MarsNews.com
July 2nd, 2014

Martian salts must touch ice to make liquid water, study shows University of Michigan

In chambers that mimic Mars’ conditions, University of Michigan researchers have shown how small amounts of liquid water could form on the planet despite its below-freezing temperatures.
Liquid water is an essential ingredient for life as we know it. Mars is one of the very few places in the solar system where scientists have seen promising signs of it – in gullies down crater rims, in instrument readings, and in Phoenix spacecraft self portraits that appeared to show wet beads on the lander’s leg several years ago.
No one has directly detected liquid water beyond Earth, though. The U-M experiments are among the first to test theories about how it could exist in a climate as cold as Mars’ climate.
The researchers found that a type of salt present in Martian soil can readily melt ice it touches – just like salts do on Earth’s slippery winter walkways and roads. But this Martian salt cannot, as some scientists suggested, form liquid water by sucking vapor out of the air through a process called deliquescence.

December 18th, 2013

An Updated Mars Exploration Family Portrait The Planetary Society

The Mars Exploration Family Portrait shows every dedicated spacecraft mission to Mars, and now includes India’s Mars Orbiter Mission and NASA’s MAVEN. The dates listed are for launch.

June 13th, 2013

Toxic Mars: Astronauts Must Deal with Perchlorate on the Red Planet Space.com

The pervading carpet of perchlorate chemicals found on Mars may boost the chances that microbial life exists on the Red Planet — but perchlorates are also perilous to the health of future crews destined to explore that way-off world.
Perchlorates are reactive chemicals first detected in arctic Martian soil by NASA’s Phoenix lander that plopped down on Mars over five years ago in May 2008.

February 13th, 2013

Step into the Twilight Zone: Can Earthlings Adjust to a Longer Day on Mars? Scientific American

“Mutinous” is not a word frequently used to describe teams of NASA scientists and engineers.
But that’s precisely the term employed by Harvard University sleep scientist Charles Czeisler to explain what happened when the group operating the Pathfinder mission’s rover in 1997 was required to live indefinitely on Mars time.
“They didn’t really have a plan for dealing with the Martian day before they went up, and the rover lasted a lot longer than it was supposed to, so they actually had a mutiny and wanted to shut the thing off because they were so exhausted,” he says, drily adding the obvious: “NASA wasn’t too happy with that notion.”

October 25th, 2012

ATK Selected to Develop MegaFlex™ Solar Array Structure ATK

MegaFlex™ solar array was recently selected by NASA’s Space Technology Program under a Game Changing Technology competition for development of the promising lightweight and compact solar array structure. ATK received a $6.4 million contract for the MegaFlex™ development.
MegaFlex™, under development by ATK’s Space Components Division in Goleta, California, is designed specifically to meet the anticipated power demands of 350kW and higher, with very low mass and small stowed volume for future space exploration missions using solar electric propulsion.
“We are honored to win this program to develop the future space exploration power platform for NASA,” said David Shanahan, vice president and general manager of ATK Aerospace Group’s Space Components Division. “This win is a result of the outstanding innovation and capabilities of our Goleta team.”

October 10th, 2012

Adjusting to Sol Takes Toll on Mars Rovers’ Teams Space Safety Magazine

It accounts for no more than 39 minutes and 35 seconds but the difference between the terrestrial “day” and the Martian “sol” can really mess up human circadian rhythms. It is like skipping one time zone every day, leading to a permanent need to adjust to a feeling of mild jet lag. As everyone who ever experienced jet lag knows, deviating from the internal clock usually leads to sleepiness and impairs the ability to concentrate and think clearly.
As NASA’s Curiosity rover continues its journey over the Red Planet’s surface, this adjustment to space jet lag is exactly what the operations team in NASA’s JPL are going through. The mission requires them to steer the rover in the real Martian time making it impossible to follow a 24 hour schedule. The results of a study conducted on the engineers operating the previous Martian lander Phoenix could help with this challenge.

April 28th, 2011

A Book Store. That’s Right. Book, Singular. The New York Times

At first glance, it looks like a charming independent bookstore, a West Village gem with a window display featuring artful stacks of gleaming hardcovers.
But, wait a minute. Is that one book? Like, many, many copies of the same book?
Selection isn’t the strong suit of Ed’s Martian Book, on Hudson Street, where you can’t buy “Water for Elephants” or anything by Mary Higgins Clark, but 3,000 or so copies of “Martian Summer: Robot Arms, Cowboy Spacemen, and My 90 Days With the Phoenix Mars Mission” (Pegasus, 2011), by a 32-year-old Brooklyn author named Andrew Kessler, are available for $27.95 each.
The book is Mr. Kessler’s account of NASA’s 2008 Phoenix Mars Lander mission, reported during 90 days inside mission control, in Tucson, alongside 130 leading scientists and engineers. Publishers Weekly calls the book a “slightly offbeat firsthand account of scientific determination and stubborn intellect” that “delivers a fascinating journey of discovery peppered with humor.”

June 17th, 2010

NASA Bestows Honors on UA Phoenix Mars Mission Members UANews

Four members of the University of Arizona’s Phoenix Mars Mission team on Tuesday were presented with NASA’s most distinguished awards for their contributions to the mission.
The awards, announced during a ceremony at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, went to:

May 28th, 2010

The spacecraft that discovered snow on Mars finally bites the dust Ylife

The Phoenix is dead and this time it won’t rise again.
On May 24, NASA released photos of the Mars Phoenix lander that finally ended even the faintest hope that the York-designed weather instruments on board the spacecraft would come to life again. The photos show that the lander’s solar panels appear to have collapsed due to the weight of a thick layer of frost, robbing it of power it needs to communicate – if its physical components were not already cracked and broken by the extreme cold.

May 25th, 2010

Phoenix Mars Lander is Silent, New Image Shows Damage NASA

NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander has ended operations after repeated attempts to contact the spacecraft were unsuccessful. A new image transmitted by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows signs of severe ice damage to the lander’s solar panels. “The Phoenix spacecraft succeeded in its investigations and exceeded its planned lifetime,” said Fuk Li, manager of the Mars Exploration Program at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “Although its work is finished, analysis of information from Phoenix’s science activities will continue for some time to come.” Earth-based research continues on discoveries Phoenix made during summer conditions at the far-northern site where it landed May 25, 2008. The solar-powered lander completed its three-month mission and kept working until sunlight waned two months later.