Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation announced today that it is a member of the Aerial Regional-Scale Environmental Survey (ARES) team, whose proposal is one of four selected for Phase II of NASA’s Mars Scout mission. Aurora is the airframe provider for the ARES team, which is led by the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. The ARES mission will use a small robotic aircraft to provide the first direct measurements of the near-surface chemistry of the Martian atmosphere. These measurements will yield information critical to helping scientists understand the evolution, climate, and potential for life on Mars.
A suggestion that dark spots near the south pole of Mars could be a sign of life has led to a meeting of European Space Agency scientists to determine whether the theory warrants a look with ESA’s planned Mars Express, scheduled to orbit the planet beginning in late 2003. The spots appear on dunes found on the floors of craters in the south and north polar regions. A Hungarian team has examined the southern spots in detail and reported that the spots appear in late winter and then disappear by summer.
Spherix (formerly Biospherics Incorporated) (Nasdaq: SPEX), the technology innovations firm that participated in NASA’s exploration of Mars for life, today reported that the Agency has sponsored a new website devoted to the Firm’s experiment. The purpose of the website is to make the data available to investigators who have become interested in the possibility that the Labeled Release (LR) experiment on the 1976 Viking Mission to Mars detected microbial life in the soil of the Red Planet. The website, prepared by the NASA Planetary Data System’s Geosciences Node at Washington University in St. Louis, may be accessed through http://wufs.wustl.edu/missions/vlander/lr.html
SpaceDev (OTC Bulletin Board: SPDV), the world’s first publicly traded commercial space exploration and development company, announced that it has been awarded a subcontract by Boeing (NYSE: BA) Space & Communications to participate in the Mars Ascent Vehicle Concept Study for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. Boeing Space & Communications was awarded one of three contracts from JPL to develop concepts for a small rocket that will lift science samples gathered by NASA’s Mars Sample Return mission and support their return to Earth. SpaceDev is one of two companies selected by Boeing Space & Communications to participate in the Concept Study.
On April 7, a day becomes an odyssey — a Mars odyssey — at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Guests can purchase a Launch Transportation Ticket to view the launch of the 2001 Mars Odyssey Orbiter aboard a Delta II rocket and witness the beginning of a voyage to another planet. Launch Transportation Tickets provide visitors with the opportunity of a lifetime-to view the launch from otherwise-restricted NASA property. Visitors can order tickets by calling 321-449-4444 or by logging on to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex’s Web site at http://www.KennedySpaceCenter.com.