift for Mother’s Day this year, you could always name a Martian crater for Mom.

The space-funding company Uwingu, which sells naming rights to each of the nearly 600,000 identified Mars craters that don’t already have a moniker, is offering a special deal: Name a crater from now through Sunday (May 10), and you get a Mother’s Day certificate.

In addition, the people who buy the 50 largest craters will get an Uwingu gift certificate of equal value to their purchase, which they can use to name other Red Planet craters. (Prices are based on crater size and start at $5 for the smallest ones.)

May 6th, 2015

UAE’s Mars space mission has a new name: Hope The National

The UAE’s Mars mission probe will be carrying the hopes of the country and the region, so it is only appropriate that Hope is its name, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid said on Wednesday.

“Sheikh Zayed was the hope of the UAE and the UAE is the hope of the region,” said Sheikh Mohammed, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai. “Our generation is the hope of Arabs and Muslims, so the choice of the name for the probe is Hope.”

In Arabic, it is called Al Amal.

With 75 Emirati scientists and engineers taking part in the project, the UAE is preparing to become the first Arab country to send a mission to another planet.

“The mission will send three important messages,” Sheikh Mohammed said. “The first is for the world: that Arab civilisation once played a great role in contributing to human knowledge and will play that role again.

“The second is to our Arab brethren: that nothing is impossible and that we can compete with the greatest of nations in the race for knowledge.

“The third is for those who strive to reach the highest of peaks: set no limits to your ambitions and you can even reach space.”

May 4th, 2015

Traffic Around Mars Gets Busy NASA

NASA has beefed up a process of traffic monitoring, communication and maneuver planning to ensure that Mars orbiters do not approach each other too closely.

Last year’s addition of two new spacecraft orbiting Mars brought the census of active Mars orbiters to five, the most ever. NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) and India’s Mars Orbiter Mission joined the 2003 Mars Express from ESA (the European Space Agency) and two from NASA: the 2001 Mars Odyssey and the 2006 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). The newly enhanced collision-avoidance process also tracks the approximate location of NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor, a 1997 orbiter that is no longer working.

It’s not just the total number that matters, but also the types of orbits missions use for achieving their science goals. MAVEN, which reached Mars on Sept. 21, 2014, studies the upper atmosphere. It flies an elongated orbit, sometimes farther from Mars than NASA’s other orbiters and sometimes closer to Mars, so it crosses altitudes occupied by those orbiters. For safety, NASA also monitors positions of ESA’s and India’s orbiters, which both fly elongated orbits