MarsNews.com
September 28th, 2016

Mars awaits: Sydney rocket scientist to test ion drive in space University of Sydney

Return trips to Mars without refuelling could be a step closer, the International Astronautical Congress in Mexico heard today – because of world-leading research from the University of Sydney and the entrepreneurialism of a former student now set to test his invention in space.

The announcement comes weeks after research reporting a world record specific impulse – a measure of thrust efficiency, like miles per gallon – was published by a graduate and two professors at the University of Sydney.

The rocket engine is being commercially developed by Neumann Space, the company set up by Dr Patrick Neumann after the completion of his PhD. Dr Neumann, who was part of an international announcement by Airbus Defence & Space today at the congress taking place in Guadalajara, Mexico, sent a statement about the invention.

June 20th, 2016

Jeff Bezos: The government should offer “a very large prize to whoever first brings back some Mars samples” University of Sydney

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is no longer the highly funded juggernaut that it was in the 1960s, and these days private companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin are becoming more and more important in the development of spacefaring technology.

According to Bezos, this can actually be a good thing for the future of space travel and research, and during a recent on-stage interview during the John H. Glenn Lecture in Space History at the National Air and Space Museum, Bezos said that the government could do more to encourage a private space race for a potential mission to Mars.

Specifically, Bezos said that one possible method the government should consider is to offer a substantial prize for certain milestones.

“I think big prizes would be an interesting thing to do,” Bezos said during his interview. “… One thing that the government could do is just offer a very large prize to whoever first brings back some Mars samples. It would be very interesting. That kind of horse race would create lots of attention. People would compete for it.”

September 15th, 2015

Project ‘Red Dragon’: Mars Sample-Return Mission Could Launch in 2022 with SpaceX Capsule University of Sydney

red-dragon-mission-concept

Scientists have blueprinted a low-cost Mars sample-return mission that would use a souped-up Dragon capsule from the private spacefligth company SpaceX and the firm’s planned Falcon Heavy rocket to get to the Red Planet by the early 2020s.

The new study demonstrates the viability of the entry, descent and landing of the unmanned Dragon space capsule at Mars. Moreover, the spacecraft’s descent technique would help set the stage for future human missions to the Red Planet, researchers said.

The idea is to leverage emerging commercial capabilities to achieve Mars sample-return (MSR) without breaking the bank, perhaps in 2022. Most scientists regard a sample-return trip as a “Holy Grail” mission — the best way to look for signs of past or present life on the Red Planet.

July 24th, 2015

A New Way to Prepare Samples of Mars for Return to the Earth Planetary Society

Mars 2020, NASA’s next and yet-to-be-named Mars rover, will be the first mission to collect and prepare samples of the martian surface for return to Earth. This process is known as caching, and it is the crucial first step of a fully-born sample return campaign that could define the next two decades of robotic Mars exploration. Recently, the Mars 2020 engineering team proposed a new caching strategy that differs from previous concepts in some interesting ways.

JPL calls this adaptive caching, but I like to think of it more as the cache depot strategy. This means that after coring samples and placing them into hermetically-sealed tubes (the same process for any sort of caching), the rover will then deposit groups of samples on the ground throughout its drive. A future rover would retrieve some or all of these samples, place them in a rocket, and launch them into Mars orbit.

January 8th, 2015

Are there fossils on Mars? The Christian Science Monitor

A careful study of images taken by the NASA rover Curiosity has revealed intriguing similarities between ancient sedimentary rocks on Mars and structures shaped by microbes on Earth. The findings suggest, but do not prove, that life may have existed earlier on the Red Planet.
The photos were taken as the Mars rover Curiosity drove through the Gillespie Lake outcrop in Yellowknife Bay, a dry lakebed that underwent seasonal flooding billions of years ago. Mars and Earth shared a similar early history. The Red Planet was a much warmer and wetter world back then.
On Earth, carpet-like colonies of microbes trap and rearrange sediments in shallow bodies of water such as lakes and coastal areas, forming distinctive features that fossilize over time. These structures, known asmicrobially-induced sedimentary structures (or MISS), are found in shallow water settings all over the world and in ancient rocks spanning Earth’s history.

June 24th, 2014

Next stop – Mars: China aims to send rover to Red Planet within six years South China Morning Post

China has ambitious plans to touch down on Mars by 2020, likely with a rover, and to collect its own samples from the red planet 10 years after that, a top aerospace scientist has revealed.
China already sent a probe, the Jade Rabbit (or Yutu) to the moon last year. It is expanding its horizons this time.
Ouyang Ziyuan, chief scientist of the country’s lunar project, said the new Mars programme aimed to create space probes – an orbiter and rover – for Mars, according to the Beijing Times.

June 16th, 2014

Incredible Technology: Private Mars Mission Could Return Samples by 2020 Space.com

A private mission could return Martian samples to Earth by 2020 without even touching down on the Red Planet.
The BoldlyGo Institute, a Colorado-based nonprofit, is working to develop the Sample Collection to Investigate Mars (SCIM) mission, which would send a spacecraft skimming through the atmosphere of Mars to gather dust and return home, without the difficulty of landing. SCIM could launch as soon as 2018, possibly returning samples to Earth in July 2020.
“It sounds very daring, but it’s really very doable,” Laurie Leshing, a member of the BoldlyGo board of directors, said during a presentation June 3 at the 224th American Astronomical Meeting in Boston. “This is something we can do today.”

June 3rd, 2014

Mars spacecraft research lands University of Exeter student top international fellowship Mid Devon Star

A student at the University of Exeter has been honoured with a prestigious international award, designed to promote female excellence in the pioneering sphere of aerospace research.
Anusha Mujumdar has been selected to receive a Zonta International Amelia Earhart Fellowship – one of only 35 students worldwide to be bestowed with the coveted award.
The third year PhD student in Applied Mathematics, from Bangalore, received the award to assist in her pioneering research, which will be used to help develop space craft control for the proposed Mars Sample Return mission, scheduled to take place in the 2020s.

March 7th, 2014

Project ‘Red Dragon’: Mars Sample-Return Mission Could Launch in 2022 with SpaceX Capsule Space.com

Scientists have blueprinted a low-cost Mars sample-return mission that would use a souped-up Dragon capsule from the private spacefligth company SpaceX and the firm’s planned Falcon Heavy rocket to get to the Red Planet by the early 2020s.
The new study demonstrates the viability of the entry, descent and landing of the unmanned Dragon space capsule at Mars. Moreover, the spacecraft’s descent technique would help set the stage for future human missions to the Red Planet, researchers said.
The idea is to leverage emerging commercial capabilities to achieve Mars sample-return (MSR) without breaking the bank, perhaps in 2022. Most scientists regard a sample-return trip as a “Holy Grail” mission — the best way to look for signs of past or present life on the Red Planet.

November 12th, 2013

Martian moon samples will have bits of Mars Brown University

A Russian mission to the Martian moon Phobos, launching in 2020, would return samples from Phobos that contain bits and pieces of Mars itself. A new study calculates how much Martian material is on the surface of Phobos and how deep it is likely to go.