MarsNews.com
November 7th, 2019

China Unveils Plan To Send Astronauts To Mars

Chinese first woman astronaut Liu Yang (L) together with her two male colleagues, Jing Haipeng (C) and Liu Wang (R) wave as they areintroduced during a press conference at the Jiuquan space base, north China’s Gansu province on June 15, 2012.

In a story published by state news network China Daily, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation announced plans to send astronauts to the surface of Mars.

“Sending astronauts there will give man better opportunities to look for traces of life on Mars,” Pang Zhihao, a space technology researcher in Beijing told China Daily. “There are theories that Mars was very similar to Earth in terms of environment billions of years ago.”

According to the statement, it marks “the first time that China’s space industry has publicly unveiled a plan for manned missions to the red planet.”

October 23rd, 2019

SpaceX ‘excited’ about building moon bases and Mars cities at the same time

SpaceX has big dreams to build cities on Mars and bases on the moon at the same time, one of the plan’s key architects revealed over the weekend.

Paul Wooster, SpaceX’s principal Mars development engineer, explained that the Starship vessel under development is designed for versatility. That means, as the company aims to complete its first city on Mars by 2050, there’s no need to switch development priorities or move the focus to complete one or the other.

“The [Starship] system also opens up capabilities, for example, to deliver very large payloads to the moon, set up and operate lunar bases,” Wooster explained on Saturday at the 22nd annual Mars Society Convention at the University of Southern California. “Because it’s the same system that’s being used for going to the moon and going to Mars, it’s not something where you have to stop going to the moon in order to go to Mars…we’re really excited about the possibilities of doing both, having bases on the moon while we’re also setting up these cities on Mars.”

October 16th, 2019

NASA demos spacesuits for its Moon and Mars missions

Amy Ross, a spacesuit engineer at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, left, and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, second from left, watch as Kristine Davis, a spacesuit engineer at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, wearing a ground prototype of NASA’s new Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU), and Dustin Gohmert, Orion Crew Survival Systems Project Manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, wearing the Orion Crew Survival System suit, right, wave after being introduced by the administrator, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019 at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The xEMU suit improves on the suits previous worn on the Moon during the Apollo era and those currently in use for spacewalks outside the International Space Station and will be worn by first woman and next man as they explore the Moon as part of the agency’s Artemis program. The Orion suit is designed for a custom fit and incorporates safety technology and mobility features that will help protect astronauts on launch day, in emergency situations, high-risk parts of missions near the Moon, and during the high-speed return to Earth. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Today, NASA revealed the two spacesuits that it will use for its Project Artemis. It shared a video of a spacesuit engineer wearing a bulky, red-white-and-blue suit that will be used for work on the Moon and another spacesuit engineer rocking a thinner, orange suit. The latter is what the crew will wear on their way to and from the Moon, and in the event that there’s a sudden depressurization of their spacecraft, they’ll be able to live inside the suit for days.

October 14th, 2019

Inside NASA’s plan to use Martian dirt to build houses on Mars

A rendering of Marsha, one of the options NASA collaborators have come up with for housing on the Red Planet. The tall, slender shape maximizes interior space and lends itself to printing.Courtesy AI Spacefactory

People settling on Mars will to some degree have to live off the land. At its closest, our neighboring planet lies 35 million miles away. Transporting supplies there will cost roughly $5,000 per pound and take at least six months using current technology. Better to enlist the natural resources of their new home when possible, an approach called in situ resource utilization. “It totally changes the logistics of a mission,” says Advenit Makaya, a materials engineer who develops processes like 3D printing at the European Space Agency. “You don’t have to bring everything with you.”

Humans on the Red Planet might draw power from the sun, mine water from buried ice, and harvest oxygen from the atmosphere. With NASA’s encouragement, architects, engineers, and scientists are exploring how early residents might use recycled waste and the planet’s loose rock and dust, called regolith, to craft tools, erect homes, pave launchpads and roads, and more.

Rovers and probes have revealed enough about Martian geology for us to start figuring out how that might work. The surface contains an abundance of iron, magnesium, aluminum, and other useful metals found here at home. Scientists also believe the crust consists largely of volcanic basalt much like the dried lava fields of Hawaii.

October 10th, 2019

NASA’s New Spacesuit: The xEMU

Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU): EVA Spacesuit Technology and Design #SuitUp

NASA has announced the details of the first new spacesuit since the Space Shuttle, which will allow humans to return to the lunar surface and maybe even travel further beyond. But why does NASA need new spacesuits when they already have some in use?

When the Space Shuttle entered service, it came with a new spacesuit: the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (hence EMU). It remains the main operational spacesuit for NASA, despite its 30-year-old parts and even older design, and has allowed for many feats of human engineering. However, with this storied history has come deterioration: out of the original fleet of 14 flight-ready suits, only 8 remain thanks to a variety of accidents.

This inability to use current hardware has made the development of a new suit a major problem for the Artemis Program’s ambitions. As such, NASA has focused its resources on one suit design, as opposed to the many it was designing and studying previously: the xEMU, or Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit.

Building on the EMU’s basic design, the new xEMU will incorporate many design features of the 21st century. Compared to the old A7L suits from Apollo, the new suits will be more flexible, adaptable and much easier to put on, with multiple new features. These include a back entry port (similar to the port on Russia’s Orlan suit), modular design, high-speed data transceiver, sacrificial helmet shield (to protect from lunar dust), and HD video system, among many others.

September 30th, 2019

The rocket Elon Musk wants to send to Mars is almost ready to launch

SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft at the Boca Chica facility in Texas
Loren Elliott/Getty

Elon Musk has said that his Starship spacecraft – which is designed to carry people to the moon and Mars – will begin orbital test flights in less than two months. The SpaceX CEO made the comments during an evening presentation at Space X’s facility in Boca Chica, Texas, with the gigantic shiny spacecraft lit up in the background.

Musk first revealed plans for the rocket in 2016, updating them and calling the craft the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) in 2017. Last year, he revised the design again and changed the rocket’s name to Starship. It is 118 metres tall and apparently capable of carrying about 100 people to the moon or Mars.

September 27th, 2019

Getting mac and cheese to Mars

WSU graduate student Juhi Patel, an author on the mac and cheese paper, puts packages of purple potatoes into an incubator, which speeds up the food quality changes at a consistent rate.

Washington State University scientists have developed a way to triple the shelf life of ready-to-eat macaroni and cheese, a development that could have benefits for everything from space travel to military use.

If human beings go to Mars, they need food. Food that won’t spoil during the long travel between planets, and while they’re on the surface.

Currently, plastic packaging can keep food safe at room temperature for up to twelve months. The WSU researchers demonstrated in a recent paper in the journal Food and Bioprocess Technology they could keep ready-to-eat macaroni and cheese safe and edible with selected nutrients for up to three years.

“We need a better barrier to keep oxygen away from the food and provide longer shelf-life similar to aluminum foil and plastic laminate pouches,” said Shyam Sablani, who is leading the team working to create a better protective film. “We’ve always been thinking of developing a product that can go to Mars, but with technology that can also benefit consumers here on Earth.”

In addition to having space travel in mind, the researchers are working closely with the U.S. Army, who want to improve their “Meals Ready to Eat” (MREs) to stay tasty and healthy for three years.

In taste panels conducted by the Army, the mac and cheese, recently tested after three years of storage, was deemed just as good as the previous version that was stored for nine months.

September 24th, 2019

Mars or bust: A comic

Jacob Turcotte and Eoin O’Carroll

It has been more than five decades since humans first set foot on another world, and as memories of the Apollo 11 mission recede, the stars beckon mankind to make its next giant leap.

This time, humanity has set its sights on the fourth planet from the sun, Mars. A settlement on the red planet has long been a staple of science fiction. But today, scientists and engineers are working to make these dreams a reality.

Drawn by Jacob Turcotte and written by Eoin O’Carroll, this comic looks at some of the challenges and potential solutions for a crewed Mars mission, from getting the timing of the launch right, to slowing it down when it arrives, to creating the buildings, farms, and other infrastructure that humans need to thrive on the red planet.

September 13th, 2019

Bigelow Aerospace wants Mars trip to go through North Las Vegas

The Olympus, Bigelow’s massive space station prototype, is seen during a tour at Bigelow Aerospace in North Las Vegas on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal @EliPagePhoto)

Robert Bigelow is working to make sure the pathway to Mars runs through North Las Vegas.

Bigelow and his Bigelow Aerospace manufacturing facility played host to eight NASA astronauts and 60 engineers this week — some spending several days getting to know the company’s B330 autonomous, expandable space station.

The versatile inflatable module can be used as a transport vehicle on a lengthy space voyage, and can be attached by airlock to existing space stations or serve as a base of operations on a planet surface or the moon.

Bigelow and his staff hosted reporters Thursday to show off a mock-up of the B330 and provide updates on other Bigelow projects, including the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), which recently observed its third anniversary attached to the International Space Station.

The company also showed off Olympus, Bigelow’s massive space station prototype that’s only in concept stages today, but for which there is a life-size model within the production facility.

“We’re in competition with other companies that are going through this testing process where NASA has been sending in their astronauts to critique the good, the bad and the ugly of companies’ hardware, their enclosures, their architecture and whatever and that’s the process we’re going through,” Bigelow said in a briefing.

Bigelow said the company has made modifications based on the astronauts’ comments, changing a handhold grip or slide-out seating here or there.

September 10th, 2019

To live on Mars we’re probably going to have to eat bugs

The Martian Diet, by UCF’s Kevin Cannon and Daniel Britt (Image: eatlikeamartian.org)

The first million people to live on Mars won’t survive solely on vegetarian diets but will also need alternative proteins, including insects, to gain critical calories, according to research by University of Central Florida planetary scientists.

In the paper, Feeding One Million People on Mars, published in New Space, UCF researchers Kevin Cannon and Daniel Britt laid out what it would take to feed a Martian population based on what is known about Martian soil and the equipment needed to grow or make food on the red planet.

Unfortunately for fans of “The Martian,” it just isn’t sustainable to farm your way to a full crop of potatoes out of Martian soil — and human feces.

“If you think of the regolith (soil) on Mars it’s just fundamentally different than the soil on Earth you grow crops in,” Cannon said. “There’s no organic matter, there’s no bacteria and fungi.”

Cannon knows a lot about dirt from other worlds. As the founder of UCF’s Exolith Lab he creates Mars, moon and asteroid simulants.

It would take some work to transform Martian dirt into a more Earth-like soil. Because of that, Cannon and Britt say the more favorable method for Martian farming will be hydroponics.