Engineer Kevin McNeill compares the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to his two children, who recently left home for college. “You’re hopeful everything you’ve done in 18 years of raising that child has prepared him for life on his own,” McNeill said Wednesday, hours before he and his colleagues boxed the school-bus-size craft for shipping. On Friday, McNeill and the rest of his Lockheed Martin team will send their $500 million baby to Florida. NASA is expected to launch the craft Aug. 10, 2005.
The devil is in the details Denver Post
As a space scientist and frequent adviser to NASA, I welcome President Bush’s proposed vision for the space agency. That kind of vision has been missing since the achievements of Apollo and the end of the Cold War.
Mouse study probes cancer in space Denver Post
Colorado State University cancer researchers will zap mice with doses of exotic radiation to learn how vulnerable astronauts might be to cancer when they venture far from Earth’s protective atmosphere.
Red Planet so near, so far, so possible Denver Post
If you’re wondering why you’re spending another Labor Day holiday roasting weenies in the backyard instead of enjoying the scenery on a jaunt to the Red Planet, join the club. Robert Zubrin can’t understand it either. And he’s president of the club. Zubrin, a former Lockheed Martin engineer and founder of Pioneer Astronautics in Lakewood, is president of the Mars Society, which was founded in 1998 to encourage exploration of the planet. The society began with 600 international members. In five years, it has expanded to 6,000.
Mars Society Members Survive Plane Crash Denver Post
Frank Schubert doesn’t remember the act of aeronautical heroism that saved his life and that of his friend when their plane crashed in Utah’s rugged Wasatch Mountains. A concussion suffered in the crash has erased the memory, but what he does remember is his friend Matt Smola keeping him warm and keeping him awake, calling for help and then signaling rescuers the next morning. In a dramatic and astounding 13 hours Friday night and Saturday morning, Schubert and Smola, both from Denver, survived two near-fatal events: crashing their Cessna 172 miles from help and spending the night outside in temperatures that dropped to minus 6 degrees. Schubert piloted them through the first crisis; Smola was determined to get them through the second.
THE DESERT WEST OF HANKSVILLE, Utah – Chemist Tony Muscatello of Westminster got lost recently on his way to Mars. It’s not hard to do in the eerie humps of red rock and concrete-colored swells of curdled dirt plopped willy-nilly like huge fallen cakes in this middle of nowhere. But like any intrepid scientist bent on visiting another planet, Muscatello backtracked until he found what he was looking for – an even stranger area that “had Martian written all over it.” Tucked in some of the weirdest landscape on Earth, he found the Mars Desert Research Station, a white cylinder that looks surprisingly like a Midwestern corn silo or – if a giant scorpion were to suddenly scuttle over a ridge – like the set of a low-budget sci-fi movie.
NASA weighs plans to grab Mars samples Denver Post
The prospect of bringing home Martian soil and small rocks – the whole sample not weighing more than a half-sack of flour – puts a gleam in scientists’ eyes. Martian meteorites found on Earth, surface scrutiny from the sky and up-close eyeballing by rovers give clues about the Red Planet’s evolution. But scientists say there’s nothing quite like getting their hands on samples collected from a few choice locations. “A sample return is so fundamentally important for improving our understanding of Mars,” said Bruce Jakosky, a University of Colorado planetary scientist. “It is truly the next step for understanding possible life, history of the atmosphere, the surface and the interior.”
Red Planet missions far from science fiction Denver Post
With the 2001 Mars Odyssey settling into orbit, scientists and engineers feel free to dream of the next missions to the Red Planet. As NASA scientist Stephen Saunders exclaimed after Odyssey was captured in orbit on Oct. 23: “Well, Mars, we’re back.” If a slate of sci-fi-sounding scenarios is an indication, Mars science is back in a big way and Coloradans are involved up to their phasers. They see gliders flying into the Valles Marineris – the so-called “Grand Canyon of Mars.” They envision a “mother ship” seeding Mars with robotic weather stations. They want to “CAT scan” the Martian atmosphere and use hot-water jets to drill into the planet’s layered polar ice cap. Solar-heated balloons that inflate by themselves, an airplane that works in Mars’ carbon dioxide atmosphere and a small, hopping robot – called “frogbot” – are being tested by NASA.
Jeffco plant to build Mars orbiter Denver Post
NASA has selected Lockheed Martin Astronautics to design and build the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter at its south Jefferson County facility. The highly complex orbiter, which will measure Martian landscape features as small as 8 to 12 inches across, is twice the mass and will return 12 times the amount of data as the Mars Global Surveyor, now in orbit. The Global Surveyor, which also was built by Lockheed, has returned more than 101,000 images in its four years of mapping the Martian surface in 1-meter detail. Lockheed’s $145 million contract for the 2005 orbiter will cover development through operations. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, is Lockheed’s partner in the mission.
Adding new wrinkles to old idea Denver Post
Red Faction for PlayStation 2 owes plenty to the first-person-shooter games that have come before it – especially “Half-Life,” from which it borrows its story-driven approach to carnage. But to simply disregard it as a cheap imitator would deny it the credit it deserves. Not only does the game pour plenty of fun into the genre, it serves up a few innovations of its own as well. The game starts with a cinematic narration in which you discover your character has left Earth, hoping for better fortunes in the mines of Mars. Here you find yourself trapped in a savage prisonlike environment with no hope of escape.