Curiosity is the rover that will house NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), due to launch on November 25, 2011, and land on Mars on August 6, 2012. The rover and its mobile lab will perform a wide range of remote sensing tasks, including (hopefully? finally?) answering the question of whether Mars is or was capable of supporting microbial life.
Curiosity: NASA’s Next Mars Rover Wired News
Refreshing Drinks of Fresh Air Wired News
As much as bullets or body armor, rations or radios, an army needs water to survive — especially when it’s fighting in the blistering heat of an Iraqi summer. But hauling a soldier’s daily requirement of three to four gallons of water has become a gargantuan burden to U.S. armed forces. So Darpa, the Pentagon’s mad science division, has come up with a plan for thirsty GIs: Cut the amount of the water they’re carrying in half, and pluck the rest from out of thin air.
What to Eat on the Way to Mars Wired News
Thirty-five years ago on the moon, Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin busted open one small meal for man — foil packets containing roasted turkey and all the trimmings — while kids at home slurped Tang in solidarity. That mission lasted only nine days. Now, food scientists are working out ways to feed astronauts on a mission to Mars that will last years.
Chunk of Mars Found at South Pole Wired News
A team of NASA-sponsored meteorite hunters has discovered what it believes is an ancient chunk of Mars — on Earth. The team of Antarctic explorers came across the 1.5-pound black rock last December while scouring for meteorites in the Transantarctic Mountains, about 466 miles from the South Pole. A subsequent analysis by the Smithsonian Institution revealed that the rock’s mineralogy and texture are “unmistakably Martian,” according to a statement released Wednesday by NASA.
Solar to Keep Army on the Go Wired News
During a battle, the ability to move troops swiftly and without detection can mean the difference between victory and defeat. The U.S. Army is developing tents and uniforms made from flexible solar panels to make it more difficult to track soldiers. Jean Hampel, project engineer in the Fabric Structures Group at the Army’s Natick Soldier Systems Center, said the need to reduce the Army’s logistics footprint spurred interest in developing lightweight solar panels. “We want to cut back on the things that soldiers have to bring with them,” including generators and personal battery packs, Hampel said. In modern warfare, portable power for communications technology is every bit as important as firepower and manpower.
NASA Funds Sci-Fi Technology Wired News
For 25 years, Ross Hoffman has had a vision: to use tiny changes in the environment to alter the paths of hurricanes, slow down snow storms and turn dark days bright. For most of those years, Hoffman kept his ideas largely to himself. His adviser at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology told him weather control was too outlandish for his Ph.D. thesis. The chances of a buttoned-down foundation or government agency funding such research were so slim, Hoffman didn’t even bother to ask. But, in 2001, all that changed. Hoffman stumbled upon a tiny, obscure cranny of the American space program — the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts, or NIAC. In this $4 million-a-year agency, Hoffman found a place where the wildest of ideas were not only tolerated, they were welcome.
A Rover Built for the Red Planet Wired News
A concept vehicle designed to move across the surface of Mars just crossed a hazardous section of frozen Arctic sea on its way to a scientific base station dubbed “Mars on Earth.” The MARS-1 Humvee Rover — an early prototype of a vehicle that could be used if, and when, manned missions make it to the Red Planet — successfully trundled across 23 miles of frozen ice pack in Canada’s high Arctic on May 11.
Titanic Director Plans 3-D Film Wired News
James Cameron, whose technological wizardry helped make Titanic the highest-grossing film in history, is convinced celluloid is on its way out. And to help send it to its grave, the director says he will start production early next year on one of the most ambitious movies ever made: a high-definition, 3-D digital feature. The topic of his planned movie is a secret. Some Cameron watchers speculate that it might be his long-planned epic about the first manned trip to Mars. But Cameron is making no secret of his belief that the movie-going public is now ready for the biggest transformation in the movie business since talkies were invented.
China Sets Sights on Red Planet Wired News
China said Thursday it plans to launch its first manned spacecraft in the second half of this year, starting a countdown for its ambitions to become the third country capable of putting people in space. The space program, flagged in the official China Daily newspaper, is becoming a test of national pride as China, long mired in poverty but growing fast after two decades of market reforms, seeks a place on the world stage alongside great powers.
Rebuilding Tomorrowland Wired News
For a minute, it seems like Bob Zalk has been locked out of his own construction site. We’re standing on the wrong side of a painted plywood wall at the Epcot theme park in Orlando, Florida, out of place in our plastic hard hats amid the mouse-eared tourists. Zalk, a 21-year veteran of Walt Disney Imagineering, the creative unit that oversees all new theme park and resort projects for Disney, is standing in front of a doorway in the plywood wall. He jiggles the knob a few more times, but it won’t budge. Then, just before we give up, he puts a little shoulder into it. The door bursts open, and suddenly we’re facing a building that looks like an airport terminal designed by Salvador Dal