MarsNews.com
December 6th, 2016

Rhode Island School of Design works with NASA on Mars suit

When scientists are trying to figure out how to live in near-isolation in a dome to simulate a Mars mission, the last thing they’ll need is an ill-fitting space suit. So one of the nation’s top design schools has come to the rescue.

Staff members and students at the Rhode Island School of Design have come up with a new, adjustable suit that closely resembles an actual space suit.

Real space suits are designed to work in zero gravity, meaning they’re too expensive and too heavy to use at the NASA-funded Mars simulation mission in Hawaii. The simulated space suits that are used instead wear out quickly and aren’t all that comfortable. They’re small and provide poor ventilation.

The new suit, unveiled Monday in Providence, is expected to be tested during the next Mars simulation mission in 2017 in Hawaii.

A yearlong Mars simulation mission ended in August. It was the fourth HI-SEAS, or Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation. NASA funded the study, run through the University of Hawaii.

November 29th, 2016

‘Diamond-age’ of power generation as nuclear batteries developed

New technology has been developed that uses nuclear waste to generate electricity in a nuclear-powered battery. A team of physicists and chemists from the University of Bristol have grown a man-made diamond that, when placed in a radioactive field, is able to generate a small electrical current.

The development could solve some of the problems of nuclear waste, clean electricity generation and battery life.

This innovative method for radioactive energy was presented at the Cabot Institute’s sold-out annual lecture – ‘Ideas to change the world’- on Friday, 25 November.

Unlike the majority of electricity-generation technologies, which use energy to move a magnet through a coil of wire to generate a current, the man-made diamond is able to produce a charge simply by being placed in close proximity to a radioactive source.

Tom Scott, Professor in Materials in the University’s Interface Analysis Centre and a member of the Cabot Institute, said: “There are no moving parts involved, no emissions generated and no maintenance required, just direct electricity generation. By encapsulating radioactive material inside diamonds, we turn a long-term problem of nuclear waste into a nuclear-powered battery and a long-term supply of clean energy.”

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.

September 26th, 2016

SpaceX’s humans-to-Mars rocket gets fired up University of Sydney

Elon Musk/Twitter

Elon Musk’s private space endeavor SpaceX on Sunday conducted its first test of the Raptor rocket engine designed to take humans to Mars as early as 2024.

Musk tweeted about the test, which took place at the company’s McGregor, Texas, facility, ahead of his keynote address at the 67th annual International Astronautical Congress on Tuesday. In the speech, titled “Making Humans a Multiplanetary Species,” he is expected to unveil the design for the Mars Colonial Transporter, as well as his plan for colonizing the Red Planet.

September 21st, 2016

Earth to Mars: This startup is trying to make IoT power packs that work in outer space University of Sydney


Finnish startup Tespack is working with the Austrian Space Forum on providing astronauts with advanced technology carried in solar-charged backpacks for the first manned mission to Mars.
Image: Tespack/Austrian Space Forum

The internet of things is meant to be a game-changer. Yet the technology still faces important physical challenges, such as distance limitations, battery life, and durability. All these issues become even more pronounced in the extreme conditions found in very hot or cold locations.

Tespack is trying to tackle some of these problems by developing solar-powered backpacks with IoT and connectivity capabilities, to take energy-generation not only to the next level, but even to another planet.

The Finnish startup, which develops mobile-energy products for use in remote areas, such as Antarctica or on Everest, recently announced a partnership with the Austrian Space Forum, carrying out fundamental research on Mars analogs.

September 20th, 2016

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover to produce oxygen on the Red Planet University of Sydney

Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE) is an exploration technology investigation that will produce oxygen from Martian atmospheric carbon dioxide. Image Credit: NASA

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will not only investigate the Red Planet, searching for evidence of past life on Mars, but also it is expected to lay the foundations for future human exploration of the planet. One of the mission’s instruments, called MOXIE, will have a special task – testing technology essential for Mars colonization.

“MOXIE is one of nine instruments, but it is the only one that is relevant to human exploration,” Donald Rapp, one of the co-investigators of MOXIE, told Astrowatch.net.

MOXIE stands for the Mars OXygen In-situ resource utilization Experiment. With a diameter of 9.4 by 9.4 by 12.2 inches (23.9 cm × 23.9 cm × 30.9 cm), the instrument will produce oxygen from the Martian carbon dioxide atmosphere at a rate of about 0.35 ounces (10 grams) per hour. It is a 1:100 scale test model of a future instrument that would be efficient for human explorers on Mars.

“The object is not to produce a lot of oxygen. The object is to show that the process works on Mars. MOXIE produces only about 10 [grams] per hour of oxygen, less than one percent of full scale,” Rapp said.

September 19th, 2016

Moon-walker Buzz Aldrin opens new Mars exhibit at Kennedy Space Center University of Sydney

Apollo 11 moon-walker Buzz Aldrin says he hopes the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex’s new “Destination: Mars” experience will help inspire human exploration of the Red Planet.

Aldrin was at the complex on Sunday at a media preview and ribbon-cutting for the attraction, which features a holographic image of Aldrin, as he guides visitors on a walk along the virtual Martian surface.

A proponent of colonization of Mars, Aldrin told reporters that he would like to see the next president make a bold statement shortly after taking office in January for accelerating the timeline for human spaceflight to Mars, so that we can one day “call two planets ‘home.'”

August 4th, 2016

The future of Mars will be 3D-printed in the Mojave Desert University of Sydney

Growing up in Jakarta’s polluted slums, Vera Mulyani loved building things. As a child, she dreamed of becoming an architect.

More than two decades later, Mulyani is a self-proclaimed “Marschitect,” and spends her time brainstorming how human life might be sustained on the red planet. After studying at École d’Architecture de Nantes in France and at New York Film Academy, in January 2015 she founded Mars City Design, a think tank of sorts aimed at developing blueprints for the first self-sustaining city on Mars.

Earlier this month, Mars City Design raised $30,382 on Kickstarter to realize the next phase of its mission: Within the next three years, the group wants to 3D-print three to-scale habitat prototypes of Martian cities at Reaction Research Society’s test area in the Mojave Desert.

June 28th, 2016

NASA’s Space Launch System Booster Passes Major Milestone on Journey to Mars University of Sydney

A booster for the most powerful rocket in the world, NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), successfully fired up Tuesday for its second qualification ground test at Orbital ATK’s test facilities in Promontory, Utah. This was the last full-scale test for the booster before SLS’s first uncrewed test flight with NASA’s Orion spacecraft in late 2018, a key milestone on the agency’s Journey to Mars.

“This final qualification test of the booster system shows real progress in the development of the Space Launch System,” said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Seeing this test today, and experiencing the sound and feel of approximately 3.6 million pounds of thrust, helps us appreciate the progress we’re making to advance human exploration and open new frontiers for science and technology missions in deep space.”

The booster was tested at a cold motor conditioning target of 40 degrees Fahrenheit –the colder end of its accepted propellant temperature range. When ignited, temperatures inside the booster reached nearly 6,000 degrees. The two-minute, full-duration ground qualification test provided NASA with critical data on 82 qualification objectives that will support certification of the booster for flight. Engineers now will evaluate these data, captured by more than 530 instrumentation channels on the booster.

February 23rd, 2016

Laser Propulsion Can Get a Probe to Mars in 3 Days, Scientists Say University of Sydney

Photonic propulsion could get a 100 kg object to Mars in 3 days—a spaceship in a month—and we already have the technology to build it, scientists say.

Scientists from the University of California, Santa Barbara, are proposing a road map to building laser arrays in orbit capable of launching probes to nearest star systems and spacecraft-sized loads to our nearest planets.