August 1st, 2002

Of Mice and Martians Wired News

A space crew of 11 female mice, flying on a shoestring budget, will soon teach us more about artificial gravity than NASA has managed to learn in more than 40 years. That’s what Mars Society president Robert Zubrin is saying about the Mars Gravity Biosatellite Project, which will study the long-term health effects of Martian gravity on mammals. “We’re hoping,” said MIT professor Paul Wooster, Biosatellite’s program manager, “to find out if Martian gravity, which is one-third of the Earth’s, is enough to counteract the bone and muscle loss astronauts experience in zero-g.”

March 27th, 2002

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Reentry Wired News

Kevin Costner didn’t actually drink his purified urine in Waterworld, but if we’re to have a future in outer space, we must learn to (so to speak) make a meal of our movements. The efficient recycling of astronaut wastes is just one problem that Purdue University researchers will be tackling after landing a $10 million, five-year grant to lead the NASA Specialized Center of Research and Training (NSCORT) for Advanced Life Support. Food technology, oxygen generation, water filtration and biomass production must all be integrated within any life support system if we’re to recreate the circle of life on, say, the International Space Station or in a Martian space colony.

March 8th, 2002

Digging Deep for the Real Mars Wired News

The Canadian Space Agency has unveiled new technology that could one day see boring Canadians on Mars. It’s a prototype drill that would form part of a still yet-to-be-developed robot that would bore 33 feet below the Mars surface, grab core samples, bring them back to the surface, and then identify each of the samples. The robotic system would process the samples for examination, slicing them into thin pieces, or polishing or grinding them before handing them off for analysis. The agency is working on the drill because in order to answer various questions — ranging from whether there’s life on the planet to what the planet is made of — one needs to get beneath the surface.

November 15th, 2001

Mars Society Boldly Goes to Oz Wired News

Rock-strewn craters, dry river beds, pancake-flat deserts — in many ways the Australian Outback looks more like Mars than Earth. With this in mind, a convoy of Mars Society researchers is crisscrossing the Outback, looking for a place to establish a research base to prepare for manned space missions to the Red Planet. Among other things, Mars researchers plan to study more deeply the Outback’s geology and its hot-spring bacterial life, as well as use its scorching, inhospitable vastness to test space suits, communications systems and extraterrestrial four-wheelers.

May 4th, 2001

Space Plants Get Glowing Review Wired News

Researchers say a genetically altered mustard plant that glows when it’s in trouble could be an important step toward the human colonization of Mars. University of Florida scientists spliced a fluorescent gene from a jellyfish into the Arabidopsis mustard plant anticipating that it will activate the glow under adverse conditions such as drought or disease. By studying these effects, they hope to begin discovering how to sustain plant — and eventually human — life on Mars.

April 7th, 2001

Mars Doesn’t Need Earth Goop Wired News

When Mir splashed down almost two weeks ago, many scientists were concerned that fungal spores that had developed on the inside of the space station would contaminate Earth’s environment with some kind of primordial space goop, introducing an unknown life form. But what about contamination going the other direction? With the launch of Mars Odyssey on Saturday and a full slate of missions ready to launch for Mars this decade, what is being done to ensure that we don’t contaminate Mars with our own goop?

October 11th, 2000

NASA Warms to Living on Mars Wired News

It took billions of years before Earth could support life, but scientists think they can create the right conditions on Mars in less than a century by pumping the atmosphere full of greenhouse gases. About 150 physicists and biologists gathered at the NASA Ames Research Center on Tuesday to discuss how the Red Planet might become a livable place.

September 25th, 1999

Safeguarding the Next Mars Probe Wired News

The probable destruction of a Mars mission on Thursday may have thrown a wrench in NASA’s plans to better understand the red planet, but it won’t sully the mission’s sibling probe, set to touch down in December, scientists said.

March 16th, 1999

Santa Claus Meets the Martians Wired News

NASA and the Mars Society are joining forces to build a Mars simulation expedition in a deep impact crater on Canada’s Devon Island. The crater, the size of West Virginia, is in Polar Bear country, near the Arctic Circle, and its harsh environment is the closest thing to Mars scientists have found on Earth.

August 31st, 1998

A Flight Plan for Mars Wired News

When NASA launched the Pathfinder mission last summer, the world got a glimpse of the Martian surface. Now, we may get an even closer look at the planet with the help of a custom-built plane.