August 22nd, 2011

Synthetic Life Could Help Colonize Mars, Biologist Says Live Science

Synthetic organisms engineered to use carbon dioxide as a raw material could help humans settle Mars one day, a prominent biologist says.
Man-made, CO2-munching lifeforms are already in the works, geneticist Craig Venter told a crowd here during an event called TEDxNASA@SiliconValley Wednesday night (Aug. 17). Venter and his team, who made headlines last year by creating the world’s first synthetic organism, are trying to design cells that can use atmospheric carbon dioxide to make food, fuel, plastics and other products.
This ability would obviously have huge implications here on Earth, but it could also help make Mars — whose thin atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide — a more livable place, Venter said.

December 21st, 2007

Mars Impactor: Rovers at the Ready Live Science

That possible impact of an asteroid on Mars at the end of January would be quite a show for the orbiters and rovers now on duty at the red planet.
I asked Steve Squyres – lead scientist of the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers at Cornell — what he thought might be observable by the robots – at that time, in their fourth year of operations.
“If an impact takes place, the most likely thing for us to observe would be dust that has been lofted into the atmosphere by the impact event and then carried over the rover sites by wind,” Squyres said. “So if there is an impact, we’ll increase our monitoring of dust in the atmosphere to see if we can observe any effects.”

July 16th, 2007

NASA Ponders Human Mission to Moons of Mars Live Science

A potential outward bound destination for astronauts: Phobos and Deimos – the two moons of Mars.
NASA is stirring up the exploration pot by co-sponsoring in early November the first international conference on sending robots and humans to Phobos and Deimos.
This global gathering of experts will meet at the NASA Ames Research Center in California. They’ll detail new ideas on probing Phobos and Deimos, as well as how to utilize the two moons as a gateway for exploring Mars itself.
In the human exploration department, scientists and engineers are to delve into what an expeditionary crew might do on Phobos and Deimos – and how to use those mini-worlds to help in investigating the red planet. Also, what precursor robotic missions that might be needed will be addressed.
By the way – Russia is already spearheading a multi-nation project to explore Phobos, dubbed the Phobos-Grunt mission, a sample return effort eyed for 2009.