January 13th, 2015

Elon Musk plans Seattle office for Mars colonization USA Today

Billionaire Elon Musk wants humans to settle on Mars, and he’s looking to hire a passel of engineers in Seattle to help him get there.
Musk has publicly said he wants to colonize Mars. As the CEO of Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), he’s got a company to do it.
In an interview published Tuesday, Musk told Bloomberg News that SpaceX’s efforts to build a commercial satellite business will give the company the know-how and the infrastructure to make eventual Mars shots and a colony possible.

June 25th, 2014

Unity on Mars mission easier said than done USA Today

It will take unprecedented unity, funding and international teamwork to land astronauts on Mars within the next 30 years, the co-chairmen of an independent government panel advocating such a mission told a congressional committee Wednesday.
Then the two co-chairmen got a glimpse of why those goals won’t come easy.
GOP lawmakers at Wednesday’s hearing bashed the Obama administration for abandoning a return-to-the-moon mission in favor of using an asteroid as a steppingstone to Mars. Democrats said Republicans have no right to complain about lack of money for the space program when they’ve pushed for budget cuts. And lawmakers from both parties raised doubts about whether potential foreign partners, notably China, can be trusted.
Former Republican governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana, co-chairman of the National Research Council panel that issued the 285-page report earlier this month, acknowledged the enormity of the task.
“Getting humans to the surface of Mars will be a daunting challenge,” Daniels, now president of Purdue University, told members of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. “Succeeding in this endeavor will require, we believe, a very different way of doing business than the nation has been practicing in recent decades.”

April 8th, 2014

Awesome alignment: Mars, Earth, sun to line up Tuesday USA Today

Skywatchers will get a rare treat Tuesday night when Mars, Earth and the sun will be arranged in a nearly straight line.
Every two years, Mars reaches a point in its orbit called “opposition,” when the planet lies directly opposite the sun in Earth’s sky, according to Astronomy magazine. This means Mars rises near sunset and remains visible all night long as it moves nearly overhead across the night sky. It will be a bright burnt orange color, NASA’s Mars Exploration Program reports, and almost 10 times brighter than the brightest stars in the sky.
“From our perspective on our spinning world, Mars rises in the east just as the sun sets in the west,” NASA reports. “Then, after staying up in the sky the entire night, Mars sets in the west just as the sun rises in the east.”

November 18th, 2013

Op/Ed: Relaunch the space race USA Today

Russian-American relations are deteriorating. It is not just a matter of side issues such as Edward Snowden and Syria. A faction in the Kremlin’s ruling camp, exemplified by prominent Putin adviser Alexander Dugin, is urging the regime to embrace a new “fourth political theory” synthesis of communism and fascism to prop up the regime’s domestic power and make Russia the leader of the global forces opposing the West. “Liberalism,” says Dugin, meaning the whole Western consensus, “is an absolute evil. … Only a global crusade against the U.S., the West, globalization and their political-ideological expression, liberalism, is capable of becoming an adequate response. … The American empire should be destroyed.”
This is dangerous stuff. It not only threatens the prospects for freedom in Russia but also could lead to a global catastrophe. We need to turn this trend around. How? Here’s my answer: Let’s invite Russia to join with us in a grand project of sending humans to Mars.

October 4th, 2013

Mars mission preparations continue despite shutdown USA Today

Briefly threatened with missing some or all of its limited launch window to Mars because of the partial government shutdown, NASA’s Maven mission on Thursday won approval from the space agency to resume preparations for a launch next month from Cape Canaveral.
“We have already restarted spacecraft processing at Kennedy Space Center, working toward being ready to launch on Nov. 18,” said Bruce Jakosky, principal investigator for the $671 million mission. “We will continue to work over the next couple of days to identify any changes in our schedule or plans that are necessary to stay on track.”

June 29th, 2010

Mars once had more water than we knew USA Today

There used to be more water than anyone realized on Mars, data from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter seems to show.
Mars’ southern highlands have considerable amounts of phyllosilicates, a type of hydrated minerals formed by extensive water exposure. However, no one knew if there were similar minerals on the northern third of the planet, because it is covered by lava plains up to a mile deep three billion years ago.
Researchers have wondered if below that layer of lava there might be hydrated minerals, indicated that eons ago liquid water flowed over the surface there as well.

April 14th, 2008

Troubles parallel ambitions in NASA Mars project USA Today

NASA’s new Mars rover aims high. It’s bigger, more powerful and more sophisticated than any other robotic vehicle that has landed on another planet. It will try to answer a big question: Has life existed elsewhere in the solar system?
Its very ambition has gotten the rover in trouble. Thanks to a mix of technological setbacks and engineering misjudgments, the rover’s epic scale is matched by epic problems. Its story offers a cautionary tale as NASA plans to devote large chunks of its science budget in coming years to grand “flagship” missions, including a spacecraft to return Mars rocks to Earth and another that would visit a moon of Jupiter or Saturn.
The new rover, known as the Mars Science Laboratory, is $235 million, or 24%, over budget. Work on it has run so late that engineers are racing to prepare the rover for its blastoff in 2009. After that, the next good launch window, when Mars and the Earth are closest, is in 2011.

March 8th, 2004

Mars critics wonder if billions aren’t better spent elsewhere USA Today

NASA’s celebration last week of gritty evidence that Mars once had enough water to support life has spawned more questions:
Where’s the water now? When did it disappear? Are there any fossils of living creatures, or even microbes?
But prominent scientists outside the space agency are beginning to ask a harder question: Does Mars represent what is out of whack in American science and exploration?

February 26th, 2004

Hot trash-to-fuel technology gathering steam USA Today

Got garbage? Toxic trash? Zap it with a torch three times hotter than the sun and gather the resulting gas to fuel pollution-free cars and home power units. It may seem like an idea out of a mad scientist’s notebook, but the method

February 24th, 2004

Meanwhile, on Mars: Spirit rover is halfway to crater USA Today

The most closely watched, and likely the slowest, road trip in history hit its halfway mark Tuesday as NASA’s Spirit rover continued its drive to a nearby Martian crater. Spirit added another 100 feet in its travels Tuesday; it has about 400 feet to go before it reaches the “Bonneville” crater. Scientists hope to drive the rover below the crater’s rim to examine deeper layers of rock. In recent days, the rover has investigated a 3-inch-deep trench dug with its own wheels and taken readings of its surroundings within Mars’ Connecticut-sized Gusev Crater region.

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