MarsNews.com
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.

September 6th, 2019

SpaceX Working With NASA to Find Mars Landing Sites for Starship

NASA/SpaceX/Victor Tangermann

We may not yet know how to get to Mars exactly, but — as to be expected from a company led by Elon Musk — SpaceX is already several steps ahead.

The private space company has leveraged images from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, an imaging satellite that’s currently orbiting Mars, to determine a landing site for its in-development Starship spacecraft — despite the fact that the 180-foot spacecraft’s maiden voyage is still years out.

Space historian Robert Zimmerman came across images, with the labels “Candidate Landing Site for SpaceX Starship,” in data from the NASA orbiter.

The images of the Martian surface were taken by a high-res camera system called HiRISE onboard the orbiter, and uploaded to the University of Arizona’s website, the institution responsible for operating the camera.

SpaceX’s search for a landing site dates back to 2017, according to Teslarati. Over the past two years, the company has narrowed its search to a massive plains region called Arcadia Planitia. Five of the six potential landing sites shown in the new images are inside this zone.

September 4th, 2019

Soon you can test a cabin designed for Mars right here on planet Earth

Marsha in Mars with AI. plomp

Martian architecture has come a long way—the habitable future of the red planet is all about new materials, imaginative forms, and cutting edge concepts.

If it’s good enough for the atmosphere of Mars, it’s safe to assume that it’s good enough for Earth. That’s the thinking behind Tera, a high-tech eco cabin that’s modeled after a Martian habitat.

AI SpaceFactory designed the cylindrical cabin after Marsha, its concept for a Mars-ready dwelling that won first place in the final phase of NASA’s 3D-printed Mars Habitat Challenge. The luxury eco-cabin takes what was novel about the Marsha and reformatted it for Earth.

August 22nd, 2019

One could fly to Mars in this spacious habitat and not go crazy

There are three stories inside the module. – Sierra Nevada Corporation

On Wednesday, Sierra Nevada Corporation—the company that makes aerospace equipment, not beer—showed off its proposed in-space habitat for the first time. The inflatable habitat is, first and foremost, large. It measures more than 8 meters long, and with a diameter of 8 meters has an internal volume of 300 cubic meters, which is about one-third the size of the International Space Station.

Sierra Nevada developed this full-scale prototype under a NASA program that funded several companies to develop habitats that could be used for a space station in orbit around the Moon, as well as potentially serving as living quarters for a long-duration transit to and from Mars. As part of the program, NASA astronauts have, or will, spend three days living in and evaluating the prototypes built by Sierra Nevada, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Bigelow Aerospace.

The selling point for Sierra Nevada’s habitat is its size, which is possible because the multi-layered fabric material can be compressed for launch, then expanded and outfitted as a habitat once in space. It can fit within a standard payload fairing used for launch vehicles such as SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket, United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan booster, or NASA’s Space Launch System. It is light enough for any of those rockets to launch to the Moon.

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 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 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 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.

July 22nd, 2019

Footprints on the Moon and cemeteries on Mars: interview with space archaeologist Alice Gorman

Who will be the first person to be buried on Mars? Nick Brookes / flickr, CC BY-NC

It’s 50 years since humans went to the Moon – and now people are so focused on getting to Mars.

But what happens when another planet becomes home, when the first generations are born, live, and just as importantly, die in space?

I often think the first death in space is going to be a big turning point for how we relate to it. There haven’t really been any so far. There was the unfortunate USSR Soyuz 11 mission to Earth orbit, where three cosmonauts died when they left the spacecraft – but they were recovered on Earth. [The crew died on their descent back to Earth after a technical fault caused their Soyuz capsule to depressurise.]

There have been other deaths, for example on the tragic Space Shuttle accidents, but they haven’t actually been in space.

It’s something people often overlook when talking about the prospect of settling on Mars. The risks are so great. People are going to die. They’re probably going to die if there’s any human settlement on the Moon as well.

So how will that impact how we look at space?

July 19th, 2019

For First Time, Majority in U.S. Backs Human Mission to Mars

Americans’ views about landing an astronaut on Mars have shifted, with a majority now favoring the idea for the first time since 1969 and 1999, when majorities opposed the idea.

The latest figure comes as President Donald Trump has committed to a manned Mars mission. In his Fourth of July speech, the president said, “We’re going to be back on the moon … and, someday soon, we will plant the American flag on Mars.”

Gallup first asked Americans about attempting to land astronauts on Mars in 1969, shortly after the U.S. accomplished the same feat on the moon. At that time, just 39% were in favor and 53% opposed. A subsequent update on the 30th anniversary of the moon landing found public opinion had changed little, with 43% in favor and 54% opposed to going to Mars.

The recent increase in support for putting an astronaut on Mars is consistent with Americans’ more positive views of the U.S. space program, just ahead of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

As was the case 20 years ago, support for a manned Mars mission is highest among young adults aged 18 to 29 (65%) and lowest among adults aged 65 and older (46%). But support has increased substantially among older adults — as well as younger adults, to a smaller degree — thus boosting the national average.