MarsNews.com
August 14th, 2019

Nuclear Reactor for Mars Outpost Could Be Ready to Fly by 2022

NASA and NNSA engineers lower the wall of the vacuum chamber around the Kilowatt Reactor Using Stirling TechnologY (KRUSTY system). The vacuum chamber is later evacuated to simulate the conditions of space when KRUSTY operates.
Credits: Los Alamos National Laboratory

A new type of nuclear reactor designed to power crewed outposts on the moon and Mars could be ready for its first in-space trial just a few years from now, project team members said.

A flight test is the next big step for the Kilopower experimental fission reactor, which aced a series of critical ground tests from November 2017 through March 2018. No off-Earth demonstration is on the books yet, but Kilopower should be ready to go by 2022 or so if need be, said Patrick McClure, Kilopower project lead at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

“I think we could do this in three years and be ready for flight,” McClure said late last month during a presentation with NASA’s Future In-Space Operations working group.

“I think three years is a very doable time frame,” he added, stressing that this is his opinion, not necessarily that of NASA, which is developing the Kilopower project along with the DOE.

August 12th, 2019

Mission Mangal New Trailer and Meet the Characters!

One week ahead of its worldwide launch date, the highly awaited motion picture MISSION MANGAL premiered its new second trailer unveiling all new footage from the film which hits next Thursday, on August 15th. This important true story will unfold on the big screen led by an all-star cast including Akshay Kumar, Vidya Balan, Taapsee Pannu and Sonakshi Sinha.

Mission Mangal is the incredible, true story of a scientist, Rakesh Dhawan, played by Akshay Kumar and Tara Shinde played by Vidya Balan who lead a motley team of scientists who overcome their personal challenges and failures to serve as the brains behind one of the greatest missions in history: the launch of India’s first satellite to Mars, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence. The film is a tale of ordinary people doing extraordinary things and inspiring generations to dream big and achieve the impossible.

August 8th, 2019

Holey Moley: Fixing The Mars Insight Mole

In the early 1990s, NASA experienced a sea change in the way it approached space exploration. Gone were the days when all their programs would be massive projects with audacious goals. The bulk of NASA’s projects would fall under the Discovery Project and hew to the mantra “faster, better, cheaper,” with narrowly focused goals and smaller budgets, with as much reuse of equipment as possible.

The idea for what would become the Mars InSight mission first appeared in 2010 and was designed to explore Mars in ways no prior mission had. Where Viking had scratched the surface in the 1970s looking for chemical signs of life and the rovers of the Explorer program had wandered about exploring surface geology, InSight was tasked with looking much, much deeper into the Red Planet.

Sadly, InSight’s primary means of looking at what lies beneath the regolith of Mars is currently stuck a few centimeters below the surface. NASA and JPL engineers are working on a fix, and while it’s far from certain that that they’ll succeed, things have started to look up for InSight lately. Here’s a quick look at what the problem is, and a potential solution that might get the mission back on track.

August 7th, 2019

How This Video Game Company Will Help Keep Mars Astronauts Healthy

Illustration of an astronaut in front of Mars.GETTY

Level Ex isn’t your average video game company. Instead of stealing cars or street fighting, its games focus on the human body, creating video games for doctors and other medical professionals that want to practice complicated procedures. Now the company aims to help astronauts stay healthy on long-term missions, such as going to Mars.

On Wednesday, Level Ex announced that it received a year-long grant of an undisclosed amount from the Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH), an organization that is led by Baylor College of Medicine’s Center for Space Medicine and is funded by NASA’s Human Research Program. The grant will provide funding for Level Ex to create a virtual simulation that can show how human anatomy and medical procedures will differ in space versus on Earth. Eventually, the company hopes to create medical video games that can be used to train astronauts on health situations they may encounter while in space. Level Ex has made many exciting products over its four year history, says founder and CEO Sam Glassenberg, but “this one is something special.”

August 2nd, 2019

UAE Mars probe will be Arab world first

The United Arab Emirates’ Space Agency’s first Mars probe, called Hope, is near completion.Credit: Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre/UAE Space Agency

The Arab world will launch its first mission to Mars in July 2020, the chair of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Space Agency, Ahmad Al Falasi, has said.

The UAE’s Hope probe will lift off from Japan and should reach Mars at the end of the following year, in time for the 50th anniversary of the emirates’ independence. It will be the first planetary-science mission from the Arab world.

The mission’s goals include understanding why Mars is losing its atmosphere by tracking the escape of hydrogen and oxygen, and building a bigger picture of the changing Martian atmosphere. In April, officials at the space agency said that 85% of the probe had been completed.

August 1st, 2019

NASA Announces US Industry Partnerships to Advance Moon, Mars Technology

Illustration of a human landing system and crew on the lunar surface with Earth near the horizon.
Credits: NASA

As NASA prepares to land humans on the Moon by 2024 with the Artemis program, commercial companies are developing new technologies, working toward space ventures of their own, and looking to NASA for assistance. NASA has selected 13 U.S. companies for 19 partnerships to mature industry-developed space technologies and help maintain American leadership in space.

NASA centers will partner with the companies, which range from small businesses with fewer than a dozen employees to large aerospace organizations, to provide expertise, facilities, hardware and software at no cost. The partnerships will advance the commercial space sector and help bring new capabilities to market that could benefit future NASA missions.

“NASA’s proven experience and unique facilities are helping commercial companies mature their technologies at a competitive pace,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD). “We’ve identified technology areas NASA needs for future missions, and these public-private partnerships will accelerate their development so we can implement them faster.”

The selections were made through NASA’s Announcement of Collaboration Opportunity (ACO) released in October 2018. They will result in non-reimbursable Space Act Agreements between the companies and NASA. The selections cover the following technology focus areas, which are important to America’s Moon to Mars exploration approach.

July 29th, 2019

Ancient Mars tsunami hints at surprisingly wet world

Elevation changes also indicate where Mars may have once had a vast northern ocean.
Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter Science Team/NASA

Three and a half billion years ago, an asteroid slammed into Mars. The cataclysm wasn’t terribly unusual for this period in the solar system’s history, but the fallout would leave its mark. The asteroid carved out an enormous crater. It also sent a wall of water a thousand feet high hurtling around the young Red Planet, which was much more blue at the time.

That wave then slammed into land, creating strange landforms on Mars. Since 2017, Francois Costard, a scientist at the French National Centre for Scientific Research, has been advocating this theory to explain a region called the Thumbprint Terrain, and now he thinks he may have found the crater that was ground zero for the tsunami. He published his findings June 26 in the Journal of Geophysical Research Planets.

July 25th, 2019

4 Mars Missions Are One Year Away from Launching to the Red Planet in July 2020

This artist’s concept depicts NASA’s Mars 2020 rover exploring Mars.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Mars exploration will get a big boost next summer.

Earth and the Red Planet align favorably for interplanetary travel just once every 26 months, for a few weeks at a time. The next such window opens in mid-July 2020, and four big-ticket missions aim to take full advantage.

These newcomers will push Mars’ robotic population into the double digits. There are currently two operational craft on the Martian surface (NASA’s Curiosity rover and InSight lander) and six orbiters circling the planet (NASA’s MAVEN, Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter; Europe’s Mars Express and the European-Russian ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter; and India’s Mars Orbiter Mission).

July 24th, 2019

Hypnotic animation reveals how seismic waves travel across Mars, months after NASA’s InSight lander recorded quakes on the red planet for the first time

Scientists have simulated the path of seismic waves rippling across the red planet. The ways in which quakes look and feel differ depending on the materials they’re traversing, meaning they may act very differently than what we’re used to here on Earth, the space agency explains

Scientists have simulated the path of seismic waves rippling across the red planet.

NASA’s InSight lander detected its first marsquake earlier this year, providing on-the-ground data for the first time on the behaviors of these natural phenomena on Mars.

The ways in which quakes look and feel differ depending on the materials they’re traversing, meaning they may act very differently than what we’re used to here on Earth, the space agency explains.

A new animation shows just how this might play out beneath the surface of Mars.

July 23rd, 2019

Op/Ed: Trump’s Plan To Develop The Moon And Mars Will Change The Future Of The Human Race

Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins and Neil Armstrong’s son Rick Armstrong join U.S. President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump and Vice President Mike Pence as they commemorate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing in the Oval Office at the White House July 19 in Washington, D.C.
CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY

The United States is at a crossroads. For the first time in more than half a century, we could cease to be the leading power in space. The momentum of the Chinese program and its increasing outreach to other countries means that within a decade the United States could lose militarily, technologically and economically in space. That outcome would be catastrophic.

President Donald Trump understands how real this threat is and has begun to revitalize America’s commitment to space.

On the Fourth of July, he asserted, “I want you to know that we are going to be back on the moon very soon, and someday soon we will plant the American flag on Mars.”

The Artemis project is not the Apollo project 50 years later. It is something profoundly different.

Imagine that the first woman and man on the moon stay for three weeks (50 percent longer than all six Apollo visits combined). Imagine that their 21 days are spent assembling prepositioned materials to create a work and living space comparable to an Antarctic scientific research station. Imagine that they were joined by a second crew just before they returned to Earth so the new development had permanent habitation.

That kind of permanent development is what Trump has in mind.

The president has launched America on a Moon-Mars Development Project that will change the future of the entire human race.