“The speed of light is far too slow for the internet of the future,” says Vinton Cerf, the man often called one of the fathers of the global communications system on which most of the world now depends. He was speaking in Melbourne yesterday to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, drawing a picture of the huge social and economic impact the internet will have on the world in the next five years and beyond. His problem with the speed of light is related to an interplanetary communications “backbone” due to be implemented in 2009 to speed investigation of the solar system. Scientists will use internet technology to communicate with robots touring Mars, but, Dr Cerf said, there was a problem – even at the speed of light, a message took 20 minutes to get to Earth and 20 more to get back to Mars.
Mars and back in 40 minutes The Age
Simulating Martian environments began as an amateur passion among a scientific underground but NASA scientists
An Australian adventurer this week begins a solo hike across the Simpson Desert in a bid to take scientists closer to sending people to Mars. The Mars Society of Australia has engaged Robert Pecaro, 44, to test the likely impact of walking on the Red Planet.
Office politics can be hell, but just ponder being locked up with your workmates for years, never able to go home nor quit in a huff if the going gets too tough. That will be the dilemma faced by the first humans on Mars, with astronauts living together for more than two years in a craft no bigger than a small house.
Broadband alive and well on Mars The Age
While many Australians are still waiting for the high-speed internet revolution to reach their doorsteps, NASA’s twin Mars exploration rovers are enjoying broadband links on the Red Planet. The rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, have smashed Martian data speed records by sustaining a 256 kbps uplink to a satellite. As they scour the planet for signs of life they upload information to either the Mars Odyssey or Mars Global Surveyor satellites orbiting Mars via UHF antennas.
The American space agency NASA has been accused of doctoring its pictures of Mars to make the Martian surface conform to our impression of the Red Planet. NASA, it is claimed, digitally “tweaked” drab brown scenery to make it redder, and removed green patches to hide evidence of life. Most of the pictures have been taken through green, blue and infra-red filters instead of green, blue and standard red filters, which would have produced more accurate colours. The infra-red filters over-emphasised the redness of the planet, turning blue objects a deep burgundy red or, in some cases, a hot pink, while greens appeared a dirty mustard yellow.
It may only be a thin blue line on the red planet, but it is set to spark a debate about life as we know it. The European Space Agency’s unmanned spacecraft Mars Express has discovered evidence of frozen water at the planet’s south pole, backing NASA findings made in 2002. If the planet does hold water, the possibility of extraterrestrial life, past or present, may also become more than just science fiction.
Mars Express on course The Age
European space officials said the Mars Express craft was “perfectly on course” toward the Red Planet, giving them confidence for a critical Christmas Day manoeuvre to fire it into orbit – key to Europe’s first mission to explore whether life ever existed on the planet. In preparation, mission control in the west German city of Darmstadt sent the first orbit-related commands to the craft. The mission’s other component is a probe that is due to touch down on Mars early December 25 European time as well.
Man could survive on Mars: NASA The Age
Man could survive a mission to Mars according to NASA scientists who say experiments on board the Mars Odyssey craft prove that humans could endure the planet’s harsh conditions. The results show that radiation around Mars might cause some health problems, but scientists told the BBC humans could survive the conditions. The research from NASA’s Odyssey module, orbiting the Red Planet for two years and sending back information to scientists on Earth, was presented at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.
More than 34 years after the Parkes radio telescope relayed to the world pictures of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon, NASA has commissioned it again, this time to help manage a looming cosmic traffic jam. US ambassador Tom Schieffer yesterday visited the western NSW town to launch the radio telescope’s new role in tracking a fleet of probes exploring Mars and the outer limits of the solar system.