MarsNews.com
March 16th, 2017

Budweiser Is Exploring How to Brew Beer on Mars

Credit: Budweiser

Credit: Budweiser

As scientists search for life on Mars and plot a way for people to live there in the future, Budweiser is hard at work figuring out how to make life in space a little more fun by developing a beer made just for the Red Planet.

Today at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, Texas, Budweiser announced its plans to research and produce a microgravity brew, on a panel moderated by The Martian star, Kate Mara, with retired astronaut Clayton Anderson, who discussed the future of space colonization. Ricardo Marques, vp of Budweiser, and Val Toothman, Anheuser-Busch’s vp of marketing innovation, outlined the experiments and research that will go into the Martian beer.

The biggest challenge of brewing beer a space is the lack of gravity. “When you’re in a zero-gravity environment, a beverage with carbonation is going to be an issue,” Anderson explained. However, Budweiser is researching options to work with the micro-gravity environment that exists on Mars to develop a beer that can be consumed there.

March 10th, 2017

Indicators show potatoes can grow on Mars

Lima (Peru) The International Potato Center (CIP) launched a series of experiments to discover if potatoes can grow under Mars atmospheric conditions and thereby prove they are also able to grow in extreme climates on Earth. This Phase Two effort of CIP’s proof of concept experiment to grow potatoes in simulated Martian conditions began on February 14, 2016 when a tuber was planted in a specially constructed CubeSat contained environment built by engineers from University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) in Lima based upon designs and advice provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in Ames Research Center (NASA ARC), California. Preliminary results are positive.

The Potatoes on Mars project was conceived by CIP to both understand how potatoes might grow in Mars conditions and also see how they survive in the extreme conditions similar to what parts of the world already suffering from climate change and weather shocks are already experiencing.
“Growing crops under Mars-like conditions is an important phase of this experiment,” says Julio Valdivia-Silva, a research associate with the SETI Institute who has worked at NASA’s Ames Research Center (NASA ARC) and now works at UTEC in Lima. “If the crops can tolerate the extreme conditions that we are exposing them to in our CubeSat, they have a good chance to grow on Mars. We will do several rounds of experiments to find out which potato varieties do best. “We want to know what the minimum conditions are that a potato needs to survive,” he said.

March 9th, 2017

Congress just passed a bill that tells NASA to send humans to Mars by 2033

For the first time in more than six years, both chambers of Congress passed a bill that approves funding for NASA and gives the space agency new mandates.

The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 is a bill that the Senate and House collaborated on for months, and it appropriates $19.5 billion to the agency. (NASA received $19.3 billion in 2016, or 0.5% of the total federal budget.)

When the Senate brought the bill before the House of Representatives for a vote on March 7, “no members spoke against the bill” and it passed, according to Jeff Foust at Space News.

The document asks NASA to create a roadmap for getting humans “near or on the surface of Mars in the 2030s.” It also calls on the space agency to continue developing the Space Launch System (SLS) — a behemoth rocket — and the Orion space capsule in order to eventually go to the moon, Mars, and beyond.

Now it’s up to President Trump to sign the bill into law — or veto it.

February 14th, 2017

UAE seeks to build human settlement on Mars by 2117

Government of Dubai Media Office

Government of Dubai Media Office

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has unveiled a new project that aims to establish the first inhabitable human settlement in Mars by 2117.

The initiative called “Mars 2117 Project” was announced on Tuesday by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the UAE, on the sidelines of the 5th World Government Summit, currently being held in the Emirate.

“The landing of people on other planets has been a longtime dream for humans. Our aim is that the UAE will spearhead international efforts to make this dream a reality,” said Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid.

January 12th, 2017

To prepare for life on Mars, astronauts are going to … Utah?

Veronica Ann Zabala-Aliberto and Hugh Gregory collect rocks outside the Mars Desert Research Station during a previous Mars simulation mission in Hanksville, Utah. A new crew of six is set to begin a new mission this month. (Photo: George Frey/Getty Images)

Veronica Ann Zabala-Aliberto and Hugh Gregory collect rocks outside the Mars Desert Research Station during a previous Mars simulation mission in Hanksville, Utah. A new crew of six is set to begin a new mission this month. (Photo: George Frey/Getty Images)

This is the true story of six scientists, picked to live in a capsule in the middle of the Utah desert, work together and have their lives studied, to find out what happens when people stop being Earthlings and start being Martians.

While it’s too soon to say whether the crew of a certain long-running MTV reality show will make Mars its next setting, one thing’s for certain: if humans are really going to live on the Red Planet one day, we need to know exactly how that’s going to look. That’s where Team PRIMA 173 comes in. It’s a group of six highly qualified scientists, engineers, artists and leadership experts from around the world. Among the crew: Michaela Musilova, an astrobiologist from Slovakia; Arnau Pons, an aeronautical engineer from Spain; Roy Naor, a graduate student in planetary geology from Israel; and Niamh Shaw, an artist and journalist from Ireland.

They’ve all been selected by the Mars Society to take part in a scientific simulation project at the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah.

January 11th, 2017

Four extreme environments where humans are tasting life on Mars

David Howells/Corbis via Getty Images

David Howells/Corbis via Getty Images

No spot on Earth is a perfect match for Mars, but by training at some of Earth’s extreme habitats, space agencies including NASA and ESA are fine-tuning techniques for a trip to the Red Planet. New Scientist gathered postcards from four of them

December 29th, 2016

Future Mars Residents May Live in a Home Made of Ice

SEArch and Clouds AO

SEArch and Clouds AO

Want to Live on Mars? We have the ice house for you. NASA is crowd-sourcing ideas for future Martian habitats and the leading design is essentially a modified igloo. That’s right, the first humans to inhabit Mars, may reside in homes made of ice.

Last month, a research team from the University of Texas announced that Mars is hiding a secret supply of water just below its surface. They reported that a region on Mars known as Utopia Planitia is harboring as much water as Lake Superior here on Earth — only difference is the Martian reserves are frozen solid.

The ice reservoir is located a mid-northern latitudes — which means it’s about halfway between the equator and the poles — and is reportedly the size of New Mexico. Even though the supply may be buried under a layer of regolith ranging from 3 to 33 feet deep, this finding is still excellent news for a group at NASA’s Langley Engineering Design Studio in Hampton, Virginia.

December 28th, 2016

Astronauts With People Skills Will Colonize Mars

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In order to create a functional base on Mars, NASA and its private competitors will need to design the physical and digital technology needed to transport humans and what keeps them alive between a 33.9 million miles journey and a safe landing. But the mission won’t end there. Astronauts will need to work effectively together to make the whole project both sustainable and worthwhile. Given the extremity of the conditions, that’s no small ask.

Since 2013, HI-SEAS has run four separate behavioral experiments simulating the isolation and stress that a human crew would endure on the way to Mars and on the planet’s surface. The best way to do the latter, according to Project Manager Bryan Caldwell, is to send a bunch of scientists to live in hostile terrain. Mauna Loa, separated from civilization by 20 miles of lava fields and a simulated 22-minute communication delay, does the trick nicely. The first three experiments lasted four, four, and eight months respectively. The crew of HI-SEAS IV, a six-person team of scientists, were expected to treat the outside world as otherworldly and deal with the same deprivations as the first space pioneers for a full calendar year. As though retaining sanity wasn’t a big enough task, the scientists were also given various tasks and research to do while in the dome. While some of their duties simulated the day-to-day activities of real Mars astronauts, the crew’s primary function was to serve as test subjects in 13 different behavioral experiments. Outside of the dome, a team of multidisciplinary researchers monitored every aspect of the crew’s lives, hoping that they could pinpoint the “right stuff” for humanity’s next giant leap.

December 13th, 2016

Trump could replace Obama’s asteroid catcher with a SpaceX-backed mission to Mars

Getty Images/Shutterstock/NASA; illustration by Dave Mosher/Business Insider

Getty Images/Shutterstock/NASA; illustration by Dave Mosher/Business Insider

When Donald Trump is sworn in on January 20, there’s a good chance he could scrap one of President Obama’s boldest visions for NASA: the asteroid redirect mission, or ARM.

ARM would ostensibly launch a robotic probe to an asteroid in 2023, capture the space rock, and tow it near the moon. Next, astronauts would ride NASA’s shiny new Space Launch System and Orion space capsule (which aren’t finished yet) to visit and dig into the asteroid sometime in 2025.

But ARM’s slipping deadlines, ballooning costs, redundancy with the recently launched asteroid-sampling OSIRIS-REx probe, and seeming incongruence with the space agency’s larger ambitions to send people to Mars will almost certainly doom the mission, Eric Berger reported for Ars Technica in February. (The Trump-friendly House Committee on Science, Space and Technology also recently sent an unfriendly letter about ARM to NASA, and it appears to be yet another presumed nail in ARM’s coffin.)

So what could a Trump-controlled NASA replace it with?

Physicist and former astronaut John Grunsfeld, who recently retired as the leader of NASA’s science mission directorate, is pitching a popular idea involving a retrieving a sample of Martian soil, as Berger reported on Monday.

December 12th, 2016

New Paper Explores Cryptocurrency for Space Colonies

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Blockchains in space?

According to one research paper published by an Indian government official, the idea isn’t so far-fetched.

Dr Kartik Hegadekatti of India’s Ministry of Railways posits in a new paper, entitled “Extra-Terrestrial Applications of blockchains and Cryptocurrencies”, that the tech could provide the basis for a space-based money in lieu of paper money or physical coins. Hegadekatti works for the ministry’s Commercial Department.

Hegadekatti has written about cryptocurrencies in the past, exploring how a ‘NationCoin’ could be issued by a country in a paper from August. The paper’s timing is notable, given India’s controversial push away from paper currency and a rise in bitcoin purchase activity in the country.

Though the concept sounds a bit far-fetched and entirely speculative – humans have only set foot on the Moon a handful of times, and to date no manned mission has been launched to Mars – Hegadekatti argues that launching paper or coin-based monies into space is impractical given their cost and weight.