March 7, 2014
Project 'Red Dragon': Mars Sample-Return Mission Could Launch in 2022 with SpaceX Capsule
Scientists have blueprinted a low-cost Mars sample-return mission that would use a souped-up Dragon capsule from the private spacefligth company SpaceX and the firm's planned Falcon Heavy rocket to get to the Red Planet by the early 2020s. The new study demonstrates the viability of the entry, descent and landing of the unmanned Dragon space capsule at Mars. Moreover, the spacecraft's descent technique would help set the stage for future human missions to the Red Planet, researchers said. The idea is to leverage emerging commercial capabilities to achieve Mars sample-return (MSR) without breaking the bank, perhaps in 2022. Most scientists regard a sample-return trip as a "Holy Grail" mission — the best way to look for signs of past or present life on the Red Planet.
March 6, 2014
Big Mars Impact Gave Earth Most of Its Martian Meteorites
A huge meteorite impact on Mars five million years ago blasted toward Earth many of the rocks that scientists scrutinize to learn more about the Red Planet, a new study reveals. The cosmic crash left a 34-mile-wide (55 kilometers) gouge on Mars called Mojave Crater and is the source of all "shergottite" or igneous rock Martian meteorites found on Earth, researchers say. Examining the crater and the meteorites also led to new revelations about how old the rocks are.
March 5, 2014
Mars Arctic 365 Mission Semi-Finalists Announce
he semi-finalists for crew selection for the Mars Society’s Mars Arctic 365 (MA365) mission have been announced. Chosen from a group of over 200 applicants, the 62 semi-finalists consist of 49 men and 13 women drawn from 17 countries, including the United States, Canada, Brazil, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Turkey, India, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. The 62 individuals selected represent a wide range of expertise and skills including geological, biological, medical, aerospace, mechanical and electrical engineering, mechanical trades, journalism and Arctic and wilderness survival training.
March 3, 2014
VIDEO: Andy Weir, Author of THE MARTIAN, Talks at Google SF Signal
February 28, 2014
How Scientists Plan to Farm on Mars Mashable
In the coming decades, NASA has big plans for Mars, including intentions to blast a fifth rover onto the planet’s surface by 2020 and send a manned mission by 2030. But long before humans step onto Mars’ barren terrain, scientists and researchers from around the world want to understand more about its potential to support human life. They're especially interested in the possibility of growing plants on Mars, a more efficient process that would partially remove the need to ship expensive freeze-dried rations to the planet. Allowing crops to grow there that produce oxygen and scrub carbon dioxide there would make Mars a more livable environment. “For a long-term settlement, there is probably no other option than growing food on Mars,” says Angelo Vermeulen, a Belgian artist and scientist who was the crew commander of the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation Site (HI-SEAS), a six-person, NASA-funded team that spent four months last year on the hills of the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii to study and experiment with ways to prepare foods on Mars.
Former NASA Official Says Crewed Mars Flyby is Feasible by 2021 SpaceNews
A crewed Mars flyby mission proposed last year by space tourism pioneer Dennis Tito could conceivably launch in 2021 provided that NASA immediately begins spending money on a large new upper-stage rocket engine and crew-habitation module that currently are not on the agency’s development plate, a former NASA official told lawmakers Feb. 26. “I believe that 2021 is possible if the focus is placed on getting that mission on our books,” Doug Cooke, former associate administrator of NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate and now a private consultant, said during a hearing of the House Science Committee. “It would take a commitment to develop the full upper stage in the timeframe that we’re talking about. We would [also] need a small [habitation module], perhaps using an existing structure.” The mission, which was the subject of the hearing, was originally proposed by a Tito-led group calling itself Inspiration Mars, in early 2013 as a privately funded venture. It was subsequently reformulated to take advantage of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion Crew capsule NASA is developing.
February 26, 2014
Full Committee Hearing - Mars Flyby 2021: The First Deep Space Mission for the Orion and Space Launch System? House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
The Science, Space, and Technology Committee will hold a hearing titled Mars Flyby 2021: The First Deep Space Mission for the Orion and SLS at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, February 27th. This hearing will explore the need for a roadmap of missions to guide investments in NASA's human spaceflight programs, how a manned mission to flyby the planets Mars and Venus launching in 2021 might fit into a series of missions and how the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion Multipurpose Crew Vehicle could contribute to that mission.
UAE Islamic affairs authority warns Muslims against a mission to Mars
Would there be any chance of survival? That's a concern for the General Authority of Islamic Affairs & Endowments, or GAIAE, the United Arab Emirates' religious watchdog, for anyone who wishes to travel to Mars. The GAIAE has issued a fatwa, or an official Islamic ruling, to warn Muslims against a Mars mission. The mission is being planned by the Dutch nonprofit foundation Mars One. In April 2013, it announced its ambitions to establish a human settlement on the Red Planet by 2025. But the GAIAE likens the journey to a suicide mission. On the authority's free 24-hour hotline, the issue was deliberated by the center's specialized muftis, or scholars, who released the following statement: "It is not permissible to travel to Mars and never to return if there is no life on Mars. The chances of dying are higher than living." Taking one's life willingly is against Islamic principles. In response, Mars One issued a statement asking the UAE's Islamic authorities to cancel the fatwa, saying every precaution would be taken to reduce the risk to life. "If we may be so bold: the GAIAE should not analyze the risk as they perceive it today," the statement says. "The GAIAE should assess the potential risk for humans as if an unmanned habitable outpost is ready and waiting on Mars. Only when that outpost is established will human lives be risked in Mars One's plan."
February 19, 2014
From India, Proof That a Trip to Mars Doesn’t Have to Break the Bank The New York Times
While India’s recent launch of a spacecraft to Mars was a remarkable feat in its own right, it is the $75 million mission’s thrifty approach to time, money and materials that is getting attention. Just days after the launch of India’s Mangalyaan satellite, NASA sent off its own Mars mission, five years in the making, named Maven. Its cost: $671 million. The budget of India’s Mars mission, by contrast, was just three-quarters of the $100 million that Hollywood spent on last year’s space-based hit, “Gravity.”
February 18, 2014
Supersonic Jet Ditches Windows for Massive Live-Streaming Screens Wired
Spike Aerospace is in the midst of building the first supersonic private jet. And when the $80 million S-512 takes off in December 2018, it won’t have something you’d find on every other passenger aircraft: windows. The Boston-based aerospace firm is taking advantage of recent advances in video recording, live-streaming, and display technology with an interior that replaces the windows with massive, high-def screens. The S-512’s exterior will be lined with tiny cameras sending footage to thin, curved displays lining the interior walls of the fuselage. The result will be an unbroken panoramic view of the outside world. And if passengers want to sleep or distract themselves from ominous rainclouds, they can darken the screen or choose from an assortment of ambient images. But this isn’t just a wiz-bang feature for an eight-figure aircraft. While windows are essential for keeping claustrophobia in check, they require engineering workarounds that compromise a fuselage’s simple structure. And that goes two-fold for a supersonic aircraft. An airplane is stronger sans windows, which is one of the reasons why planes carrying military personnel or packages fly without them. Putting passenger windows on an airplane requires meticulous construction — the ovular shape, small aperture, and double-pane construction are all there to maintain cabin pressure and resist cracking while flying 500 mph at 35,000 feet. It would be much simpler and safer to have a smooth-skinned, window-less fuselage, but frequent fliers have become accustomed to a calming view of the clouds and tiny cities during takeoff and landing.