February 18th, 2020

From Dubai to Mars, With Stops in Colorado and Japan

The Hope robotic probe in Colorado. The ruler of Dubai wanted to offer inspiration for youth in the wider Arab world. “That’s why he called the spacecraft Hope,” said Omran Sharaf, the mission’s project manager.

In December, a spacecraft named Hope was motionless in the middle of a large clean room on the campus of the University of Colorado, mounted securely on a stand.

But engineers were tricking Hope — a foil-wrapped box about the size and weight of a Mini Cooper — into thinking it was speeding at more than 10,000 miles per hour as it pulled into orbit at Mars. It was a simulation to make sure that the guidance, navigation and control systems would respond correctly to a variety of less-than-perfect circumstances when it arrives at Mars for real next year.

While this spacecraft was assembled on American soil, it will not be exploring the red planet for NASA. Hope is instead an effort by the United Arab Emirates, an oil-rich country smaller than the state of Maine and one that has never sent anything out into the solar system.

August 2nd, 2019

UAE Mars probe will be Arab world first

The United Arab Emirates’ Space Agency’s first Mars probe, called Hope, is near completion.Credit: Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre/UAE Space Agency

The Arab world will launch its first mission to Mars in July 2020, the chair of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Space Agency, Ahmad Al Falasi, has said.

The UAE’s Hope probe will lift off from Japan and should reach Mars at the end of the following year, in time for the 50th anniversary of the emirates’ independence. It will be the first planetary-science mission from the Arab world.

The mission’s goals include understanding why Mars is losing its atmosphere by tracking the escape of hydrogen and oxygen, and building a bigger picture of the changing Martian atmosphere. In April, officials at the space agency said that 85% of the probe had been completed.

April 18th, 2019

Independent report concludes 2033 NASA human Mars mission is not feasible

One concept for a Deep Space Transport spacecraft that would take astronauts to and from Mars. An independent study concluded the technological challenges of such a spacecraft made plans to mount a human Mars mission in 2033 infeasible. Credit: Boeing

An independent report concluded that NASA has no chance of sending humans to Mars by 2033, with the earliest such a mission could be flown being the late 2030s.

The report, while completed prior to the March 26 speech where Vice President Mike Pence directed NASA to return humans to the moon by 2024, does offer insights into how much a lunar return might cost and how it fits into long-term plans to send humans to Mars.

NASA contracted with the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI) to prepare the report, which Congress directed NASA to perform in the 2017 NASA authorization act. That bill called specifically for a technical and financial assessment of “a Mars human space flight mission to be launched in 2033.”

STPI, at NASA’s direction, used the strategy the agency had laid out in its “Exploration Campaign” report, which projects the continued use of the Space Launch System and Orion and development of the lunar Gateway in the 2020s. That would be followed by the Deep Space Transport (DST), a crewed spacecraft that would travel from cislunar space to Mars and back. NASA would also develop lunar landers are related system to support crewed missions to the lunar surface, while also working on systems for later missions to the surface of Mars.

That work, the STPI report concluded, will take too long to complete in time to support a 2033 mission. “We find that even without budget constraints, a Mars 2033 orbital mission cannot be realistically scheduled under NASA’s current and notional plans,” the report states. “Our analysis suggests that a Mars orbital mission could be carried out no earlier than the 2037 orbital window without accepting large technology development, schedule delay, cost overrun, and budget shortfall risks.”

January 29th, 2013

Where a river once flowed on Mars SEN

The European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter has captured images of a deep channel carved into the Martian landscape which is believed to have been created by a river in the distant past.
Named Reull Vallis, the river-like channel stretches 1,500 kilometres and is almost 7 kilometres wide in places, and 300 metres deep. The valley is flanked by many tributaries, one of which can be seen on the main image. The orbiter’s High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) was used to take the pictures.
Along the floor of the valley are grooves that run parallel to its sides, and scientists believe these were scratched into the floor by the movement of debris and ice long after running water had carved out the valley. The scars are therefore evidence of glacial movement along the valley.

March 25th, 2010

NIKON WORLD ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Progress Report from Mars Nikon World Winter 2010

Nikon’s long-standing commitment to the scientific community ranges from our involvement in NASA’s exploration of space to our support of individual photographer’s documentation of our planet. Particularly satisfying is our work with scientists and researchers who use photography to simultaneously explore the past and reach for the future.
Dale Andersen is a principal investigator at the SETI Institute’s Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe. That’s SETI, as in Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. So why does Dale take part in research and exploration missions to the Arctic and Antarctica?

September 16th, 2009

Russia delays Mars probe launch until 2011: report MarsDaily

Russia will pushed back its flagship satellite mission to Mars’ moon until 2011 in a move which will delay the joint launch of China’s first Mars probe, space sources were cited as saying Wednesday.

March 18th, 2009

Mars Researchers Take an Arctic Road Trip Popular Mechanics

Mars researchers plan to take a Humvee for a 1200-mile off-road trip on thinning sea ice in the Arctic. Their pursuit? To answer questions about bacterial contamination, to help design a rover for Martian travel and to experience extreme isolation firsthand.

May 1st, 2006

Prototype Mars Space Suit Goes to Badlands AP

Students and faculty from five North Dakota colleges will unveil a prototype Mars spacesuit this weekend in the Badlands. Students from the University of North Dakota, North Dakota State, Dickinson State, the state College of Science in Wahpeton and Turtle Mountain Community College in Belcourt designed the experimental suit with a $100,000 NASA grant.

December 6th, 2005

Deep down, Mars harbors a lot of ice Frozen water may even be drinkable, scientists say San Francisco Chronicle

Century-old fancies of a past Mars covered with warm, sparkling seas are fading, as scientists realize the planet’s rust-red surface has probably been a dry, frigid icebox for almost all of its history. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Martian microbes aren’t thriving at this very moment in volcanically heated subterranean swimming pools thousands of feet beneath the surface — the scientific jury is still out on that popular hypothesis. But whenever liquid water squirted to the surface during the past 3.5 billion years, it usually sloshed around for only brief periods before freezing or vaporizing in the drier-than-Sahara wasteland, judging by scientific evidence reported Monday at the annual San Francisco meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

May 13th, 2005

Personal Nuclear Power: New Battery Lasts 12 Years LiveScience

A new type of battery based on the radioactive decay of nuclear material is 10 times more powerful than similar prototypes and should last a decade or more without a charge, scientists announced this week. The longevity would make the battery ideal for use in pacemakers or other surgically implanted devices, developers say, or it might power spacecraft or deep-sea probes. You might also find these nuclear batteries running sensors and other small devices in your home in a few years. Such devices “don’t consume much power,” said University of Rochester electrical engineer Philippe Fauchet.

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