Tag Archives | Mars

NASA Wants To Give The Moon A Moon

Why on earth would NASA want to give the Moon its own moon? Wired reports:

It sounds almost like a late ’90s sci-fi flick: NASA sends a spacecraft to an asteroid, plucks a boulder off its surface with a robotic claw, and brings it back in orbit around the moon. Then, brave astronaut heroes go and study the space rock up close—and bring samples back to Earth.

Except it’s not a movie: That’s the real-life idea for the Asteroid Redirect Mission, which NASA announced today. Other than simply being an awesome space version of the claw arcade game (you know you really wanted that stuffed Pikachu), the mission will let NASA test technology and practice techniques needed for going to Mars.

The mission, which will cost up to $1.25 billion, is slated to launch in December 2020. It will take about two years to reach the asteroid (the most likely candidate is a quarter-mile-wide rock called 2008 EV5).

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NASA’s Curiosity rover finds fresh signs of ingredients for life on Mars

Curiosity Rover at the John Klein drill site where some of the samples were taken. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Curiosity Rover at the John Klein drill site where some of the samples were taken. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Amina Khan via Phys.org:

Mars’s life-friendly past just got friendlier. Using samples previously collected by the NASA rover Curiosity, scientists have discovered evidence of nitrates in Martian rock: nitrogen compounds that on Earth are a crucial source of nutrients for living things.

The findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, lend further support to the idea that the Red Planet, now barren and dry, could once have hosted habitable environments.

Although planetary scientists have been on the hunt for organic carbon – the type of carbon-containing molecules that could be used and produced by living things – nitrogen also plays an essential role in life as we know it, said lead author Jennifer Stern, a planetary geochemist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

For example, nitrogen is a key component of nucleobases that make up RNA and DNA, and of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.

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Astronomers spot clouds on Mars: Is the U.S. Government terraforming the red planet?

Via Shepard Ambellas at Intellihub:

Cloud-like formations were originally spotted within the atmosphere of Mars by astronomers in 2012, leading some to believe the planet may be habitable or is being transformed in some way to make it so.

In fact images show the vapor formation to be over 621 miles across, which is larger than any other formation previously spotted within the red planet’s atmosphere to date.

A planetary scientist with the European Space Agency says this “raises more questions than answers”.

Damien Peach, an astronomer said, “I noticed this projection sticking out of the side of the planet. To begin with, I thought there was a problem with the telescope or camera. But as I checked more of the images, I realized it was a real feature – and it was quite a surprise.”

According to reports the haze lasted about 10-days before reemerging about 30-days later as it appears these new clouds are beginning to form in a more consistent manner than ever before, bringing only one thing to mind — the 1990 science fiction film Total Recall starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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Mars One Announces The 100 Candidates To Fly To And Die On Mars

Bas Lansdorp.jpg

Bas Lansdorp by Joe Arrigo (CC)

Most of you will have read about Mars One, the project to colonize Mars. The last 100 people from whom the astronauts will be drawn have just been announced:

From the initial 202,586 applicants, only 100 hopefuls have been selected to proceed to the next round of the Mars One Astronaut Selection Process. These candidates are one step closer to becoming the first humans on Mars.

“The large cut in candidates is an important step towards finding out who has the right stuff to go to Mars,” said Bas Lansdorp, Co-founder & CEO of Mars One. “These aspiring martians provide the world with a glimpse into who the modern day explorers will be.”

The Mars 100 Round Three candidates were selected from a pool of 660 candidates after participating in personal online interviews with Norbert Kraft, M.D., Chief Medical Officer. During the interviews the candidates had a chance to show their understanding of the risks involved, team spirit and their motivation to be part of this life changing expedition. “We were impressed with how many strong candidates participated in the interview round, which made it a very difficult selection” said Dr.

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Meet the people who have volunteered to die on Mars


Walker Lamond via BoingBoing:

Thousands of people are competing to be the first humans to travel to Mars and colonize it. The only catch–they can never come back. Ever.

Mars One, an interplanetary travel nonprofit, will soon select the next round of wannabe astronauts from the nearly 700 current finalists. While making a short movie about the competition for The Guardian, we at Stateless Media had a chance to speak to a few people vying for one of the coveted seats on a Mars One Spaceship. I learned the following: they are all really smart, incredibly brave, and a little bit crazy.

Actually, they’re a lot of bit crazy. And that’s a good thing. Because it takes a certain kind of person to choose to live the rest of their lives stranded on a desert planet with no breathable air, no Netflix, no Snapchat, no Game of Thrones, no General Tso’s Chicken, and no long, romantic walks on the beach.

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NASA Rover Finds Active and Ancient Organic Chemistry on Mars

The first definitive detection of Martian organic chemicals in material on the surface of Mars came from analysis by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover of sample powder from this mudstone target, "Cumberland." Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

The first definitive detection of Martian organic chemicals in material on the surface of Mars came from analysis by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover of sample powder from this mudstone target, “Cumberland.” Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

via Nasa from December 16:

NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover has measured a tenfold spike in methane, an organic chemical, in the atmosphere around it and detected other organic molecules in a rock-powder sample collected by the robotic laboratory’s drill.

“This temporary increase in methane — sharply up and then back down — tells us there must be some relatively localized source,” said Sushil Atreya of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, a member of the Curiosity rover science team. “There are many possible sources, biological or non-biological, such as interaction of water and rock.”

Researchers used Curiosity’s onboard Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) laboratory a dozen times in a 20-month period to sniff methane in the atmosphere.

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NASA Is Launching a Spacecraft That Will Take Humans to Mars

Photograph by Kim Shiflett/NASA

Photograph by Kim Shiflett/NASA

Is there a new Space Race on the horizon?

via Bloomberg Business Week:

NASA is launching its boldest test flight in decades this week. An unmanned capsule will head off on Thursday to reach a distance of 3,600 miles from Earth—the farthest space mission with a craft designed to accommodate humans since the final Apollo 17 trip to the moon in 1972.

Called Orion, the program will mark a key initial step toward a human mission to Mars. Orion is also designed to excite the public’s imagination for deep-space exploration, much as the Apollo moon missions sparked an interest in space and produced civilian engineering triumphs. With the first test flight on Thursday, NASA wants to make it abundantly clear that much of the hardware that can get humans to Mars already exists and is ready to fly.

“My hope is that when we fly the capsule on Thursday, it will energize the public and energize that middle schooler [who] isn’t quite sure what he wants to do, but he likes math and science,” says Richard Boitnott, an engineer at NASA’s Langley Research Center.

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NASA Contemplates Deep Sleep Option for Mars Mission

During interplanetary transit, the crew would receive low-level electrical impulses to key muscle groups to prevent muscular atrophy. ©SPACEWORKS

During interplanetary transit, the crew would receive low-level electrical impulses to key muscle groups to prevent muscular atrophy. ©SPACEWORKS

via Discovery News:

A NASA-backed study explores an innovative way to dramatically cut the cost of a human expedition to Mars — put the crew in stasis.

The deep sleep, called torpor, would reduce astronauts’ metabolic functions with existing medical procedures. Torpor also can occur naturally in cases of hypothermia.

“Therapeutic torpor has been around in theory since the 1980s and really since 2003 has been a staple for critical care trauma patients in hospitals,” aerospace engineer Mark Schaffer, with SpaceWorks Enterprises in Atlanta, said at the International Astronomical Congress in Toronto this week. “Protocols exist in most major medical centers for inducing therapeutic hypothermia on patients to essentially keep them alive until they can get the kind of treatment that they need.”

Coupled with intravenous feeding, a crew could be put in hibernation for the transit time to Mars, which under the best-case scenario would take 180 days one-way.

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Curiosity Finds a Weird ‘Ball’ on Mars

The 'ball' (left of center) can be seen in this sol 746 observation by Mars rover Curiosity's Mastcam. According to NASA scientists it is likely an example of a Martian concretion. NASA/JPL-CALTECH/MSSS

The ‘ball’ (left of center) can be seen in this sol 746 observation by Mars rover Curiosity’s Mastcam. According to NASA scientists it is likely an example of a Martian concretion.
NASA/JPL-CALTECH/MSSS

via Discovery:

If there’s one thing to be said for Curiosity’s mission on Mars so far, it certainly hasn’t been boring. Although the six-wheeled rover has taken thousands of photographs of Martian rocks, the rich diversity of Mars’ landscape has provided many beautiful examples of planetary geology and some geology that is downright weird.

Take this recent photographic example from the Mars Science Laboratory’s Mastcam camera that was uploaded to the mission’s photo archive on sol 746 (Sept. 11). While compiling a mosaic of images of the surrounding landscape, Curiosity captured a rather un-Mars-like shape atop a rocky outcrop.

There’s a perfect-looking sphere sitting proudly on a flat rock surface. It’s dusty, but under that dust it appears a little darker than the surrounding rock.

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