MarsNews.com
November 15th, 2018

Mars Researcher Takes A Journey To The Red Planet — Through Her Family Tree

Dr. Tanya Harrison holds up a copy of Ira Sweet Bunker’s short story.
Annika Cline/KJZZ

You can refer to Tanya Harrison as “Dr. Harrison,” but there’s another title she likes, too.

“I’m what I like to call a professional Martian,” she said.

She’s a geologist who explores Mars through the eyes of NASA’s Opportunity rover, which recently celebrated its 5,000th Martian day out there on the planet’s dusty surface. Harrison is also director of research for the NewSpace Initiative at ASU.

“I get to spend a lot of my time looking at images from Mars, which I think is really exciting, especially if you’re doing something with the rovers were you might be one of the first people in history to ever see that piece of Mars from the rover,” she said.

“I’d always been interested in space. I grew up watching a lot of Star Trek with my parents. But in 1997 when the Mars Pathfinder mission landed, NASA released a little animation of photos of the Sojourner rover driving off the lander onto the surface of Mars,” Harrison recalled. “And I remember seeing that and thinking, we’re driving a robot on another planet tens of millions of miles away. And my brain just couldn’t comprehend how awesome that was. And so that kind of shifted my focus from just kind of general space to — I really want to work on Mars.”

So she did. Not literally, but as close as anyone can get right now. Every image she sees from the rover unravels another little mystery about the red planet.

Then last year, her mom made a discovery.

“So my mother is really into genealogy,” Harrison said. “And she told me at one point recently that she had come across my great great uncle, whose name is Ira Sweet Bunker. And she found out from his obituary, of all things, that he had written a story called: ‘A Thousand Years Hence; Or, Startling Events In The Year 3000.’”

Subtitle: “A Trip To Mars, Incidents By The Way.”

November 9th, 2018

The Mars Society Launches $10,000 Prize for Designing the Best Plan For a Mars Colony of 1,000 People

Each contestant will need to submit a report of no more than 20 pages presenting their plan by no later than March 31, 2019.

The Mars Society is holding a contest for the best plan for a Mars colony of 1000 people. There will be a prize of $10,000 for first place, $5,000 for second and $2500 for third. In addition, the best 20 papers will published in a book “Mars Colonies: Plans for Settling the Red Planet.”

The colony should be self-supporting to the maximum extent possible – i.e. relying on a minimum mass of imports from Earth. In order to make all the things that people need on Earth takes a lot more than 1000 people, so you will need to augment both the amount and diversity of available labor power through the use of robots and artificial intelligence. You will need to be able to both produce essential bulk materials like food, fabrics, steel, glass, and plastics on Mars, and fabricate them into useful structures, so 3-D printing and other advanced fabrication technologies will be essential. The goal is to have the colony be able to produce all the food, clothing, shelter, power, common consumer products, vehicles, and machines for 1000 people, with only the minimum number of key components, such as advanced electronics needing to be imported from Earth

As noted, imports will always be necessary, so you will need to think of useful exports – of either material or intellectual products that the colony could produce and transport or transit back to Earth to pay for them. In the future, it can be expected that the cost of shipping goods from Earth to Mars will be $500/kg and the cost of shipping goods from Mars to Earth will be $200/kg . Under these assumptions, your job is to design an economy, cost it out, and show that after a certain initial investment in time and money, that it can become successful.

September 14th, 2018

How Will Police Solve Murders on Mars?

Matt Chinworth

If humans ever go to Mars, the worst of our impulses will accompany us there. The Red Planet will not rid us of murder, violence, and blackmail. There will be kidnapping, extortion, and burglary. Given time, we will even see bank heists. For generations, people have imagined life on the Martian surface in extraordinary detail, from how drinking water will be purified to how fresh food will be grown, but there is another question that remains unanswered: How will Mars be policed?

September 11th, 2018

Interplanetary Memorial to Victims of September 11, 2001

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University

The piece of metal with the American flag on it in this image of a NASA rover on Mars is made of aluminum recovered from the site of the World Trade Center towers in the weeks after their destruction. The piece serves as a cable guard for the rock abrasion tool on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Spirit as well as a memorial to the victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks. An identical piece is on the twin rover, Opportunity.

The rock abrasion tools were built by Honeybee Robotics in lower Manhattan, less than a mile from the site.

September 10th, 2018

Marsception 2018 Architecture Design Competition Winners Announced

FIRST PLACE
Participants: Thomas Goessler (Austria)

Volume Zero has announced winners of the Marsception competition, a challenge to envision a habitat for the first colonizers of Mars. Participants were prompted to consider research conducted within the facility as well as architecture to define a future civilization on Mars. The top three winners were awarded a total prize money of $4000, while ten entries received honorable mentions. The jury for the competition consisted of designers Daniel Caud (Tetrarc), Dr. Margot Krasojevi (Margot Krasojević Architecture), Shahin Heidari (New Wave Architecture) and Britta Knobel Gupta (Studio Symbiosis).

August 10th, 2018

California Central Coast photographer captures Mars reflecting off the Pacific Ocean

“MarsFlectionGlow”
George Krieger

A Central Coast photographer captured a photo along Highway 1 that is out of this world.

George Krieger’s photo, titled “Mars Flection Glow,” shows the planet Mars reflecting off the Earth’s Pacific Ocean.

Krieger said his nighttime Tuesday drive along Highway 1 in Big Sur was shrouded in coastal fog. But farther south, the clouds cleared, revealing a dazzling starry night sky.

“After driving through heavy fog much of the way down past Big Sur, I finally got far enough south to capture the reflection of Mars off the ocean,” Krieger said.

“There are few objects bright enough to reflect light off the ocean from space. Mars is usually not one of them, but right now the nearby planet is is both closest to earth, and directly opposing the earth in relation to the Sun. This alignment makes the little Red Planet one of the brightest objects in the night sky,” Krieger said.

July 31st, 2018

Mars Is At Its Closest to Earth Since 2003 Today! It Won’t Be Closer Until 2287

Mars’ closest approach to Earth since 2003 has given us especially detailed, up-close views of the Red Planet. This recent image from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope shows Mars and its ongoing dust storm in incredible detail.
Credit: NASA, ESA and STScI

According to NASA, Mars was 35.8 million miles (57.6 million kilometers) from Earth at its closest point this morning. In August 2003, Mars was a smidge closer: 34.6 million miles (55.6 million km). Mars won’t be that close to Earth until 2287, according to a NASA update. Mars will reach opposition again before then. In October 2020, the Red Planet will reaches opposition and will be 38.6 million miles (62.1 million km) from Earth, according to NASA’s update.

You can see Mars tonight by looking to the southwestern sky. Weather permitting, Mars will be visible low on the southwestern horizon, with the moon shining to the upper left. Saturn will also be visible, as shown in the map below.

July 27th, 2018

Lunar eclipse: How to watch the blood moon and Mars this Friday

A NASA image of a “blood moon” blushing red.

NASA

A close approach by Mars will light up the sky all night Friday, July 27, and many parts of the world will also be able to catch a “blood moon” at the same time in a rare astronomical double-billing.

Those outside the viewing zone can catch the event online through the Virtual Telescope Project.

Friday’s red moon comes as part of the longest total lunar eclipse of the century. The sun, Earth and moon will line up and our planet will cast a reddish shadow onto our lunar buddy. That’s how it gets the dramatic-sounding “blood moon” nickname.

Mars will also be part of the show because the Red Planet and sun will be on opposite sides of Earth, a phenomenon know as Mars opposition. Mars will be nearing its closest approach to Earth since 2003, making it look very bright in the sky. Its appearance near the blood moon after sunset will give viewers a double vision in red.

The eclipse will be visible in parts of Australia, Asia, Africa, South America and Europe. Sorry, North America, you’ll need to watch online instead.

July 12th, 2018

What Ikea’s Designers Learned From Living In A Simulated Mars Habitat

[Photo: courtesy Ikea]

Ikea is looking to space for inspiration–literally. The furniture company announced last week that it will be collaborating with NASA in order to learn about what life would be like on Mars, and how the company might apply the space agency’s knowledge of living in small spaces to its products.

For the company’s designers to understand what it might be like to live on Mars, Ikea sent five people to live for three days inside a model Mars habitation in the Utah desert. Built in 2001 by the Mars Society–an advocacy group dedicated to helping humans get to Mars–the Mars Desert Research Station hosts scientists and students for two to three weeks at a time, allowing them to simulate what life might be like on the red planet next door. The Ikea team went through a three-day version of a Mars simulation with the engineer and space architect Constance Adams, with lectures, daily routines, and even an excursion outside the building to see what working on the planet’s surface might be like.

July 6th, 2018

Mars’ global dust storm size visualized in new animation

A new animation helps us visualize just how massive the Mars dust storm is. This storm, which obscured the Sun and resulted in NASA’s Opportunity rover going into a deep sleep, at one point was “only” as big as North America. In the weeks following that detail, NASA continued to update the public on this storm’s size, using countries as a reference. A new image, though, shows us exactly how much of the Red Planet is covered by this storm.