MarsNews.com
May 27th, 2022

Marblemedia And Mezo Entertainment Find Life On Mars With Sci-Fi Adventure Series, Generation Mars

Robert C. Cooper COURTESY OF KHAREN HILL

Los Angeles/Toronto/ Vancouver – (May 26, 2022) – marblemedia and Mezo Entertainment announced today they are in development on a live-action sci-fi adventure series, Generation Mars (10×60’). Helmed by creator Robert C. Cooper (Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Stargate) the series is based on the popular books of the same name by Douglas D. Meredith. 

Generation Mars chronicles humanity’s perilous extraterrestrial endeavour from the unique point of view of an extraordinary family. It’s an optimistic heart-pounding thrill ride based on hard science that will inspire adventure-seekers of all ages. 

Why would anyone have kids on a planet that always seems to be actively trying to kill them? Because the future may depend on it. The year is 2053 and twelve-year-old Cas is famous on two worlds. She’s a true Martian, the first human being born on Mars. Twenty years earlier the first settlers arrived from Earth, and now Cas is about to step outside and see the Martian sky with her own eyes for the first time.

May 6th, 2022

Mars Colonies Will Need Solar Power—and Nuclear Too

ILLUSTRATION: NASA

SCIENCE FICTION AUTHORS like Ray Bradbury, Kim Stanley Robinson, Andy Weir, and the creators of The Expanse have long envisioned how people might one day assemble functioning settlements on Mars. Now that NASA and the European Space Agency aim to send astronauts to the Red Planet within the next 20 years, and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has talked about sending humans there as well, it’s time to address the practical questions involved in making those visions a reality.

One of the biggest: What’s the most practical way to power future Mars colonies? The seemingly simple question took UC Berkeley engineering students Anthony Abel and Aaron Berliner four years of hard work to figure out.

In findings published last week in Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences, they and their colleagues argue that both solar and nuclear energy sources can provide enough power for long-term crewed missions—but astronauts will face certain limitations, including how much weighty equipment they can bring from faraway Earth, how much energy solar panels can glean once there, and how well they can store energy for when it’s not so sunny. “It depends where you are on Mars,” Abel says of their results. “Near the equator, solar seems to work better. And near the poles, nuclear works better.”

March 15th, 2022

Astrolab Advances Lunar Mobility with FLEX Rover

Recently tested by retired astronaut Chris Hadfield, the adaptive, multi-use rover can autonomously swap payloads, mobilize astronauts and more, enabling the next generation of planetary exploration and discovery

Venturi Astrolab, Inc. (Astrolab), an emerging aerospace company formed by a team of industry leading planetary rover and robotics experts, announces today the development of the Flexible Logistics and Exploration (FLEX) rover built to enhance Lunar and planetary mobility. Astrolab aims to bring to market a fleet of FLEX rovers to provide the mobility required to support a sustained human presence on the Moon and Mars.

The FLEX rover’s unique commercial potential comes from its novel mobility system architecture, which gives it the ability to pick up and deposit modular payloads in support of robotic science, exploration, logistics, site survey/preparation, construction, resource utilization, and other activities critical to a sustained presence on the Moon and beyond. Built with adaptive utility in mind, FLEX can also serve as an unpressurized rover for a crew of two astronauts, in line with NASA’s Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV) requirements.

February 22nd, 2022

Understanding Mars helps rocket cargo on Earth, military official says

Blue Origin’s New Glenn is a heavy-lift launch vehicle capable of carrying people and payloads routinely to Earth orbit and beyond. It features a reusable first stage built for 25 missions. (Photo: Blue Origin)

Development of spaceships that can operate in the Mars environment is providing lessons for scientists exploring rockets that could deliver cargo across the Earth in an hour, the new head of U.S. Transportation Command recently said.

USTRANSCOM is responsible for surface, maritime and air delivery of equipment and supplies for warfighters using a mix of military assets and industry partners. Rapid advances in technological capabilities are now spurring the military to investigate space transportation as a complementary distribution mode within its supply chain.

The organization in 2020 began executing cooperative research and development agreements with industry and academia to understand use cases, feasibility and cost of hyperfast cargo delivery around the world. In December, Jeff Bezos’ space company, Blue Origin, entered into an agreement with Transportation Command to explore the possibility of using rockets to transport cargo and people.

February 21st, 2022

We’re Not Prepared for Contamination Between Worlds

Illustration: Angelica Alzona

Space agencies across the world have long been aware of the risks of biological contamination, with planetary protection protocols already being established back in the 1960s. These rules have been updated and tweaked ever since, based on the new endeavors at hand. Some of the rules are: everything should be assembled in sterilized clean rooms; every spacecraft should include an inventory listing all organic matter making it on the trip; the total bioburden—the surface presence of microorganisms—should be below certain thresholds according to the category of the mission; and so forth.

Just in 2020, NASA updated its planetary protection policy for the Moon and Mars. This is a big step because, while exploring Mars was basically prohibited by the old contamination protocol, now the reform supports a human mission to Mars and gives guidelines on how to do so safely.

February 18th, 2022

Maana Electric’s TerraBox turns sand and electricity into solar panels

Maana Electric’s TerraBox turns sand and electricity into solar panels. Credit: Maana Electric

The Luxembourg-based startup Maana Electric will soon be testing its TerraBox, a fully automated factory the size of several shipping containers that takes sand and produces solar panels. The company aims to send these small warehouse container-like boxes, capable of building solar panels using only electricity and sand as inputs, to the deserts of the Earth, in order to contribute to the fight against climate change.

If all goes according to the plans, the technology could reach the Moon, Mars, and beyond as well to help future space colonies meet their energy needs. The TerraBox fits within shipping containers, allowing the mini-factories to be transported to deserts across the globe and produce clean, renewable energy.

February 14th, 2022

Jared Isaacman, who led the first all-private astronaut mission to orbit, has commissioned 3 more flights from SpaceX

The crew of the next SpaceX private astronaut flight, called Polaris Dawn, pose at SpaceX’s Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas. From left: Anna Menon, who works to develop astronaut operations for SpaceX; Scott Poteet, who served as the mission director of the Inspiration4 mission; Jared Isaacman, who is financing the mission; and Sarah Gillis, lead space operations engineer for SpaceX. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Jared Isaacman, the billionaire entrepreneur who led the first all-private-citizen crew to orbit in September, has commissioned three additional spaceflight missions in what amounts to a privately funded space program with Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Like NASA’s Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs at the dawn of the Space Age, the flights — dubbed Polaris, for the North Star — will seek to systematically chart new territory in bold, groundbreaking missions. In doing so, they would dramatically accelerate the progress of commercial spaceflight in what has become a new era of exploration, where private companies — and people — are claiming the rarefied territory that was once the exclusive domain of governments.

The first flight, which could come by the end of the year, will aim to send a crew of four farther than any other human spaceflight in 50 years and feature the first private-citizen spacewalk, Isaacman said in an exclusive interview with The Washington Post. The second flight also would be aboard SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, the vehicle that NASA now relies on to fly astronauts to the International Space Station.

The third flight in the series, however, would be the first crewed mission of the next-generation Starship spacecraft, now under development by SpaceX and which NASA intends to use to land astronauts on the moon.

February 10th, 2022

How to watch Elon Musk’s Starship presentation live

SpaceX stacking its Starship spacecraft on top of a Super Heavy booster at the company’s launch site in Boca Chica, Texas. SpaceX

This evening, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk will give a presentation about his company’s next generation Starship system — a massive new rocket that SpaceX has been developing over the last few years to take humans to the Moon and eventually Mars. It’ll be Musk’s first presentation on the vehicle since 2019 and his fifth one overall since 2016.

Starship is by far SpaceX’s most ambitious project to date. The design calls for a giant spaceship and rocket combo that would be more powerful than the Saturn V rocket that took humans to the Moon. Starship, the passenger part of the vehicle, is meant to launch to space on top of a gargantuan booster rocket known as the Super Heavy. Starship is supposed to be capable of landing on the surface of the Moon and back on Earth, while Super Heavy is also meant to land itself back on Earth, making the entire system reusable.

Scheduled start time: New York: 9PM / San Francisco: 6PM / London: 2AM / Berlin: 3AM / Moscow: 5AM / New Delhi: 7:30AM / Beijing: 10AM / Tokyo: 11AM / Melbourne: 1PM

February 8th, 2022

Riding a laser to Mars

Laser-thermal propelled spacecraft in Earth orbit awaiting its departure. Credit: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Could a laser send a spacecraft to Mars? That’s a proposed mission from a group at McGill University, designed to meet a solicitation from NASA. The laser, a 10-meter wide array on Earth, would heat hydrogen plasma in a chamber behind the spacecraft, producing thrust from hydrogen gas and sending it to Mars in only 45 days. There, it would aerobrake in Mars’ atmosphere, shuttling supplies to human colonists or, someday perhaps, even humans themselves.

McGill’s concept, called laser-thermal propulsion, relies on an array of infrared lasers based on Earth, 10 meters in diameter, combining many invisible infrared beams, each with a wavelength of about one micron, for a powerful total of 100 megawatts—the electric power required for about 80,000 U.S. households. The payload, orbiting in an elliptical medium Earth orbit, would have a reflector that directs the laser beam coming from Earth into a heating chamber containing a hydrogen plasma. With its core then heated as high as 40,000 degrees Kelvin (72,000 degrees Fahrenheit), hydrogen gas flowing around the core would reach 10,000 K (18,000 degrees Fahrenheit) and be expelled out a nozzle, creating thrust to propel the ship away from Earth over an interval of 58 minutes. (Side thrusters would keep the craft aligned with the laser’s beam as Earth rotates.)

When the beaming stops, the payload zips away at a velocity of almost 17 kilometers per second relative to Earth—fast enough to go past the moon’s orbital distance in a mere eight hours.

February 1st, 2022

Waste to Base Materials Challenge: Sustainable Reprocessing in Space

Help NASA improve future space missions by proposing approaches to permit efficient reprocessing/recycling/repurposing of onboard resources.

This challenge is all about finding ways to convert waste into base materials and other useful things, like propellant or feedstock for 3D printing. We are looking for your ideas for how to convert different waste streams into useful materials that can then be made into needed things and cycled through multiple times – and we are looking for ideas to convert waste into propellant. Eventually, we would like to integrate all the different processes into a robust ecosystem that allows a spacecraft to launch from Earth with the lowest possible mass. For now, we are asking you to share your ideas for waste management/conversion in several specific categories:

Trash
Fecal waste
Foam packaging material
Carbon dioxide (CO2) processing

Winning ideas in each category will each receive a prize of $1,000. Additionally, judges will recognize “best in class” ideas, awarding each a prize of $1,000. A total prize purse of $24,000 will be awarded.

Timeline
Open to submissions January 18, 2022

Submission deadline March 15, 2022 @ 5pm ET

Judging March 15 – April 19, 2022

Winners Announced April 26, 2022